When your little one is on the move, a baby gate will be one of the most useful pieces of nursery kit you’ll buy. Stair gates can stop her from accessing the stairs while she's too small to be up there by herself, and also keep her from wandering off where your eyes can’t follow so she stays safe in your home.
There’s a wealth of safety gate products on the market so to make your life easier, we've put together some tips on how to choose the best one for you.
In this article:
How to choose the perfect baby gate
First up, you need to consider the place you’re guarding. You won’t want anything with a step-over bar at the top of the stairs, but they could work fine at the bottom. Is there space for a door to swing open and shut in the space? If not, a retractable gate could be the answer. And you’ll definitely need a gate that you can open and shut with one hand – trust us on this.
Stair gate safety advice
According to RoSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents), "every year there are more than 42,000 Accident and Emergency attendances by the under five age group resulting from accidental falls on stairs."
In their research into 'Can The Home Ever Be Safe?' - a publication that looked into the need to improve safety in the built environment of homes and gardens - the Society wrote: "RoSPA considers the provision of reinforcement of the wall substructure to ensure the safe fixing of European Standard stair gates should be included in the specification of all new and refurbished homes."
We spoke to Selina Russell, from safety products brand Fred UK, about the importance of stair gates; she said:
"Stairways, kitchens, bathrooms, fire hearths to name but a few, are areas of the home that pose potential risks for older babies finding their feet and confident toddlers on the move.
"It is important that any access to open stairways and rooms in the home that could be hazardous to young children if left alone, are restricted by installing safety gates. As infants have an innate curiosity and tend to feel the need to explore their surroundings, stair gates enable you to restrict little ones to safe areas in the home."
The best baby gates to buy
We've hand-picked our favourite baby gates on the market here:
The BabyDan No Trip Safety Gate opens in either direction and with one hand just to make things a little easier when you’ve got your hands full. There are no bars or foot plates to trip over at the top of the stairs, and the gate stands at a height of 73 cm, and features a wide walk-through area suited for openings between 72 and 78.5 cm. This gate is designed for children up to 24 months and weighs 2.98 kg
One reviewer said: ‘We have two of these now - one at the top of the stairs and one on a door frame and they work brilliantly.
‘When I purchased these I wasn't sure what exactly was "no trip" about them as I'd never purchased baby gates before - having now seen the gates with a frame that also runs along the floor (which seems a bit strange to me) I can now totally understand why they are referred to as no trip! I can't imagine having a gate with a bar at the bottom - not at the top of the stairs! So these gates are perfect for what we need, and they fit in perfectly with our white doors and stairs.
‘They come with some easy to attach plastic mounting hardware and a template which you place against the surface to mount to which aids you in drilling holes and whatnot. I would say they are quite easy to fit but you need to be somewhat confident with measuring etc.
‘We've had one of the gates for a year now and it's still going strong - the lifting action is perhaps a little harder now than it was but I imagine some oil or something would help this.’
This was shortlisted for Best Safety Product in the Mother&Baby Awards in 2015 and 2014. Our testers reported that it’s easy to fit and locks effectively. Plus it can be opened with one hand, which is great for parents who usually have their arms laden with little person paraphernalia.
Assembled and ready to install, the Lindam Easy Fit Plus Deluxe safety gate can be installed in just five minutes. All tools are provided and the four point pressure fit frame means that it does not require drilling to the wall, whilst still providing ultimate strength when in position for complete peace of mind.
Parents can easily open and close the gate easily and the wide walk through offers more space as you pass through the gate. The clever pressure indicator provides a visual assurance that the baby gate is installed correctly, creating a safe environment for your little explorer. The double locking option allows you to double safeguard hazardous areas for your peace of mind. This baby gate fits openings of 76 cm to 82 cm and weighs 1kg. For wider openings, it can be extended to up to 117 cm with the use of separate extensions.
One reviewer said: ‘Brilliant gate! I read up on reviews for a few nights before ordering this and it's been excellent. We needed to order a 7cm extension (super easy to install) but once fitted it's doing the job. It took me (on my own) 15 minutes to install from adding the extension to getting our 15 month old daughter hanging off it in a (failed) attempt to break it down. No screws (just some sticky pads on the walls) and it is firm as the wall it's attached to. Well worth the money and peace of mind so that our monster doesn't go for a nose dive down the stairs. I recommend getting the gate first and then seeing which extension you might need as it's hard to tell before due to the added length of the screws.’
