23 answers

Baby Gate Advice for Wide Area at Top of Stairs

Our almost 8 month old will be crawling soon, so we're starting to babyproof. We've blocked off most stairways, but we live in a townhouse where there are three steps up from the entryway to the main floor. We can't find a baby gate that's wide enough (48") that wouldn't also entail us removing the railing by the stairs, which is 24" off of the ground. I'd thought about just trying to barricade it with a playyard or something, but the stairs to upstairs are right there, and we need to access them easily. Any thoughts? We're not planning to have him roaming around on his own, but want to be on the safe side.

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Thanks so much for all of the advice! We may give that baby-proofing company a call. It seems like the height of the space (trying to get it to fit under the railing next to the stairs) is going to be trickier than the width...

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Hi K.,
We bought The First Year's gate w/a pedal you step on to open. They sell extentions that can go on both sides of just one side depending on how big you need. It's been a good gate for us. We've had it for about 4-5 years now. I think I bought it at Buy Buy Baby in Rockville. Hope this helps.

L., mother of 3 girls ages 9, almost 5 & 2

You can get retractable mesh baby gates that are very long. They roll up on one side and pull out and connect to the other. You have to bolt them on the wall though. I think One Step Ahead has them or just google it. I have steps that have railings on each side and couldn't find a solution so I just put my ottoman in front of the stairs so he couldn't get to them.

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We had stairs but we were so involved with each other that we never needed one. You only have one child, no biggie wiht a hubby like yours!!
God Bless

I at one time had to span a 96" door way (8 feet) with a gate and found the Elongate (shows here http://www.petsmart.com/product/index.jsp?productId=27553...)
to work wonderfully! It's adjustable, you can get it as small as 48" up to I believe 13 feet. I used it like I said over an 8 foot span and it was easy to install, easy to put together, easy to use, and kept my dogs and baby secure. It does install with some hardware, but it's a total of about 8 screws, so it's not a ton of holes to fill once you decide to take it down. it's available at several pet stores, though I bought my set online at the time. The 8 foot span cost me about $120 bucks with shipping (shop for the best price, pet stores tend to be a little higher) and I was thrilled with it. The door it about 30 inches and can open either way, it's not particularlly easy for a toddler to figure out (as it takes kinda aadvanced finger use to open) and it swings silently so no worrys about waking a sleeping baby if it's 4am.

Now...after reading your post a little more...is there a wall or stair rail on both sides of the stairs or are they open stairs? If they're open stairs...try this one: http://www.safestartbaby.com/ecomm_product_details.php?id...

You can get retractable mesh baby gates that are very long. They roll up on one side and pull out and connect to the other. You have to bolt them on the wall though. I think One Step Ahead has them or just google it. I have steps that have railings on each side and couldn't find a solution so I just put my ottoman in front of the stairs so he couldn't get to them.

Check out onestepahead.com they have tons of gates that will fit almost any space. We have the retractable ones at the top and bottom of both of our staircases and love them. My boys are 7 and 4 and we still use them when we have playdates (to keep kids downstairs) and for night walking. Good luck.

Dear Kim , I'm just a plan old coutry girl but if it was me I would see if I could find somthing made of net material and add hooks to it for easy release . accually you could make some with like leather materials something (strong ) keep holes small. That way the only damage your really doing to structure is some eye hooks .

Hi K.,

I also live in a townhouse in Ashburn. After some research online, we came up with the same dilemma with the steps up from our entry to our living room. The angle and width made it really complicated, so we decided to look into hiring a baby-proofing company, Safe Start Baby that I think is located in Round Hill. You can get an in-home assessment for about $100 and they will tell you the areas of concern in the rooms to be baby-proofed and what types of gates they would use.

We chose to have them install the gates (my husband works a lot and I'm not that handy with a drill!) and they did a great job. We had to have a couple of different types of gates in our house. They didn't drill into any of the banisters but instead used zip-ties; they did have to drill into the wall and into some trim, but those can be patched up easily. They are all super easy to remove as needed, as we discovered when we had a new refrigerator delivered.

When we hired Safe Start Baby, they didn't have an online store...but they do now! You could get the assessment and then buy the gates online and install them yourself. (Installation is not cheap!)


Hope this makes sense...if not, please email me!

Good luck!

I also live in a townhome and my advice is to block from the bottom and never leave him unattended at the top. My babygate is3 steps up from the bottom and it is a big plastic and clear plastic gate. It comes with special hardware so you can mount it on the wall and it will swing out. the hardware even comes with a mounting kit which helps balance out the top mount on the wall and the bottom mount on the trimwork.. yes it took me 2 hurs to install...had to run to hardware store for wall anchors and finally i just gave up and glued it to the wall with a product called liquid nails. mind you in 6 years when its time to take down the gate, i will have to cut it out and spackle and patch but its better than my baby falling down stairs. I reccomend to start a 3 steps up b/c they will learn about steps but not "fall" down them. good luck!

Hi K.,

We took an old door (we had been remodeling at the time) and laid it across the opening sideways, then affixed it with eye-hooks (we had some that were difficult for a child to manipulate). It turned out the door did the job well, and we adults could easily go over it.

there are loads of gates ou there that are plenty big enough and most would attach to the wall. go to walmart.com and search you can have what you like sent to the store near you for free. i have one and i like it. but my friend hasone that can bend every few feet and has a gate in the middle so you can step through instead of opning it all the time. try these.....




