Baby Gates

Best Freestanding Baby Gates with Stability for Safety

Sandra W Bullock

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You must be very careful when picking a freestanding baby gate as some brands are unsafe and are prone to fall or trip hazards because of weak attachments to firm surfaces.

Some flimsy gates claim to enhance safety but end up bringing more harm than safety. It’s a tricky game, but we’ve got to outsmart those hazards! I deliberately call these unsafe standalone gates hazards as they truly are. We have a personal experience as a family, of being doubtful of the safety tags you can find in some baby gate brands.

I recommend exercising utmost caution when choosing a brand – carefully scrutinizing each option. Be doubtful of all of them at first and let each brand prove its safety based on set criteria that we followed to rank our brands in our list.

We had a few gates to test, courtesy of three companies that sent us their products for review. In addition, we purchased a few more to supplement our selection. As we had a clear understanding of the brands that met our initial safety criteria, we opted not to acquire or assess brands that we were already aware were unsafe. Some could barely meet the very basic safety ASTM F1004-22,let alone the more stringent European Standard.

Our evaluation criteria got some insights from Consumer Reports testing criteria with the latest tests of 16 gates. Consumer Reports used 3 metrics specifically safety, installation, and convenience. We went even further than them. For example, we assessed the capacity of gates to endure lateral force by employing a 50-pound force gauge, 5 pounds over the ASTM’s testing standard. Additionally, we scrutinized the gates’ resilience against opening or collapsing when subjected to 40 pounds of push force, 10 pounds over the ASTM’s testing standard.

Although our testing mirrored that of CR, we placed significant emphasis on safety metrics. We thoroughly evaluated the safety of gates when assembled in “atypical” ways, – often encountered scenarios in the real world. It was obvious that hardware-mounted options were the only type of free-standing gates that proved to be safe.

We also critically analyzed different features including gate height, threshold height, opening mechanism, materials used, gaps between slats or bars, ease of installation, and use among others. We also whether each gate met the ASTM and European standards.

6 Best Free-Standing Baby Gates

Best Freestanding Baby Gates in 2024 – Reviews

#1.Qdos Construct-A-SafeGate:

In this revised 2024 list, our overall best freestanding baby gate is Qdos Construct-A-SafeGate which excelled in all 8 of the factors and surpassed all other brands in our list in terms of safety and reliability when installed in a typical opening such as the stairs or fireplace.

The indicator on the handle to confirm if the gate is securely locked stood out as North States lacked this feature. The green indicator shows that it is locked and the red shows that it is not locked and is hazardous.

When subjected to 40-pound push force, the Qdos Construct-A-SafeGate showed no signs of failure and the 50-pound lateral force to test the strength and stability of freestanding gates proved to be sturdy enough not to tip over when installed properly with all provided mounting hardware.

This versatile gate not only meets the safety standards of the US and Canada but also surpasses the stringent European Standard, making it one of the safest options available on the market. With a height of 29.5″, this gate is suitable for large openings ranging from 35.4″ to a whopping 82.7″, making it a perfect choice for families with wide hallways or open floor plans.

But that’s not all, the Qdos Construct-A-SafeGate offers the flexibility and customization options that many other gates lack. With the included sections, you can easily adjust the gate to fit your specific needs. Need to block off a larger or unusual opening? No problem, simply add on additional extensions to create a perfect fit. Looking to create a safe play area for your little one? This gate can also be used as a freestanding play yard enclosure, providing a secure and safe space for your child to play.

This gate also scored very well in terms of installation with its strong and sturdy hardware mounting that ensures that it stays securely in place. No more worrying about your little one toppling the gate or finding a way around it. And for those with hardwood or tile floors, fret not. The Qdos Construct-A-SafeGate comes with anti-skid floor safe silicone pads that not only reduce movement but also prevent any scratches on your flooring.

Being big fans of hardware-mounted gate options, we really liked that the far ends of this gate can be drilled into hard surfaces with long 38mm screws. You can drill it directly to a wall, stud behind a wall, concrete, brick or even drywall.

