Best Baby Gates

Being the intrepid explorers that they are, young children often seem especially drawn to areas of the house that might pose a danger. Since you can’t physically keep an eye on your child at every moment, installing a baby gate in strategic places around your home can help your baby stay safe and you stay sane.

There are a few different types of gates on the market, and some are more suited for certain areas of your house than others. What are the main differences, and which one is right for your home?

Here are some tips and tricks for shopping for the best baby gate as well as a list of the options that we like best.

Baby behind safety gate

Our Top Picks at a Glance

Pressure-Mounted

Hardware-Mounted

Specialty

Note: There’s a lot more information below but clicking the above links will take you to current prices, further information and customer reviews on Amazon.

Do You Need a Baby Gate?

Before becoming a parent, the number of potentially dangerous areas of your home probably never even occurred to you. That mindset tends to change quickly once you have a newly-mobile baby, though, and preventing injuries quickly becomes one of your top priorities.

If your house has any of the following, you may find that a baby gate can make your home much safer for your baby and provide you with some peace of mind.

Stairs

Staircases can be a pose a serious danger to infants and young toddlers, and it’s wise to keep your child away from them until they can safely go up and down independently.

Keep in mind that falls can also happen if your child climbs up the stairs, so having a gate at the top and bottom of the staircase is a good idea if you live in a multi-story home.

Rooms that are difficult or impossible to baby-proof

Laundry rooms and kitchens are a couple of examples of rooms that might present dangers despite your best efforts, so you may want to consider keeping those rooms gated off until your child is old enough to understand safety rules.

Pets

Many family pets are great with young children, but there may be times you want to confine your pet in their own area. A gate can be a great solution for creating a barrier at those times when you need one.

Specific dangerous/delicate areas

Perhaps you have a fireplace or a home office in the corner of your family room, but the rest of the space is safe for your child to play in. Some gates allow you to block off just a portion of the room, so your entire family can safely enjoy time together.

Types of Baby Gates

Pressure-Mounted Baby Gates

Pressure-mounted models take advantage of tension to hold the gate in place. Many of these products use some kind of a hand-adjusted mechanism that lets you set the tension to fit your doorway, so you usually don’t need any additional tools or pieces to place your gate in the desired location. Since they aren’t attached to the wall with a screw, you don’t have to worry about creating any holes.

While most pressure gates do a great job of maintaining sufficient tension, there is always a danger that your gate could loosen over time. Stepping over the gate or opening it often could make your gate slide or dislodge, and curious young toddlers can also shake a gate with surprising energy. Make it a point to check your gate’s tightness often.

A pressure-mounted gate is usually most ideal for doorways or halls on a level surface, and you can use one at the bottom of a staircase. However, they are never safe to use at the top of a staircase since they could lose tension.

Hardware-Mounted Baby Gates

A hardware-mounted gate requires screws and a screwdriver or drill to install. Make sure that the area where you want to place the gate has a stud or solid banister to screw into, not just plaster or drywall. While attaching the gate directly to the wall makes it more secure, you will probably have some small screw holes that you will need to fill in after your child outgrows the need for a gate.

You can place a hardware-mounted gate in any appropriately-sized opening that has the proper anchor, but this type of gate is an absolute must at the top of a staircase.

One of the benefits of a hardware-mounted gate is that the entire gate swings open, and the walk-through space is usually much larger than what a pressure-mounted gate can offer. Additionally, this type of gate often does not have a lower threshold bar to hold it in place. Some parents find that they or guests stub their toes on the threshold bar, so a hardware-mounted gate might save you a bit of pain and frustration.

Factors to Consider Before Buying a Baby Gate

Width

While this point may seem obvious, it is so important that it’s worth covering.

Make sure to carefully measure the width of the opening where you want to place the gate, and take note of the product dimensions. You definitely want to avoid ending up with a gate that is too wide or narrow to fit in your home’s doorways.

Most gates have at least some adjustability, and many doorways are a standard size. However, erring on the side of caution is always a safe bet.

One-handed door latch

Many parents, ourselves included, have had the unfortunate experience of an embarrassing and painful fall when trying to step over the baby gate. While a solo fall is certainly not fun and is best avoided, risking one while carrying your child could lead to some serious injuries for one or both of you.

