Best Baby Gates and Play Pens

Baby Gates:  What Kind of Baby Gate or Playpen Should You Use To Keep Your Newborn Safe



Your best line of defense in keep your little ones safe and out of areas that are not baby proof is a baby gate. If your home is a two or three-story house or apartment, it’s imperative you purchase baby gates to keep them safe when they first start crawling and exploring.


A fall down carpeted stairs may protect them a little bit, wooden, steel or concrete stairs are less forgiving, often leading to head injuries and other problems. Of course, you may be wondering what kind of baby gates you should consider for your home. If you’ve never used a baby gate before, the first thing to understand is the difference in them. Now, you have your choice of a pressure-mounted baby gate or a hardware-mounted baby gate.


But, which one is right for you?

Pressure-Mounted Baby Gates: What Are The Benefits and Drawbacks?


A majority of baby gates offered on the market are tension (pressured) mounted, which are easily installable.


The benefits of this kind of gate includes:

  • Can be easily moved from one location to another due to easy set
  • No reason to install into walls
  • Tend to be much cheaper
  • Bigger selection to choose from

The drawbacks to this kind of gate includes:

  • Bigger dogs can damage them
  • If incorrectly installed, they may not hold up under a baby’s weight
  • Not ideal for areas like the top of the stairs

Hardware-Mounted Baby Gates: What Are The Benefits and Drawbacks?


Hardware-mounted gates screw tightly to your door frame, wall or banister, making them the securest of both types. The gates need to be located in an area that’s the riskiest such as at the top of the stairs, kitchen, etc.


The advantages of this kind of baby gate includes:


  • Better choice for top of stairs
  • It can support the baby’s weight
  • Not easily toppled by big dogs
  • No threshold at the bottom, which means no tripping over


The drawbacks of this kind of baby gate includes:


  • It’s not easily removable
  • It takes longer to install
  • Leaves holes behind when they’re removed


Why You Need A JPMA Certified Baby Gate?


It’s in your best interest to purchase a Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association certified gate. The two main guidelines for a gate to be JPMA certified are:


  • A gate must be at least 22 inches tall
  • Less than three inches from the bottom of the gate to the floor


Pets and Gates


If you have a pet like a cat or dog, there’s no reason to keep them out of those areas. Instead, you can choose a gate that comes with a pet door that lets smaller animals to get passed but still keeps your tiny human out.  If you have a big dog that gets through that gate, then your baby will be able to get through the gate too.


If you want to keep your pet and baby out, you want to choose a sturdy gate (one that is hardware-mounted). Remember, animals can jump high, so you want an extra-tall gate. Also, pets love to chew and scratch so be mindful of what kind of material you get for the gate.




Make Sure You Measure Openings


Most of these kinds of baby gates will fit within a normal-sized opening of a doorway or hallway. Of course, not all openings are of standard size. There are many circumstances where you need a wider gate (usually open-concept homes). If you have a large opening, you want to use an open-ended accordion fold gate.

Should You Purchase A Used Gate?

When you’re in the market for a baby gate, is it better to go with a brand new gate or is used okay?  There are many places you can turn to for baby gates – Craigslist, eBay, local consignment stores, etc. So long as the gate is working right (all the pieces and parts are there), there’s no reason you can’t purchase a used baby gate.

What Baby Gates Should You Consider?


Step-Over Gates


These kinds of gates are extremely easy to set up and inexpensive. However, they can be a bit dangerous to step over. They’re ideal for traveling – for when you need to set up a gate temporarily.


Summer Infant Secure Pressure Mount Decosummer-infant-secure-pressure-mount-deco-gate Gate – $25


This gate is comprised of plastic and wide – it’s a very cheap gate with a 24-inch height and 27 to 42-inch width. It’s very easy to install and comes with rubber bumpers to ensure your walls don’t become scuffed. It’s known as a step-over gate, which is not the best solution for the long run.  It’s better if the gate is placed in an area that doesn’t see a lot of traffic and is only temporary.


It’s not ideal for older kids who have to get through the gate.


Walk-Through Baby Gates


A better solution to keep your baby safe is to use a walk-through baby gate – there’s no chance of tripping or falling over when you try to get over them.


Standard-Width Pressure-Mounted Baby Gates


regalo-deluxe-easy-step-extra-tall-gateRegalo Deluxe Easy Step Extra Tall Gate ($40)

This baby gate can easily be opened with one hand and features a locking mechanism. While younger children can’t open it, older children can. It’s also useful for big dogs who tend to jump gates thanks to Regalo‘s expert design.

Carlson Wide Gate (Pet Door Included) ($40)


carlson-wide-gate-pet-door-includedIt doesn’t matter if you currently own a pet, the Carlson Extra-Wide Gate is equipped with a pet door, which will let cats and dogs go through while ensuring your baby is still safe. The gate can be placed in an area where you keep a litter box for your feline friend or other things you don’t want them getting into.

This pressure-mounted gate can be quickly set up, with a one-touch release handle that makes it convenient for use. There are two extensions with the gate – four-inch and six-inch – to help in areas that are extra wide.


dreambaby-swing-closed-extra-tall-gateDreambaby Swing Closed Extra Tall Gate ($60)

Do you have a climber, older toddler or pets? If so, then you need to consider this gate from Dreambaby. You can open it with just one hand, and will automatically swing back shut and lock. It’s the ideal gate for areas you see as high risk (not for the top of the stairs, but other areas). It’s a great bottom of the stairs gate and is found in both black and white steel.


