Babies/Gates And Stairs

Updated on June 06, 2010
C.M. asks from New Baden, IL
15 answers

My son is 9.5 months old and we have a basement in our house so naturally I worry about him falling down those stairs! We do have a door to the basement that we keep closed but I do want to rely on my almost 3 year old to close the door so I'd LIKE to put a gate up (we already have one) but just haven't done it yet. I know by 10/11 months my daughter was starting to crawl up the stairs and by 12 months she could crawl down them with assistance. For those of you who have doors to their basements, do you have a gate as a secondary preventor? We can just do the tension part but I don't trust that to keep firm if my daughter pushes on it. We've never had an issue as of now, but I just wonder if we should put the gate up if in a few months I'll feel more comfortable with him being around the stairs?I think my daughter was at least 18 months before I was even remotely comfortable about her not falling down the stairs and now at 2 years 9 months I am comfortable with her going up and down by herself.

Just wanted some ideas, thoughts from those of you who have used gates to basements. If we put it up with screws, it has to be inside the doorway because if we put it in the doorframe (not sure you are even supposed to do this) the door won't shut. Which gate is best? We have a plastic one. Should we look to get one with a foot release?

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answers from Pittsburgh on

How about a slide lock at the top of the door where the kids can't reach? I also used a gate with the door, but we had a third level of security with the slide lock at the top of the door.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kalamazoo on

I would put a latch up high on the door to keep it shut. If your almost 3 yr old wants to come in/out they must have you open and shut and latch the door. This ensures that your older child will not leave it open. You're right, tension gates are NOT safe for stairs. You would have to get one with hardware that mounts to the wall if you went with a gate. You could also get a half door or cut your current one in half, then it would still function like a door, but also like a gate and you could hear your 3yr old on the other side.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Stairs always make me catch my breath. I have a door to the basement in my kitchen. I just keep the door closed and it has a safety ball thing on the door handle. My husband and I both have a hard time opening so it works great for my 2year old who knows how to open doors by himself. and I'm not sure but I though a isaw at a babies-r-us or something that you can buy an attachment for the door to make sure it closes completely everytime.



answers from Toledo on

Babies can climb gates at an early age, and second babies are much more likely to be "troublemakers". Climbing a gate would lead to a REALLY nasty fall into the basement. I would get the door knob covers so no one can open the door without an adult. If your older one goes down to play, you can open the door for her, and she can open it herself from the other side. If you need to be able to hear her or talk to her, I really would get a Dutch door--the kind that are cut in half, and open the top.(Still with the covers to prevent her from opening and not closing the door.)



answers from Kansas City on

When my first son was 13 months old, he fell down our basement stairs. He wasn't hurt seriously (just bruises), but it freaked us out. We had a door that we always kept closed, except for that one time he fell down. The next day we put a gate up to make sure he wouldn't fall again. We just got a mounted wooden one. It works fine. I think you probably should put up a gate just in case. A pressure mounted gate is dangerous at the top of stairs because a) it might fall if pushed on, and b) there's always a bar across the opening of a walk through pressure mounted gate, and it's a trip hazard.



answers from Lansing on

I would put the gate up. It's better to be safe than sorry! My husband saw a baby fall down the stairs at a daycare providers it haunts him to this day. We pulled our son asap. Maybe a hook lock on the door? Put it up high then when your daughter wants to go downstairs she will have to ask you to unlock it, you'll be aware when the door is open.



answers from Albuquerque on

I would put up a gate for your piece of mind. We have a Gate to our playroom (it's right next to the stairs). I love the gate we use because it is permanant and not a pressure mount gate. It attatches to the walls and then has a locking door that you go through. It is metal and made by regalo.