Similar to North States Super Yard, our second pick below, Qdos gate can also make a playard but you may need to buy additional extensions to make a larger playard. Only three panels come with this model, unlike North States’ 6-panel design.

Here is a link to this gate’s installation manual with simple steps to assemble by easily connecting the spindles.

Pros:

  • Superior safety features compared to other freestanding baby gates
  • Customizable and flexible options for different sized openings or play areas
  • Strong and sturdy hardware mounting for added security
  • Anti-skid silicone pads to prevent movement and protect flooring
  • Can be installed on various types of surfaces, including walls, studs, concrete, brick, and drywall

Cons:

  • You need to purchase the extensions

#2. North States 3-in-1 Super Yard

If you prefer a 6-panel playard that’s also a freestanding gate and doesn’t need any additional purchases as Qdos to make a complete playard, then North States Super Yard is your best choice. Unlike Qdos which comes with 3 panels, this North States model comes complete with 6 panels.

My overall best freestanding gate pick in this list is the North States Metal Superyard. Aside from its safety features, what sets it apart is its super fast fitting which makes it super portable. It has a 6-panel design with a six-panel adjustable fence, complete with a door panel and secure mounting.

For optimal safety, this freestanding model can be securely mounted using the provided wall mount kit to create a long barrier measuring up to 151 inches. The hardware is easily installed by drilling holes into walls, whether they are made of wood or metal, and fits seamlessly over molding. I appreciate the straightforward latch installation, setting it apart from others on this list. You can easily connect or remove the end vertical panels by sliding/slipping the panels together and bam! The enclosure installation is finished!

This is a gorgeous and multi-purpose gate. With six panels, you will enjoy its versatility; use it for a barrier when open, or connect the ends and get a spacious playpen for your baby or pet. It also features a walk-through door that has a child-proof double-locking system for easy access and extra security.

This 3-in-1 Metal Superyard also includes mounting hardware for an even longer safety barrier if you so desire.

Because this is an extra-wide gate, you can use it to block off a vast area such as around the fireplace or even the bottom of a staircase.

Its best feature is the flexible panels: you can customize the panels to fit the space you have by adding or removing them. Additionally, the panels are very flexible, bending both ways. Because of these fantastic features, we rank this gate in the third position on our list of best freestanding baby gates.

Features:

  • Measures 29 x 7 x 33 inches
  • 10sq feet enclosed space
  • Bronze metal
  • Includes mounting hardware
  • Double-locking system
  • 6-panels
  • Walk-through door

Pros:

  • Extremely versatile
  • Hold-open door function
  • Mounting tools included
  • Can serve both baby and small dogs
  • Great design
  • Sturdy build

Cons:

  • Heavy

#3. Evenflo Indoor & Outdoor Baby Gate & Playpen

If you want a foldable and easy-to-carry freestanding baby gate that’s lighter than North States above, your best choice is Evenflo Indoor and Outdoor Baby Gate and Playpen.

This gate is also one of the best baby gates in the market. You will love it for its convenience; it is in a foldable design so you can put it away without much stress, and it takes up just a small space.

This free-standing gate once converted to an enclosed play space provides you with plenty of space, and as the name suggests, it is perfect for both indoors and outdoors. Alternatively, you can stretch it and use it as a barrier to keep out a pet or your baby for specific places in the house. It is our fourth choice of the best freestanding baby gates.

Features:

  • Enclosed space of 18.5 square feet
  • Reversible legs with outdoor spikes for lawn stability
  • Non-scratch floor pads for interior floor surface
  • Hinge design
  • Molded handle

Pros:

  • Perfect for a small pet or baby
  • Spacious playground
  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor
  • Additional safety features e.g. molded handle and specially designed legs
  • Easily and quick to assemble without other tools

Cons:

  • Active kids can move it

#4. Evenflo Versatile Play Space

If you are looking for a freestanding safety gate brand that will allow you to set up a spacious play space and is lightweight, consider this 4th model by Evenflo called Evenflo Versatile Play Space.

This gate is designed to offer you the most play space as possible while ensuring the safety of your little one. It features six panels with the option of an additional two bought separately.

It is easy to assemble, and you can use it in all the available large and open spaces within your home. The leg design makes it secure to use in the house or on a lawn without damaging the floor.

