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According to the CDC, approximately 8,000 children are treated in emergency rooms across the United States for fall related injuries each day. Each day. That adds up to over 2.9 million injuries a year.

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One of the most common places in the house where falls occur is the staircase. Fortunately, it is quick and simple to baby proof. Read on and learn everything you need to know about baby proofing your staircase.

If you have read my other baby proofing guides then by now you will definitely be noticing a pattern. The easiest way to childproof just about any room or object such as stairs is to prevent your child from getting near.

The best baby proofing solution to prevent your child climbing the stairs is a baby gate or fence. A baby gate will prevent your child from going anywhere near the staircase.

A properly installed baby gate will hamper your curious child’;s access even when you are not watching. Trust me, they will quickly become your best friend.

Before you go out and purchase any old baby gate and fence, you need to consider your lifestyle. As always, no single baby proofing product is perfect for every parent’;s situation.

For example, in relation to baby gates for stairs, you may need to consider the following:

There are hundreds of different baby gates designed to keep your child safe on the stairs. Be sure to research which one best suits your situation. For more advice, you can refer to my baby gate buyers guide outlining everything you need to find the perfect baby gate for you.

With that out of the way, let us take a closer look at the different solutions available to keep your child away from the stairs.

Baby gates for open areas will need to be attached to a wall or doorframe with screws. They need to be hardware mounted in order to remain sturdy over the distance stretched.

If your house is like mine and you have a large section around the base of stairs that you need to fence off then look no further than a 3-in-1 gate.

While it is a nice bonus that a 3-in-1 baby gate can turn into a playpen, that is not its main attraction. This baby gate has extensions that can be purchased separately that will allow it to cover virtually any distance (with enough extension pieces). This means that not only can you restrict access to the stairs, but to rooms or hazards around the stairs as well.

These baby gates are popular among parents who have open staircases (Stairs without one or more sides).

Colors: As pictured.Features:–; Multi-purpose.–; Easy to assemble.–; Extensions available.

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Colors: As pictured.Features:–; Multi-purpose.–; Easy to assemble.–; Extensions available.

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If you don’;t have a wide open area at the base of your stairs then a large baby gate is no good to you at all. Fortunately, there are plenty of baby gates that will fit perfectly inside the entrance to your stairwell.

Expandable baby gates, also known as pressure-mounted baby gates, are simple to install and extremely portable. They will require two flat surfaces to press against, such as the stair banister and wall. Because of this, elaborate staircases (and even some plain ones) are not suited to expandable baby gates. If you have an unusual staircase you will have to use a hardware mounted baby gate.

My major gripe with the expandable gate variety is that as they fit inside a walkway, the usable space between the gateway which you actually walk through is quite narrow. You will struggle if you need to take suitcases or travel bags between rooms.

Depending on the brand of gate, you will have the option of extension pieces. Although these cost extraaccent pillow case baby, these are very handy for those of you with wider than normal stairs.

Despite their downsides, many parents swear by expandable baby gates. Just remember that you should only us expandable gates at the bottom of the stairs, never the top. This is because a child’;s weight may cause the gate to slip and fall. It is a much higher fall from the top of the stairs than the bottom.

My favorite expandable baby gate is the one below. It is taller than regular gates (A must for those infants that love to climb) and can easily be opened and closed with one hand.

What I like most, however, is that optional hardware mounts are included. This means that you can have gates at the top and bottom of the stairs that match. You can use the hardware mounted gates at the top of the stairs and the expandable gate at the bottom.

Colors: As pictured.Features:–; Auto-close door.–; Bronze finish.–; 48″;x 0.8″;x 36″;.

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If you or your partner are confident with your hands you can build your own baby gate. Just be prepared to put aside a good part of your day to piece the baby gate together.

Unless you live in a sprawling mansion (In which case, lucky you), chances are you will have much less space at the top of your stairs than at the base.

As your child has a lot further to fall at the top of the stairs you will want your baby gate as tall as possible. This is to prevent your child from climbing over the gate using a box or play toy as a makeshift ladder.

The baby gate you choose for the top of the stairs should be hardware mounted. Yes, this means that you will have to screw into your wall our banister, but the end result is a much safer baby gate.

The reason retractable baby gates are not recommended for the top of the stairs is that the pieces of the gate that push against the sides of the stairs can come loose.

Over time the gate is pushed on, leaned against and accidentally bumped. Slowly but surely the sides can come loose. At this stage, all it takes is your child to attempt to climb the gate or put too much weight on one side and the gate will collapse, sending your child tumbling down the stairs.

I mentioned my favorite gate that can be pressure mounted or hardware mounted earlier in the article so I will show you a different variety for this section.