Many gates have a swinging door and child-proof lock that let you open the gate and walk through it instead of trying to save time by going over. Once you master the technique, the latch mechanism is often simple for an adult to open with one hand, so you can quickly go through the door even if you’re carrying a child or another object.

Pets

If you have a pet, their daily needs could be an important consideration while gate shopping.

For instance: If your cat’s litter box is in a gated-off room, you might end up with accidents in another area of the house if your cat can’t get past the gate. Look for a gate that you can place high enough that your pet (but not your child) can slip under or one with slats that a small pet can squeeze between.

Height

Most gates should be tall enough that a small child can’t get over, but an extra-tall model could help prevent falls or escapes if your toddler tends to climb.

If you are using your gate to keep pets in their own space, make sure to look for a gate that is tall enough to prevent your pet from jumping over.

Our Choices for the Best Baby Gates

Best Pressure-Mounted Gates

Summer Infant Multi-Use Deco Extra Tall Walk-Thru Baby Gate

Some baby gates are just here to do the job, but the Multi-Use Deco also adds a stylish touch while providing an effective barrier. True to its name, this gate has a subtle Art Deco feel: The swinging door is a bit taller than the side pieces and features a rounded top, and the small square sections run along the top and bottom of the gate to lend a cool retro look.

The Multi-Use Deco comes with three extension pieces, so you should be able to get a safe, tight fit on a variety of doorways. The gate includes pieces for hardware-mounting, so you have the option of attaching the gate to the wall or using a pressure-mount.

Opening the Deco is a breeze thanks to a simple push-button latch, so you shouldn’t have to struggle to get the gate open if you are carrying a child or a basket of laundry. Don’t worry though: Even though the latch is easy for adults to open, it is still child-safe and probably too high for your toddler to reach. The door also has a self-closing spring that automatically closes the door behind you.

Make sure to adjust the Deco’s tension carefully upon installation. If the tension is too loose, the latch may not catch and your child could push the door open by themselves.

Manufacturer’s Specs

  • Width: Fits openings 28.5 to 45 inches wide
  • Height: 36 inches
  • One-handed open: Yes
  • Walk-through door width: 16.5 inches
Things We Like
  • Option to use as pressure or hardware mounted
  • Stylish rounded design
  • Easy-to-release latch
  • Automatically swings closed
Things we don’t like
  • Door latch is highly sensitive to tension

Summary

The Summer Infant Deco has a cool retro vibe, and the automatic door-closing feature can be convenient if you have your hands full.

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North States 38.5″ Wide Easy-Close Baby Gate

Some walk-through gates require you to manually close the door behind you, and sometimes the hand coordination has to be fairly precise to latch the door properly. One of the best aspects of this gate is the self-latching feature.

Once you get past the gate, just give the door a small push and it will swing closed and latch securely on its own. This feature could turn out to be especially helpful if your gate is in a high-traffic hall or doorway or in a place that you frequently have to carry items through. Just be careful how much force you use to close the door: If you push too hard, the latching pieces may not catch and the door could swing completely open on the other side.

Two locking options let you choose the one that best fits your family’s needs. If your child is just starting to crawl and gain mobility, using the simple push-button closure is probably sufficient. With this option, opening the door is as easy as pushing a large button on the locking mechanism to release the latch.

For older infants and toddlers, there is an additional switch that will lock the button in place. When you want to open the gate, first flip the switch, then use the button to unlatch the door.

The North States Easy-Close gate comes with two small extension pieces, so you shouldn’t have any trouble fitting the gate into most standard doorways.

Manufacturer’s Specs

  • Width: Fits openings 28 to 38.5 inches wide (additional extenders sold separately)
  • Height: 29 inches
  • One-handed open: Yes
  • Walk-through door width: 17 inches
Things We Like
  • Self-closes with a small push
  • The door opens in both directions
  • Dual latch options
Things we don’t like
  • The latch might not catch if you push the door too hard

Summary

The aptly-named Easy-Close gate is simple to use, and the extension options and dual locking feature gives you a nice variety of options to customize the gate to your family’s specific needs.

