Stairs are a serious health hazard. According to a study published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, over a million Americans get injured on stairs every year. While this statistic is disturbing enough on its own, a study that was published in Pediatrics, a medical journal, found that there’s a child treated for a stair-related injury in an emergency room every six minutes. Obviously, you don’t want your child to be that statistic. But since it is not possible to watch your child every second of the day, you’ll need every bit of help you can get. Which brings us to baby gates for stairs. If you’ve started researching baby gates, you’ll find that there are a lot of them in the market and not all of them are suitable for installing at the top or bottom of stairs. There are types and styles to choose from as well. Instead of letting you trip over all the products in the market, we’ve gathered all the baby gates you can install on your stairs and listed the best ones below.
- Summer Infant Multi-Use Deco Extra Tall Walk-Thru Gate
- Regalo Home Accents Extra Tall and Wide Walk Thru Gate
- North States Easy Swing & Lock Gate
- Evenflo Soft and Wide Gate
- Evenflo Easy Walk Thru Top Of Stairs Gate
- Kidco Safeway Top of Stair Baby Safety Gate
- Munchkin Easy Close XL Metal Baby Gate
- Cardinal Gates Stairway Angle Baby Gate
- Retract Retract-A-Gate
- Munchkin Loft Aluminum Hardware Mount Baby Gate
- How to Buy Baby Gates for Stairs:
The Summer Infant Multi-Use Decorative Extra Tall Walk-Thru Gate is our number one pick for so many reasons. It’s delightfully decorative with its bronze finish and attractive arch door. It stands 36 inches tall so parents don’t have to stoop to open the latch. It can open in either direction when used between rooms and the gate comes with a removable door stopper that will prevent the gate from opening towards the stairs installed there. The gate is dual-locking with an auto-close walk through door. It can be pressure-mounted or hardware-mounted. Even better, the gate can be opened by an adult with just one hand. And have we mentioned that this is JPMA-certified? However, there is a bar at the bottom of the gate which is a potential tripping hazard if you don’t set the gate far back enough from the top step. Also, some users find the opening too narrow. Another thing to note is that installation isn’t easy.
- JPMA certified
- auto-close feature
- very tall – 36 inches
- bottom bar is potential tripping hazard
- opening may be too narrow
- not easy to install
This baby gate from Regalo is another extra-tall option that parents will love. No stooping to open because this one stands even taller than our first pick at 37 inches. Like the Summer baby gate, this one can also be pressure-mounted or hardware-mounted. The handle features a one-touch release safety lock that will be difficult for your child to open, no matter how clever he is. The gate is sturdy and would be able to withstand even a disturbingly strong toddler. The gate is JPMA certified and feels incredibly sturdy. However, it isn’t that easy to install and it only opens in one direction which could be a problem if you want to install this at the bottom of your stairs instead of the top. Plus, the opening of the gate is a bit on the narrow side – around 16 inches – which can make it a bit awkward for much larger individuals or for parents carrying children.
- JPMA certified
- One-touch release safety lock
- Can be hardware-mounted or pressure-mounted
- Only opens in one direction
- Narrow opening
- Not easy to install
The North States Easy Swing & Lock Gate is designed specifically for installation at the top of stairways. This sturdy metal gate only swings open in one direction and has no threshold bar at the bottom that you might trip over. The entire gate can be opened by pressing the latch with your thumb while lifting the latch spindle out of the cup. It’s definitely not going to be easy for your young escape artist. The gate may not be as high as our other picks at only 31 inches. But it can be installed in just about any size of opening – from 28 to the extra wide 48. It doesn’t look as stylish as the Summer baby gate but its own matte bronze finish is still attractive yet subtle. And it comes with an auto-lock feature which allows you to lock the latch by just giving the gate a solid push. However, the instructions that came with the gate aren’t written well so you may need to read up on tips and tricks from other reviews. The gate features plastic hinges which may affect its durability in the long run. And this is not an ideal pick if you need a baby gate that can be set up at an angle.
- Auto-lock feature
- No threshold bar
- Can be installed in extra wide openings
- Not for stairways that require the gate to be set up at an angle
- Poorly written instructions
- Comes with plastic hinges
This extra wide gate from Evenflo is meant for doorways and the bottom of the stairs. It is pressure-mounted and features rubber bumpers to prevent damaging your wall. It can expand from 38 to 60 inches wide. Take note that this gate is for keeping your little one from climbing the stairs when you have stuff to do downstairs as well. This is not a gate that you can easily swing open to pass through. It is more ideal for when you plan to visit grandma and need to block off her stairs from curious little people. Also, the gate doesn’t hold onto its shape when not installed so it can be a pain if you need to pass through this path repeatedly. And some parents have reported that their kids were able to poke small holes in the mesh. Not enough to help them climb over it but you get the picture.