Most baby gates have a threshold that you will need to step over. The threshold can easily cause trips and stub toes. The baby gate below not only has no threshold but also allows you to use almost the entire space in a walkway. Great for high traffic areas.

Colors: As pictured.Features:–; No trip hazard.–; Swings out of the way.–; Fits openings 28″; to 48″;.

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For some parents, mounting the baby gate to the banister is simply not an option. Perhaps your landlord prohibits you from modifying the house or you simply trying to avoid screw holes in your banister. Hardware mounting baby gates are not for everyone.

Fortunately, there is a simple device that attaches directly to your banister allowing you to install your baby gate without destroying your banister. Simply clip the mount to your banister then drill your baby gate straight into this temporary mount.

The baby gate mount even works great on irregularly shaped banisters.

Colors: As pictured.Features:–; Hole-free.–; Easy install.

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For those of you who are feeling frugal or simply love a DIY project, you can easily make your own baby gate mounts using the following directions.

You will need:

the steps

And there you have it, a quick and simple way to mount a baby gate without drilling into your banister. When you no longer need the stairs baby proofed, simply cut off the zip ties for easy removal.

With baby gates out of the way, let us look at how you can keep your stairs super safe.

Another area of the stairs that many people forget to baby proof is the banister itself.

Your child can easily try to steady themselves on the banister only to put their hand through the gap rather than grab the rail. This will no doubt end in a fall for your little one.

The other problem with banisters is that the gaps can be very tempting to squeeze toys through. To a child dropping a toy from the top of the stairs and pretending it can fly is great fun. Watch out below!

The easiest way to deal with this is to install a banister guard. A banister guard is essentially a sheet of plastic or netting that runs along the length of the banister, covering up the gaps.

I prefer the plastic variety myself as I find the net variety will eventually tear or shed when your little one tries to fiddle with them.

The sheet of plastic comes with zip ties that secure it to your banister. Many parents have had success finding their own plastic at a local hardware store and purchasing it along with their own zip ties to save a bit of money. Just be sure that the plastic will support a child leaning against it.

Colors: As pictured.Features:–; Transparent.–; Easy to install.–; 3′; x 15′; per roll.

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Child toys end up everywhere. Often in places that make you proclaim “;How on earth…;?”;. One place that you definitely don’;t want toys to end up is on stair steps.

Stepping on a toy like a ball mid-step can send you or your child sprawling down the staircase. Be quick to pick up any objects you see sitting on the steps to avoid tripping over them later.

I would strongly consider childproofing stairs even if they only have a few steps. The last thing you want is for your child to be running around and fall head over biscuit down the stairs.

Even if you don’;t have stairs in your house but rather a single step, the principle is exactly the same. What may seem like a minor fall to you can be a serious injury to a small child.

Short of covering every step completely in sponge, baby gates are the best way to childproof smaller stairs and steps.

If you were ever considering carpeting the house, now is a fantastic time to do it. Wood can be particularly slippery for older babies and carpet will cushion any falls.

Carpeted stairs will still be useful as your child gets older. I was recently at my neighbor’;s when their seven-year-old son was running up the stairs and had a bit of a tumble. Fortunately, the stairs were carpeted and besides a bruised ego, there were was no injury.

Baby gates are not the holy grail of baby proofing stairs.

Baby gates are great as long as they selected and installed correctly for your situation. For example, You should always use hardware-mounted baby gates at the top of the stairs. Gates that only press against walls, known as pressure mounted gates, can fall with weight leaning against them.

As soon as your child can figure out how to climb over or open a baby gate (typically around the two-year-old mark) it is best to remove them. At this stage, they pose a fall hazard as your child can easily trip over the base when walking through.

A study published in the May-June issue of Academic Pediatrics reported that an average of five children are injured on baby gates each day.

Baby gate injuries are so common around stairs that the Nationwide Children’;s Organization has even made a short video covering the topic.

Baby gates are still recommended by many as the best way to baby proof your stairs. Just remember to take the proper precautions.

If you are still with me then you have made to the end of yet another of my baby proofing guides. Congratulations. hopefully, you now have all the skills needed to get out there and start childproofing your stairs. Good luck!

If you have any further questions or have advice to share, let me know!

Related ResourcesHow to baby proof a spiral staircaseAn unusual staircase to baby proof Picture guide to baby proofing stairs without drilling into banister

Jess Miller is a loving mother that wants to help other parents by giving them helpful parenting tips and reviewing the best products for their children to save them time, money, and hassle.

