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The stair gate is not always the most stylish pieces of baby kit, but it's usually necessary.
Once your inquisitive toddler sees the stairs as a new playground, or you just need to keep your baby safe in one room for a few minutes (without a playpen), it's probably time to baby proof your home with a baby gate. They're sturdy and should be easy to use one-handed, so you can easily open and close it when you're carrying your child.
However, this essential piece of kit can look clunky in the home. Treading on metal bars placed across bottom steps is no fun, and they can get in the way even when left open.
That's where a retractable baby gate comes in. Usually made of a mesh, the gate simply retracts back (like a blind) when it's not needed. They're also more flexible when it comes to width and generally extend wider than traditional extended baby gates.
It's a good idea to think about buying a baby gate when your child is around six months old, and you should keep it in place until at least their second birthday to ensure your house is a safe environment as they toddle around.
We've taken a look at the best retractable baby gates around as well as a few other options so you can find the best design for you.
Our Top Choice
Dreambaby Retractable Gate
We love this Dream Baby retractable gate because of its all round appeal: it can be used for various widths, has an easy clip-on clip-off release so you can use in another location (it comes with two mounting brackets) and can even be used outdoors. It's a suitable gate for stairs and baby gate for doorway, and the stair gate mesh also has a classic style so it should suit most homes. For a very reasonable price, this is a great choice.
- Price: £46.99
- Fits openings of up to 140cm
- Two sets of mounting brackets included for two different locations
Best For Easy To Install Retractable Gate
Safetots Advanced Retractable Safety Gate
Baby gates are one of the most difficult pieces of baby kit to put together, but we think this one is as simple as it gets, although it is rather expensive. It's easy to install, as with all retractable baby gates, you do need to screw into the wall or banister, but once it's done it's very sturdy. As with many retractable stair gates, it can be a little noisy so we'd recommend shutting it off when your baby is sleeping!
- Price: £84.73
- Fits openings of up to 120cm
- Locking mechanism means there's need to retract each time you open it
Best Retractable Gate To Use One-Handed
Momcozy Retractable Baby Gate
Most retractable gates claim to have a one-hand mechanism, but we think this is the best of the bunch in that regard. You just need to push and release the button before pulling the gate across and clipping in. This baby gate is also one of the easiest ones to install and comes with extra wall spacers if needed, which many models don't include.
- Price: £54.99
- Fits openings of up to 140cm
- One-handed silent operation
Best For Quiet Retractable Gate
Callowesse Air Retractable Stair Gate
One of the downsides of many retractable baby gates is the noise, which can be grating at best and wake up your child at worst. However, this model makes hardly any sound when the mesh is being retracted, perfect for nap time and bed time! Installation of this retractable baby gate can be a little fiddly but once fitted, it's strong enough to keep your baby or young toddler safe.
- Price: £54.99
- Quiet retract motion
- Includes wall spacers and two sets of mounts
- Fits openings of up to 140cm
Best Retractable Gate For Indoor And Outdoor Use
Meinkind Retractable Stair Gate
This is one of the best retractable gates around, though it is slightly on the pricier side. This retractable baby gate can be used around the home as well as outside (though make sure the mesh is retracted when not in use outdoors), and it's easy to use once installed. The materials do feel sturdier than other retractable baby gates, so if you're planning on using this for a while then it's probably worth stumping up the cash.
- Price: £64.99
- Fits openings of up to 122cm
- Double locking mechanism
Best Retractable Gate For Style
Summer Infant Retractable Gate
If you want something a little different to the other plain designs on the market, then Summer Infant have added a hint of style to their retractable baby gate. The pattern on the mesh and the silver satin finish on the hardware gives it that premium look. Furthermore, parents find this retractable baby gate easy to install and sturdy once it's been put up.
- Price: £57.99
- Decorative pattern on mesh
- Fits openings of up to 127cm
Best Folding Safety Gate
BabyDan Guard Me Auto Foldable Safety Gate
If you're not sure about the mesh-style baby gate, then this is probably the best retractable baby gate for you, and it's an amazing price. As well as its one-handed operation and double-locking, it does give you that extra peace of mind versus a mesh retractable gate. For example, it's suitable for both the top and bottom of stairs (we'd be cautious about using most mesh models at the top of the stairs) and it's more ideal if you've got a dog, who may enjoy chewing mesh! It's in an off-white colour and not as stylish as other retractable gates, but we can't fault it for functionality.
- Price: £39.99
- Auto-retractable design
- Fits openings between 55cm and 89cm (or 113cm if you buy an extension kit separately)
Best Tall Safety Gate
Lindam Easy Fit Plus Deluxe Extra Tall Safety Gate
If you've got a toddler who loves to climb, then the mesh retractable gates probably aren't the way to go. We'd recommend getting one of the more traditional baby gates like this one from Lindam, which is particularly highly rated for its sturdiness. It's one of the best baby gates for stairs, as it should stop both toddlers and dogs from going up them (the height should also stop toddlers fiddling about with the top of the gate). This large baby gate is also pressure fitted; that means it's a no-drill stair gate so you won't have to worry about filling in any holes in the wall when you take it down.
- Price: £37.99
- Fits openings from 76cm to 82cm
- One-hand opening and locking
Best Automatic-Closing Safety Gate
Dreambaby Chelsea Auto-Close Safety Gate
This gate from Dreambaby is another great model if you decide the retractable design isn't for you. We love that it opens in both directions and automatically closes every time, which is brilliant when you've got your hands full and may have otherwise forgotten to close it. It's also a favourite for being pressure fit (so it shouldn't leave any permanent marks or holes) and is very sturdy.
Kidadl Best Buys selects the top parent-recommended products across the web for families of all ages. If you liked our suggestions for baby stair gates then why not take a look at this list of the best baby monitors, or for something different take a look at these diverse dolls for kids and toddlers.
- Price: £35.99
- Pressure fit
- Fits openings from 71cm to 80cm, but separate extensions are available
Despite living in London for more than 10 years, Becky is a countryside lover at heart. After growing up in the Yorkshire Dales, she relocated to the capital to continue her journalism career before finally settling in West Sussex in 2019. Mum to a chatty toddler (and a middle-aged cat), if she's not being forced to sing nursery rhymes she can be found watching live sport with a nice cup of tea.