Read our full review of the Lindam Easy Fit Plus Deluxe here
The Lindam Sure Shut Axis safety gate comes assembled and ready to install and all tools are provided for the 5 minute installation. The gate does not require drilling to the wall as it has a pressure fit U frame to provide high strength when in position for complete peace of mind.
The clever pressure indicator provides you with visual assurance that the gate is installed correctly, keeping your little one safe at all times. The wider walk through means you have more space as you pass through the baby gate and with a double lock, even the most determined baby will not be able to open the gate. Weighing 5.54kg, this pressure fit safety gate fits openings of 76-82 cm. For wider openings, it can be extended to up to 117 cm with the use of separate extensions.
One review said: ‘Quite easy to install and provides what appears to be quite a sturdy fit - however it probably should be thoroughly checked before being put in use just to ensure the baby doesn't push it over. It's been a few weeks and baby is secure, however my mum knocked the gate off it's hinge by forcing her weight against it, she had no idea how to open it and ended up pushing the whole gate off, but I had it reinstalled within 20 minutes and to be fair, it isn't designed to withstand a grown adult's weight/force.
'I would recommend these to withstand a baby's advances, however I am unsure how useful or safe they would be to withstand larger children older than 2 years. The handle can prove tricky, and a baby would never be able to open this. Even my mum had trouble figuring it out. The design is also quite neutral so should fit in with any decor.’
Read our full review of the Lindam Sure Shut Porte Pressure Fit Gate here
If you have a wide opening between rooms, this could be the perfect gate for you. It fits from 63.5cm to a whopping 102cm. It has no bar at the bottom, which means it could go at the top of the stairs, and our testers reported that it’s easy to open with one hand.
The Easy Close, push to shut closing feature allows parents to quickly and easily push the gate closed. Product features; one handed push to shut closing, fixes directly to the wall, extends to fit openings between 64.5cm and 102cm. There’s no step over bar so the tripping hazard is removed. It’s perfect for use at the top and bottom of the stairs, with one way opening for use on the stairs and two way opening for all other use, quick release fittings allow the gate to be completely removed without the need for tools. Measures 99.8 x 5.5 x 68 cm and weighs 4.2kg.
Tested by mum Louise Carroll for the M&B Awards 2016: "I feel that this Lindam extending safety gate is good value for money. It is essential for those awkward spaces in a home where a standard size gate will not fit. The fact that this gate has no bar at the bottom is brilliant as my three year old is constantly tripping over these on standard gates. Very easy for parents to open but I would say near impossible for an inquisitive clever toddler which is perfect."
Read our full review of the Lindam Push To Shut here
If you like to make a clear distinction between adult time and baby time, or prefer not to battle with a baby gate during late night loo trips, this could be the one for you. The retractable baby gate folds back and is unobtrusive when not in use.
The Guard Me is an auto Foldable safety gate which folds back (concertinas) automatically when opened. The gate can be opened by an adult using just one hand and it fits doorways from 55-89cm. The fittings can be mounted inside or outside of the door frame depending where you wish to install it.
It’s simple to install as Guard Me comes pre-assembled and includes 3 x spare extensions in the box. This allows the gate to be extended up to 89cm. However there is an additional 24cm extension kit available separately which will take it up to a maximum of 113.5cm. The gate is wall mounted and because of this there isn’t a trip bar and when opened folds neatly back against the wall becoming almost invisible. Measurements: Fitted inside a door frame: 64.5 – 89 cm, With Extend-A-Guard: up to 113.5 cm, Fitted outside a door frame: 55 – 79.5 cm, With Extend-A-Guard: up to 103,5 cm, Height mounted: 72.5 cm
Tested by Vicky Daly, 34, from Cheshire, mum to Finn. She said: "Perfect for the most high-traffic spot in the home. A drill is required but it’s easily installed. It’s easy and quiet to operate, and there’s no trip hazard."
