Choose the best stair gate for your baby and home with our guide to different types available and what to look out for.
Child behind stair gate

The key purpose of a stair gate is to keep your curious toddler away from anything that might cause them harm, including flights of stairs and busy kitchens with hot pots and pans.

All the stair gates have to meet the requirements of the relevant safety standard to pass our testing, which ensures they’re sturdy, and can withstand the various shakes and rattles of a determined child.
However, the very best stair gates won’t just be secure and safe. They’ll have simple instructions for a straightforward installation, and they’ll be easy to open and close.

These five stair gates got the highest scores in our tests, and are all Best Buys, so you can be sure they’re a good option when it’s time to pick out your safety gate.

When to buy a stair gate

Get a stair gate as soon as your child starts to show signs of crawling or using a baby walker to get about. They’ll soon be moving faster than you realise.
Stair gate

Types of stair gate

The type of gate you choose will depend on its purpose and where you are putting it.

Major brands include BabyDan, Lindam and Safety 1st and Kiddyguard. Their stair gates tend to be constructed of wood, metal or fabric mesh, and they can be fitted by screwing them into the wall or by pressure fit.

A wooden or metal stair gate that is side-opening will need quite a bit of room to swing open into, so you need to think about whether this will cause any obstructions, or be awkward to navigate around.

A retracting or concertina stair gate could be the answer for areas with restricted space or if you want the gate to disappear when not in use.

Stair gates at the top of the stairs should open towards the landing, not towards the flight of stairs, as you could fall forwards while opening the gate. You should only use screw-fit gates at the top of the stairs.

How easy is it to open and close the stair gate? You don’t want your toddler to be able to flick the mechanism open with ease but, at the same time, you may also need to be able to open and close the gate with a wriggling child under one arm. Some stair gates close automatically.

Consider the space you’re covering – a particularly wide opening will limit the options available to you, but you can buy wide gates or extensions.

How much do I need to spend?

Stair gate

This depends on what style you want and the width of the space you’re closing off.

A simple, cheap stair gate can cost as little as £10 to £15, but if you want something more stylish, or that has to fit an unusual space – such as a narrow stair gate or an extra wide stair gate – it could cost up to £100.

Compare all our stair gates reviews to find the best that suits your budget.

Pressure-fit stair gates

Stair gate

The gate sits within a fixed U-shaped frame that is held in place by pressure at four points. Extensions are often available if your doorway or stairway is wider than average.

They can be made of wood or metal. If the pressure is insufficient, then wall cups can be used to increase the security of the fixing.

Pros

  • There’s no need to drill or screw these to the wall, so they’re easier to install and won’t leave holes behind
  • Extra features on pressure-fitted gates can include alarms to signal that they haven’t been shut and auto-closing mechanisms.

Cons

  • The frame can be a trip hazard as the U-shaped frame means a rail runs along your floor. For this reason, they shouldn’t be used at the top of the stairs.

Screw-fit stair gates

Stair gates

These are fixed to the wall with metal screws and can be made of wood or metal. You need to measure up carefully before buying your gate as you may need to buy extensions.

Pros

  • Very strong, sturdy fitting
  • There’s no rail at the bottom, so no trip hazard. It’s recommended that screw-fit gates are used for the top of the stairs.

Cons

They do involve some DIY and will leave holes behind once they’re removed.

Mesh roller stair gates or concertina stair gates

These types of gate can be retracted when not in use so they’re less obvious. They’re usually either made of heavy-duty mesh which rolls up like a window blind, or hard plastic that folds in on itself like a concertina fan.

They need to be screwed into the wall.

Pros

  • There’s no frame to trip over
  • Discreet when retracted
  • Can be good for wide openings.

Cons

  • They can be tricky to install
  • Can be as much as twice the price of wood or metal gates
  • Some lack structural strength

Wooden stair gates

Wooden stair gates can be either pressure-fit or screw-fit. You may decide to opt for a wooden stair gate if you have a particular style of decor in your house and you want the stair gate to match.

Stair gates

Travel stair gates

These are made of mesh, don’t sit in a frame and completely come away from the wall when you release the pressure. They act as barriers rather than gates.

