According to the statistics revealed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 8,000 kids are treated in emergency rooms across the US for fall-related injuries every day. That makes it almost 2.9 million injuries per annum.
Stair case is the most common place in every household where a fall is likely to take place. However, it is quite easy to baby proof your staircase. We will discuss in this post how you can baby proof your stairs and everything related to it.
Do not let your baby access the stairs
If you have been reading my other baby proofing guides, then you will definitely have observed a distinct pattern. The easiest way or technique that you can adopt to kid proof virtually any area or object is to restrict his access to that space or thing.
Use a baby gate to the stairs
A baby gate or fence is a great solution to preventing your baby from crawling up or climbing up the staircase. A baby gate will discourage the kid from even going close to the staircase.
Even when you are not around or busy doing your household chores, the baby gate will restrict your baby’s access to the stairs. Believe me, this is quite a time-tested solution.
How to choose a suitable baby gate
Before you make a visit to the market to purchase any baby gate or fence, it is imperative that you analyze your way of living. As is always the case, any particular baby proofing product might not be suitable for all the parents around the world.
For instance, along with baby gates, you may need to consider the following aspects:
- Are the stairs used constantly throughout the day?
If this is the case, then you will need a baby gate that can be opened and closed rather quickly.
- Do you have to carry your laundry or your baby frequently up and down the stairs?
If this is the case, then you will have to install a baby gate that can be opened with a single hand.
- Do you want to restrict access to the stairs as well as to an adjoining room?
In such a case, a baby gate that is longer than usual will be required.
- Do you want a baby gate that is in accordance with your interior design?
This question might not be of that great significance. You probably would not risk your kid’s safety for the home’s interior design.
There are tons of baby gates available on the market that have designed to ensure that your baby remains safe from the staircase. Carry out extensive research before you actually purchase one so that you are able to get your hands on the one that suits your situation. Here is a comprehensive guide to buying baby gates that outlines all the prerequisites to finding an ideal baby gate for your staircase.
Now, let us discuss some of the ways that we can employ to ensure that your baby stays clear of the staircase.
Baby gates for large areas
Baby gates for open areas have to be attached to a wall or a doorframe with screws. They have to be mounted with a hardware equipment to ensure that they are formidable over the distance stretched.
If you have a house that has a large space surrounding the base of the staircase, then you will probably need this 3-in-1 gate to cordon off the area around the base of the stairs.
It can easily be transformed from a fence to a play area, but that is not its main attraction. The baby gate comes with extensions that have to be bought additionally and let you fence off any distance. This contraption helps you restrict your kid’s access to the stairs as well as to any room or hazardous object in the surroundings of the stairs.
These baby gates are particularly preferred by parents who have staircases with one or more sides.
Metal baby gates
- Easy to configure
- Extensions are available
Wood baby gate
- Easy to configure
- Extensions are available
Baby gates for entrance to the stairs
If you do not have a wide open area surrounding the base of the stairs, then a large baby gate is not what you should be looking for. There are tons of baby gates that will fit comfortably inside the entrance to the staircase.
Expandable baby gates, also known as pressure-mounted baby gates can be installed with seamless ease and are easily portable. They need a couple of flat surfaces to press against such as the stair banister and wall. Owing to this reason, certain staircases are not suitable for expandable baby gates. If you have a versatile staircase, then a hardware mounted staircase will be the way to go.
The only concern that I have with regard to the expandable baby gate is that as you fit them inside a walkway, the space that is used to walk through the gateway becomes quite narrow. It could be particularly difficult to traverse such a narrow space if you are to take suitcases or travel bags up and down the staircase.
Depending on the manufacturer, you will get options to buy extensions for the expandable baby gate. These are a bit expensive but can be really handy for those who own wider than usual staircases.
In spite of all these shortcoming, expandable gates are popular among most of the parents. Keep in mind to use the expandable gates only at the bottom of the stairs and never at the top. This is so because a kid’s weight might cause the gate to slip and fall and the fall from the top of the staircase to the bottom is quite high.
The baby gate mentioned below is my favorite one as it is taller than the regular ones and can be easily opened and closed with a single hand.
The gates with optional hardware mounts which ensures that you can have the gates installed at the bottom and the top. You can use the hardware mounted gates at the top of the stairs and expandable ones at the bottom.
Expandable baby gate
- Auto-close door
- Bronze finish
- Dimensions: 48” x 0.8” x 36”
You can also build your own baby gate if you are confident enough. However, you will need to reserve a substantial amount of your time in order to assemble one.
Baby proof the top of the staircase
If you are not living in a massive mansion, the odds are that the space at the top of the staircase is going to be limited than that at the base.
The fall from the top of the staircase is much higher so you would want the baby gate at the top of the staircase to be as tall as possible. This will prevent your kid from climbing over the gate using any object as a ladder.
The baby gate for the top of the staircase should be hardware mounted. This will require you to insert screws into your banister or wall but this ensures extreme safety for your kid.
Expandable baby gates are not suggested for the top of the stairs since the pieces of the gate that press against the sides can come close to each other.
The gate is pressed on with the passage of time, leaned against and may accidentally bumped. This can make the sides come loose. As your kid makes an attempt to climb the gate or there is too much weight applied on one side, the gate will end up collapsing and have your baby tumbling down the stairs.
In an earlier post, we discussed the baby gate that can be pressure mounted or hardware mounted. In this post, we will discuss a slightly different one.