- affordable baby gate
- easy to install
- can expand up to 60 inches wide
- Only for bottom of stairs
- doesn’t swing open
- doesn’t retain its shape when not installed
If you’re the type to wonder if you really locked the gate or not, this baby gate from Evenflo should help ease your mind. This hardware-mounted baby gate features color indicators to let you know if it has been properly latched (red) or not (green). The gate expands up to 42 inches wide, accommodating wide stairways. It also features a child-resistant, one-handed Lever Loc mechanism that will frustrate your adventurous baby but still provide you with an easy way in or out of the gate. And while the gate can swing both ways, the removable swing stop can, uh, stop that so you don’t have to worry about the gate swinging towards the door. However, the plastic pieces can cause the gate to “loosen” and “slide” which can be dangerous. Some reviewers have created DIY solutions for it such as zip ties and metal bolts. The Allen screws that come with the gate are very hard to tighten and can get easily stripped. Also, the slam-latch feature doesn’t always work. You have to make sure that the bottom part of the gate has latched correctly.
- visible color indicators
- expands up to 42 inches wide
- easy to open
- slam-latch feature doesn’t work well
- poor quality Allen screws
- plastic pieces in gate loosen over time
This is a hardware-mounted gate that has a special design – it has a quick release hardware that allows you to uninstall or remove part of the gate when you don’t need it such as when you’re moving furniture. There’s no bottom bar to worry about. And the gate also features a stopper to prevent the gate from swinging open towards the stairs. The best thing about this gate is that you can get an installation kit to customize the gate if you have difficulty installing it on your banister. And unlike the other picks, this is definitely easier to install. However, the hardware included (read that: screws) seem flimsy and easily stripped so be prepared to use your own. There is no auto-lock feature. And it can be quite loud when you open and close it which can disturb a quietly sleeping child.
- easy to install
- no bottom bar
- quick release hardware
- flimsy screws
- no auto-lock feature
- can be loud when opening and closing
Like some of our other picks, the Munchkin Easy Close XL Metal baby gate is ideal for all sorts of locations. It can be pressure-mounted or hardware-mounted. It’s quite tall at 36 inches and comes with a double-locking mechanism that is convenient for adults and difficult for tiny escape artists. The gate can be expanded from 29.5 inches to 51.5 inches. But, unlike the others, the opening is wider at 22 inches. And there’s a third lock at the base of the gate to make sure it only opens in one direction or make sure it doesn’t get opened at all. The baby gate is JPMA-certified and comes with a 1-year warranty. However, the instructions aren’t that easy to follow (some are pretty vague especially about how to use extensions). The plastic connectors will eventually break. It would have been better had they used metal.
- double-locking system + third lock
- 22-inch wide opening
- very poor instructions
- plastic connectors
This all-metal gate is more expensive than our other picks but it does one thing the others can’t – it can be installed at an angle. For parents who can’t install the gate perfectly perpendicular to a wall, this baby gate is a lifesaver. Because of its all metal construction, the gate will definitely last a good long while, no matter how much raging fury your little one expends on it. The latch is simple to use but quite tricky for a child, requiring you to push down two metal tabs that hook the gate to the latch and then lift it out of the lock. Once you’re used to it, it’s a breeze to use. Not for your toddler though which is the best news ever. However, its all-metal construction comes with a flaw – it can be noisy. And it doesn’t have an auto-latch feature.
- can be installed at an angle
- easy-to-open latch for an adult, not for a child
- slightly pricey
- no auto-latch feature
- can be noisy
If your house is a bit on the small side and a swinging gate isn’t going to work due to the tight space, a retractable baby gate for your stairs could be the perfect solution. This baby gate is hardware-mounted and can be used either on the top or bottom of the stairs. The mesh design is scratch-proof which means you can also use it for cats and dogs. The gate is JPMA-certified and can even be installed at an angle. However, the locking mechanism is not always easy to use. Clever kids can figure out that you can crawl under the bottom if the locking dial on the spool is not set, enabling them to pull more mesh out of the spool. Parents will need to train themselves to lock the spool every after use.
- can be installed at an angle
- great for tight spaces
- locking mechanism is not easy to use
- very expensive
Another very expensive option but is there really any price not worth your baby’s safety? This is a hardware-mounted gate that is made from durable, lightweight aluminum and features a sleek silver finish. It’s definitely a chic design for a baby gate. What we love about this gate is that it features a quick release button that detaches the gate from its wall mount, enabling you to put it away if you have guests over. Also, the entire gate can swing open which eliminates the problem of “narrow” openings that some parents complain about with other baby gates. It even comes with an Integrated Tuning System to enable you to easily install the gate even on irregular walls. The gate even comes with preset positions, allowing you to expand it from 26.5 to 40 inches wide. However, installation is tricky because you need to install the side mounts on the walls then slide the gate down from the top. If you’re going to install this on top or at the bottom of your stairs, make sure that nothing is hanging above the wall mounts like a railing. Also, it does not come with a stopper to prevent the gate from swinging over the stairs like other models.
- sleek, modern design
- quick release button for taking out the gate
- heavy and sturdy
- can be tricky to install
- very expensive
- no stopper
How to Buy Baby Gates for Stairs:
Did you know that every six minutes, a child somewhere in the US is being treated in an emergency room for a stair-related injury? A sobering statistic that every parent should be aware about. In fact, more than a million Americans get injured on the stairs every year based on a study that was published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine. And out of that number, children under 3 years of age had one of the highest injury rates. Obviously, something must be done. As a parent, you want to do everything you can to prevent your child from getting hurt. And while having no stairs at all is probably the best solution, it isn’t always possible which is why you’ll need a baby gate.
