Retractable baby gates are a fantastic option for lots of reasons!
We love that they are versatile, easy to use, have a very slim profile when open, and can work for narrow, traditional, and wide spaces alike!
Though commonly chosen for narrow spaces where a traditional baby gate won’t fit, a retractable gate may also be the perfect choice for your home because of its other unique features.
Whatever your reason is for choosing a retractable, this page will you find the right one for your particular needs!
Wondering which retractable baby gates are the best on the market? Take a peek at this list to find out!
This gate is made with a strong, scratch-resistant fabric mesh that retracts quietly and easily with one-handed operation.
It features a child-proof lock with a press & turn mechanism on the top and is perfect for narrow spaces or on stairways.
Due to its unique design and innovative fold away feature, we are pleased to recommend this gate as our 2nd top choice.
It has received consistently great reviews and is a leader in quality and function.
Things To Consider Before Buying Best Retractable Baby Gates
There are several factors that I would keep in mind when choosing a baby gate that is needed to fit into a narrow space.
First of all, exactly what measurement do you actually need? Keep this information handy as you search, as you will want to double-check the dimensions of any gates that catch your eye.
If the area is just too small to fit any of the standard size gates, your best solution is probably going to be a retractable gate. This particular style of baby gate is designed to be quite variable in how large or small of an opening that it will block off.
Something else you will need to consider is that retractable gates are, because of the way they are installed, permanently attached to the doorframe, so don’t plan to easily move one of these gates to a different location, as it won’t be portable.
One last consideration is that when you install a baby gate in an already narrow space, you probably do not want to further restrict the amount of walking/carrying space through that area by having a gate that takes up a fair amount of room.
This is another reason why a retractable gate tends to work really well in an area like this, as it needs only a few inches of space when it is fully retracted, so as to optimize the usable space of the doorway when not in use.
How We Selected The Best Retractable Baby Gates
In order to share the best available options for retractable baby gatess, first I searched online and read the descriptions of many models and paid special attention to their dimensions
I analyzed the key features of the various products and noted their specifications. Any gates that had very low ratings and reviews on the retail sites were quickly dismissed, as I did not want to seriously consider any products that other consumers did not have success with.
I also quickly realized that I had to eliminate standard rigid-framed gates, as I couldn’t find any with a slender enough profile.
Thankfully the market offers several retractable gates that work for even the smallest of openings. These attach easily to a door frame with just a few screws. I looked for gates with a durable mesh and automatic retraction for ease of use.
As I have personally used the Retract-A-Gate, I also felt I could offer some unique insight to you, the consumer, because there is nothing quite like a review from parent to parent.
Here are The 7 Best Retractable Baby Gates of 2021
Overall, this research has provided me with the information necessary to come up with a list of the seven top contenders for the best baby gates designed for narrow spaces that will provide you with an excellent barrier.
The Best Retractable Baby Gate
This gate is made with a strong, scratch-resistant fabric mesh that retracts quietly and easily with one-handed operation. It features a child-proof lock with a press & turn mechanism on the top and is perfect for narrow spaces or on stairways.
This is one of the more expensive retractable gates on the market, but I found it to be totally worth the extra investment!
It has everything I looked for in a baby gate, including a variable width that works for a narrow opening, a strong mesh, automatic retraction, one-handed operation (although there is a learning curve for that feature!), sturdy plastic hardware, a locking mechanism, and a sleek look.
The customer service from the company also really impressed me, because when I put too much pressure on one of the brackets and it broke, they were quick to send me out a replacement piece at no charge.
This is a permanently-mounted gate but has the option to be easily removed from the mounting brackets and moved to different openings in your home. To do this, simply order extra mounting brackets and install them in other openings around your house.
Two sizes are available (52” & 72”), but those dimensions include the brackets, not just the mesh, so if your opening is truly one of those full widths, it may not quite fit due to the need to pull the mesh over the bracket in order to hook it into place.
PLEASE NOTE: This gate is advertised to work for top of stairs, but we do not personally recommend this usage due to the potential flexibility of a mesh retractable gate.