Most of the baby gates come with a threshold that needs to be stepped over which can cause tripping of toes. The baby gate below does not come with a threshold and also provides sufficient space in the walkway. This is an exceptionally useful gate if you are supposed to make several trips up and down the staircase.
- no hazard of tripping
- swings automatically out of the way
- fits openings 28” to 48”
Mounting a baby gate without drilling into the banister
It might not be possible for some parents to mount the baby gate to the banister. Presumably your landowner does not take a fancy to you fiddling with the house or you are not interested in inserting screws in the banister. Hardware mounting baby gates are not a cup of tea everyone can have.
Lucky enough for all such blokes, there is a contraption that can be attached directly to the banister and lets you install the baby gate without damaging the banister. You just have to clip the mount to the banister and then drill the baby gate straight into the mount.
The baby gate mount also serves its purposes even on banisters that are oddly shaped.
No Hole baby gate mounting kit
- Hole free
- Easy to install
If you have plenty of time to spare for yourself, you can build your own baby gate mounts using the following process:
You will need:
- Good quality zip ties
- One to two lengths of 2 x 4
- Measuring tape
- Baby gate
- Determine the height of the brackets that you want to use on the banister. Ensure that the height is greater than the height of the gate
- Trim the 2 x 4 to length since you will be needing a couple of pieces of each of the banisters
- You can paint the 2 x 4 to match the color of the banister
- Apply zip ties to attach the 2 x 4 to the banister so that both are opposite each other. You may use as many zip ties as required to make the baby gate secure since they will act as your brackets for the gate.
- Attach the baby gate directly to the 2 x 4. Ensure that the screws do not drill right through the 2 x 4 then into the banister.
And that’s it! You have prepared the simple method to mount a baby gate without requiring to drill into your banister. When your kid is a grown up and you no longer require the stairs to be baby proofed, you can remove the zip ties by cutting them off easily.
Now, we are done with the baby gates. Now let us discuss ways and means to ensure supreme safety of your staircase.
Baby proof the stair railing
The banister is a segment of the stairs that most of the people forget or neglect to baby proof.
Your kid can easily make an attempt to steady himself on the banister and end up putting his hand through the space rather than getting hold of the rail. This will not end up well for the kid since he might come tumbling down the staircase.
Another issue that is quite a concern with banisters is that the gaps can be quite a tempting proposition for kids to pass their toys through. Children tend to have lots of fun while making their toys fall through the gap and pretend as if it were flying.
You can resolve this issue by installing the banister guard. It is just a plastic sheet or netting that is equivalent to the length of the banister and covers up the gaps.
I am in favor of the plastic sheet banister guard since I believe that the netting tends to wear out with time or might get damaged if your kid makes an attempt to tinker with it.
The plastic sheet is accompanied with zip ties to attach it firmly to the banister. A number of parents tend to purchase their own plastic from a local store and get their own zip ties to save up some bucks. Keep in mind that the plastic has to be strong enough to support the kid as he leans against it.
- Easy to install
- Dimensions: 3’ x 15’ per roll
Declutter those stairs
Your baby’s toys can be found anywhere. As a matter of fact, you will end up finding them in places you never ever imagined. You, however, would never want the toys to be found on the stair steps.
As your child makes his way downstairs or even upstairs, a step on the toy midway through the staircase can end up with your kid tumbling down the stairs. Take care to ensure that no toys are left behind on the stairs so that the kid does not trip over them.
Baby proof even if the stairs are small
It is judicious to baby proof the stairs even if they consist of a few steps. You would definitely want your kid to come running to stairs and falling down on his head.
Even if you have a single step in your house and do not have stairs, you need to ensure extreme safety since what appears a minor step might turn out to be the cause for a serious catastrophe.
You cannot obviously cover each and every step into a sponge. So, baby gates are the best possible solution to baby proofing smaller stairs and steps.
Carpet the stairs
If you were thinking of getting the house carpeted, probably with your kid playing around, it is the best time to do so. Wood can result in making your baby slip while the carpet will provide a safe cushioning platform.
As your kid grows up, carpeted stairs will be useful since they can save a lot of damage even if grownup kids fall tumbling down.
A final warning
Baby gates are not the ultimate solution to protecting your baby from falling down from the stairs.
Baby gates can be useful if they are selected and installed properly in accordance with your own situation. For instance, hardware mounted baby gates should always be used at the top of the staircase since the pressure mounted gates that push against walls, can fall down as the kid applies weight by leaning against them.
As soon as your baby figures out how to climb over or open a baby gate, I would recommend you to get it removed. This definitely takes place when you kid is around two years of age. At this stage, the baby gates can become fall hazards since your kid will attempt to cross them and might get tripped over.
According to a study published in the May-June edition of Academic Pediatrics revealed that approximately five kids get injured while trying to cross baby gates per day on average.
The Nationwide Children’s Organization has developed this comprehensive video in order to cover this important topic that involves injuries to children due to baby gates.
On the whole, baby gates are still considered by many as a crucial tool for baby proofing your stairs. However, it is necessary that you take all the requisite precautions in this regard.
That is the end of my yet another baby proofing guide. I hope that this tutorial will help you baby proof your stairs in the best possible way and to ensure that your kid does not succumb to injuries owing to a fall down.
In case, you require any further advice or have any questions, let us know.