I also wanted to add how important it is to teach your kiddos how to go up and down the stairs the right way. Meaning on thier feet holding onto the rail. Kids are more likely to fall down the stairs when they are going up or down on their hinnies or knees. We have always had stairs and have never had any accidents until my mom came to visit and taught my eldest to go down on her bottom. Well she topled right over!



answers from Detroit on

We live in a bi-level, so gating the top of the stairs was a must. We installed "The First Years All Clear Swing Gate" because we didn't like the look of the traditional stairway gates with the metal bars. This one swings both ways, which is nice and has held up to a toddler banging and trying to climb on it. And, although he understands how to open it b/c he sees us opening it, he hasn't been able to unlatch it because you have to pull up on the handle and swing the gate. I absolutely suggest mounting the gate w/hardware, rather than relying on a pressure mount gate. Our large-breed dogs have pushed over the pressure mount gate that we put up in the hallway when we want to contain our little guy; it scares me to think that a child might be able to do the same over steps.



answers from Philadelphia on

If you cannot install a hardware mounted gate at the top of any staircase, find another solution. As a baby proofer, I will refuse to install a pressure mounted gate at the top of the stairs. It is unsafe!!! You might want to think of removing the door temporarily and installing a hardware mounted walk thru gate. The gates with a foot release are also "pressure mounted" and shouldn't be used for this application. If you would like to discuss other options for securing interior doors, let me know.


answers from York on

I agree with the other posts that a pressure mounted gate IS NOT SAFE at the top of stairs. I recommend a kid-proof cover on the door knob so that hopefully your 3 year old cannot open the door on her own. I know my husband and I have trouble opening our doors that have the kid-proof cover on the doorknobs but that doesn't mean a 3 year old won't figure it out. I liked the idea Jessica had of removing the door and putting up a fixed gate. I believe some gates have an autoclose feature so that your daughter couldn't leave it open.



answers from St. Louis on

I second Stephanie! We use the wooden pressure gates and as long as we keep them tight, we never have a problem. My husband is a big strong guy, and he purposely pulls on them after we put them back up to make sure he can barely wiggle it. We also put the wooden pressure bar on the stair side, so it can't be used as a step. (The flat side faces the kid.) We have this over the entrance to our basement because although we have a door, it doesn't always latch securely. Our cats have often pushed on it enough and the latch let lose. That was enough for us to put up the baby gate!

On a side note, we put Sharpe marks on the notches of the tension bar, so we know where the tightest possible notch is. That way we don't accidentally put it one too loose. It can stay up on a looser setting, but it isn't as tight as the next one up. Just an extra precaution for us!



answers from St. Louis on

we put a eye hook latch (not sure if that is what they are called) up high on the door. It works great.



answers from Cincinnati on

My son is 16 months old, and though he's been able to handle stairs for the last 6 months or so, I would never, ever let him go up and down the stairs alone. He just can't be trusted not to get distracted at this point! Our basement door always remains locked (we installed a lock when we moved in for security reasons), but if that's not an option, I would absolutely put up a gate. Better safe than sorry!



answers from Kansas City on

We have a plastic pressure gate, a wooden pressure gate and an expandable gate that screws into the wall. I prefer the wooden pressure gate. It was the least expensive, is portable (we can move it to any standard doorway) and it works great. The only problem we've had with the pressure gates is that the arm that applies the pressure makes a great step for little feet to get a leg up and over the gate! Our master bedroom is the only room in our house that isn't child-proofed so we keep a gate in the doorway to keep little ones out. I had to turn it so the arm which applies the pressure is inside the room to keep our little one from from using it as a step. The arm sticks in too far and keps the door from closing. If I were you, I'd just buy a hook and eye lock for the basement door. We've had to do that for both our front and back entrances to our home. One of our little cousins showed our daughter how to unlock and open the doors. The hook and eye locks only cost us $2 each. We placed them near the top of the doors, out of reach of little hands, and they are very effective and easy to install. Good luck!



answers from Kansas City on

put one of those hydrolic door closers that are on screen doors and make sure it is adjusted tight where it will sort of slam the basement door shut when opened. I saw someone do this as they also had a preschool age child that didn't keep the door shut all the time and that seemed to work well with keeping the door shut.

If you use a gate I would recommend a walk through because it is hard to get up and down the stairs when you are messing with undoing the gate and could end up falling yourself. wouldn't get a foot release as the kids can push those too.

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