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As your little one starts to gain mobility, you’ll need to keep them away from many dangers around the house.
Whether it’s stairs, rooms that are not baby-proofed, or the kitchen while you cook – baby gates are the best way to keep them safe. Retractable baby gates provide an easy and flexible way to keep babies confined while keeping an eye on them.
So, which gate is right for your home?
There are hundreds of baby gates out there. To help you find the best one, we’ve researched many of the highest-rated retractable baby gates and narrowed it down to the top 5.
Our top pick is the Retract-A-Gate, which is currently installed in three locations in our home. This gate is also keeping the kids safe at their grandparent’s and aunt/uncle’s houses as well. This is a family favorite!
Top 5 Retractable Baby Gates
- Babepai Retractable Baby Gate
- Babyseater Baby Gate
- BabyDan Guard Me
- Perma Indoor/Outdoor Retractable Baby Gate
When you should get a baby gate
The moment the baby starts trying to do any of the following is when you should have stairs or other unsafe areas of the home blocked off:
- Rolling over from their back-to-belly or vice versa.
- Army crawling or scooting on their bottom across the floor.
- Getting up on their hands and knees to start crawling.
Essentially, when the baby is no longer 100% stationary is when you need to have gates installed. This will likely happen anywhere from 3 to 6 months depending on how fast your baby develops these mobility skills.
Comparing retractable and walk thru baby gates
Similarities between retractable and walk thru gates:
- Effective at keeping your infant safe and contained.
- Require mounting using either hardware or pressure to keep gate in place.
- Only to be used until the age of two.
- Should be certified as meeting safety standards by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association.
- Price is generally within the same range.
What makes retractable baby gates a better choice:
- Provide flexibility to put the gate virtually anywhere you can install the mounts. You can even install it on an angle.
- Do not have a trip hazard along the bottom like the walk thru or swinging gates. This makes them safe for the top of the stairs.
- More difficult for the baby or toddler to boost themselves up and over without hard plastic to grip onto.
- Roll or fold up when closed to provide incredibly compact storage.
- Looks better than the vertical bars that make it seem like your infant is in a baby prison.
How to choose the best type of retractable gate
There are essentially two types of retractable baby gates. Both require you to mount brackets or anchors to either side of the stairs, door, or hall you are are trying to block.
These are the most popular expandable baby gates. They are made of a soft mesh that is wrapped around a post on one side, like a scroll, for easy storage. This mesh is then unwound to hook onto the opposite wall or railing.
Wood or Plastic Gates
The wood or plastic gates can operate in two ways. Either they expand and contract like an accordion or essentially fold up when you close the gate. The accordion-style gate has been around for ages, but has become less popular over time.
Why choose a mesh retractable baby gate
- Eliminates pinched fingers! Some wood and plastic retractable gates have been pinching baby and parent fingers for decades. Some improvements have been made, but it’s still a possibility.
- Highly durable material. The mesh is designed to flex when the baby leans against it. This reduces the chance of a plastic or wood piece breaking under pressure.
- Flexible installation options. Most models allow you the ability to pivot the gate if you have multiple paths you need to switch between.
- Automatic opening. Most retractable gates are able to roll up automatically using springs. This makes them super easy to open when you only have one-hand carrying a baby or groceries in the other.
- Compact storage. The gate rolls up neatly out of the way when not in use. We’ve kept gates up even if we haven’t used them in many months – you forget it’s there!
Where retractable baby gates can be installed
There are countless locations inside and outside your home where a retractable baby gate can be used. They can be used anywhere you have two walls, railings, or door frames that are about 50 to 70 inches apart.
The following are the most common places to install a baby gate.
Top and Bottom of Stairs
Retractable gates are the best baby gates for stairs since they easily mount to walls and railings. Often with stairs, there are few options for firmly securing the gate. The flexibility of mesh gates works well in these situations.
You can either mount the gate between the door frames or to the walls on either side of the door. By mounting the gate on the outside, you are able to close the door without taking down the entire baby gate.
This is more straightforward since you’ll be mounting the gate to either side of the hall to block the path.
Between Rooms and Spaces
One of the biggest challenges with trendy open floor layouts is the long distance between walls. This poses an issue when it comes to installing baby gates. However, some mesh gates are able to expand up to 72 inches wide to reach across these large spaces.
Porch, Patio, and Decks
If you have a mostly enclosed space outside, a baby gate can close off a walkway or steps. This can provide some peace of mind while enjoying the nice weather outside.
