How to Baby Proof Stairs

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It’s exciting when your little one starts crawling, but if you have stairs in your home, you’re likely filled with a brand new sense of dread. How do you keep your little one from climbing up the stairs, or worse yet, taking a tumble down?

When it comes to how to baby proof stairs, there are a number of ways to go about it. Many cost effective solutions won’t look fancy, but they’ll do the trick. After all, this phase is temporary anyway.

If you want something that looks a little cleaner, you may need to purchase some supplies or make a DIY solution on your own. Either way, you can effectively keep your child away from stairs until you’re ready to master them together.

Here’s what you’ll need for this tutorial:

  • A baby gate
  • A bannister guard
  • DIY tools and materials
  • Carpet or a runner

Put up a baby gate

This is the most obvious and effective way to keep your child away from the stairs. You’ll likely need more than one. You need to place one at the top of the stairs and one at the bottom. If you have more than one staircase, you’ll need to secure both of them.

If you’re looking for a baby gate, there are several different kinds, so you’ll want to evaluate which kind will work best for you.

Here are just a few of the different types of baby gates to consider:

  • Expandable baby gates fit nicely in a door frame. They open slightly to provide just enough tension between the walls to hold it in place. If your staircase has a wall on either side, this is a great solution because you don’t need hardware to mount it. However, if your baby is strong enough to push or pull it over, you might be in trouble.
  • 3-in-1 baby gates are a bit more expensive, but they’re more versatile. You can mount them across the stairs or use them as a free standing solution when you need a playpen. You can also use it on open staircases or in places where you need to cover large spaces with extensions.
  • Swinging gates are often taller and stronger. They’re also more aesthetically appealing. You’ll pay for the improved look and the heftier materials, but they can improve the flow on a high traffic staircase. They’re convenient to unlatch and swing open. However, they may require hardware to mount properly, which means you’ll have unsightly holes in the wall when you take it down.

Install a bannister guard

Bannister guards are helpful if you have a tall staircase with railings that open to a floor beneath. While newer homes are built with a maximum allowable space between spindles, older homes sometimes still have dangerous bannisters that a baby could fit through.

If you’re worried about your little ninja’s ability to squeeze into tight spaces, you might want to consider some sort of bannister guard. These are generally mesh coverings that you can see through, but that your baby can’t fit through.

You can buy them at the store or buy some material and make your own to fit your specific needs. It depends on how much you want to spend and how much work you want to put into it.

Install new railings

If you live in an older home with railings that are spaced too far apart, or perhaps without any railings at all (believe me, it happens), you may want to consider a DIY project or hiring a professional to reinstall some new railings.

It can be a great excuse to update your home and add a personal touch, while making sure the whole family is safe.

Declutter the steps

If your child is old enough to master stairs and you’ve been working on it together, one of the most important thing you can do is keep the stairs free and clear of clutter like books, toys, or laundry.

Any of these things can be a tripping hazard for anyone (even an adult), but especially for a child who is trying hard to learn something new. Make sure you keep everything out of the way.

stairs with red carpet

Lay some carpet

Wood, tile, and bare floor materials can be very slippery and dangerous. Again, if your child is learning to master stairs and you’ve decided to forego the baby gate solution for now, you may want to consider putting in some carpet.

You don’t have to install a permanent carpeting solution either, If you’re not a fan of carpet and you want to keep your beautiful wood stairs, just install a temporary carpeted runner or something to cover that slippery surface until your child can handle the stairs better.

You may also consider applying a clear coat of varnish or non-slip paint over your painted stairs so you don’t ruin the look. It makes them much safer while still allowing you to enjoy the design you love.

Keep your child away

While not always possible, one way to baby proof your stairs is to keep your child away from them altogether. Put your child in a playpen or keep them distracted in a separate room away from the stairs so they won’t have access.

Teach them to use the stairs

Many parents opt for teaching their child to use the stairs early on, eliminating the need for baby gates. As soon as your child can crawl, encourage them to scoot down the stairs on their belly.

When they can sit up and scoot, they may be able to scoot down on their bottom. While it will take a few repetitious days of your supervision, your child may get the hang of it more quickly than you thought, making you much more comfortable with their ability to navigate the tricky situation.

Final Thoughts

It’s normal to be concerned about your child’s ability to navigate stairs. They can be tricky. There are several ways to go about baby proofing stairs to make sure your child stays safe. It depends on your parenting method as well as the type of stairs you have in your home.

Sarah is a full-time freelance writer and mother of 4. She loves Jesus, cars, and coffee.