Ang says

June 30, 2014 at 8:40 pm

Thanks for your post on baby proofing stairs. I’;m trying to baby proof my staircase/ railing area and finding it difficult to find a solution. We live in a long, narrow townhome with a staircase that is up to code. We have baby gates installed and 36″; lexan sheets over the rails.

Our issue is that if you stand on our 3rd floor landing and look down, you can see almost to the bottom. If a child were to climb/fall over the 36″; high landing or any of the 28″; railings going down, it would be quite dangerous. We supervise our children on the stairs, but would like an extra bit of protection.

After brainstorming, the only thing we could think of was to install 48″; lexan sheets all along the landing and railings. But we’;re not that handy, and interested if there were any other ideas. Thanks!

Jess Miller says

July 1, 2014 at 12:58 am

Hey Ang,

Some staircases are going to be more tricky to baby proof than others and unfortunately it sounds like you have hit the jackpot. Do not despair!

Fortunately, I do not believe you will have to go to the extent of installing 48″; lexan sheet. Some things to consider about the landing:Unless your children have shown a keen interest in looking over the landing or are throwing toys over the edge, then you may not need to baby proof this area at all. A good solution would be to tell your children that this area is off limits. Be quick to reprimand any behavior that goes against this. Children are quick learners and deep down seek your approval (despite their cheeky grins suggesting the contrary), just be sure to be consistent with your rules and reprimands.

I am going to assume the landing leads to the bedrooms? Unless you use the bedrooms as a play area, there is little reason for your child to be in the bedroom during the day. Find ways to limit your children from needing to walk through this area. If possible, move changes of clothes and popular toys downstairs to prevent your child from associating anything that is remotely fun with this area (I am yet to find a young child that finds sleep fun, so you shouldn’;t have to worry about that).

As long as you are consistent with supervision and discouraging unsafe behavior, your child is not going to accidentally fall over a 36″; high railing from the ground.

If you have baby gates at the top and bottom of the stairs then you shouldn’;t need to worry about the 28″; railings going down, as the only time your children should walk past these is through the baby gates with your supervision.

If you did want extra security you could try a door alarm (sets off an alarm when a door is opened) or a wireless motion sensor. Both of these will set off an alarm should your child walk through the area unsupervised. The alarms should not only be cheaper than buying lexan sheet but also much easier to install.

Hope this helps!


Taylor Allison says

February 19, 2015 at 12:17 am

Thank you for the great guide. Do you have any tips for baby proofing stairs that have open risers? (And in a rental, no less.) Thanks!

Jess Miller says

February 19, 2015 at 10:46 am

Hi Taylor,

Open risers are generally best baby proofed with a fence with a fence that goes around the entirety of the stairs. If you simply use a baby gate at the base of the stairs, your little one may still be able to creep through the open raisers and up the stairs, only to fall out at a larger height.

If you are not renting you could also screw a sheet of plexiglass along the base of your stairs. While this wouldn’;t be the most visually appealing solution, it may help you if your stairs are a commonly used by your baby as a thoroughfare.

Selinah says

March 11, 2015 at 8:34 am

Thank you so much for all the advice on staircase baby proofing,

I have tiled stairs in my house and there’;s sharp edges all around the staircase

Im scared that this might hurt the children, Any advice on how I can baby proof this?Thanks, Selinah

Jess Miller says

March 11, 2015 at 9:04 pm

Hi Selina,

Ugh.. tiled staircases are the worst. Well for kids anyway. While they are gorgeous to look at those sharp corners are a nightmare if your little one takes a tumble.

Since your children will never be going up or down the stairs unattended you should be fine with fencing the base of the stairs off completely. You may need to use a custom baby gate that can span the distance around the staircase. You can find out more about the different types of baby gates in this guide I have written. You may need to get creative with how the gate is mounted. Zip-ties may be your best friend.

If you really want to go the extra step you can cut those soft custom fit floor tiles to shape and glue them directly to your staircase. I personally don’;t like this method as it is very messy to clean up, is ugly and feels weird underfoot for you. If your little one is only climbing the stairs under your direct and immediate supervision then fencing them off is really the best solution.

Diana says

May 21, 2015 at 2:44 pm

My stair case has an iron banister, but only on one side. The other side is the wall. I have no idea how we are going to put up a gate and I am losing my mind trapped in one room of our house all day with my baby who just learned how to walk. Help!

Jess Miller says

May 21, 2015 at 10:21 pm

Hi Diana,

I am going to assume your staircase is in a central location and it is not viable to put baby gates on all the rooms that lead to the stairs. Depending on the iron blisters you can try using y-spindles on one side of the baby gate and pressure mounts against the wall. Another option may be to get a custom shaped baby gate and bend it around the entire base of the stairs, essentially leaving the stairs in their own little pen. I hope this at least points you in the right direction.

