When it comes to the safety of your child from one of the most dangerous areas of your home, you need nothing less than the best safety gate for stairs.
According to a CBS report, every six minutes an American child under the age of five suffers a fall down the stairs that requires hospitalization.
A report focusing on a review of stair-related injuries in children published in 2012 found that nearly 932,000 children under 5 had to go to the emergency room between 1999 and 2008.
"WHAT THAT TELLS US IS THAT WE HAVE MUCH MORE THAT WE NEED TO DO TO MAKE THE HOME ENVIRONMENT SAFER FOR CHILDREN," STUDY AUTHOR DR. GARY A. SMITH, DIRECTOR OF THE CENTER FOR INJURY RESEARCH AND POLICY AT NATIONWIDE CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL IN COLUMBUS, OHIO, TOLD THE NEW YORK TIMES.
However, when searching for the best safety gate for stairs, the sheer number of choices are almost overwhelming.
Fortunately, there is an easy game plan for finding the perfect safety gate to fit your needs.
The Nuts and Bolts of the Best Safety Gate for Stairs
Before searching for the best safety gate for stairs, it's essential to first familiarize yourself with the different types of stairs as well as other factors related to safety gates.
When it comes to installation, there are two types of safety gates, hardware and pressure mounted.
These gates utilize an expandable spring system that locks the gate into place by squeezing it tightly between two walls or other surfaces, thus using pressure to hold it in place.
Typically, there are rubber pieces located on both sides to secure the gate in place while protecting your walls.
But here's the bottom line:
Children, especially younger children who just learned how to walk, tend to love running into things at full speed.
Just imagine 23 to 27 pounds of force running into a gate over stairs only held in place by cheaply made pressure springs.
In other words, the best safety gate for stairs will not be pressure mounted.
Of course, pressure-mounted gates may be okay to use at the bottom of stairs or if you need easy to remove barriers elsewhere.
But, to keep your child safe at the top of stairs, pressure-mounted gates are too risky a proposition.
Hardware-mounted gates securely attach to the framing of the walls in your home. These gates use a bracket that's drilled into either a doorframe or frame behind the walls to secure the gate.
It's essential to avoid drilling the baby-gate mount into plaster or drywall alone because they are not stable.
The best safety gate for stairs will be a hardware-mounted gate. The risk of these gates failing is much smaller than with pressure-mounted gates.
There are generally three surface types located at the top of a staircase: flat surfaces on both sides, round posts on one or both sides, and only one anchor point (or none at all).
Depending on which type of staircase you have, you may need to purchase specialized mounting hardware or in some cases use creative solutions to secure your gate.
Flat Surfaces on Both Sides
This setup will be the most straightforward configuration in most homes. Gates designed for these types of surfaces need permanent mounts and must never swing open over the stairs.
Also, the best safety gate for stairs will allow you to install at a bit of an angle, in case the two flat surfaces are not exactly across from each other.
Round Posts on One or Both Sides
When it comes to banisters, there's a bit of confusion concerning what they are.
Banisters are the vertical posts on a stairway. However, the word is also used to refer to the main handrail itself, or even the entire ensemble.
But, to install the best safety gate for stairs, a banister, in this case, refers to a round post at the top of a staircase.
These stair-types require additional attachments to secure your gate properly, called banister adapters.
Some companies make specialized post adapters. However, there are many universal adapters available that you can use for any gate model.
Only One Anchor Point or None at All
Do you have one of those unique or custom staircases that defies baby proofing?Maybe you only have one flat surface, but no wall or post on the other side.
Perhaps your stairs don't have anchor points on either side or railings that are as dangerous as open stairs are.
In that case, a regular safety gate won't cut it. You'll need something that can extend to accommodate your unique stairway situation.
For these types of staircases, a hardware-mounted play yard would be the way to go.
Our list of safety gates includes the only hardware-mounted play yard safety gate model that we can recommend for this staircase type.