- Fits a very narrow opening
- Durable, with a strong mesh
- Automatic retraction, with easy one-handed use
- Locking feature for safety
- Widest retractable gate on the market (Fits up to 72” opening)
- Can be moved to other openings with installation of additional mounting kits that are available for sale
- Most Expensive
- Not recommended for top of stairs, despite being advertised that way
- May only realistically work for openings 2-4” smaller than advertised
The Bottom Line
Overall, my experience with the Retract-A-Gate Safety Gate was almost entirely positive.
My baby could not find a way around it, although my older and stronger toddler eventually figured out how to wriggle underneath the bottom of the mesh since it is, after all, fabric and not entirely rigid. It was not easily breached however, so I was mostly impressed despite this.
Due to its unique design and innovative fold away feature, we are pleased to recommend this gate as our 2nd top choice. It has received consistently great reviews and is a leader in quality and function.
This innovative 28” high gate is unique in that it automatically accordion folds out of the way when opened. It is sturdy and hides easily when not in use. It can be installed either inside of a doorway or on the outside of the jamb. It is a great solution for tricky areas that are small and it can also be used at the bottom and top of stairs.
The gate itself fits an opening that is 25.4" - 35.2" across, so if you have a traditional 36” door opening, you will need to also purchase an extension. Each extension adds an extra 9.4 inches, for a total possible length of 44.6 inches. Please keep in mind that these measurements are for if you are installing inside the doorway. If you choose to install on the outside of the jamb, the gate can cover an opening 21.7" - 31.2" and with the Extend-A-Guard extension, up to 40.7 inches.
Though this is a plastic gate, it is aesthetically pleasing and is 100% PVC-free. Because this is a retractable gate, it doesn’t have bars but instead has small folding panels that tuck away neatly when the gate is open.
- One-handed latch opening
- Automatically folds away when opened
- Hides easily when not in use
- A great solution for small openings
- No trip bar along floor
- Falls one inch short of fitting a standard door opening (35.2”)
- May require additional purchase of extension
- Comes with horrible installation instructions
- Fairly expensive
The Bottom Line
Though there are a few complaints as I have outlined above in the “cons” section, overall, this is a fun, beautiful, and intriguing baby gate solution! It is unlike most other gates, which makes it really stand out from the crowd. Lots of happy customers have given their ‘thumbs up’ to this product and it is definitely worth your consideration.
This is an indoor/outdoor extra-tall and fairly wide retractable gate that stands 34 inches high and can cover an opening up to 54 inches wide.
It has a soft, but strong mesh that opens and closes easily with one hand.
The double-locking mechanism works with a push and twist motion. It auto-retracts when opening and has a slim profile against your doorframe when not in use. Great for babies and toddlers from ages 6-24 months.
Please Note: This gate is advertised as being suitable for top of stairs use, but we do not recommend any soft mesh retractable gate for installation at the top of stairs, due to the potential of the mesh sagging over time or with too much pressure applied.
- Extra Tall (34” high)
- Can cover a wide opening up to 54 inches
- Easy one-hand operation
- Mesh is strong, yet soft
- Double-locking mechanism
- Lightweight and compact
- Can be used outdoors
- Advertised as suitable for top of stairs, but not advised for this use
- Mesh does not always stay tight
- Some customers report needing 2 hands to operate
- May be tricky to install
The Bottom Line
This is an affordable gate that looks sharp and is very adequate for most applications. It is not the highest quality, but for the price is a great option. We especially like that it is extra tall and somewhat wide, so gives very good coverage. Definitely an option to consider!
This retractable gate has a strong, but soft, mesh and is installed with hardware into your doorframe. When installed, it stands 34 inches tall and can be pulled across an opening as wide as 54 inches.
We like that it works for both narrow and wide doorways, so it is very versatile.
It has a convenient handle on one side with a double-locking mechanism on the other. To close it simply grasp the handle and set it into the two brackets that are attached to the wall. Then, turn the knob to lock it closed. It automatically rolls up upon opening and can be locked into “open mode,” as well, so it is super easy to use.
One really cool feature of this gate is that it can be stretched in any direction (3-directional rotated opening or 360 degrees), so if you mount it at a junction of two (or three) openings, you can easily switch between the openings as long as you have brackets installed at each doorway. (It comes with two sets of brackets, but a third set can be purchased separately).
