It's one of the most exciting times in parenthood when your little one starts moving around by themselves for the first time.
Exciting, but also slightly terrifying!
You get a big wake-up call when your baby, who previously just stayed wherever you put them, becomes a fully mobile crawler or toddler, desperate to explore the world around them. I've been there three times and I could not have managed this stage without my trusty stair gate.
Stair gates stop children from getting where they're not supposed to, and are a must-have if you have a multilevel house, or even just areas you'd like to keep your child away from. But not all stair gates are created equal. Trying to choose which one will most suit the style of your home, the size of your stairs and doorways is key, but you also need to consider the ease of removal and, of course, safety for your child. It can be enough to make your head spin. There is also the option of purchasing a playpen which can be used as a stair gate. Take a look at the best playpens for babies and toddlers.
Luckily, we have tested them out, so you don’t have to. We have rounded up the best stair gates on the market, no matter what requirements you might have.
Best stair gates at a glance
- Best tall stairgate: Dreambaby Auto-Close Chelsea Xtra-tall Safety Gate, £53.99
- Best budget stair gate: Cuggl Wall Fix Safety Gate, £16.99
- Best retractable stair gate: BabyDan Guard Me Auto Retractable Safety Guard, £54.99
- Best budget wooden stair gate: John Lewis & Partners Extending Wooden Safety Gate, £34
- Best mesh stair gate: DreamBaby Retractable Gate, £49.99
- Best pressure fit stair gate: Lindam Sure Shut Axis Safety Gate, £26.99
- Best premium stair gate: Fred pressure-Fit Clear-View Stair Gate, £190
- Best minimalist stair gate: Lascal Assure KiddyGuard Gate, £85
- Best stair gate for awkward spaces: BabyDan Super Flexi Fit Extending Wooden Safety Gate, £40
- Best easy to fit stair gate: Lindam Easy Fit Deluxe Safety Gate, £27.99
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What to consider when buying a stair gate
Location - Where is your baby stair gate going to go? Are you going to use it at the top or bottom of the stairs? Or maybe both? Will you put in any other locations, such as the kitchen or bedroom doorway? Before choosing your stair gate, make a list of the places you want to have one, as each location might need a different style of gate.
Size - The size of stair gates differs greatly. Make sure you measure up the location of your space accurately so you can choose a gate that will fit securely without any gaps or other issues. You may think your stairway is a "standard" size but you could be surprised.
Fixtures - You need to think about the fixture of your gate. Pressure-mounted gates are the easiest to install and can be moved to different locations as you don’t fix them to a wall. And, bonus, they won’t damage your woodwork! They come in two types: U-pressure fit gates which have a walk-through section, and safety barriers, which are solid and designed for occasional use. At the other end of the spectrum are hardware-fixed gates which are fixed to the wall. These are the ones recommended for long-term use and for the top of staircases (see our safety notes below).
Portability - If you only want to invest in a single stair gate, then portability is a big factor. Pressure gates and travel barriers can be easily moved around, without the need for tools or fixtures.
Pets - If you are trying to keep your little one safe but also have a dog or cat running around, then you need to think about a stair gate that will still allow your furry friend to have their freedom. If they are too big to squeeze through the bars, then you might want to consider a gate with a pet door. Don't be tempted to fit your gate a few inches higher up the wall to allow a pet to squeeze underneath: this could be unsafe for the child.
Height - Thinking about your child’s height is also a big consideration. Although they might be just crawling now, once they are standing and a few months older, will your stair gate still be tall enough for them? There are gates available that suit taller children.
Aesthetics - Although you might not think this is an important factor, your stair gate will become a part of your home. As such, how it looks can make a big difference. There are stair gates available in all different colours, styles, and materials. So you are sure to find one that suits your taste and your safety needs.
Opening - There are several different opening options to choose from, including gates that can be opened with one hand, gates that swing open both ways, stay-open gates, 3-action opening gates, gates that close automatically, and manual close gates.