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Regalo Easy Step 38.5-Inch Extra Wide Walk Thru Baby Gate

If you’re looking for a sturdy product that does its job well without a lot of extra bells and whistles, the Easy Step from Regalo could be a great choice for your family.

A walk-through door with a self-closing spring can be convenient for some parents, but you may appreciate the Easy Step’s springless design if you think that you may want to leave your gate in the open position after bedtime or during naps.

Releasing the latch mechanism is a two-step process: Pull back the red safety lock, and then lift the handle to open the door. To re-latch, push the door closed and the red safety lock will reset itself. Mastering the opening and closing techniques with just one hand might take a little time, but you also shouldn’t have to worry about your toddler opening the door by themselves.

While the Easy Step will fit a range of door widths, this gate will not fit openings that are between 34 and 35 inches wide. If you want to avoid some unnecessary frustration or a product return, make sure you take the time to accurately measure your intended opening.

The swinging door only opens in one direction, so be sure to take that into consideration when placing your gate.

Manufacturer’s Specs

  • Width: Fits openings that are between 29 and 34 inches wide, and the included six-inch extender fits openings between 35 and 38.5 inches wide (additional extenders sold separately)
  • Height: 30 inches
  • One-handed open: Yes
  • Walk-through door width: 16 inches
Things We Like
  • The latch mechanism is secure but still easy to release
  • The door can stay in the open position if you want
Things we don’t like
  • Door only opens in one direction
  • Will not fit openings between 34 and 35 inches wide

Summary

This gate fits securely in appropriately-sized openings and the latch mechanism is well-designed, but make sure to measure your doorway carefully.

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Munchkin Easy-Close Metal Baby Gate

If a walk-through space that has a few extra inches sounds like a convenient feature, the Munchkin Easy Close gate has you covered. With an additional six inches of width, you shouldn’t run into any issues carrying a child or other objects through the gate.

A spring hinge lets the gate close with a minimum of effort on your part. Just give the door a small push and it will click into place on its own.

In addition to being easy to close, this gate is also easy to open. There is a button on both the top and bottom of the latch mechanism, and the door opens in either direction when you push both buttons simultaneously.

While it’s definitely a breeze for an adult to open with just one hand, there is also the chance that an inquisitive or determined older toddler may also be able to open the gate independently.

The maximum width of the Munchkin Easy Close is a little less than some other gates, but it should still fit securely in most standard door frames.

Manufacturer’s Specs

  • Width: Fits openings from 29.5 to 35 inches wide (additional extenders sold separately)
  • Height: 29.5 inches
  • One-handed open: Yes
  • Walk-through door width: 22 inches
Things We Like
  • Generous walk-through width
  • Self-latching closure
  • The door opens in either direction
Things we don’t like
  • Door only opens in one direction
  • An older toddler may be able to open the gate independently

Summary

The Munchkin Easy-Close gate is simple to use and offers a wide walk-through space. However, do be cautious if your toddler is the observant type who might try to unlatch the gate by themselves.

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Best Hardware-Mounted Gates

North States 47.85″ Easy Swing & Lock Baby Gate

The Easy Swing & Lock gate provides an effective and stylish barrier for an impressive range of opening widths. Whether your doorways or halls are a standard size or extra-wide, chances are that you will be able to easily adjust the gate’s length to achieve a tight fit. This gate adjusts on a sliding bar, and you don’t need to use any extension pieces even if you want to use the longest length.

As is standard for hardware-mounted gates, the Easy Swing & Lock gate’s entire door swings open and provides ample room for you to get through the gate even with an armload.

The latch mechanism is located on one of the upper mounts, and opening the door requires a combination of pushing a button and pulling the door upwards. The design is well thought-out and simple for an adult to open with one hand, but the coordinated effort should be extremely difficult for a young child to manage. When it’s time to close the door, just give it a gentle push and the self-locking mechanism does the rest.

One concern is that this gate may require a bit of extra time to install properly. If the latch mechanism isn’t perfectly lined up, the gate may not close securely on its own. Make sure to measure carefully and set the gate in the intended spot to line it up before placing any screws.