Other Factors to Consider
There are several other factors to consider when searching for the best safety gate for stairs. For example, you'll also need to consider things such as height, gate spacing, materials, and standards.
The standard baby gate should be at least 22-inches tall. However, to reduce the risk of your child climbing over the gate, you'll want to buy a barrier that's at least your child's height.
Once your child is about two or three feet tall, it's likely you'll no longer need a gate. But, in the meantime, you want to make sure the gate is tall enough to prevent your child from scaling over onto the stairs.
The best safety gates for stairs will have gate slots less than three inches apart to keep your child's arm, leg, or head from getting stuck.
Be sure to carefully read your manufacturer's manual and check out the slat distances before buying.
Most baby gates are made out of wood, plastic, or metal, but there may also be other materials you need to look for.
For instance, some plastics may contain toxins and other chemicals that are not safe for your little one. If you're considering a gate made out of plastic, look for PVC free because this chemical is dangerous for children.
Also, make sure your gate doesn't have any loose screws or sharp ends that could harm your child.
For better peace of mind, the best safety gate for stairs will have a Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (PMA) certification. This certification is the stamp of approval which lets you know that your gate meets all of the testing and requirements of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).
If you're unsure if a baby gate manufacturer meets this standard, you can always check the Certified Product Directory for the manufacturer's name on the JPMA website.
On the other hand, if a manufacturer doesn't disclose that information upfront, it's probably a good idea to consider another baby gate.
Cool Extra Features to Look for in the Best Safety Gate for Stairs
When it comes to the best safety gate for stairs, there are also a few nifty features to look for that can make life much more comfortable.
The best safety gate for stairs will have a built-in indicator that lets you know when it isn't in the closed position.
Some gates will even sound an audible alert when the gate isn't secure or shine a small red light on the door to alert you.
Many parents often find themselves wondering if they left the baby gate open. Self-closing gates solve this problem by automatically closing the gate door after you open it.
While this is a wonderful feature, it's still a good idea to double check the gate door, just in case there's an obstruction blocking it from closing.
Some gates have a step over design, which means they do not open, but instead you step over them.
The best safety gate for stairs will be a walk-through gate which allows you to open it and walk through.
The locks on walk-through gates are also easy enough to open with one hand but complicated enough to foil a toddler's attempts to open it.
Dual-swing doors are a favorite feature among parents. These doors allow you to pass through easily by pushing the door, either way, to open it outward.
However, the best safety gate for stairs should have an additional feature called a stop bracket that allows you only to open the gate one way.
The stop bracket prevents the door from opening out toward the stairs just in case it's not closed correctly.
Multi-use is another great feature that allows you to configure your gate in different ways for more flexible functionality.
For example, some gates can double as fireplace barriers, while others can transform into a baby playpen.
One of the most common uses for multi-use gates is to place them in a doorway.
How We Unlocked the Best Safety Gate for Stairs
In our search for the best safety gate for stairs, we consulted numerous online forums, websites, and videos to find out what models both experts and customers recommend.
After compiling our list, we narrowed it down to only those products with the best customer reviews. Out of those nine products, we picked two as our best safety gate for stairs models.
One model is the best safety gate for standard stair-types, while the other model is the best gate for non-standard stair-types.
Here Are the Top 9 Models for the Best Safety Gate for Stairs
These are nine of the best safety gates for stairs on the market. Most of these models are hardware-mounted gates. However, some are also pressure-mounted for use at the bottom of the stairs.
The prices for these models range between $ and $$$, and the warranties range from 30 days to 1 year.
Finally, all the gate models on our list are JPMA certified products.
1. Cardinal Gates Stairway Special Safety Gate (Model SS-30)
The Cardinal Gates Stairway Special Safety Gate (Model SS-30) is a hardware-mounted baby gate that features a latch system designed to guard the top or bottom of a stairway but works well in all areas.
The gate measures 27 to 42 inches wide and is 29.5 inches high.