Pros

  • They can be useful for travel as they fold up and are light to transport.

Cons

  • Not the best option for daily use, as they have to be put up and down every time you go through them.

What to do with your old stair gate

Once you no longer need your stair gate, first off consider whether you might want to hold onto it for another use such as keeping a dog out of a kitchen.

If pets aren’t on the horizon, you could try selling the gate on an online marketplace. Just be sure to check there are no areas where the gate has weakened from one too many shoves or rattles by a determined child or pet.

If possible, sell the gate with the original instructions and all fixings. This is usually easy enough if you have a screw-fit gate.

For pressure-fit gates that use wall cups and adhesive pads that hold the wall cups in place, make sure you include spare sticky pads or screws so it can be installed that way.

Stair gates are difficult to recycle as they’re usually made from a mixture of metal railings and plastic fixings.

However, you could take it down to your local recycling centre to see if it can be recycled. Otherwise, it will need to go to your council waste centre to be properly disposed of.

Dog gates for stairs

Stair gates

Lots of people use safety gates as dog gates for stairs and to keep pets in or out of certain rooms.

Some stair gates also come with a small door inset into the gate if you want to let a smaller pet through while keeping large people and dogs out.

We test all stair gates with an impact test where the gates are hit with a 25kg weight (that’s roughly the same weight as a small female labrador or a large springer spaniel), three times to see if the gate comes loose or breaks.

Some gates pass this test, but some come loose after a couple of further hits.

It’s worth bearing in mind that some dog gates are not appropriate for babies, as they may have horizontal slats that your baby might use to climb up and over the gate, or small parts that can fall off and be a choking hazard.

If you’re planning on getting a dog (but a baby could also be on the horizon), you’re best choosing a baby stair gate that holds up in our tests as then you’ll know it will be suitable for protecting both.

Stair gates Reviews

Fred Safety Pressure Fit Clear-View Stairgate review

Test scoreShow Context

83%

Key features

  • Gate
  • Plastic
  • Pressure fit
Compare

 verdict: Best Buy gate with clever features

The Fred Safety Pressure Fit Clear-View is a decent stair gate and, as long as the price doesn’t put you off, it’s definitely worth a look. It aced all the relevant tests in the safety standard and has some useful features that other gates lack, helping to make it a Best Buy product.

Pros
  • Clear plastic makes it less of an eyesore
  • One-handed opening
  • Glow-in-the-dark anti-trip strip
Cons
  • Difficult to keep clean
  • Expensive

Baby Dan Flexi Fit Wood review

Test scoreShow Context

82%

Key features

  • Gate
  • Wooden
  • Screw
Compare

 verdict: Brilliant Best Buy stair gate

This is one of our highest-scoring stair gates. As a screw-fit gate, it’s initially a little fiddly to set up and install, but this is more than worth it when you consider how strong and sturdy it is.

Pros
  • Extremely strong and secure
Cons
  • A bit fiddly to install

Safety 1st SecurTech Flat Step Safety Gate review

Test scoreShow Context

82%

Key features

  • Gate
  • Metal
  • Pressure fit
Compare

 verdict: Great value Best Buy stair gate

This stair gate is sturdy, leaves no marks and reduces the risk of tripping, which contributed to it becoming a Best Buy safety barrier.

Pros
  • Sturdy and secure
  • Reduced risk of tripping over bottom U bar
  • Easy to open
  • No need to drill holes
Cons
  • Quite slow to set up

Cuggl Single Panel Metal Wall Fix Gate review

£17.00Typical price

Test scoreShow Context

81%

Key features

  • Gate
  • Metal
  • Screw
Compare

 verdict: Very good basic Best Buy gate

This gate may lack some features of other stair gates, but it’s good at the important things – staying secure and closed. As it uses screw fittings, you will need a drill to fit it.

Pros
  • Strong and sturdy
  • Clear instructions
  • Simple to use
Cons
  • Nothing major

Dreambaby Ava 2020 review

Test scoreShow Context

80%

Key features

  • Gate
  • Metal
  • Screw
Compare

 verdict: Safe gate that’s easy to use

This screw-fit pressure-mounted stair gate passed all our structural tests and is easy to assemble. It’s simple to open and close the gate and can be done one-handed.