Swing or retractable - retractable gates are compact and work in a similar way to a roller blind. They're great for smaller spaces and can blend into a door frame when not in use. They are hardware mounted, while swing gates can be either hardware mounted or pressure fit.
Trip hazards - Some gates, such as pressure-mounted gates, have a horizontal bar running along the bottom. This bar has pressure points on either side to make the gate secure. However, this also creates a trip hazard. Because of that, it is not recommended to have one at the top of the stairs.
How to choose a stair gate safely
Choosing the right stair gate depends entirely on where you want to fit it. Although pressure-fitted stair gates are convenient (particularly if you live in rented accommodation) they can be unsafe if not fitted properly, and are generally not the safest choice if you're fitting against a bannister or stair post, rather than a solid wall. For optimal safety, choose a hardware-mounted gate, especially if it's going at the top of a flight of stairs. This will mean drilling into your wall or post, but it will ensure your child can't push the gate out with force. Look for the safety standard BS EN 1930:2011 while shopping.
How did we test and choose these products?Our 10 of the Best lists are compiled by qualified and experienced parenting journalists. They rely on a number of sources, including our independent reviews, testing undertaken during the MadeForMums Awards, and feedback from our home testing panel and Top Testers Club. Each year thousands of products are put through their paces by hundreds of parents across the country on behalf of MadeForMums, to ensure we’re bringing you honest and true reviews and recommendations.
For each stair gate on the list we considered appearance and value for money, ease of fitting, ease of use, durability, extra features, safety features, and any adjustable or customisable elements.
Our list is not an ordered ranking from 1-10, instead it is a carefully selected group of tried-and-tested products, each of which we believe is best for a different situation or requirement.
Here’s our pick of the best stair gates
1. Dreambaby Auto-Close Chelsea Xtra-Tall Safety Gate, from £53.99
Best tall stair gate
Main material: Metal | Type: Pressure-mounted with screw fix option | Extendable: Yes | Dimensions: (H) 106cm x (D) 6cm x (W) 76 cm
When you need a stair gate for a taller toddler or child, you might get frustrated with the standard height of most gates.
We love this extra tall gate by Dreambaby, because not only does it measure taller than most stair gates, standing 1m high, but you can also purchase extensions taking it to a maximum width of 4.8m if needed. This makes it ideal for pretty much any doorway or large opening, and difficult for wandering tots to escape from.
This is a pressure-mounted stair gate, but you also have the option of hardware mounting if you want to use it at the top of the stairs. And although it has an extra safe double-locking feature, this means that there is a bar at the bottom, so beware of the potential tripping hazard.
Two features we particularly like are the one-handed operation and the EZY Check Indicator. Being able to open a gate one-handed always gets bonus points from us (carrying a baby and a toy, and your phone demands a one-handed opening!) And the EZY Check Indicator shows red if the gate isn’t closed properly, offering extra peace of mind for busy mums!
Pros: Elegant style, extra tall, extendable, pressure-mounted with the option of hard mounted, one-hand opening, easy to install, EZY Check Indicator, available in black or white
Cons: Bottom bar causes potential trip hazard, plastic catch isn’t the strongest
2. Cuggl Wall Fix Safety Gate, £16.99
Best budget buy
Main material: Metal | Type: Screw fit | Extendable: No | Dimensions: (H) 73cm x (Maximum Width) 81cm
This sleek and simple safety gate is from Argos’s own affordable baby brand, and with such a low price point, it should suit most smaller budgets.
But just because the cost is low, it doesn’t mean the list of safety features is small. The first big plus for us is that it is step-free, so no potentially dangerous trip hazards. Another tick is the one-handed opening. Something you don’t always see with less expensive stair gates.
The screw-fix safety gate also has a double-locking system and two-way opening, making it safe and easy to access (for an adult) from both sides. Home tester Katie praised it for being great value and confirmed it "does the job!" adding she's had "no issues with it" since installing.
