Not all baby gates are very versatile when it comes to fitting in small spaces. For this reason, I went on a hunt for the perfect gate for a really tricky area in my home.
If you also have a narrow doorway that you need a solution for, than keep reading!
I’m going to show you some great options that are on the market that will help keep your baby safe without breaking the bank.
Keep in mind, however, that retractable gates can also work equally well for standard and wide spaces, as some can pull out to as much as 72 inches.
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 baby gates designed for narrow openings, 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 Best Retractable Baby Gates of 2020
Overall, this research has provided me with the information necessary to come up with a list of the five 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 brackets and it broke, they were quick to send me out a replacement piece at no charge.
- Fits a very narrow opening
- Durable, with a strong mesh
- Automatic retraction, with one-handed use
- Locking feature for safety
- Most Expensive
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
- 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 super safety gate is 36.6 inches tall and can handle openings from 18” to 55” wide.
It comes with 2 sets of mounting brackets so that you can easily move it between two locations.
It is designed to be opened and closed with one hand, although some say it is not so easy. It automatically retracts when you open it and takes up minimal space in the doorway.
The mesh is nice and does its job well. There are some reports about installing around a baseboard being tricky, so some people have opted to add in their own spacer. It only comes in white, but is an overall nice looking gate.
- Has extra height for more safety
- Retracts automatically
- Good locking mechanism
- One-handed operation
- Tricky installation reported by some
- Some reports of difficulty opening/closing
The Bottom Line
Overall, this is a really nice gate for the price. It doesn’t have the highest quality parts, but considering everything, I would recommend it if you are on a budget. It seems to consistently get the job done, even if it has a few issues that are somewhat annoying. Since it looks nice and functions as it should, this is easily one of the nicest gates on the market for the money.
Currently unavailable on Amazon.
One of the prettiest baby gates on the market, the Lascal has an elegant Swedish design that looks fantastic.
It comes in black or white and extends up to 48" wide. It has a timer system that allows you to unlock and walk through, before relocking.
Some folks really like this gate, but it has been noted that the mesh has a tendency to droop and sag over time, especially if it gets a lot of “hanging on” or “pushing against.”
It is designed to be used with one hand, as are most gates. Some have reported having a tough time with that feature, but it doesn’t seem to be an overwhelming consensus. As long as can get past the tricky installation and can afford the higher price, this gate may be perfect for you.
- Beautiful gate that has eye appeal
- Creative locking/unlocking system
- Mostly fine to use one-handed
- Tricky install with cheap hardware
- Mesh may not always pull tight
The Bottom Line
Overall, this is a pretty great gate, but it has some annoyances that don’t seem to justify the larger price tag. It’s one thing to have plastic hardware or cheap screws on an inexpensive gate, but that is not expected when you have paid a premium price. The brushed aluminum frame is super pretty, but if the mesh does sag over time, then that will detract from the beauty. If you need something that looks classy and don’t think the gate will get a lot of abuse then this gate will probably be great.
Updated: We Don't Recommend This Gate Anymore.
This is a basic retractable gate with a semi-clear, strong, soft mesh.
It stands 31.5” high and can extend up to 55” across. It’s a great solution for those who have a narrow, standard, or wide space. When retracted fully, it takes up very little room and almost disappears from view.
Designed to be opened with one hand, it has a double-locking mechanism and a child-secure locking system. Make sure you use both steps to ensure that it is properly closed and secure.
The frame of this gate is made with waterproof and rustproof aluminum, making it a great solution not only for indoors, but also for outdoor use.
- Can fit narrow to wide spaces
- Retracts out of the way when not in use
- Has a double-locking mechanism for safety
- No trip bars along floor
- Can be used outdoors
- Mesh may have tendency to ripple or warp with use
- Mesh may not always pull tight
- Installation can be tricky
- Cheap hardware/screws that you may want to upgrade
The Bottom Line
This is a nice basic gate that gets the job done. It is nice that it can be used outdoors, so that is definitely a plus if you have that need. It has a mid-range price tag and is a mid-grade gate in overall quality. Most customers have been satisfied, but it has received a few complaints as noted, and doesn’t come with great instructions. If you are looking for a retractable mesh gate, this one is right down the middle.
Product Comparison Table
Two Sizes -Up to 52" or 72"
25.4" - 35.2" (44.6" max with extension - sold separately)
18” - 55"
Lascal KiddyGuard Avant Baby Gate
Up to 48"
Currently unavailable on Amazon.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. 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 or pet could slip underneath. Check your gates for any wear and replace if necessary.
2. Is 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.
3. Which one should I choose between pressure mounted gate and 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!
It may feel like finding the perfect baby gate for your narrow 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.
I hope my thoughts help you evaluate your options and make the decision just a little bit easier!
Happy Baby-Gate Shopping! 🙂