Baby/Toddler Gate Recommendations
November 2, 2017 6:16 AM   Subscribe

We're moving and will need baby gates. What are the best options that are very safe and can absolutely be opened with one hand by an adult carrying a rambunctious monster but NOT by the monster herself, even if she is very clever? Complication: wide doorway.

The detainee in question is currently sixteen months old and fairly tall and very good at climbing. We need five gates in total. One is at the top of a flight of stairs so that will definitely need to be hardware mounted but the others are probably fine either way (or maybe not? Feel free to disagree!). For another one, the doorway opening is 76" so that one needs to be very wide. Priorities are:

1) Safety of course (not being able to open them, knock them over, or climb over them -- this matters most for the top of the stairs)
2) Easy to open with one hand
3) Sufficiently wide for a 76" opening
4) Easy to install
5) Not crazy expensive if possible

I've checked reviews on Amazon but it's hard to judge with those. I'm okay with getting, e.g., three of one brand, a hardware mounted one for the top of the stairs, and a different more expensive one for the wide doorway, I don't really care if they match. Thank you so much for any guidance you can provide!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl to Pets & Animals (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This gate is at the top of both of the stairs in our house. They have proved durable and strong through two kids (installed for ~5 years and opened and closed every day). Their selling feature is that they work well if the two walls on either side of the gate aren't totally square with one another, but they're also good independent of that.
posted by Betelgeuse at 6:22 AM on November 2, 2017

Oh! And to address your "hardware mounted or not hardware mounted" question, I sort of don't understand why anyone ever installs the pressure gates. I understand they're easier to install initially (and, I guess, if you want to move the gate around a lot, it makes sense), but the little bottom bar just seems like such a tripping hazard. We bought a couple of these but basically never used them because of the trip bar. We ended up giving them away to a friend who didn't seem to mind, so I guess my feeling about them is not universal. The linked gates seemed quite good other than the trip bar, so if you're not bothered by that, they'd be a solid choice for your not-wide doorways.
posted by Betelgeuse at 6:27 AM on November 2, 2017

Of all the gates in our house, the one we love the most is actually a pet gate we bought at PetSmart, but that is currently in our child's room door. Meets your criteria, but probably on the higher end of the price range. It also auto-closes, which is more valuable than I ever thought before I started using it.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 6:31 AM on November 2, 2017

This gate doesn't reach 76" (I don't know of any Cardinal Gates that do), but it has by far the best one handed latch I've used (it's different than others so will take a couple of tries to get proficient but then it's good) and is probably the most secure baby gate we've tried: Cardinal Gates Stairway Special Gate, White.
posted by skynxnex at 6:59 AM on November 2, 2017

We have two (I'll look at brands when I get home), but one is screwed into place, as it's at the top of the stairs, and we're still concerned about little boys tumbling downstairs even though the younger one is going to be 3 in a few months, while the other is fully removable.

The "trip bar" in the screwed in one is annoying, and little boys like to stand on it as they cross over, but so far no one has actually tripped on it, and it's been in place for about 5 years now. It also has a snap-close gate, and we're actually on our second gate because one day some part of the tension mechanism broke in a way we couldn't figure out to fix, but the first gate lasted for more than 4 years of constant use, opening and closing and keeping little people from tumbling down stairs.

The installed one is good because it is really well anchored in, where the push-in-place one ended up punching a hole in our wall (we should have moved it sooner, but that was the best location). We could have also put down some wood to spread out the pressure on the wall, but that would also not be ideal. In other words, your gate selection may also hinge (hah) on what kind of door way you have to block.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:56 AM on November 2, 2017

For our wide doorway, we sometimes used a gate like this, but extended, rather than as a fully enclosed circle (ie, we didn't hook the last two panels together, but rather extended them long-ways across the doorway). We just stepped over it as needed (but we're tall).

Alternate idea: most of our house was open to the baby (not baby-proofed, but baby-friendly). What we were most concerned about what the electronics. So we piled them all together in one spot, and then used the gate I linked above to encircle the electronics to keep the baby specifically out of that area. Baby was free to roam the rest of the living room. We got very good at keeping doors closed for whatever rooms we were not in.
posted by vignettist at 1:43 PM on November 2, 2017

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