- Strong, durable mesh
- Opens up to 54 inches
- Double-locking mechanism
- 3-directional opening with extra wall-mounted brackets
- Mesh portion can be easily removed from brackets for storage
- Available in 3 colors
- May be troublesome to install over baseboards
- Plastic hardware somewhat flimsy/weak & not sturdy
- Latch may be prone to breakage
- Mesh sometimes wrinkles when retracting
The Bottom Line
This is a great retractable gate option if you are on a budget. It does have a few drawbacks, but overall does a good job for the money. Though it is possible to use this gate with one hand, it is easier with two, so keep that in mind. Definitely a viable option for narrow doorways!
This extra-wide retractable gate comes in white and fits openings up to 71" wide and is 33" tall.
So, though great for narrow doorways, it also works for wide ones, as well. When fully retracted, it only takes up a small amount of room on one side of your doorway.
It also comes with an extra set of mounting brackets so that you can move it easily to another location within your home. Simply unhook it from the wall mounts and reattach it in an alternate doorway. Or you can easily store the mesh portion between uses.
Though not advertised as such, consumers have had success with bi-directional mounting (pulling the mesh in multiple directions so that different areas can be blocked off). Since the gate does come with extra brackets, this is a handy way of leaving the gate in one spot but choosing which side you want to close off.
- Sturdy mesh fabric
- Extra mounting brackets
- Can be used bi-directionally
- Mesh roll can be stored or moved to different location easily
- Very inexpensive
- Advertised as one-handed operation, but much easier with two hands
- Mesh sometimes doesn’t roll up perfectly
The Bottom Line
This gate comes with a template for installation, but your mileage may vary in terms of how easy it is for you to install. However, once in place, most consumers are fairly happy with this product. It is not the highest quality, but it also is one of the least expensive retractables on the market, making it an obvious choice for many families.
This is an extra-wide retractable gate that can extend to cover an opening up to 55” wide.
It stands 33.7” high and comes with two sets of installation hardware so that you can move it easily between two locations.
There is a locking mechanism on the top of the gate that you turn to lock and unlock the mesh. It can be operated with one hand or two, whichever is easier for you. Great for kids from ages 6 to 24 months.
The mesh is soft and flexible, yet durable and with enough stiffness to stay firmly in place. Simply pull it across the opening and hook it into the brackets that you install in the doorway.
- Great for wide openings
- Can be locked open or closed
- Durable mesh
- Easy to install
- Comes with 2 sets of mounting hardware
- May not be strong enough for older children
- May need two hands to operate easily
- Instructions are not easy to follow
The Bottom Line
This is a fantastic retractable gate with high ratings. It is well-loved by consumers. Though the brackets are plastic, they are sturdy enough to not have breakage issues. We wholeheartedly recommend this product!
This attractive indoor/outdoor retractable gate is great for narrow or wide openings, as it spans an area up to 54 inches wide. It is 35” high and has a tough and durable but soft mesh.
The locking mechanism at the top of the gate can be locked when it is open or closed & the gate can be opened with one or both hands.
When not in use, the mesh roll tucks neatly to one side and only takes up a few inches.
Installation is fairly simple and we like that this gate is versatile enough that it can be installed either inside of a doorway or flush against the outside of an opening. It comes with two sets of mounting brackets, so you can easily move the gate between two different areas.
- Covers a wide opening
- Durable mesh
- Comes with two sets of installation hardware
- Can be locked open or closed
- Can be installed on the outside of a doorway (flush with wall)
- Can be used outdoors
- Included instructions not written well
- May not suitable for older children
- Plastic brackets flimsy & may be prone to breakage
The Bottom Line
If you are looking for a gate that has the option to be used outdoors or that can be mounted on the outside of a doorway, this gate has you covered. It is somewhat cheaply made, but nice looking, and cost-effective. The customer ratings have a broad range, so your mileage may vary.
Product Comparison Table
Two Sizes -Up to 52" or 72"
25.4" - 35.2" (44.6" max with extension - sold separately)
Up to 54"
Up to 54"
Up to 71"
Up to 59"
Up to 54"
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Are retractable baby gates safe?