Of course, not just any baby gate will do. As you’ve probably discovered, there are several types available and factors to consider. Some are idea for doorways while others are best for stairs. Some are made of plastic, others metal. And there are also different opening mechanisms and mounting hardware. In short, finding the right one won’t be as simple as it seems. Since parenting is hard enough, we decided to make things a little bit easier with this buying guide.
Types of Baby Gates
There are two main types of baby gates available which is based on how the gate is installed.
Pressure-Mounted Baby Gate
As the name already states, this type of baby gate is “mounted” using pressure. Basically, an expandable spring system in the gate will work like a tension rod. The two sides of the wall squeezes the spring system, creating pressure which will then keep the gate in place. The advantage of such a gate is that it’s quite easy to install. There’s no drilling required so you can easily move it from one location to another. However, it isn’t secure enough for placing at the top of the stairs because a child may still be able to exert enough force to knock it down. We don’t really need to describe what could happen next. Pretty sure you get the picture… and it sure ain’t pretty. That being said, you can still use a pressure-mounted gate at the bottom of the stairs, preventing your adventurous little monkey from going up the stairs without you knowing it. The Regalo Home Accents Extra Tall and Wide Walk Thru Gate is a pressure-mounted gate but it includes hardware that enables you to permanently install it.
Hardware-Mounted Baby Gate
Obviously, this kind of baby gate is what you’ll want installed at the top of your stairs. A hardware-mounted baby gate will require you to drill holes into the framings of your walls and screw the gate to it. Because of the way it’s installed, the gate is less likely to budge or get knocked over if pushed, shaken, banged on, or pulled by your child, preventing the possibility of a dangerous fall.
Is it JPMA-certified?
The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association is a national trade association of companies that create and/or import baby products. If a product is JPMA-certified, it means that it was independently tested and have met the ASTM International voluntary safety standards. When choosing a baby gate for stairs, or any baby gate for that matter, look for the JPMA certification sticker on the package or framing. Our first pick, the Summer Infant Multi-Use Deco Extra Tall Walk-Thru Gate, is JPMA-certified.
How wide do you need the gate to be?
When choosing a baby gate, you’ll want to make sure that it’ll fit and completely block the opening of your stairs, whether top or bottom. Doing this lessens the probability of you getting the wrong one and having to return it for a different size. The Evenflo Soft and Wide Gate can be expanded all the way to 60 inches.
How do you want the gate to open and close?
There are a lot of opening options available when it comes to baby gates. Some will open in both directions while others will only open in one direction. Some will require 3 actions to open which can be a form of assurance to parents with curious children. Other baby gates can be opened one-handedly. And then, there are gates that can remain open unless closed as well as others that will close automatically. If you’re installing the gate at the top of the stairs, you should only get a baby gate that will open away from the stairs.
You’re also going to need a gate that has a firm latch or locking mechanism that requires you to pull it up to unlock. Pulling up something will take more strength for a child than pushing a button. At the same time, it shouldn’t be too difficult for you to open that you’d end up going over the gate or doing away with it altogether thereby defeating the purpose of installing it in the first place. The Munchkin Easy Close XL Metal Baby Gate has a double-locking system as well as a third lock at the base of the gate for added safety.
Look at the slats and other openings.
Baby gates are intended for the safety of the child but that doesn’t mean that all of them are safe. Check the openings of the baby gate to see if they are compliant with the ASTM standard. The slats should be narrow, no wider than 2-3 inches to prevent a small child from getting his/her head stuck between the rails. The space at the bottom of the gate should also be no more than 3 inches, too small for a child to pass through and get trapped. If there are any openings that are greater than 2/3 of an inch deep, they should not be wider than 1 1/2 inches. Most importantly, the slats should never be horizontal because these could serve as a ladder that the child could climb up on.
What about materials?
Nowadays, baby gates can come in a variety of materials which allows you to “match” it with your existing decor. Some parents want something minimal and unobtrusive while others want something decorative. Gates can be made of metal, wood, or net interiors. Metal is the sturdiest option and more likely to last longer. If wood is more your style, make sure that it is splinter-free.
Other important considerations:
Avoid getting mesh panels with wide holes because these could still serve as footholds to a nimble, determined child. Make sure that you install the gate according to the manufacturer’s directions. The gate should have a straight top edge and should be at least 22 inches tall. If your child is tall for his age, get a gate that is at least three-quarters of his height. And think about who will be passing through the gate. If you have older kids, you may want to consider a baby gate that automatically closes or one that indicates if the gate is left open by sounding an alarm. The Evenflo Easy Walk Thru Top Of Stairs Gate has a color indicator to let you know if it is properly latched – red for yes and green for no.
A baby gate for the stairs is a must-have in any household with children under the age of 3. It will help prevent dangerous accidents when you’re not looking. That being said, don’t place too much confidence in your baby gate. It’s still not safe to leave your child unattended for too long.