Keep being awesome!

Heather Dean says

May 28, 2015 at 2:07 am

I am trying to find an attachment to add to our stairs so that the hand rail is at my 3 year-old’;s height. His PT recommended it, but I can’;t seem to find anything. Any suggestions?

Jess Miller says

May 31, 2015 at 3:21 am

Hi Heather,

Does your stair have balusters? If so you could zip tie plastic pipe along them at a height comfortable for your 3 year old. This would most likely be the cheapest solution while it wont look pretty, it is only short term and will definitely help out your child. Plastic Electrical conduit would be the best piping solution as it is easy to fit together and comes in a range of thicknesses and easy to cut to length.

Keep being awesome!

McKenzie says

July 7, 2015 at 4:48 pm

I need to find a gait for the top of the stairs at Grandma’;s house. It only has one banister that goes horizontal down the stairs and she refuses to screw holes in the wall or banister. Please help so I can keep my little one safe.

Lisa says

July 26, 2015 at 3:34 am

Thank you for all of your wonder tips :)Now to pick your brain further lolWe just purchased a open concept raised ranch and the banister (with the wood railings) are looking over the foyer. Our concern is that the way the living room is situated we have no choice but to put the couch against the banister which is a huge risk for our little one to fall over the banister down a story into the foyerWe were going to build a wall (drywall) to keep ours kids safe from any potential accidents but was wondering if there’;s a better way to keep the open conceptness of the houseThanks again :)

Jess Miller says

July 27, 2015 at 12:57 am

Hi Lisa,

I am just having one problem: Visualizing your staircase.

Is it possible to email over a picture of your staircase (or a similar staircase if you are uncomfortable sharing photos of your home) and I will see if I can identify a suitable solution?

Keep being awesome!

elizabeth williams says

November 7, 2015 at 1:13 pm

i have iron rails how do i find a top of the stair baby gate that is compatible

Sharon says

November 12, 2015 at 4:54 am

We have a wooden banister on one side and a wall on the other. The wall has a railing attached to it. The railing is blocking the gate to be attached to the banister. There is a wall beyond the banister but that is about 68 inches from the wall with the railing. What do you suggest? Thanks.

Richard Rucker says

January 21, 2016 at 1:33 pm

I used a 2×;4 and large zip ties 20 years ago –; and it worked great. I believe it would work for your reader with the iron stair railing. The other thing I did was install a small spring loaded self-closing device on the mounted gate. This is because inevitably someone is going through the gate with their hands full or simply in a hurry, and they forget to close the gate. No matter how well it is mounted, an open gate is as good as no gate at all.

Jessica says

April 19, 2016 at 2:45 am

Hi. My daughter just turned 2 in February. Her bedroom is upstairs and we have a metal baby gate that screws to the wall to keep her in her room and prevent her from coming down the stairs. We have taught her how to go up and down the stairs safely but children trip alot and don’;t pay attention to where they are going and I am scared to death of her falling down the stairs. Last week she figured out how to open the gate and has been coming downstairs by herself. Do you have any suggestions to keep her from using the stairs without our knowledge (she gives no warning that she has woken up or anything). I thought about a different gate that she doesn’;t know how to use but it would only be a matter of a short while before she figured that out too. We can’;t close her door because we don’;t have central heat and air. I’;m at a loss and scared!

Dave says

May 8, 2016 at 4:32 pm

Our staircase has trim at the bottom making the baby gate not able to fully pressure lock at the top. Our kids have found that they can just push the top and climb over the gate. Any ideas on what else we can do to keep them off the stairs?

Michael Minoff says

May 30, 2016 at 8:48 pm

Worried grandpa trying to decide which gate is best. Top of stairs have the wall on one side (right side as you go up); and metal bannister on Left side as you come up small portion of L-shape staircase. Which gate best attaches to a small metal post? Looked online at Dream Baby, Safety 1st, North States, and have an extra Kidco G2000. Thanks much for any assistance!

starr says

December 25, 2016 at 6:10 pm

I live in a bilevel home and my staircase is right there when you open the door to the living room area. I have a wall on one side and the railing on the other. The problem is I cannot seem to find a fence that I can mount on the railing side.This railing is mounted into the floor and its way too narrow to mount anything on it.Could I possibly screw post there so I can mount a safety fence. My little one just started walking and the stair although only 6 is a danger

Minerva says

March 21, 2017 at 5:15 am


I love in a 3 story home and from the top floor I can see my basement. My stairs are circular all the way down. My fear is the little one goes over and ends up in the basement. How do I protect him. My family suggested to make a net. I don’;t know what to do.

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