Yes, most retractable baby gates are very safe for most places. They are great barriers that can work in some tricky areas in your home! Please be aware that if the mesh on your gate gets pushed or warped, it might not perform as well and could create a compromising situation where a child could slip underneath. Check your gates for any wear and replace if necessary.
Are retractable baby gates safe to install at the top of stairs?
No, we at Baby Gates Expert do not recommend that you install a retractable gate at the top of stairs. This can be quite unsafe, even if you see photos of this usage or see a manufacturer recommending it. It is possible for a retractable gate to have some “give” or “flex” if enough pressure is put on the mesh. This is why we only recommend a traditional permanently-mounted gate for the top of stairs.
Which one should I choose: a pressure-mounted gate or a retractable gate?
Whether you choose a pressure-mounted gate or a retractable gate will depend on your particular needs. Do you have a narrow area that won’t fit a pressure-mounted gate? Use a retractable! Retractable gates, however, do tend to be a bit more expensive and may not always be as easy to open and close as some pressure-mounted gates. But a retractable gate nearly disappears when not in use, so it definitely has that advantage.
Think over the issues that matter the most to you, considering both your home and your budget, when you are deciding which gate is the right fit for you!
Can retractable gates be used outdoors, such as on a deck or bottom of porch stairs?
Some of the retractable gates that we have reviewed are manufactured to withstand the rigors of outdoors. They may fade over time or weather faster than a metal gate but they are designed to handle rain, snow, and rain if they are noted as being indoor/outdoor gates. If you don’t see that designation on the gate then you will want to only use it indoors.
What is the widest retractable baby gate?
Retract-A-Gate currently has the widest gate on the market (72”). Please keep in mind that this dimension includes the wall brackets so will work best for a maximum opening of 68-70 inches.
Where should I install retractable baby gates?
Retractable gates are perfect for openings that are too narrow for any traditional pressure-mounted or permanently-installed walk-thru baby gates. However, they also work great in wider openings and some are purposely designed for wide openings. They are great for doorways, bottom of stairs, and some can even be used outdoors on a deck.
Tips to install, use and care for your retractable baby gate properly
Before attempting to install your retractable baby gate, make sure that you have all the pieces handy and laid out. Also, make sure that you have read any instructions that came with your gate and have the proper tools ready.
All retractable gates are permanently-mounted and will require that you install the brackets with screws. If your opening has a wooden door frame, you will likely need an electric screw gun to drill a pilot hole with a small drill bit before screwing the brackets into place.If there is only drywall to screw into, make sure to use drywall anchors to ensure that the screws hold properly.
Make sure that you measure properly and mark the wall before attempting to install the brackets. Most retractable gates are a bit tricky to install, so we suggest having a helper to hold everything in place as you measure, align, and screw everything into place. Sometimes a second set of hands just makes the whole process easier!
Once installed, make sure that you don’t allow the mesh to sag and hang when not in use. Retractable gates are designed to auto-retract but may need for you to apply a bit of tugging to activate the recoil mechanism. Make sure it fully retracts into its spool when open.
If the style of retractable gate that you have chosen is easily removable from the wall brackets, you have the option to install extra wall brackets into other openings around your house and move the mesh portion of the gate to different locations when necessary.
If you have an easily-removed retractable gate installed outdoors, consider storing the mesh portion indoors when not needed to prolong its life. Even an outdoor-rated gate will weather over time and have a decreased life span if left outside in the elements, such as wind, rain, sun, or snow.
If your retractable gate becomes dirty over time, use a washcloth to wipe it down with mild soap and water.
Remove or replace your retractable gate if/when the mesh begins to sag badly or if the auto-retraction feature wears out. Retractable gates are most suitable for babies and younger toddlers that don’t have the strength or ability to wriggle under the fabric mesh or attempt to climb over it. If your child hangs on the mesh, it will likely be put under too much stress and not be usable.
It may feel like finding the perfect retractable baby gate for your doorway is tricky business, but remember to consider all your various needs and wants. Each individual situation is unique and you must consider what features are most important to you personally.
Whether you are needing to block off a narrow or wide doorway, we highly recommend Retract-A-Gate as our top pick. If you need a budget gate, we hope this list helps you evaluate your options and make the decision just a little bit easier!
Happy Baby-Gate Shopping!