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Child Safety Gate: Stairs Must Be Guarded

Updated on July 2, 2011
Don't wait 'til your baby is already exploring. Get your baby gates up early!
Don't wait 'til your baby is already exploring. Get your baby gates up early! | Source

When choosing a child safety gate, stairs must be considered as well as doorway passages, as staircases pose an alluring threat to young explorers. Measuring the child safety gate, stairs and doorways accurately is important for a good, solid fit.

Child safety gates are a must in a home with babies and young toddlers. Whether it's to keep a child from wandering into a garage, workshop or other room where danger lurks, it is important to install a child safety gate. Parents are careful to install cupboard locks and doorknob guards to ensure the safety of little ones, but may not consider the dangers of staircases and the need there for a child safety gate. Stairs mustn't be overlooked, as they pose a definite danger of physical injury.

Maybe I can go through it...
Maybe I can go through it... | Source
...maybe I can go over it...
...maybe I can go over it... | Source

When shopping for a child safety gate, stairs must be a top consideration. Babies and toddlers love to climb and explore, and stairs are a very attractive challenge for them. Of course, toddlers' motor skills aren't yet developed fully enough to navigate stairs safely, even if they do manage to scale the bottom few steps. As they climb, their balance may waiver, particularly as they cheer themselves on with joy in their own accomplishment. They are not likely to hold on to the banister or even grasp for it when they do lose their balance, and the result can range from a few bruises to something far more serious.

At the top of the stairs, the danger is most precarious, as gravity and distance can turn even a slight falter into a major disaster. Babies and toddlers have no fear, and will think nothing of striding right off that top step to retrieve a stuffed toy they've just tossed down the staircase. "The teddy bear wasn't hurt, so there's no danger to me," Junior might think; or, "Oh, Boy! I wonder if I can bounce several times, just like my ball did!" Yes, Junior; you very well might.

This determined little baby (pictured at right) is demonstrating why it is absolutely imperative that baby gates be installed firmly and properly according to the manufacturer’s directions, using the manufacturer’s hardware, recommended extensions and installation kits. Babies love to test limits as they explore, and their level of safety will be dependent upon the quality and reliability--and the secure installation--of the safety gates you choose for your home.

Strong Top-of-Stairs Choice

Even if the home is a single-story unit, there are usually stairs at the front door and back door. Adults may wish to keep these doors open for fresh air, particularly in mild or warm weather, and feel secure in blocking toddler passage through the use of screen doors. It's surprising just how easily an enterprising toddler can disengage a standard screen door, so that's not a method to rely upon. Install child safety gates here, as well, if ever the front or back doors are kept open for any period of time.

For bottom-floor stairway installation of a child safety gate, stairs must be measured accurately to ensure a good fit. Consider the shape of the staircase base and, if necessary, shop for a specially designed child safety gate (stairs often flare out at the base and require a different design of child safety gate). Stairs will likely require two sizes of gates, one for the top opening and one for the bottom, because measurements of the stairway opening will often will differ from top to bottom. Even if the measurements are identical, you'll likely prefer to have two gates to protect each end of the staircase, unless you like the idea of lugging a safety gate up and down stairs and re-installing it all the time.

Follow the installation directions exactly for each child safety gate. Stairs may need extensions for flared portions, but don't jerry-rig these yourself. Be sure to get and use the manufacturer's extensions for this purpose. Whether blocking doorways or guarding the entrance to a staircase, child safety gates are only as effective as their (proper!) installation. It is essential to follow the manufacturer's directions precisely, ensuring that each gate fits snugly in each doorjamb or banister/wall connection, or a gate may become easily dislodged from its place.

Ensure ALL Access Points are Guarded

Most households with babies and toddlers have a collection of safety devices that help protect their little ones. On the must-have list are the following categories: outlet cover, corner bumper, doorknob cover, window lock and child safety gate. Stairs, doorways and even entrances to outdoor sheds can all use a barrier against the innocent curiosities of little ones. They'll have plenty of time to climb and explore when they get just a little bit bigger, which will happen before you know it.

© M.S. Ross - All Rights Reserved

It's Never Too Soon

Some parents may put off installing baby gates because their infant is too young to be so mobile. But watch out: babies have a way of surprising you with how suddenly they transition from crawling to pulling themselves upright and exploring. The gates will be part of your household life for a few years anyhow, so go ahead and install them from the get-go and you’ll be accustomed to their placement from the start. That way, you won’t be caught off-guard when Junior suddenly decides to scale Mt. Staircase.

Photos in this article published under Creative Commons license.


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