Retractable baby gates are the newer kid on the block, but if you have an awkward space or simply prefer a gate that tucks away they’re hard to ignore. But where do they work best and which are the best retractable baby gates for your budget?
Why retractable baby gates?
The main benefit of a retractable baby gate is in the name – it retracts! Once the locking mechanism is released the mesh barrier rolls up and sits neatly at the side of your door frame – no threshold to trip over, no swinging gate and no obstruction. About that locking mechanism: depending on the model it can be much easier to operate a retractable with one hand than swing gates.
Retractable baby gates will suit a variety of widths without extension kits up to a width of 72 inches. They come in a range of colours to suit most interiors and since they tuck away so neatly are barely noticeable when you’re not using them. Super wide spaces aside, retractable gates are flexible enough and safe enough to be used in every room in the house – including the top and bottom of the stairs.
They do tend to be more expensive than more traditional options, but we think they’re worth it! Take a look at our pick of the best retractable gates for 2020.
Best Value Retractable Baby Gate: Summer Infant
A great value, robust retractable gate in a decorative black mesh and brushed chrome finish with a free baseboard mounting kit.
Safety and durability are the most important considerations for parents buying baby gates and this ticks both boxes. This gate is hardware mounted with screws to keep the housing firmly in place and the mesh itself is flexible yet tough. Summer even throws in a kit for attaching the gate to baseboards/skirting boards.
The Summer Infant Retractable Baby Gate measures in at 50 inches wide (max) and 30 inches high so should take care of even the most adventurous of babies and toddlers.
Ease of use
Most baby gates boast one-handed operation but some perform better than others. The Summer Infant gate is super easy to use and has a simple locking lever, push down to lock and pull up to unlock.
High traffic areas, hallways and stairs – anywhere really provided your space doesn’t exceed 50 inches.
Best Extra Tall Retractable Gate: Gaterol Active Lite
If you need an extra-tall retractable gate for a particularly skilled climber, or a solution for your garden or yard as well as indoors – this is a great choice. It comes with two sets of mounting brackets for alternate mounting which is super useful. It’s also one of the widest gates at 55 inches. Available in four colors: white, pink, blue and black.
Like all retractable gates the Gaterol Active Lite is hardware mounted, the most robust set up of any stair or baby gate.
This is a wide retractable gate with an opening capacity of 18 – 55 inches and stands at 32 inches high.
Ease of use
Users of this gate love it’s simple one-handed operation. Simply press and turn the locking mechanism to release the gate, pull across and hook onto two hooks on the opposite bracket.
A family that needs a sturdy gate with additional height and the flexibility to use/move the gate outside.
Best Extra-Wide Baby Gate: Retract-A-Gate
This is by far THE widest gate available at 72 inches wide and like the Gaterol is suitable for outdoor use and great for pets because it’s scratch resistant. It’s extremely durable and incredibly simple to use – but more expensive than most alternatives in this category. Available in white, black and cafe.
The award-winning Retract-a-Gate is made from durable (yet soft), scratch resistant mesh and is engineered for use by children and pets.
This gate comes in two sizes: the smallest is 52 inches and widest an impressive 72 inches. It stands at 34 inches for added security.
Ease of use
Operating this gate is a breeze. Just push and twist to unlock, pull the mesh across by the handle, and hook onto the brackets at the other side. A simple release allows you to quickly move the gate from room to room and affix to spare brackets – all with a baby in your arms. (Additional Universal Mounting Bracket Kit available separately.) When the gate is closed it can be swivelled to one side to keep it well out of the way.
A common complaint about retractable gates is noise but the Retract-a-Gate boasts a smooth and quiet operation (particularly important if using on baby’s bedroom door.)
Wider spaces, busy families with pets and families who want the flexibility of moving a gate from room to room – or even outside.
Best All Weather Retractable Gate: Dreambaby
Another award-winner! The lightweight Dreambaby is an all-weather, multi-purpose safety gate suitable for both children and pets – all at a reasonable price and with extras included. It’s not suitable for spaces wider than 55 inches. Available in black.
Made by well-respected child safety brand Dreambaby, this gate has won not one, not two but three awards – including one based on parent reviews. You would therefore expect a gate that has everything that a busy family can throw at it and it delivers.
Another tall option, this gate stands at 34 inches high for curious climbers and expands to a width of 55 inches.
Ease of use
Like other gates in this category the Dreambaby is easy to open with a push down and rotate motion. We love that you can move the gate to another room by sliding it upwards and off the hardware mounts and clipping it straight onto another set of mounts (one extra set of mounts is provided). Black or beige spacers are available if you have baseboards, or skirting boards
A good buy with a host of accolades that gives the flexibility to use gate inside and out (without the fear of fading or rusting) and can be moved easily around the home by using the supplied spare mounts.
Lascal KiddyGuard Avant Retractable Baby Safety Gate
I’ve been using this gate (two in fact) for more than a few years at the top of my stairs and my kids’ bedroom. Two boisterous boys later they’re still going strong! It’s not the cheapest gate out there, but the Swedish design looks great, it has certainly proved itself to be durable and reliable and is very easy to install and use.
The mesh panel is flexible yet super strong and there’s no sagging, even after years of use (and abuse!). A red indicator displays if the gate is not closed securely for extra peace of mind, and like other retractable safety gates it’s hardware mounted so can be used anywhere in the home, including the stairs (but not outside). Comes in black or white with an aluminium frame.
Another taller option at 35.3 inches high with a maximum width of 48 inches.
Ease of use
The operation of this gate is slightly different from most others in that it operates on a timer system. Simply press and turn, as you would with the other gates mentioned, but rather than having to lock it off once closed it times out and self-locks – one less thing to worry about.
The Lascal Kiddyguard can be mounted inside an opening, on the outside or on the wall or banister (a banister mounting installation kit is needed – available separately.)
Style conscious parents who want super easy, one-handed operation without having to worry about locking off the gate, but above all a very robust and reliable gate that will stand the test of time.