North States Supergate Metal Gate ($50)


If you want the best baby gate, the North States Supergate Metal Gate is your go-to choice. It’s a one-handed open steel gate that will swing both ways, doesn’t need to be assembled and comes with two extensions that can expand the gate’s width (up to 38.5 inches).




Hardware-Mounted, Standard Width Baby Gates


cardinal-auto-lock-gate-bay-at-gateCardinal Auto-Lock Gate ($64)


This is one of the parents’ favorite type of gate, as it comes with an auto-lock feature that you can hear engage. The gate will swing in both directions and is great for both the top and the bottom of the stairs. It can also be quickly installed.


Retract-A-Gate ($120)


prices-buy-retractable-safety-gateThe Retract-A-Gate is a US made gate that’s won multiple awards. It’s expensive but useful. It can rewind automatically when you’re not using it. It can be used at both the bottom and top of stairs, installing them to stair posts and spindles without a need for holes being drilled thanks to the Stair Banister Adapter Kit.


It’s a quiet gate, unlike metal and wood gates. If you need something quiet, this is what you want.





Summer Infant Gates


There are very few summer infant gates you can buy in store or online, but if you look, you can find one that meets your needs.

Summer Infant Anywhere Decorative Walk-Through Gate ($56)

This gate is a worthwhile option and comes with pressure-mounted installation for in-between rooms use and hardware for top-of-the-stairs installation. Parents tend to use this one for its sturdiness and easy installation.

Summer Infant Deco Extra Tall Gate ($55)


This gate can be opened with just one hand and is useful for guests who’ve never used them before. It will close and lock back automatically (so long as you’ve opened it wide enough to do so). There’s optional hardware for it to be even more secure.




Baby Stair Gates


The most special area of your home is the top of the stairs. When it comes to protection from top of the stairs, you want a hardware mounted gate that offers no threshold for people to trip over. These gates can be installed open toward the stairs, not swinging outwards, and has a mechanism in place to keep them from doing this. They should also come with an auto-lock/auto-close feature.


Stairways are rather tricky because of their weird-shaped banisters but usually seen more at the bottom. If your banister is a radius banister or you don’t want to do any drilling, you can do some engineering that will install the gate correctly.


There are several options you can use for curved banisters – a ready-to-go kit, DIY solution or banister clamps. With these solutions, there’s no reason to drill into a railing or banister.

KidCo Top of Stairs Gate ($43)

This baby gate has a white or black metal option, and it’s very inexpensive. If you have an odd banister, it’ll come with a gate installation kit that makes it easier to use. It also has a directional stop that ensures it doesn’t swing over the states. Plus, it comes with a quick-release feature so you can take it down quickly if you need to move it fast. If you have your own screws, it may be best to use them.

Evenflo Top of Stair Plus Gate ($43)


If you want a wooden baby gate option, the reasonably priced baby gate from Evenflo is a heavy-duty option. It can be installed easily, has a smooth opening and can prevent it from swinging. There’s also no threshold for you to trip on. If you have woodwork or a flat banister or you don’t want to drill into the wood, this is the gate for you.




Outdoor Gates


Cardinal Gates Outdoor Gate ($94)


This gate is comprised of aluminum, which means it’s rustproof, but not subjected to sun fading. It’s a one-handed gate that can be installed with a stop bracket so that it keeps shut on a stairway. The gate can be mounted up to a 30 degrees angle – it’s ideal for porches, decks and top of stairs.




A Pack ‘n Play playpen is great for when you need to wrangle more than one kid at one time. It’s ideal for large play yards and can be moved from one location to another easily.


North States Sixth-Panel Superyard ($65)


This playpen is non-slip that works on any kind of surface. You can purchase a two-panel extension that will boost the amount of play area for your child. It’s weather resistant, meaning you can use it outside and leave it there. It comes with a plastic carry handle and ensures a lightweight, portable playpen.


Regalo 192” Super Wide Play Yard ($80)


This playpen has eight removable panels that can be configured the way you want and will enclose up to 19 square feet. It’s a steel play yard that can be expanded to 192-inch wall mounted gate. It can easily set up and store it, or affix several panels to it to ensure a bigger play area. Bear in mind that the connectors can break so inspect the playpen before you allow your children to play in it.


Friendly Toys Little Playzone ($130)


If you want a playpen that goes above and beyond, there’s the Friendly Toys Little Playzone that comes with the bells and whistles – electronic sounds and lights. It comes with a swinging hinged door and safety lock. It can be used in any location you don’t want your children to go.

Extra-Wide Baby Gates

Safety 1st Wide Doorways Fabric Gate ($39)

If you need an affordable metal or wooden gate, the Safety 1st fabric gate is what you need. It’s easy to carry and install. It even has a storage bag for when you’re not using it. The gate is very durable and allows to see the baby or pets with the fabric.

Summer Infant Decorative Wood & Metal Gate ($66)

This gate is very easy to use, with its hinged swinging door that will open in either direction. It can be opened and closed with one hand – maybe a little loud but worthwhile. It also comes with three extensions, giving it an additional five feet to use.

North States Extra Wide Deluxe Décor ($101)

This hardware-mounted gate can be placed on either angled or straight walls. It can be opened with just one hand; it comes with the double locking system or stay-open feature. While it can be used outside, it needs to be wide enough to keep your little one safe.