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A retractable baby gate is one of the first considerations to make when baby-proofing a home. If you want to make sure your crawling, adventurous child doesn’t end up somewhere they shouldn’t be, you need that barrier in place. But, I know that many standard baby gates just aren’t practical or convenient enough for everyone.
The alternative is to install a retractable baby gate in your home. Below are 10 top-rated retracting baby gates for you to compare. My reviews should give you a good idea of the features and options available. Before that, let’s consider why would you need a retractable baby gate.
Why do you need a retractable baby gate in your home?
First of all, let’s consider the benefit of having a product like this. Why go for a retractable baby gate when there are so many standard gates out there? The number one reason has to be because you can create a more temporary measure while still providing that secure barrier when needed. Many traditional baby gates are ugly and get in the way.
Here, you can slide a screen or fence into place, lock it, and then retract it out of the way. It could be a more practical and aesthetically pleasing solution with the right product. So, how can you be sure of getting the best retractable baby gate for your home?
Our Reviews Of Top 10 Best Retractable Baby Gates
This first product comes from EasyBaby and sets the standard quite well. It has most of the features that you would expect to see and looks quite good when installed. The most important feature has to be the onehanded operation. Most parents should be able to grab the handle and turn the mechanism clockwise to get it to lock into place. Although, as you will see below, results can vary.
Additional benefits include the slim profile of the product when retracted, the ease of installation, and the color choices. You should be able to set this up wherever it is most needed. The color options here include black, grey, and white. While it is nice to have a choice, I do notice that the white is an opaque white screen that may limit visibility into the other room.
Unfortunately, there is an important flaw here that parents do need to watch out for. There have been cases where babies have learned how to unlock this gate and open it. This may have been a fluke. The kids might have been playing around and accidentally done so, with no real idea of what they did.
There is also little indication of how old these kids were. But, the fact that it has happened suggests that the locks could be stronger or in a better place. It is up to you whether you want to take that risk with your own child. Their age could be the deciding factor here.
One of the things that stands out with this model from Babepai is that you get a better mesh compared to the white screen above. There is greater visibility through the black screen, which could help with the flow and calming children on the other side. At the same time, it seems to be pretty strong.
Other benefits here include the similar one-handed locking mechanism, a better handle, and helpful dimensions. The handle is in a nice position and easy to grab without it getting uncomfortable. While there are some buyers unhappy with the amount of plastic in this product, these little details can make a difference. Here, it means that there is a minute gap between the gate and the wall. The gate is also tall enough to make a statement and long enough for wider doorways.
Some retractable baby gates are easier to install than others. Ideally, you will get all the hardware and fixtures and be able to set it up with ease. But, it doesn’t help when the company offered poor instructions. In this case, it looks as though they ran the original instructions through Google Translate and didn’t bother to edit the results.
I know that this isn’t helpful for any new mothers that are already a bit anxious about drilling holes in their walls – or DIY more generally. Many parents do get this up with intuition, but it should be a lot easier.
This option does something a little different, which has led to mixed comments. On the one hand, there are those that are impressive with the heavy-duty feel of this product. There is praise from parents that have struggled with flimsier models in the past. Then there see a flaw in the construction. Either way, the company insists there is an upgraded PVC mesh here to make this tougher. There is also the suggestion that this is tough enough for dogs too, if you wanted to make it a multi-purpose item.
Other benefits here include the additional mounts and the familiar locking mechanism. Having two sets of brackets in the box means you can choose two entrance ways instead of one. I believe that this adds even more value to this model. The handle is again comfortable and in a good position.
One interesting negative comment about this gate comes from a parent that struggled with the material. As there is no bar at the top to keep the gate rigid, it doesn’t take much for kids to pull it down. This could encourage them to start climbing over it, or maybe seeing if they can crawl underneath.
It may also compromise the integrity of the gate, minimizing its practicality and lifespan. Others are happy enough with the product and don’t seem to notice. Again, it could all come down to the age of your children and their inquisitive nature.
I will be completely honest here. This option doesn’t have the same amount of happy parents raving about its features. But, I wanted to include it as a possibility because of its design. There is no doubt that this is the prettiest option here with the pattern in the mesh. There are charcoal color and silver satin. This means that it becomes a decorative piece of interior design.
Another standout feature here is that there is a different way to lock the gate. Most brands stick with the old favorite dial and twisting mechanism. Here there is a locking lever on the top. The efficiency of this approach is debatable but there are users that get on with it. There is also the fact that the gate is less likely to suffer from curious children. Aside from that, the gate also seems to be a good size and easy to install.