Retractable baby gate installation and use couldn’t be easier
Baby Gate Safety Precautions
First, you should stop using baby gates when your toddler turns two or if they start attempting to open or climb the gate. If they can flip over their crib railings, they can certainly make their way over the gate.
When it comes to safety, you’ll want to check if the gate you select is certified by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association. They are the authority on setting standards and evaluating baby and toddler products against the highest safety requirements. Our top pick has this safety certification.
Depending on how and where the gate is being used, you’ll need to determine if you want hardware or pressure-mounted safety gates. By far, hardware-mounted gates are much safer since they are installed directly to a stud in the wall or the railing.
Along with that, please follow the mounting instructions that come with the gate. You don’t want an accident because the gate wasn’t mounted safely.
After installing any gate, please double-check it’s secured properly by carefully putting your weight on it to see if it moves at all. This is especially critical when installing at the top of stairs or when using a pressure-mounted gate which is more likely to slip out of position.
Finally, baby gates are not babysitters or an excuse for not keeping an eye on your child. Our little ones are curious and there are plenty of ways for them to get into trouble.
Top Retractable Baby Gate Reviews
1. Top Pick: Retract-A-Gate
- Very quiet when opening and closing the gate which won’t wake the baby
- Easiest one-handed operation for locking and opening gate
- Covers widest openings with their 72-inch gate and can be joined to additional gates
- Clear and durable mounting brackets made of very strong plastic
- Offers a protective banister kit for mounting on stairs (sold separately)
- Certified safe by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association and International Association for Child Safety
- Basic color options with black, white, or tan
- Brackets may require spacers depending on the width of your baseboards
Gate Dimensions: 34-inches tall by 52-inches wide or 34-inches tall by 72-inches wide
2. Runner Up: Babepai Retractable Baby Gate
- Locking mechanism makes it difficult for toddlers to open
- Soft feeling mesh is strong and flexible to withstand pressure
- Great looking gate, however, it only comes in black
- Mounting brackets and hooks not as strong and sturdy as Retract-A-Gate
- Requires spacers (not included) to mount if you have wide baseboards
- Do not offer protective banister kit for mounting on stairs
Gate Dimensions: 33-inches tall by 54-inches wide
- Double locking mechanism on hooks for extra security
- Aluminum body makes the gate lightweight
- Big latches and handle for opening and closing the gate
- Ideal for light uses both indoors and outdoors
- Can only be mounted in one direction
- Difficult to operate with one hand
- Gate locking mechanism isn’t as smooth as other gates
- Hardware is made of lighter weight plastic which is more prone to break
- Installation instructions not the easiest to follow
Gate Dimensions: 33-inches tall by 48-inches wide
- Simple one-handed operation
- Gate folds up when closed for easy storage
- Stronger gate material able to handle more pressure and weight
- Great for small spaces and between doorframes
- Material is not see-through which makes it difficult to see the baby
- Covers the smallest area at 35-inches wide
- May require an additional extension kit (not included) depending on door width
- Locking mechanism not as smooth as other gates
- Not as discrete and compact as gates that roll up
Gate Dimensions: 28-inches tall by 35-inches wide
- Covers wide openings with a span of 71-inches
- Comes in grey, white, and black
- Has a taller option at 41-inches for greater protection
- Easy to grip handle for opening and closing
- Comes with wall spacers to get around baseboards
- More difficult one-handed operation and often requires two hands
- Mounting brackets, hooks, and provided screws not as durable as other gates
- Latches/hooks not as deep making it easier for the gate to slide off
- Mesh may occasionally get caught up/stopped when rolling up
- Installation instructions not easy to follow and foolproof
Gate Dimensions: 33-inches tall by 71-inches wide or 41-inches tall by 71-inches wide
When it comes to the best retractable baby gate you can find, the Retract-A-Gate is hands down the top choice.
What sets this baby gate apart is the high quality in the mesh fabric, mounting brackets/hooks, and overall simplicity in use. It’s the only gate we reviewed that was quiet, certified by multiple organizations for safety, and could be used easily with one hand.
Our family loved this retractable gate so much that we purchased 3 of them.
Two of the 54-inch wide gates have been installed to block our stairs and a room that has lots of fragile objects. The larger 72-inch gate blocks our kitchen and keeps children confined to the living room.
The Retract-A-Gate may cost more than other options, but you get what you pay for in quality and durability. Our research and personal experience lead us to recommend it as the best retractable mesh gates out there.
Let us know how your experience has been with the Retract-A-Gate or other retractable baby gates.