Hi K.,

Since it's only three steps, I would leave them accessible to baby. You want your little boy to be able to negotiate stairs safely, and what better way to practice than in relative safety on three steps up to the main level. There is little chance that your son could hurt himself in any serious way on so small a staircase. Definitely block off more arduous stair climbing but I think this would be an excellent place for your son to practice and become comfortable with stairs, learn about the possibilities of falls and the consequences of unsafe behavior on stairs. He can learn all of it without the severe consequences he would have on a larger span. Just make sure there is carpet or a non slip area rug in place on the steps to minimize impacts if baby falls a few times (and he will.)

Hope this helps.


I lived in the same type of townhouse when my son was learning to crawl. We gated off the stairs going up to the bedrooms, and the stairs going down to the basement, but we didn't gate off the three stairs to the family room. As soon as he learned to crawl, we taught him how to sit on his bottom and scoot down the stairs safely. Still, we didn't let him do it unsupervised, so we had to watch him when he was near the stairs.

Try the "One Step Ahead" catalog they have many types of baby gates. We got ours there for our wide door way. Good luck!

B. (37 year old mother of three)

Hi K.,

I live in a house where it would have taken me 2 to 3 baby gates to cover from one side of the wall to the other wall. I went to Babies R Us and purchased the babygate that could be extended if necessary but it was also going to cost around $300 to do it. One of the customer service reps at babies r us told me to place a 2x4 on the side of the railing and tie with the rail ties you can get from home depot so I would not have to drill into the banister. So we placed the babygate on the first step and drilled it into the wall on one side and the 2x4 on the other side. Hope this helps and if you have any other questions please feel free to ask me. Good luck, L.

Hi K.,

Onestepahead.com offers a wide variety of baby gates (and tons of other baby items you didn't know you needed!). If you have a Toys (or Babies) R Us near you, try them as well. They carry many of the same gates without the shipping charges.


Hi, my husband and I picked up this amazing gate at Plow and Hearth. It is and adjustable gate that goes around a hearth, but it can be broken down into smaller segments and it has a door right in the middle. You can also get and additional extension for it. We used it initially as a hearth gate when our son was just crawling, but since then we have moved into a new house and it has been used as a baby gate and a dog gate. Having the door on it makes it so versatile. I have to warn you that it is a bit on the expensive side, but it is really well made and so useful that I think it's worth the expense. Hope this helps!

Hi K.,
We bought The First Year's gate w/a pedal you step on to open. They sell extentions that can go on both sides of just one side depending on how big you need. It's been a good gate for us. We've had it for about 4-5 years now. I think I bought it at Buy Buy Baby in Rockville. Hope this helps.

L., mother of 3 girls ages 9, almost 5 & 2

I live in a townhouse that sounds similar to yours, and we got a baby gate at Buybuy Baby in Springfield. I'm sure they have the same kinds at Babies R Us. They make them as big as 12 ft!

Hello i purchased a baby gate at toy r us it is first years and i love it it has extensions i live in a town house and it works great it also i feel is the safest in order to open it you have to pull up on it and it shuts atomaticly, after it has been open.

Hi,K.. Have you tried the online catalog One Step Ahead? They specialize in baby gear and used to offer lots of different "configurable gates" that pretty much can be used in many tough places around a house. I believe the web site is www.onestepahead.com. Remember, you want to look for configurable gates--in fact, I know I've seen, in their paper catalog, gates used on exactly the kind of "three steps down up to the entryway, three steps down to the living room" etc. configurations homes sometimes have. You may need to get several gates that are made to attach together if you have longer spaces. Good for you for being so concerned about gates, too. I'm a big believer in them and know cases where they definitely kept children from serious harm, especially on stairs in our house. Also -- please consider putting gates, attached to the doorframes, at both the tops and bottoms of your staircase for some time to come. This is a place where kids easily can crawl up before you know what's happening, then tumble back down (I've actually seen it happen, though not to my daughter,and it was awful to watch my friend's crawler who had climbed up come rolling back down almost the whole length of the stairs before she could ever reach him. He wasn't hurt that time, but could have been badly hurt). Both top and bottom stair gates are best because the top ones keep them from falling/crawling down from the top and bottom ones prevent them from crawling up then falling back down as my friend's son did. I know some families don't want stair gates because they seem like a hassle for the adults but in One Step Ahead they offered lots of gates that were easy -- one-hand opening/closing, etc. Just please don't ever use a doorway "pressure gate" on a staircase as they are ones that kids eventually can just push right out of the doorway (and pressure gates' instructions do say they're not for use on stairways). Good luck!


As soon as our babies started crawling, we taught them how to lay on their tummies, turn around feet first towards the stairs and scoot down on their bellies. I have five kids and they all learned to navigate stairs quickly.

We used a gate only with our first in child in our first home b/c the stairwell was a hanging staircase with large gaps between each stair.

Now, this does mean hanging out by the stairs for quite a number of weeks b/c they're learning something new and loving the mobility but it saves you years of nervousness and angst.

Keep in mind that you still have to make sure they don't play around the top of the stairs b/c for any reason, they might lose their balance and fall down. But when I tell my children to be careful, they understand what I mean.


I have a good friend that is a professional baby-proofer in the Balto Area. Let me know ifyou want her contact info.

Hi K.,

Had you thought about looking at things that they make for dogs. I see many interesting things in catalogs for dogs to keep them in one area.

Just wanted to help. Good luck. D.

Try looking at baby depot or Babies R us. We couldn't find one big enough for our old place, so we just sucked it up and kept an eye on him. We had a 90 lb Boxer that would lay across the stairs and if our kids got too close, he would bark and let us know. That was the best gate we ever got. He did the same thing with the cabinets and the bathroom door. If I forgot to close the door, he would walk across it and close it so Peyton couldn't get in. He passed away in Nov. But taught our Puppy Pit Bull the same thing, so now she is the keeper of the stairs, cabinets and doors.

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