However, there are some frequent comments here about the retraction of this gate. I assume that there is something wrong with the tension system – either in select models or the product more widely. That is because it doesn’t always snap back snug into place. Some users have a few inches sticking out with loose material getting in the way. This could be a hazard for some small children. It certainly doesn’t look great.
One thing that immediately stood out to me in the name of this Costzon mesh gate is that it is an “extrawide” “extension” gate. This suggests that you can fit this in wider doorways and spaces than some of the other options. But, I don’t know if this is strictly true, as there are other gates that measure 54 inches and more. Regardless, it should be a good fit and it isn’t too hard to install.
Another benefit here is the strength of the material. Again, I am looking at this as a multifunctional product. If you have small children and dogs, it makes sense to get a product that is secure for both. Kill two birds with one stone. Not all mesh fabric holds up to the attention of frustrated pets, but this one does. Unlike the option above, this one does still retract back into a neat little housing and is quite discrete.
A problem here is that some found the mesh got a little loose and baggy. It might be claw-proof but it doesn’t have the same rigidity as some other options. Therefore, they worried about the safety implications if setting this up around small children. There may be that invitation to grab onto the folds and try and get past the screen. Or they might try and crawl through the gaps at the bottom. Dogs are more likely to figure this out and show them, to be honest.
This time, there isn’t anything special drawing me to this product, or that I think would really interest parents. So why is it in this guide? Well, there are two reasons. First of all, there is still a pretty good customer satisfaction rating, so it is doing something right. Secondly, the bland, ordinary specification might actually be just what some parents need. If you want a no-thrills, simple option then this could be it.
The reason I say this is because of the standard features. There is a nice size that is just tall and wide enough to be secure. There is the one-handed operation to lock it up with east. There is also a simple installation process with minimal hardware but everything needed right there in the box. Finally, you get a choice of colors in the mesh – black or white depending on your preference.
This is another product where some kids seem to have figured out how to use the locking mechanism. When this happens, it does render the gate a little bit useless. Either you find a way to discourage your child from doing it or you replace the gate. But, these comments still come from a minority of users.
The security of this gate, and others that use this sort of closure, does depend on the age of your child. Small babies crawling around shouldn’t have any issue here. It is there older sibling you need to keep an eye on.
This is another product that doesn’t have quite as many happy parent buyers as other models. But, I am here to offer various options to help you compare and contrast. This one doesn’t actually do a lot wrong. The mesh is decent. There is a partially see-through mesh here. While it is not actually that see-through, it does seem to be tough and strong enough for most people’s needs.
There is also value here because of the quality of the gate, the fact that they include everything that you will need in the box for installation and the additional hardware. This is another gate with additional brackets. So, you can set them up in another room and make this product portable. You could even put them in grandma’s house and take the gate with you when you visit.
One of the downsides here is that this gate doesn’t have the same inbuilt handle as some of the more popular options. This means that there is a bigger gap between the wall and the gate. It makes more sense to have a cut-out handle in the mesh for a flush fit. This one is much more awkward as a result. But, those that can put up with the process and stop their kids playing with the gap should be fine.
I may have saved one of the best for last when it comes to these mesh models of top retractable baby gates. The reason I say this is because of the alternative features on the locking mechanism. Here you have the twist and lock features and latches.
But, you have to push the button down as you turn to get it to work. It is essentially like having a child-proof cap on a bottle. It is something that other companies should use because it is that extra barrier in motor skills.
Another interesting detail here is that this model comes with a free set of outlet protectors. While this means nothing for the performance of the gate, it is a nice touch that shows they care. Otherwise, most of the main features remain the same.
You have a nice strong mesh, it is easy to use and it folds away neatly. It is also safe for outdoor use and while others may share this benefit, it is nice to see it written so clearly in the specs.
Above, there was a retractable baby gate where the instructions were poorly translated. As annoying as this is, at least there were some instructions to try and decipher. Here, it seems that there is a risk that the company won’t include the instructions in the box.
You end up taking a bit of a risk. Those that are confident with this sort of DIY task should be able to carry on without much problem. But, there are those that get stuck. Just be aware of this before buying.
For the last two options in my guide, I want to turn to a couple of those alternative products. These are products that don’t use mesh. Instead, they have some sort of system in place with wooden slates. I know that this won’t appeal to everyone because the mesh is so simple and convenient – when well made. But, some wooden options can work quite well. This one is strips of wood that fold up on pivots with ease. Some might find this more attractive than mesh.
An interesting choice with this one is that there is an uneven top with “no jumping-off points”. What this means is that it discourages climbing. It is more for dogs than humans, but the concept still holds up. This model still has a one-handed operation and design so it might be as convenient as the mesh one.