The latch is also specially designed to baffle even the most ingenious toddlers and pets while allowing for smooth one-hand operation for adults.
Also, this gate mounts at angles up to 30 degrees, which will allow the location of a stud when mounting on drywall.
Not to mention, it has an optional stop bracket that prevents it from opening over a stairway for improved safety.
The gate is made out of lightweight and durable aluminum. Plus, it's available in black, white, and outdoor brown with a powder-coated finished surface that's easy-to-clean.
There are also special clamps available which will allow you to use the gate for outdoor stairways and extensions sold separately.
Here's an installation video.
Amazon customers rated this gate 4.3 out of 5 stars. This best safety gate for stairs model can cost between $ and $$ depending on the size. Plus, it has a 90-day warranty.
2. Regalo Super Wide Baby Gate and Play Yard
The Regalo Super Wide Baby Gate and Play Yard model is ideal for wider or non-standard sized staircases. The 28-inch tall gate is highly adaptable, allowing you to fold it down for easy setup and storage. Also, it's very durable thanks to its all-steel design.
It can expand to become a 192-inch wide wall mounted gate as well as transform into an 8-panel configurable play-yard. Plus, it has a convenient walk-through design that features a safety locking mechanism.
In addition, the walk-through door is designed with a double lock lever handle to allow adults to pass through with one hand.
Here's an installation video.
The Regalo Super Wide Baby Gate and Play Yard model costs between $ and $$. It also comes with a 90-day warranty.
3. Cardinal Gates Auto-Lock Safety Gate (Model MG-15)
Cardinal Gates Auto-Lock Safety Gate (Model MG-15) features a patented latch that allows for quick pass-through in either direction. You simply pull and twist the latch to open and close, then swing the gate shut.
Installation is quick and straightforward, and the auto-lock gate is made out of aluminum, which is lighter than steel and nearly rustproof. However, please note that this gate is not for outdoor use.
There's also an optional stop bracket that prevents the gate from being opened over a stairway for greater safety.
Finally, the gate's width is adjustable between 26.5 and 40.5 inches and its height is 29.5 inches. Plus, the gate's surface has a powder-coated finish for easy cleaning.
This Cardinal Gates model was rated 4.2 out of 5 stars by Amazon customers. The price of this safety gate ranges from $ to $ and includes a 90-day warranty
4. Kidco Safeway Top of Stair Baby Safety Gate
The Kidco Safeway Top of Stair Baby Safety Gate features smooth one-hand adult operation and quick-release hardware that allows you to remove the gate when it's not needed.
It has a directional stop that prevents the gate from swinging out over the stairs. Plus, its hinge side hardware lets you mount the gate on an angled surface.
Plus, this gate is made from heavy-duty steel. The gate width ranges from 24.75 to 42.50 inches, and it's 30.50 to 33.50 inches high depending on how far you mount it off the ground.
This video shows you how to install the gate.
On Amazon, customers rated this gate 3.8 out of 5 stars which is usually lower than our 4.0 standard. However, the gate also earned higher ratings on such sites as Walmart (4.2 stars), Target (4.2 stars) and Buybuybaby (4.3 stars).
Given the gate's higher reviews on most retail sites, we decided to include it our best safety gate for stairs lineup.
This gate model retails between $ and $. KidCo gates also come with a one-year warranty.
5. North States 47.85" Easy Swing & Lock Baby Gate
The North States 47.85" Easy Swing & Lock Baby Gate features an Easy-Swing and Lock Gate that easily swings closed to self-lock.
Also, it has a sturdy, durable steel construction with vertical bars which make it more difficult for children and pets to climb the frame.
The gate features a decorative matte bronze finish incorporating both style and function to compliment your home decor.
Plus, the gate swings fully open with no threshold bar to step over, and it has a simple one-hand operating latch system.