Read our full review of the Baby Dan Guard Me here
This safety gate is sturdy, looks good and can be adjusted to fit doorways and staircases from 69-106.5cm wide. You can choose the direction the gate opens in and there’s no bottom bar to potentially trip over. Plus, it’s easy to use with one hand, ideal if you’re holding your baby.
One reviewer said: 'Purchased for frequent grandchildren visits and needed a more versatile gate for the top of my stairs.
'Very good quality but found one of the fittings screw thread was ineffective and delayed completing the installation but in fairness to the company they were very helpful and sent out a pack of the connections very quickly so not delayed too long. Installation was a little fiddly and I needed to fix a small wooden packing on the top fixing the wall in order to equal the difference of the bottom fixing due to the large wooden skirting boards I have.
'The gate is perfect for the angled fitting I needed to make due to a low window on my landing. Once set up it works a treat and the added benefit of it being without a threshold is far safer without potential trips etc. On top of that it simply unhooks when not needed. Recommended by me if you need something that is sturdy and adaptable.'
If you’ve got a particularly adventurous toddler, this model’s extra height makes it harder to climb over than standard ones. The opening mechanism is higher too, so you don't have to bend down so far which is better for your back.
This gate is extremely versatile and fits any openings within your home of 71-80cm. The Xtra-Tall height of 1m is especially good for use with stairs and also great for when your tot gets taller. This pressure-mounted gate with Auto-Close feature as well as 2-way opening and its double locking system, is easy to install and use.
For most situations there is no need to screw holes into woodwork or walls unless used at the top of stairs where the mounting cups must be screwed in for added security. Optional extensions can be purchased for any opening up to 4.8m.
One reviewer said: ‘These are fab! I love the swing shut function. They are really sturdy and good quality. They come up to the height of the door handle. My Houdini child has figured out he can put his foot through the bars and kinda push himself over but that took quite a while to figure out, but that's not a negative to the gate. Although a flat panel (no bars) version would be great!’
This is an elegantly designed safety gate that has no bar at the bottom. When it’s not in use, the gate rolls up on to a simple spindle, which attaches to a wall or banister to naturally blend in with your home. The best way to describe it is like a rollerblind on its side meaning no trip hazard. A red warning button pops up if you leave the gate unlocked. The gate can be operated with one hand - for when you are carrying a wriggling or sleepy baby!
Any downsides? Our testers reported that it’s noisy when retracting – not ideal when carrying a sleeping baby to bed.
Tested by Vicky Daly, 34, from Cheshire, mum to Finn. She said: "The most visually-appealing gate tested, but it’s so noisy when retracting – not very useful when carrying a sleeping baby to bed."
Read our full review of the Lascal Kiddyguard Assure here
This portable Lindam stair gate is ideal if you stay away from home with your baby or toddler and need to block off a doorway or staircase. It's lightweight and portable, folding up into a carry bag for ease. The gate is adjustable between 770-790mm, making it suitable for most spaces.
Keep in mind that it needs to be taken down and put up again every time you walk through which means it’s only suited to occasional use.
One reviewer said: ‘Good temporary gate, not a gate you can open easily but if only using it when travelling then perfect, folds up easily to store.’
How often will you use a baby gate?
If your space needs a baby gate, you’ll use it every day. From stopping your tot from crawling upstairs alone and risking an accident to keeping them in one room while you're cooking dinner, safety gates are a life saver!
How much money should I spend on a baby gate?
A simple baby gate can cost less than £20 but ones for unusual spaces can cost up to £100.
Are baby gates safe?
As with everything in life, you’ll need to apply some basic common sense - so no step-over bars at the top of the stairs. And the gate will only work if you actually remember to close it. Hey, nothing can be taken for granted after six months of sleep deprivation.
We spoke to home safety expert Roger Cheetham, from Clippasafe, in one of our Safety Q&A sessions. Here's one important question he answered about stair gates:
Q: "My little girl is fascinated by our stairs. We have stairgates but I'm not sure when and how to teach her how to go up and down safely - any tips?"
A: "In comparison to an adult, each stair is a huge step for a small child. When you child is tall enough to manage each step without crawling, take them up and down the stairs whilst holding their hand on the opposite side to the stair rail, whilst they hold the hand rail themselves with their other hand. Ensure that they go up/down one step at a time, and slowly. Make sure that you can grab the handrail yourself if one or both of you become unstable."