The only slight niggle is the width of the gate. It fits frames measuring 76cm - 81cm, making it slightly less versatile. However, there is an extendable version of the gate available.
Pros: Affordable, one-handed opening, double locking, manual closing system, step-free, sturdy
Cons: Only fits widths 76cm - 81cm, doesn’t come with extenders, very basic design
Available from: Argos
3. BabyDan Guard Me Auto Retractable Safety Guard, £54.99
Best retractable stair gate
Main materials: PVC-Free plastic | Type: Screw fix | Extendable: Yes | Dimensions: H69cm x W55-89.5cm x D4cm
Retractable safety gates are great because they offer all of the safety features you need while having the added benefit of being able to fold away when not in use, and this option by BabyDan is a great option.
Not only does it blend into doorways when not in use, but it is auto-foldable. There isn’t a fiddly clasp to open, but instead, you just press a button, and the gate retracts. We also love how it can be folded on the inside or the outside of a doorframe. And, because there is no trip hazard, you can have it at the top or bottom of your stairs. Home tester Ruth loved this feature, saying she chose a BabyDan gate for that exact reason. "I didn't want the floor bar as a trip hazard so I wanted a gate without that feature."
MFM home tester Louise praised the adjustable width, saying, "we have narrow doorways so we found they were the only ones that worked for us." Alex, also a MFM home tester, said "I like when we’re not using them they fold back against the wall."
The stylish gate is made from PVC plastic, and it is easy to clean after little sticky fingers have been unleashed on it! This is a versatile option for wider door frames (extending up to 89cm width) and you can purchase an extension kit to take it up to 113.5cm.
The only niggle we have with it is it can be difficult to install if you have high skirting boards (the gate will need to be installed above them).
Pros: Retracts neatly when not in use, one-handed open with a button, can be extended further, can be installed at the top and bottom of the stairs
Cons: Awkward to install if you have skirting boards
4. John Lewis & Partners Extending Wooden Safety Gate, £34
Best wooden stair gate
Main material: Wood | Type: Screw fix | Extendable: Yes | Dimensions: (H) 74.5cm x (W) 60.5-102cm x (D) 4cm
If you like the look of a traditional wooden stair gate but you are on a tight budget, then this simple yet stylish option from John Lewis & Partners ticks all the right boxes.
A lot of purse-friendly options don’t have the one-handed opening and locking feature, but this one does. We particularly like the gate’s no trip bar, which makes it a good option to have at the top of the stairs. It also comes with stop pins specifically for mounting at the top of the stairs. This stairgate has a generous extension, allowing the width to go from 60.5cm - 102cm, so it should fit most entrances and doorways.
This wall-fix stair gate is popular thanks to the affordable price point and its plethora of features which make it easy to use. However, the instructions to put it together could be improved.
Pros: Looks good, double locking, no trip bar, two-way opening, affordable, sturdy
Cons: Instructions are not very helpful, a little fiddly to fit
Available from: John Lewis
5. DreamBaby Retractable Gate, £49.99
Best mesh stair gate
If you love the idea of a retractable gate but are not keen on plastic or metal, then this option from DreamBaby could be just what you are looking for.
This sturdy, mesh barrier makes a nice change to the standard metal bar gates that we so often see. We also love that it comes in your choice of grey, white or black. It is suitable for the top and bottom of stairways, hallways, doorways, and more and presents no tripping hazards for you or your little one. MFM Home tester Amy said, "We have the dreambaby retractable and it's fantastic, easy to use one handed and fits perfectly in our awkward corner staircase!"
We love the simple versatility of this gate, and it is all the more desirable as it comes with two sets of mounting brackets, meaning you can choose two areas in your home that get the most use and simply move the gate between the two locations without having to remove and replace the wall brackets.
The mesh barrier retracts all the way across, so there is no gate in the way when open, meaning there is less chance of tripping up! It also has a one-handed opening system, so you can have your arms full and still open and close the gate with ease.
