What’s the best baby gate for long/wide spaces?

QWhat’s the best baby gate for long and wide spaces?

I have a very large entryway in my home that I want to gate off but I can’t figure out what the best gate would be. I know it needs to be at least 5 feet wide. What’s my best option?

AThe Answer

When Size Matters: Wide Baby Gates

Not All Baby Gates Are Created Equal
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If every home had the exact same layout and design, then making each home safe for small children would be a remarkably easy task. But of course life would also be rather boring! Fortunately, not most every house, apartment, loft, or other type residence is unique in its floorpan, furnishings, and other features.

That also means that when it comes to the task of “baby proofing” the home, there’s no one-size-fits all solution, and that’s especially true when your home has larger sized openings between rooms or at the head or foot of the staircases. Cabinet locks, plug guards, and other such safety measures are great tools in the arsenal of the parent (or grandparent or guardian) who wants to make their house safe for youngsters, but ultimately the best way to ensure a small child’s safety is to manage their access to various parts of the property through reliable baby gates.

If your home has nothing but standard doorways (usually around 32 inches in width, give or take a little), then finding gates that will easily render certain areas off limits to small children will be easy. If, however, you live in a home with wide open spaces and easy access to that most precarious feature… stairs…
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…then you’re going to have to look a bit harder to find the right kind of baby gates to ensure your home is truly safe. And don’t take the search for reliable wide baby gates lightly. Remember:

The Primary Job of a Baby Gate is to Keep a Child Safe When They Are Not Being Actively Monitored!

You should never leave a baby or toddler (or even a 3 or 4 year old, really) unwatched at all, but of course in reality adults need to step out of rooms briefly, check that phone message, make sure pots aren’t boiling over, and so forth. A baby gate keeps kids in a room or area dubbed safe even when an adult is not right beside them to manage their movement. So as you consider which baby gates are right for your home and your family, make sure you imagine yourself relying on the gates to prevent potentially serious injuries, broken property, and other such hazards. Sure, you want safety gates that will complement or blend into your home’s decor, but first and foremost, the name of the game is safety. (And don’t worry: the gates won’t be up forever: kids grow, remember?)

A Few Things to Consider

Before we talk about which specific baby gates are right for your home, you need to consider a few other factors more generally. So ask yourself a few questions, including…

  • Do you have crawling babies?
  • Do you have walking toddlers?
  • Are these gates to be up all the time? (Or do they need to come down and go up frequently, such as might be the case at a grandparent’s house?)
  • Do you have pets who will be impacted by the gates?
  • Are the gates for stairs, doorways, halls, etc.?
  • Each of these questions (and of course many more – these just represent a primer to get you thinking!) may render certain options perfect while meaning others are a poor choice. For example, if you need to baby proof the top of a stair case, you may want to opt for gates that use mounting hardware rather than tension to hold the gates in place: all it takes is for the tension to give out a bit on the bottom of the gate for an infant to potentially slide under, aided by gravity…

    Certain gates with built-in doors are easier to open than others, so if you have slightly bigger kids you still want to keep corralled, then you need to keep in mind how curious little hands can be (especially when trying to escape). And while of course you want to be mindful of your pets, thus potentially opting for a door with a pass-through area for animals built in, keep in mind that if a cat or medium-sized dog can squeeze through an opening, many babies will be able to also!

    So look around your home, think about your family, your pets, the type of guests you frequently host and the activities that take place around the house, and then let’s get down to business.

    You’ve got small kids and big openings in the home? Well then…

    Let’s Talk Specifics: The 4-1-1 On a Few Good, Wide Baby Gates

    One of these great gates is sure to be a great choice for your family! But will you end up going with…

    The Affordable Option
    North States Industries Supergate Extra-Wide Gate
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    Listen… this is not the most attractive baby gate the world has ever seen. In fact, this is arguably the least aesthetically pleasing option on our list. But hey, it’s also the cheapest “permanent” gate that allows passage for adults and which can easily adjust to fit different span widths. However, unlike other options that have built-in swing doors for passing by, this unit must be unlocked and slid aside.

    Pros
    – Low Price
    – Fits Spans 22″ – 62″
    – Mounting Hardware for Secure Fit

    Cons
    – Unattractive Appearance
    – Rigid, Rather Flimsy Plastic
    – Less Convenient Than Options With Built-In Doors

    The Takeaway
    If you don’t care much about aesthetics (and who has the time or energy for that, really, when you have little kids), then the North States Industries Supergate is a decent choice for baby proofing wider doorways, halls, or staircases. It uses hardware that mounts on the wall and holds it securely in place, though that’s only a benefit in the house that always needs to be baby safe: this gate is probably not the right choice for grandma’s house! The gate can be easily adjusted across an impressive range of width, though, and the price is right.

    The Temporary Solution
    Safety 1st Wide Doorways Fabric Gate
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    If you only need to blockade the kitchen (or hallway or living room or whatnot) on occasion, than why go drilling holes into your walls and affixing hardware for permanent baby gates? There are plenty of quality baby gates out there that rely on tension to stay in place, and the Safety 1st Fabric Gate is a fine example of those. It can be set up in seconds, the fabric cover can be washed in the machine, and it’s even a good price.