There are some buyers that struggled with this retracting baby gate at first because of the stiff mechanism. When they first set it up, they needed to yank it out to get it to extend fully to the other wall. It also wasn’t that easy to get it to fold back in.
But, there are those that reassure new customers and say that it will loosen up with time. Be patient with it and you will see improvements. In the end, you do get a fluid motion and it should fold neatly against the wall.
10) BabyDan Guard Me 25.4-36 Inch Wide Wall Mount Doorway Auto Foldable Retractable Safety Baby Gate
For my final choice, I wanted to look at something with a different approach. I know that this isn’t going to be to everyone’s taste, and I feel that the mesh ones are more convenient. I just offer this option as an alternative. Here you have folding wooden panels. This should immediately allow for a much tougher design. This isn’t something that kids are going to pull down or dogs are going to run through.
This fence still folds up nice and tight when not in use, but isn’t going to be as discrete as some of the mesh options. You need to balance out the pros and cons of the look and the style of this fence. Even though this is a different option, there is still a simple quick-release latch. This should mean that this is still a one-handed model. But, you might disagree.
There is an immediate issue in turning to a wooden paneled baby gate like this, and that is visibility. With the majority of the mesh options, kids can see through the panel into the next room. They know that you are still around and don’t feel as shut off. You also don’t create such a block in the flow between rooms.
Here, the opaque barrier is more domineering and not quite as attractive. But, you might argue that this stops kids from temptation into another room and leads to a stronger structure. Ultimately, it all comes down to personal taste.
Important considerations for choosing between top-rated retracting baby gate.
1) Do you want a mesh, a solid fence, or something in the middle?
You should start by considering the type of material used to make this gate. The most common option is mesh because it is simple, affordable, and easy to use. But, there are other fences too. Folding wooden frames could have a different look and stronger barrier. Some of these are solid, with concertina-style panels. Others have a lattice-look with pivoting connections to fold it up.
2) Is the gate going to be big enough for your needs?
The height and width of the gate are important. It has to be tall enough to discourage climbing and long enough to reach right across the doorway. Dimensions do vary so make sure to measure your doorway and check the specification of the gate. Also, beware of some gates with handles on the outside that create a tempting gap between the gate and the wall.
3) Is the closing and locking procedure easy and secure?
If the gate doesn’t lock into place, there isn’t much to stop your child from grabbing it and pushing it back where it started. A lock should make things more secure. A common approach is to have a twisting dial to secure the latches in place. In some cases, kids have been able to overcome this.
It depends on the strength of the mechanism, the movement needed, and the placement on the gate. Also, look out for gates with onehanded closures and comfortable handles built-in. This will make things a lot easier.
4) Is the material strong enough to act as a secure barrier?
The majority of these top retractable baby gates are mesh. But the quality can vary greatly. Some may also include a coating to provide extra strength. This can be even more helpful in a home where your baby gate doubles up as a dog gate. Others might be more flimsy and could bend under pressure. The worst case here is that kids find a way to manipulate the material and crawl underneath.
5) Can you set up the gate in different areas of the home?
Many products will come with one set of mounting brackets, so you have to choose which room it will go in. In this case, choose the one where you need that barrier the most frequently, such as between the living room and kitchen. But, there are others that come with spare sets. This way you can install the brackets in other locations and move the gate as needed.
6) Does it retract fully when you don’t need it?
This is essential. In addition to needing that full, secure length across the doorway, you also need to know it retracts fully afterward. The best models should fold up nicely within their casing and sit close to the wall. You will know that it is there, but it won’t get in the way.
7) Does it look nice?
This last point isn’t really that high on the list of priorities compared to safety and convenience. However, I appreciate that no parent wants to deal with an ugly barrier messing up the look of their home. Some mesh options are pretty basic in white or black.
A few might offer a design of some kind, as is the case with one option below. Watch out for visibility through the mesh too. Some opaque options can be a bit domineering Wooden folding fences can be aesthetically pleasing.
Finding the right baby gate for you
The products above all showcase some of the best features and designs around. You don’t have to go for a mesh option. But, these do tend to be the most convenient and popular with other parents. While they all have flaws, and some parents aren’t impressed by them, most have plenty of redeeming features. Finding the best baby gates means weighing up those pros and cons against your list of priorities. You might have to sacrifice design for security, for example.
Take your time to compare your options within your price range and understand precisely what you need from these top retractable baby gates. Make sure that it is going to fit, that it will be secure, and that it has the most important features. Hopefully, you will find that your choice is a practical, effective solution that improves peace of mind – and maybe looks good at the same time. There is no perfect option for everyone. Find what works for you and your children.