The gate makes a sound when opening, to alert you. However, you can open it silently but this would require using both hands. It also comes with two sets of mounts, so you can clip the gate on and off to use in two different locations in the house.
Pros: Taller than most standard gates, easy to open and close, easy to move around, fits narrow and wider openings, one-handed opening, suitable for top and bottom of stairs, see-through mesh available in 3 colours, UV treated
Cons: Spacers are required when installed over skirting boards (need to purchase separately,) fabric can get twisted when the gate retracts
Main material: Mesh | Type: Screw fix | Extendable: Yes | Dimensions: Bracket height 93cm, Mesh height 86.5cm, Fits openings up to 140cm wide
6. Lindam Sure Shut Axis Safety Gate (76-82cm), £26.99
Best pressure fit stair gate
Main material: Metal | Type: Pressure-fit | Extendable: Yes (purchased separately) | Dimensions: (H) 75cm x (W) 76cm - 82cm
When you want to stay clear of drills and tools, then a pressure fit safety gate is for you. Our favourite is the Sure Shut Axis from Lindam.
The design is simple with no stylish bells and whistles, but it provides an unobtrusive presence in the home. It has a U-shaped frame that squeezes against your walls, and with the help of the wall cups and sticky pads provided, holds snugly against the walls using four pressure points. And because no drilling is required, it is quick and easy to install within a few minutes.
MFM home tester Dani said, "We have the Lindam pressure fit gates in our house and they are still going strong since my son was born 10 years ago...they are easy to open one handed and have an extra safety feature at the bottom to stop the gate opening one way or the other or both for added protection."
We especially like that it comes with a pressure indicator, which lets you know that the gate is installed properly. It also has a wide walkway, which is helpful when more than one little one wants to charge through!
This stair gate also comes with an easy-to-use squeeze and lift handle, and as our tester pointed out, there's a handy double lock feature to make sure even the trickiest of escape artists stay put. FM home tester Ann said, "We have the Lindam ones throughout our house including some extensions and they have been great. They have moved house with us and still stand the test of a 2.5 year old shaking the gate as hard as they can!"
Pros: Quick and easy to install, one-handed opening, comes already assembled, no drill required, extensions are available separately to fit openings up to 117cm, open in either direction, double-lock
Cons: Has a bar at the bottom causing a potential trip hazard, check the pressure daily to ensure it is secure, extenders still only allow the main gate to open and not additional width of extenders
Available from: Amazon
7. Fred Pressure-Fit Clear-View Stair Gate, £190
Best premium stair gate
Main material: Acrylic | Type: Pressure-fit (but also comes with screws) | Extendable: Yes | Dimensions: (W) 86.4cm x (H) 77.8cm x (D) 8.5cm can fit openings up to 124cm wide
This premium stair gate is the most expensive on our list and is one for the safety-conscious and the style-conscious.
Unlike any of the other stair gates in our list, this chic style from Fred features a clear acrylic panel, allowing unrestricted visibility and a contemporary finish. It's perfect for keeping an eye on your little one while not taking away the elegance of your home.
But this stair gate doesn’t just deliver on aesthetics, it delivers on safety too. It features a colour indicator that alerts you if the gate is left unlocked, and additional indicators to show you that the gate has been installed correctly.
The two-way magnetic locking system makes closing the gate easy, and you can choose to have the gate open one way or both ways.
We love the little extra details, such as the glow strip on the bottom rail, ensuring you can spot it and avoid tripping even in the dark. As this is a pressure-fix gate, it is easy to install and remove without tools. Just make sure you use the wall cups and adhesive provided. It also comes with 4 screws for additional security.