Manufacturer’s Specs

  • Width: Fits openings 28.68 inches to 47.85 inches across
  • Height: 31 inches
  • One-handed open: Yes
Things We Like
  • Fits very wide spaces
  • Easy to lengthen with no additional pieces needed
  • Secure, self-locking latch
  • The stylish bronze color looks great
Things we don’t like
  • Installation can be a challenge

Summary

The Easy Swing & Lock gate is a good fit for a wide range of opening widths. The attractive bronze finish looks great, and the smart latch self-locks with a small push.

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Cardinal Gates Stairway Angle Baby Gate

If you have an angled surface in your home that needs a baby gate, you may have found out the hard way that most gates won’t mount on non-parallel openings. Fortunately, Cardinal Gates has come to the rescue with the Stairway Angle gate that can accommodate an angle of up to 30 degrees. This gate can be especially ideal for the tops of staircases that have a wall on one side and a banister on the other.

Releasing the latch requires a combination of pushing a button down and pulling the door up. You probably won’t have any trouble opening the gate with one hand after you understand the technique, but even an extremely bright toddler isn’t likely to have sufficient muscle coordination to open the door independently.

There is no self-closing spring, so you will have to manually close the gate every time you open it. The latch can also be a little noisy when it locks back into place, so you may want to take extra care if you have to close the door near a light sleeper.

This gate is available in black, brown, white and natural wood colors, so you should be able to find an option that fits in nicely with the rest of your home’s decor. The wooden option has the capability of fitting openings several inches wider than the metal gates, but it has no additional extension piece.

Manufacturer’s Specs

  • Width: Metal options fit openings 27 inches to 42.5 inches wide (additional extenders sold separately). The wooden option will fit openings 29.5 inches to 49.25 inches (no additional extension piece)
  • Height: 29.5 inches for metal gates, 29 inches for the wooden gate
  • One-handed open: Yes
Things We Like
  • Designed for angled surfaces
  • Fits a wide range of widths
  • Great color options
Things we don’t like
  • Latch is a little noisy

Summary

This gate makes it easy to place a secure gate at non-standard openings and staircases, and the stylish color options can look great in a variety of home designs.

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Evenflo Easy Walk-Thru Top-of-Stairs Gate

If you’ve ever doubted whether you remembered to close the baby gate securely and had to walk over and give it a rattle, the Easy Walk-Thru’s colored latch indicator might save you a few extra steps. The latch mechanism has a small window that shows a red color when the gate is unlatched and a green shade when you have properly closed the door.

The latch mechanism consists of a sliding handle with a large button on the top. To open the door, squeeze down on the button and pull the handle back simultaneously. Releasing the latch mechanism should be beyond the capability of almost any toddler, but most adults can probably master the one-handed technique after a few tries.

There is no actual self-closing feature, but the latch will usually catch if you push the door shut hard enough. Since that can be a little noisy, you may want to manually set the latch with the same squeeze/pull motion you used to open it.

The actual piece that holds the door closed is a small, round plastic peg that protrudes from the sliding lock mechanism. Even though the thought of plastic holding your gate shut might seem a little worrisome, the construction is surprisingly strong and can usually stand up to the typical toddler abuse.

Manufacturer’s Specs

  • Width: Fits openings 29 inches to 42 inches across
  • Height: 30 inches
  • One-handed open: Yes
Things We Like
  • Color-coded open/closed indicator
  • Sturdy construction
  • Secure latch
Things we don’t like
  • Requires a fairly precise manual action to fully close the latch quietly

Summary

The colored latch/unlatch indicator is helpful and easy to see, and the combination squeeze-and-pull maneuver is likely to be well beyond your toddler’s ability.

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Cardinal Gates Auto-Lock Gate

While many baby gates offer the option of expanding to fit oversized openings, there aren’t as many that will fit in spaces that are smaller than the standard size. If your home has narrower openings, this option from Cardinal Gates may be the solution you’re looking for. The Auto-Lock gate will fit in openings as narrow as 26 inches across, which is roughly three inches smaller than the minimum width most gates offer.