Pros
  • Gate latch is easy to open and close
  • Stay-open feature
  • Clear instructions
  • Passed all the safety checks and tests
Cons
  • Need to drill holes to attach wall cups so may not be suitable for rental properties

John Lewis Single Panel Wooden Gate review

£25.00Typical price

Test scoreShow Context

80%

Key features

  • Gate
  • Wooden
  • Screw
Compare

 verdict: Sturdy and safe

This stair gate is proof that keeping it simple really makes all the difference for safety and durability. It’s definitely worth a look.

Pros
  • Secure and sturdy
  • Easy to fit and use
  • Good value
Cons
  • A little tricky to close the gate

Baby Dan MultiDan metal extending review

Test scoreShow Context

79%

Key features

  • Gate
  • Metal
  • Screw
Compare

 verdict: Strong, screw-fit stair gate

This screw-fit gate is a good option if you need a gate for the top of the stairs. It’s secure and straightforward to set up.

Pros
  • Easy to fit
  • Sturdy and secure
Cons
  • Will make holes in your door frame
  • Can be tricky to close gate

John Lewis Extending metal safety gate review

£25.00Typical price

Test scoreShow Context

78%

Key features

  • Gate
  • Metal
  • Screw
Compare

 verdict: A good, simple stair gate

This stair gate is a bit fiddly to put up as you have to drill holes in your door frame. Once it’s set up, though, it’s very sturdy and secure, and is a Best Buy, so it’s definitely worth a look.

Pros
  • Strong and sturdy
  • Good value
  • Straightforward instructions
Cons
  • Need to drill holes in your door frame
  • A little tricky to close the gate

Lindam Wall Fix Extending Wooden review

Test scoreShow Context

77%

Key features

  • Gate
  • Wooden
  • Screw
Compare

 verdict: Strong stair gate that exceeds the standard

This isn’t just a safe gate, it’s also really strong, because it passed our additional impact test to sort out good gates from great gates. Read on to find out more.

Pros
  • Passed all safety tests from EU standard
  • Very strong – it withstood a 25kg impact test
  • No trip hazards
  • Clear instructions
Cons
  • Latching mechanism is a little fiddly
  • Damage to wall or doorframe due to drilling in fittings

Baby Dan Guard me review

Test scoreShow Context

76%

Key features

  • Gate
  • Plastic
  • Screw
Compare

 verdict: Great to use and install.

The Baby Dan Guard Me stair gate is a good choice because it’s so easy to install and use.

Pros
  • Quick and easy to install
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Installs via screws
  • So you’ll have to drill holes

Lindam Sure Shut Axis review

Test scoreShow Context

76%

Key features

  • Gate
  • Metal
  • Pressure fit
Compare

 verdict: Excellent pressure-fit stair gate

This pressure-fit gate is very good and a great choice for anyone looking for a gate that doesn’t require drilling to fit it. It meets all the safety requirements and is easy to install.

Pros
  • Quick and easy to install
  • Doesn’t require drilling
  • Sturdy and secure
  • Easy to open and close
Cons
  • U-bar frame creates tripping hazard
  • Adhesive pads may leave sticky residue when you come to remove

Lindam Extending Metal review

Test scoreShow Context

74%

Key features

  • Gate
  • Metal
  • Screw
Compare

 verdict: A very reasonably priced gate

This gate may cost less than £30, but it passed all our safety checks – including an impact test where our experts repeatedly hit the installed gate with a 25kg weight (that’s roughly the weight of an average six-year-old) to see if it breaks or moves out of position. Only downside is it’s not as easy to assemble and the instructions aren’t quite as clear as they are with other gates.

Pros
  • Less than £30
  • Passed our safety tests
Cons
  • Instructions could be clearer

Baby Dan No Trip Metal review

Test scoreShow Context

74%

Key features

  • Gate
  • Metal
  • Screw
Compare

 verdict: Good for use at the top of the stairs

This gate is sturdy and secure. If you’re happy to drill holes in your wall or door frames, this is a good choice of stair gate. It’s also easy to install, and open and close.