Pros: Fairly simple to install, extra safety features, fits around skirting boards, crystal clear window, one-handed opening, slam-shut closing, stylish and elegant, gate opens both ways
Cons: Bottom bar can present a trip hazard, can’t be used at the top of the stairs, can look dirty from fingerprints but very easy to clean
8. Lascal Assure KiddyGuard Gate, £85
Best minimalist stair gate
Main material: Mesh (fabric) | Type: Screw-fix | Extendable: Yes | Dimensions: Fits openings up to 100cm wide
This gate by Lascal is made from a strong, mesh fabric, which makes a nice change from the standard metal designs. It is also more forgiving if little ones bump their heads on it!
We love the simple yet effective way the Assure guard rolls up onto a spindle when it is not in use. MFM home tester Annika said it is "good for our awkward stair top." This makes it feel like a subtler way to incorporate a stair gate into your home, especially if you are a fan of minimalist design.
It can withstand an impact of up to 100kg and has a standard width for openings up to 100cm, which is one of the widest on our list without the need of an extender. Another favourite feature is the lock. It opens and closes with one hand and can be set to lock automatically or manually, ensuring total safety for your child.
The Assure features a colour indicator warning and a red warning button that pops up if the gate has been left unlocked. Something to note is the gate makes a bit of noise when retracting - not ideal if you are transferring a slumbering babe upstairs for nap time.
Pros: Blends into the home, rolls into a spindle. Strong fabric, flexible and fits openings up to 100cm, one-handed opening, automatic lock and pop-up lock indicator, no bottom bar to trip over
Cons: Quite noisy when retracting, easier to open with two hands, quite pricey
9. BabyDan Super Flexi Fit Extending Wooden Safety Gate, £40
Best gate for awkward spaces
Main materials: Wood | Type: Screw fix | Extendable: Yes | Dimensions: (H) 74cm x (W) 69-106.5cm x (D) 5cm
Wooden stair gates have a unique charm about them. This style by BabyDan not only looks great but the sturdy gate can be easily adjusted to fit a wide range of openings, from 69cm - 106.5cm.
The design of the gate also makes it possible to be fitted inside, outside, or even diagonally across and opening, making it a versatile option for your home. MFM home tester Louisa uses these gates for her wide doorways, and describes them as "good quality, easy to use, not noisy and [they] look great."
We like how the gate opens in both directions and can be opened easily with one hand. Some reviewers found the instructions a little tricky to follow, and recommend reading them very thoroughly before starting to install the gate.
Pros: Great for awkward spaces, wooden construction looks stylish, no bar across the bottom, can be installed at the top and bottom of stairs, one-handed opening
Cons: A little fiddly to build, instructions could use improvement, takes a bit longer to build than estimated
Available from: John Lewis
10. Lindam Easy Fit Plus Deluxe Tall Safety Gate, £45
Best easy to fit stair gate
Main materials: Metal | Type: Pressure fit | Extendable: Yes | Dimensions: (H) 91.4cm and fits openings 76-82cm
If you are looking for a simple, quick, and easy to install baby gate, then this Lindam option is for you.
It is called the Easy Fit because that is exactly what it is. The stair gate comes assembled and ready to install, and installation can take as little as 5 minutes. As this is a pressure-fit stair gate, you don’t need tools or a drill to install it. Instead, everything you need is provided in the box. There is also a pressure indicator that gives visual assurance that the gate is installed correctly. Perfect for anxious parents who need extra assurance.
The gate can be opened with one hand, although some reviewers reported that this can take a little time to perfect. And we particularly like the extra wide walkway, something essential for when you are carrying all your little ones' gubbins (and probably your little one too!)
A couple of other features we like about this gate include the extra lock at the bottom of the gate and the additional extensions. You can purchase separate extensions to fit openings up to 117cm, and it's worth opting for the tall version for extra longevity and reassurance.
Pros: Wide walkthrough section, easy and quick to fit, comes fully assembled, 2-way opening for doorway use, one way opening for bottom of stair use, double locking, one-handed opening, easy to move around the house, can be extended
Cons: Step over bar, can’t be used at the top of the stairs, opening can take a little time to perfect with one hand