Although the latch looks quite different than what most gates have, the design is smart, secure and easy for an adult to work with one hand. The latch mechanism mounts directly to the wall or banister, and it consists of a spring-loaded bar with a circular handle that you pull upwards and turn to release the latch.

In addition to being too complicated for most toddlers to figure out, it is also probably well out of our child’s reach. One drawback is the fact that the latch mechanism sticks out from the wall by about one to two inches, so be sure to keep that in mind if you use this gate in an already-narrow space.

One thing to clarify is that while this gate automatically locks, it does not automatically close. You need to give the door a gentle push shut, but then the latch will catch and lock on its own.

Manufacturer’s Specs

  • Width: Fits openings 26 inches to 40 inches across (additional extenders sold separately)
  • Height: 29.5 inches
  • One-handed open: Yes
Things We Like
  • Fits a smaller opening than most gates
  • Self-closing
  • Clever latch release
Things we don’t like
  • Latch mechanism takes up doorway space

Summary

The Auto-Lock gate has a novel and effective latch, self-locks with just a gentle push from you and works in those sometimes hard-to-fit narrow openings.

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Munchkin Loft Aluminum Hardware Mount Baby Gate for Stairs, Hallways and Doors

If your home decor tends to have more of a modern feel, the Loft gate could be a perfect addition. Matte aluminum finish, industrial hinges and no visible latch mechanism help make this option look more like a sleek design element than a functional necessity.

In addition to its good looks, the Loft is also sturdy and fits a range of opening widths. Wide slats and heavy-duty hinges let your toddler climb on this gate without the worry of pieces bending or snapping. Multiple pre-set sizing notches simply click into place, so you don’t have to waste time tinkering around with your gate to set the appropriate length.

Opening the door requires you to push two buttons simultaneously. One button is on the top of the door and the other sits almost directly beneath on the bottom of the upper door bar. Adults should have no trouble at all releasing the latch with one hand, but young toddlers are unlikely to figure out the process by themselves. Both buttons are small and nearly flush with the door’s frame, and the low-profile latch mechanism contributes to the minimal design.

If you need your gated space opened up for visitors or a get-together, you can quickly and easily remove the slatted portion of the gate without having to remove the mounted pieces. After your guests have left, you can easily replace your gate and get on with your everyday routine.

One drawback is that the Loft can be a bit difficult to install properly, so make sure to set aside plenty of time and read the directions carefully.

Manufacturer’s Specs

  • Width: Fits openings 26.5 inches to 40 inches across
  • Height: 30.5 inches
  • One-handed open: Yes
Things We Like
  • Sleek, modern look
  • Fits smaller openings
  • Can remove and replace the gate easily
Things we don’t like
  • Can be difficult to install

Summary

With a combination of smart features, sleek design and a wide range of adjustability, the Munchkin Loft does a great job of keeping your child safe while looking great at the same time.

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Retract-A-Gate

Constructed primarily from polymer composite mesh, this gate looks significantly different from most traditional styles. However, its unique design offers several convenience and safety benefits.

Many hardware-mounted gates are fairly easy to set to the length you need, but it’s probably safe to say that none is as easy to adjust as the Retract-A-Gate. Once you mount the anchor brackets, a gentle pull on the end of the mesh roll is all it takes to unwind just the amount of mesh you need to reach across your space. The end of the mesh roll clips into two hooks on the opposite bracket to close the gate, and pushing a large button on the top of the mesh roll locks the gate in place.

Another smart feature is the easy take-down process. If you need your gated space open temporarily, pop the mesh roll off the brackets and store it out of the way. To reassemble, just replace the roll on the upper and lower brackets and use as you normally would.

The latch operation is very simple, but the gate is tall enough that most toddlers probably won’t be able to reach the unlocking button. One latch issue to be aware of is that the gate will pop open fairly easily if it is just in the closed position and not actually locked into place with the separate button action.