Features:

  • Measures 57.6 x 57.6 x 28 inches
  • Made from plastic
  • Serves indoors and outdoors
  • Ideal for babies and pets
  • Reversible legs with switchable outdoor stakes and non-scratch pads
  • Six panels
  • Matching 2-piece extension panel for an added extension at an additional cost

Pros:

  • It is lightweight
  • Provides ample playground
  • Easy to assemble or put away
  • Secure to use indoor and outdoor
  • Includes 90- day warranty

Cons

  • Because it’s lightweight bigger kids can push around
  • It is not usable for as a large-area gate

#5. Toddlerloo By North States Super Yard

If you prefer an expandable 6-panel freestanding baby gate for either indoors or outdoors, the Toddlerloo by North States Super Yard is your best choice.

While I did not appreciate that this model is made of plastic and could barely meet the push force requirement before giving in, we still included it on this list with caution that you can consider it if you’ll use with with close supervision. It features six panels, but it has an expandable option with additional panels.

With this gate, you can be sure your little one has plenty of safe room to play alone or with friends. It can be used in the house or outside on the lawn. Although it is wide enough, the plastic is not firm enough for active kids. It also doesn’t have a walk-through door unless at an extra cost. It also means you need to keep opening and closing the panel whenever you want to pass through, which takes effort. Having considered these factors, we rank it in the sixth position on this list.

Features:

  • 6- Panels
  • The option of adding more panels
  • Measures 16 x 16 x 26 inches
  • 18.5 square feet of enclosed play space
  • Carrying strap

Pros:

  • You can easily adjust the play space just remove or add panels
  • You can create various shaped playgrounds
  • Folds easily and portable
  • Convenient for travel
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • Great effort is needed to assemble and dismantle the panels
  • Doesn’t have a walk-through door

#6. Regalo My Play Deluxe Extra-Large Portable Play Yard Indoor

If you want a stronger and more sturdy design of a freestanding baby gate that passed the push-force test of 40 pounds and the 50-pound lateral push test easily, consider the Regalo My Play Deluxe Play Yard.

This gate from Regalo has an impressive design; it is made in an all-steel frame and stitched wall material for ventilation. The bottom is made of nylon to protect from rough ground. You will need additional padding on the bottom if you are using it on a hard floor because the one provided is not thick enough.

With this convertible gate, you never have to worry about more guarded space for your kid; It is one of the largest on the market featuring eight panels so your kids can include as many playmates as possible or as many games as space would allow. It also features a foldable design and a carry case with a strap making it convenient for travel.

This baby gate is an excellent and uniquely designed tool that you can employ to ensure your kid is having maximum fun while observing safety. It is most suitable for kids under two years and can be used indoors and outdoors.

Features:

  • Measures 62 inches wide and 26 inches high
  • 8-panels
  • Includes a nylon bottom for protection
  • Foldable design
  • Steel frames with mesh walls
  • Sturdy canvas for additional protection from spills or grass

Pros:

  • Provides ample playground
  • Convenient for travel
  • Easy to assemble and dismantle

Cons:

  • Might be too big if you are concerned about space
  • You need additional padding on the bottom

Buying Guide to Pick the Best Freestanding Baby Gates:

Are freestanding baby gates safe?

Yes and No. Freestanding baby gates with a one-panel design with no side attachments also called “standalone baby gates” are unsafe as nothing prevents the baby from pushing them and could topple causing injuries. On the other hand, freestanding baby gates with a 6-panel design like a playpen or play yard are considered safe as they have hardware mounting at their base and are much more stable compared to 1-panel gates.

A lot of online blog do not differentiate the single-panel and 6-panel freestanding gate designs and you find unreliable guidance on product recommendations some being really unsafe.

Below is an example of a single-panel Richell Wood Freestanding Gate that is unsafe for babies but may be used for small pets.

Image showing a single-panel freestanding baby gate that is unsafe for babies. Richell Wood Freestanding Gate are for pets and not suitable for babies. It is unsafe for babies
Single-panel Richell Wood Freestanding Gate

Richell, the manufacturer recommends this gate for pets but you’ll find some blogs such as this recommending this brand for kids. It should already give you a hint when you see a product being recommended for kids but is manufactured by a company specializing in pet products.

