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Which retractable baby gate is best? 

Yes, it’s great having toddlers assist with washing dishes or putting them away. However, if you’re roasting a turkey in the oven or frying up some potatoes, it’s best if they stay out of the kitchen. 

While it’s difficult to separate yourself from your baby, there are times when it’s required, whether you’re cooking or busy working from home. A quality baby gate like the Smart Retract Retract-A-Gate helps give a sense of serenity and keep your child from harm’s way. 

What to know before you buy a retractable baby gate

Where will you use your baby gate, and for how long?

To select the right retractable baby gate, first be aware of its measurements. Most baby gates can reach a height of about 30 inches and stretch between 29-45 inches. 

Now measure and gather the widths of the rooms or stairs you wish to block off. But it’s not just about width. You must also consider whether you plan to continue baby-gate use once your child is taller than 36 inches. 

While it’s much more budget-friendly to purchase a tall gate from the start, it’s not required. You can just as easily decide to purchase a traditional baby gate once your child is taller than 36 inches. These gates can typically handle more pressure and weight than a retractable gate once your child goes beyond a certain height and weight. 

Does it meet safety standards?

A quality retractable baby gate is certified by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, or JPMA, or another similar body. To be certified, a product must undergo a series of stringent tests. If a baby gate has a JPMA or other certification, it will help keep your baby safe once installed correctly. 

Is it portable?

How often will you be traveling to a relative or another location that may require a baby gate? Most of them permanently attach to the walls once installed, which makes them difficult and time-consuming to move around. If you’ll be traveling frequently, consider a portable retractable baby gate, or have one separately installed in your relative’s homes if they’re okay with it. 

What to look for in a quality retractable baby gate


While most retractable gates use mesh, you can find wooden gates that retract. Mesh is generally preferred because there’s no risk of your baby getting splinters as they explore the large new world that surrounds them. 

However, not all mesh is created equal. When purchasing a new baby gate, ensure that it’s made from high-quality material that cannot easily rip or tear if your baby decides to use it to pull themselves up. 

Also, a mesh gate can slowly lose its integrity through constant use. Having a baby gate that uses higher-grade mesh material and is certified for top-of-stair use typically means it will last much longer than its competitors. 

Locking mechanism

You have to give babies credit where credit is due. Because they love to explore, they can quickly learn how to unlock their baby gates. A gate with a child-proof lock will prevent any unintended wandering in restricted areas. 

Installation process

Most baby gates are relatively simple to install with the help of a screwdriver. However, some present a frustrating installation experience. All come with the required hardware for installation, but ensure that it has quality screws and bolts, or you may need to take a trip to your local hardware store. 

How much you can expect to spend on retractable baby gates

Depending on the brand and materials used, expect to spend $40-$200 on a quality retractable baby gate. 

Retractable baby gate FAQ

Are retractable baby gates safe? 

A. If all the measurements correctly align, then yes, a retracting baby gate is safe for babies and young toddlers. Use the appropriate mounting hardware, and when the gate’s fully closed, give it a slight push to ensure it doesn’t fall out of place. If it can withstand your push, it’s likely to withstand any amount of pressure your child puts on it. 

What can a retractable baby gate withstand?

A. A retractable mesh gate can typically bear about 100-200 pounds of force. That’s more than enough to prevent it from ripping if your child decides to pull themselves up using the gate. However, if they run at it full force, the entire gate will come crashing down. 

Where’s the best place to install a retractable baby gate? 

A. The purpose of a baby gate is to help keep your baby out of dangerous areas where they shouldn’t be left alone unsupervised. If that means that a majority of your rooms require gates, consider blocking off your family room instead. Otherwise, baby gates are typically used to block bathrooms, kitchens and stairways. If you plan to block off your stairs, you must use a gate that’s been approved for stair use and install one at the top and at the bottom. 

What’s the best retractable baby gate to buy?

Top retractable baby gate

Smart Retract Retract-A-Gate

Smart Retract Retract-A-Gate

What you need to know: This versatile baby gate is perfect for pets as well as children up to 24 months. 

What you’ll love: The scratch-resistant mesh gate is washable and is available in two widths. It’s JPMA-certified for use at the top and bottom of your stairs. It also features one-hand operation, making it a cinch to open, close and lock while holding your baby in your other arm. 

What you should consider: The gate must be fully closed and locked for it to be effective. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top retractable baby gate for the money

Evenflo Expansion Gate

Evenflo Expansion Gate

What you need to know: It’s a retracting gate with a minimalist wooden design at an affordable price. 

What you’ll love: Retractable baby gates can get expensive quickly. This gate has a simple but durable wooden design that can open up to 60 inches, and you can swing the gate open or retract it. The one-hand operation features a telescoping safety rail that prevents fingers from getting pinched. 

What you should consider: It’s not approved for use at the top of the stairs. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Summer Infant Decorative Mesh Retractable Baby Gate

Summer Infant Decorative Mesh Retractable Baby Gate

What you need to know: This is a retractable mesh baby gate that has a classy talking-point design. 

What you’ll love: Unlike most plain baby gates, Summer Infant went the extra step and created this one with a semi-floral design in silver and charcoal. Even if you have a baseboard, it comes with a kit that has everything you need to install this gate for maximum safety. 

What you should consider: The mesh can stretch if leaned upon. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Christopher Lee writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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