Manufacturer’s Specs

  • Width: Two size options for openings up to 52 inches or up to 72 inches across
  • Height: 34 inches
  • One-handed open: Yes
Things We Like
  • Couldn’t be easier to customize the length to your needs
  • Lets you have a gate when you need one, open space when you don’t
  • Latch system that is easy for adults but difficult for children
Things we don’t like
  • Could open easily if you forget to set the lock

Summary

The Retract-A-Gate offers security with a soft feel, features an open/close mechanism that is easy to work with one hand, readily fits a wide range of openings and is a snap to take down if you need your space open.

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Best Specialty Gates

Regalo 192-Inch Super Wide Adjustable Baby Gate and Play Yard

This gate from Regalo has a genius design that will truly fit a truly impressive variety of doorways, halls and staircases, as well as functioning as a barrier to specific areas of the room.

The gate consists of eight 24-inch individual panels, including one swinging-door panel with a two-step flip latch. Attach as many or as few of the panel pieces together as you need to fit your desired space, and place the door panel anywhere that is convenient for you.

Each panel has a top and bottom hinge, so you can set up your gate to go around corners or as a barrier around fireplaces, electronics or other small areas. A twist-off screw joint at the top of each gate panel lets you adjust each panel’s angle or add/remove panels in a snap without the need for additional tools.

Your gate would stretch about 16 feet if you were to use all the panels, so it’s probably safe to say this gate will fit almost any household opening. In addition to being a super-wide gate, you can also easily convert the panels into a play yard in one of several shapes. Despite its length, storage is no problem during those times when you don’t need a gate. When laid flat and folded up in an accordion style, the gate measures a mere six inches tall.

This gate does have a lower threshold bar under the swinging door, but the bar is quite low to the ground and shouldn’t be too much of a trip hazard once you get used to its presence.

Manufacturer’s Specs

  • Width: Fits openings up to 192 inches across
  • Height: 28.25 inches
  • One-handed open: Yes
Things We Like
  • Awesome multifunctional design
  • Easy to add/remove panels
  • Folds compactly for storage
  • Place the gate panel anywhere you want
Things we don’t like
  • Threshold bar to step over

Summary

“Versatile” is an understatement when it comes to this gate: Whether you want to block off unusually-shaped areas, have an optional play yard or have an extra-wide home opening to fit, this gate from Regalo fills the bill.

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North States 72″ Wide Deluxe Décor Baby Gate

When a baby gate has the word “deluxe” in its name, it’s pretty reasonable to expect an adaptable size/shape, an effective yet simple latch and an attractive design. Fortunately, the Deluxe Decor from North States does not disappoint.

The gate consists of three hinged portions with a swinging-door panel in the center. Depending on the position of the outer panels, the gate will fit large to extra-large openings securely. You can also mount this gate on angled surfaces, or set it up as a barrier around a fireplace or other small area that is not child-friendly.

With a 25.5-inch walk-through space, getting past the gate should never be a problem. The latch mechanism releases when you simultaneously push a button and pull the door upwards. The gate will self-latch if you swing the door completely open and then let it shut, but you will probably need to re-latch the door manually if you only open it partially.

In addition to its convenient features, this gate also looks sharp. The center door panel has a rounded top and is a few inches taller than the side panels, and the bronze color gives the gate a more sophisticated appearance.

Manufacturer’s Specs

  • Width: Fits openings 38.3 inches to 72 inches across (additional extenders sold separately)
  • Height: 30 inches
  • One-handed open: Yes
Things We Like
  • Fits a wide array of opening widths
  • Stylish bronze color and elegant rounded top
  • Can be used for angled surfaces
  • Wide walk-through doorway
Things we don’t like
  • Doesn’t self-latch if you only partially open the door

Summary

The Deluxe Decor gate has a versatile design that can fit a variety of large or awkward areas, and the warm bronze color and curved upper bar add a touch of style to functionality.

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Conclusion

Your home’s layout, where your family spends the majority of your time and what you may be trying to keep your baby separated from will all be significant factors in the decision of which baby gate is the best one for your family.

Taking the time to really dig into each gate’s specs and making sure you understand how the gate opens, closes and how to safely place it in your desired spot can help you avoid making a purchase you might come to regret.

Did you have to use a baby gate with your child? Do you have any additional tips or recommendations? Feel free to share your thoughts and experience in the comments!

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