    Pros
    – Easy to Install and Remove
    – Adjustable up to 62″
    – Tension Mounted (no hardware)
    – Great for Travel

    Cons
    – Smallest Width is 38″
    – Not As Secure As Hardware-Mounted Options
    – No Pass-Through Option – Must Be Removed or Stepped Over

    The Takeaway
    The biggest drawback to the Safety 1st Fabric Gate is that it affords no easy way to get past it, even for the adults (or big kids) who have every right to do so! You have to step over the gate (not safe for older folks; not viable for shorter folks) or remove it entirely. But this option is hardly intended as a permanent solution: rather this is a great choice to bring with you while you’re traveling or to drop off at the home of relatives, friends, or the nanny or baby sitter where your child will occasionally need corralling, but where most of the time the residence needs to offer free range to grown ups.

    (One other issue, in case you missed the significance there in the “Con” section: at its narrowest width, this gate is still 38 inches wide, which is several inches wider than most standard doorways, so only consider this gate if the span (or spans) you need blocked are indeed wide.)

    For the Family with Pets
    Carlson Extra Wide Walk-Thru Gate with Pet Door
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    The answer to your likely first question is yes, this option is as much a gate to prevent pets from accessing an area is it for blocking small people. But for the house with pets and smaller infants or larger toddlers, it just might the best option. There’s an age range of kids for which this gate is the wrong choice: namely kids who are mobile yet still small enough to squeeze through that little cat-sized opening at the bottom. For most little crawlers, though, it will represent an impenetrable barrier when the pet door is closed; for larger little kids (think 3 – 4 years old) the pet pass through will be too small even if they know how to open it.

    Pros
    – Good for Homes with Kids and Pets
    – Expansion Kits Fit Gate to Most Span Width
    – Base Kit Is Low Priced

    Cons
    – Not Safe for Youngsters of Some Ages
    – Adult Pass Through Door Too Narrow
    – Unattractive Design

    The Takeaway
    In many ways, this gate illustrates the old adage that you can’t be all things to all people: it’s an adequate gate for baby proofing purposes and an adequate gate for regulating different animals access to various parts of your home, but it’s not great in any particular way. The doorway is too narrow, there’s a lip that poses a tripping hazard, and overall the gate doesn’t look great. But on the other hand, it’s highly affordable, and while not stellar in any particular way, it is more versatile than most gates out there, for indeed it allows cats and small dogs to roam while stopping large animals, it prevents little kids from running free, and it allows bigger people to pass through.

    Our Top Choice
    Supergate Deluxe Décor Metal Gate
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    We try to remain objective and unbiased when preparing answers to your questions and when addressing concerns… but sometimes we just have to admit: we have favorites. And the North States Industries Supergate Deluxe Décor Gate is our absolute favorite baby gate for wide spaces. Of course you will notice right off the bat that it’s also the most expensive option on our list, but for a difference of around $30 over other options, it’s well worth it. The Supergate is available in a handsome bronze or a demure linen finish, and its clean lines and gently sloping door will actually complement the decor of most homes, rather than being the eyesore most baby gates honestly are. Let’s talk pros and cons, and then we’ll gush a bit more.

    Pros
    – Attractive Design
    – Can Be Fitted to Angled Spaces
    – Wide, Easy To Use Door
    – Secure But Minimalist Mounting Hardware

    Cons
    – Narrowest Width 38.3″
    – May Not Work With Some Moldings

    The Takeaway
    Once you have the four compact pieces of hardware mounted on the walls, this gate is one of the most reliable, easiest to operate, and elegant options we’ve ever seen. Opening the generously wide doorway requires one hand and a matter of two seconds and the gate swings shut automatically behind you (unless you intentionally open it wide enough to catch open). Removing the gate entirely from its mounting pieces takes just a few seconds more. It can be made to span distances up to 72 inches (that’s a full six feet, for your quick reference) and it even works on areas where it’s not a straight span, such as where two walls stop short of meeting each other to form an angled passthrough between rooms. At more than 30 inches tall, this The Supergate Deluxe will serve well for kids of many ages, and for most pets, too.

    It’s little wonder that it has been purchased and used by thousands and thousands of people and routinely receives ratings of more than 4.5 stars from its satisfied customers. In fact, in the course of our research, we found but one recurring complaint, and that came from users whose homes have thick, curved, or unique molding and/or baseboards, which can make proper installation of the Supergate a bit of a headache.

    Notable Contenders

    Though the above baby gates listed are solid options for large entryways, the Summer Infant Sure And Secure Custom Fit Gate is a great budget friendly option that’s easy to setup and adjust as needed.
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    Lastly, the North States Industries Superyard is an ideal choice too as it features removable panels to fit any doorway width in your home. With this guy, you can even create a full circle play pin if desired.
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    So there you have it: if you need wide baby gates for your home, then hopefully you now have some ideas for gates that will fit. All of our choices have their pros and a few cons, but surely one (or more) will be the right fit for you!