Lastly, this model is easy to install and broader than many other gates on the market. It measures 28.68 to 47.85 inches wide, 31 inches high, and includes an extra-secure hardware mount.
Watch this video to see how to install this product.
This product received 4.0 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
The cost of this gate can range between $ and $. This product includes a 30-day warranty if purchased from the manufacturer's website.
6. Evenflo Top of Stairs Walk-Thru Gate
The Evenflo Top of Stairs Walk Thru Gate model features four-point hardware mounting, accommodates openings between 30 to 48 inches, and measures 32 to 35 inches high.
You can also set the gate to swing open in one or both directions using the swing control feature.
Plus, it includes a removable swing stop to prevent it from swing over the stairs and allows for convenient one-hand operation.
Learn how to install this gate by watching this video.
The rating on Amazon for this product was 4.3 out of 5 stars. This safety gate model usually costs between $ and $ and has a 90-day warranty.
7. Munchkin Loft Baby Gate
The Munchkin Loft Baby Gate features an Integrated Tuning System (ITS) that adjusts for a perfect vertical fit even when the walls are not level.
It's made out of heavy-duty aluminum and has a sleek, contemporary design with a silver-toned finish.
The gate's Indexed Sizing System (ISS) allows for quick and straightforward width adjustments with pre-set index positions. Plus, the quick-release wall mount allows you to remove the gate for high-traffic periods or entertaining.
On top of that, the door swings open in both directions and it has a double-locking system on the handle that's easy for adults to open but too tricky for children.
Amazon reviewers gave this product 4.2 out of 5 stars. The price of the Muchkin Loft Baby Gate ranges between $$ to $$ and includes a one-year warranty.
8. Summer Multi-Use Decorative Extra Tall Walk-Thru Gate (Bronze)
The Summer Multi-Use Decorative Extra Tall Walk-Thru Gate (Bronze) features all-metal construction and pressure mounted installations with optional hardware mounts for stairways.
The gate measures 28.5 to 45 inches wide in width, and its height is 36 inches tall.
It also has an auto-close one-hand operated walkthrough door that can open on either side with an optional door stopper for added security over stairs.
Plus, the dual locking system provides peace of mind, ensuring you that the gate is securely locked every time.
This video walks you through the installation process.
Customers on Amazon gave this product 4.3 out of 5 stars.
The cost of this Summer model can range between $ and $. That includes Summer's one-year warranty.
9. Dreambaby Chelsea 28-32in auto close metal baby gate - white
The Dreambaby Chelsea 28-32in auto close metal baby gate - white model features a stay open design that makes it easier to keep kids out of harm's way.
Ideal for bottom stairs use, the gate features a pressure-mounted auto-locking close and double locking system.
Also, the smart stay open feature is perfect when you need to move freely through the barrier thanks to its one-hand operation.
It measures from 28 to 32 inches wide and is 32 inches tall.
There's also an EZY check indicator that will show red if the gate is not closed, and it's a breeze to install with no tools needed.
This video shows you how to install the Dreambaby Chelsea 28-32in auto close metal baby gate - white model.
Amazon customers gave this gate 4.5 out of 5 stars.
The cost of this best safety gate for stairs model can range between $ and $, depending on the size. It also comes with a one-year warranty.
Here's Our Top Choice for the Best Safety Gate for Stairs
After careful examination, we found the three best safety gate for stairs models. The best safety gate for top and bottom stairs is the Summer Multi-Use Decorative Extra Tall Walk-Thru Gate (Bronze).
This gate's optional hardware mounts, dual locks, stopper, and versatile hardware or pressure-mounting system makes it the top choice for best safety gate for stairs.
Our top non-standard safety gate is the Regalo Super Wide Baby Gate and Play Yard, which can extend and adjust to any staircase.
It's our sincere hope that you've found this information on the best safety gate for stairs insightful and useful in helping you make your significant decision.
Which gate will you try? Do you have a favorite we didn't mention? Tell us about it in the comments!