Richell deals in pet products and its safety gate is not for kids but for pets
Richell deals in pet products and its safety gates are not safe for kids but meant for pets

While baby gates, in general, can pose safety hazards to kids, 1-panel freestanding models are particularly dangerous due to their lack of stability and potential to easily collapse. Young children are naturally curious and will test boundaries constantly, making it essential for parents to choose safety products that can withstand the force of a determined toddler.

Below are some stats about baby gate injuries:

The 2014 Study sponsored by the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio reported that about 1800 babies end up in emergency rooms every year because of baby gate-related injuries. The injuries range from sprains to traumatic brain injuries. You can also read about baby gate-related injuries from this 1990 to 2010 study here. This goes to highlight the importance of choosing safe baby gates.

But why are 1-panel freestanding baby gates unsafe?

Lack of stability:

First and foremost, these gates lack stability. They have a wide base but it is not enough to keep them anchored in place when an active toddler decides to climb on it or push against it. This instability increases the chances of the gate falling, which can result in severe head injuries or concussions, especially if the child falls from a higher height.

It is worth noting that the lack of stability in free-standing gates results in their failure to meet the CPSC’s voluntary safety gates standard in terms of push-out force strength. This standard aims to ensure that gates available for purchase are sufficiently robust to prevent dislodgement or unintended movement by the intended occupant.

Read more about the 45lbs maximum push-out force strength safety standard for safety gates here

Easy to Climb Over:

Unlike mounted gates that are attached to walls or door frames, freestanding gates have no barriers on either side, making it easy for a child to climb over. This can lead to falls from higher heights and potentially cause severe injuries.

Not Suitable for All Areas:

Freestanding gates are not designed for use at the top of staircases, which is one of the most crucial areas to have a secure baby gate. This means that parents may unknowingly use them in areas where they are not safe or effective.

Lack of Secure Locking Mechanisms:

Freestanding gates often have simple latches or locks that can be easily opened by a curious toddler. This can lead to the gate being pushed open or accidentally unlocked, giving access to restricted areas such as staircases or kitchens.

Which Freestanding Baby Gates Are Safe?

The only safe freestanding gates that we now recommend are designed as playpens with a 6-panel design. These models are typically installed on the floor and, although they are considered freestanding, they are very stable thanks to the use of hardware mounting with screws and panel mounting at the base. This is in contrast to freestanding gates that resemble doors with a one-panel design and without any side attachments.

Below are examples of safe freestanding baby gates:

Additional Editorial Notice from SaferForBaby Regarding Freestanding Baby Gates

We apologize for previously recommending 1-panel freestanding baby gates for Stairs:

At SaferForBaby, we are dedicated to enhancing the quality and reliability of our guides. As part of this commitment, we have undertaken a comprehensive review of our previous recommendations, particularly those about baby safety. Our efforts include implementing a new research team and conducting centralized content audits to ensure accuracy and relevance. Through these improvements, we aim to provide you with the most up-to-date and trustworthy information.

It was during this review that we came across an article recommending single-panel freestanding baby gates. This article did not meet our new stringent safety guidelines under our new process. As a result, we are retracting our previous recommendations. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience caused and remain dedicated to providing reliable content that aligns with the most up-to-date safety standards.

We also do not recommend pressure-mounted gates as they can be easily pushed over by a strong toddler or a pet. Pressure-mounted gates should only be used in low-risk areas where the child’s movement is already restricted, such as between rooms with carpeted floors. For high-risk areas such as staircases, doorways or kitchens, it is essential to use hardware-mounted gates that are securely attached to the walls.

What are the safe alternatives to 1-panel freestanding and pressure-mounted baby gates:

We wholeheartedly recommend hardware-mounted baby gates that are made with sturdy heavy-gauge aluminium frames and meet all the baby safety standards. We have a few recommendations including the Cardinal S330 brand which is JPMA-certified and is super easy to install with superior safety ratings with its safety latch.