There are two schools of thought when it comes to baby stair gates. The first is as soon as the baby starts showing signs of movement, put in a stair gate at the bottom and top of the stairs to stop them crawling up or falling down the stairs. The second is to teach the baby how to navigate stairs safely. I have experienced two of my children falling down the stairs and it’s one of the most heart stopping moments in a parent’s life, you feel so helpless. So I have always erred on the side of caution and had stair gates. With my last child, we removed them sooner, he was very mobile at an early age and got the hang of the stairs pretty quick. We taught him how to ‘bump bump’ down the stairs which he still does at times! At the moment we have a traditional staircase that twists round at the top, but we are considering whether to buy contemporary staircases, or just to update our bannister.
What to consider when choosing a stair gate
What sort of stair gate you end up with will depend on a number of factors. You need to look at the space it will be going into, does it swing open to the side, is there room for it to open. Do you have circular staircases? We couldn’t have one at the top of our current stairs because there was nothing it could screw into on one side. If you are tight on space you could get a retracting gate or a concertina one. If you’re fitting a gate to the top of the stairs, it should always open towards you, rather than forward onto the stairs, in case you fall through, or it comes undone by accident.
When I was working as a community midwife, I went to lots of people’s houses so I’ve seen a great variety of stair gates in use, they all have different mechanisms – some are harder to open than others. You need it to be hard enough so a toddler can’t open it, but easy enough for you to open without too much fuss. I remember working in A & E one night when a Dad came in with a broken ankle after stepping over a baby stair gate, so be warned!
Screw fix, pressure fix or retractable stair gates
You can get stair gates that screw into the wall, these are more sturdy and there’s no bar at the bottom. The disadvantage is you will have permanent damage to the wall or bannister where you are fixing to, and they can be more expensive. The stair gates with pressure fixings will fit most sized spaces, and are easily installed and taken down, but they have a bar along the bottom which can be a trip hazard (I can testify to that), and shouldn’t be used at the top of the stairs. The retractable stair gates are made of mesh or concertina, and are discreet, have no bar at the bottom, but they are at the high end of the budget.
Here are some of the baby stair gates I recommend:
So there you have it, my stair gate guide. I hope you found it useful, please comment with any questions or queries, I read them all and reply as soon as possible.
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