Pros
  • Sturdy
  • Passed all the EU safety checks
  • Lack of u-bar means no trip hazard
  • Can open one-handed
Cons
  • You’ll need to drill holes in your wall or door frame
  • Lettering in instruction booklet is too small

John Lewis Extending Wooden Safety Gate review

£34.00Typical price

Test scoreShow Context

74%

Key features

  • Gate
  • Wooden
  • Screw
Compare

 verdict: Simple yet effective

There are no major issues with this gate. It’s safe and sturdy, reasonably easy to put up and could be a good choice to place at the top of your stairs, as there’s no u-bar to trip over.

Pros
  • Safe and sturdy
  • Easy to open and close
  • No trip hazard
  • Suitable for top of stairs
Cons
  • Purchase information missing minimum and maximum opening widths
  • Requires drilling

Baby Dan Danamic review

Test scoreShow Context

73%

Key features

  • Gate
  • Metal
  • Pressure fit
Compare

 verdict: Impressive pressure-fit safety gate

This pressure-fit safety barrier aced all of our structural tests; it’s easy to assemble and it’s a good value.

Pros
  • Strong
  • Sturdy and easy to fit to doorways
  • Won’t leave a mark on your door frame
Cons
  • Look out for the bar running along the bottom as it’s a trip hazard

Dreambaby Liberty Security Gate with Smart Stay Open Feature review

Test scoreShow Context

73%

Key features

  • Gate
  • Metal
  • Pressure fit with screwed wall cups
Compare

 verdict: Easy to install, sturdy and secure gate

This is a smart, robust and sturdy gate which presented no problems in our safety tests and took a matter of minutes to put up.

Pros
  • Strong
  • Robust frame
  • Simple assembly
  • One-hand latch release
  • Audible ‘click’ close
  • Opens both ways
  • Wipes clean easily
Cons
  • U-bar trip hazard
  • Requires screws and sticky pad wall cups for installation
  • Will damage walls or door frame

Badabulle Deco Pop Extendable review

£45.00Typical price

Test scoreShow Context

73%

Key features

  • Gate
  • Wooden
  • Pressure fit and screws

Compare

 verdict: Decent wooden stair gate

This is a decent wooden stair gate that has the option of being fitted as either a pressure fit or screw-fit gate, providing choice for users.

Pros
  • Choice of being screw-fit or pressure-fit
  • Latch mechanism is easy to use
  • Passed durability tests
  • Good range of adjustments
Cons
  • Need to remove whole gate to walk through when pressure-fit mounted
  • Takes a while to set up the gate

Cuggl Wall Fix Extending Safety Gate review

£20.00Typical price

Test scoreShow Context

73%

Key features

  • Gate
  • Metal
  • Screw
Compare

 verdict: Smart, simple and versatile gate

No real problems appeared in our safety tests for this design, plus it took only a few minutes to put up with the screws and fixings supplied. It’s also well-priced at £20.

Pros
  • Securely wall mounted with screws
  • Adjustable width to fit non-standard spaces
  • One-hand opening
  • Double-lock mechanism
  • No trip hazard
Cons
  • Screw fixings may damage wall or door frame
  • Installation requires drill and screwdriver

Hauck Open’n Stop Safety Gate review

Test scoreShow Context

71%

Key features

  • Gate
  • Metal
  • Pressure fit
Compare

 verdict: Easy to fit and use

This is a pretty good stair gate that’s nearly a Best Buy. It’s sturdy and easy to put up, plus you’ve got plenty of options to extend the gate by buying extra extensions to fit larger doorways.

Pros
  • Sturdy
  • Easy to fit
  • Can open one-handed
  • Won’t leave marks on the door frame
Cons
  • Need to double-check that gate is closed properly

Lindam Sure Shut Deco Gate review

Test scoreShow Context

69%

Key features

  • Gate
  • Wood and metal
  • Pressure fit
Compare

 verdict: Child’s play to fit

This Lindam gate was extremely easy to use and quick to fit – it took us just 10 minutes to install, aided by good clear instructions and diagrams in the manual.

Pros
  • Quick to fit
  • Easy to use
Cons
  • Minor trip hazard from the ground bar