Our apartment has 2 floors and a wooden staircase between the floors and we are planning to install a gate to prevent the baby to fall down the stairs in an unobserved moment.

Is it however also necessary to install a gate downstairs? Is it realistic to assume that a baby might climb up several stairs and hurt itself?

4 Answers 4


If you're worried your baby might fall on the stairs, then yes--definitely. Our daughter began climbing things (stairs, bookcases, etc.) at around eight months; we installed a gate at both ends of the stairs, to block them when we were on either floor.

Each baby's different, but eventually they will climb. It's all part of learning to walk. It's good to let them try, though, while you're there to catch them.

  • 1
    the last bit about letting them try while supervised is fantastic advice. They will climb, for sure, and it's better to teach them to do it safely. I would add, while on the topic of stair safety, that it's equally important to teach them to climb back down. You know, in case they also learn to climb the gate, at least they will be able to safely ascend and descend the stairs for a bit until a parent wonders where the baby's gone to now...
    – Jax
    Apr 1, 2014 at 21:50

We did. We have 15 oak stairs and our adventurous son had no compunctions about climbing all the way to the gate at the top and bouncing up and down on it. Save yourself the gray hairs and throw a gate at the bottom. As he gets older and more conversant with his motor skills you can remove it.


One anecdote. A good friend of mine was brain surgeon on Boston Children's Hospital. He would go ballistic every time he saw gates at the top of the stairs. The number one reason for brain surgery on small kids that he saw was kids climbing the gate at the top and then falling down the stairs from a high vantage point head first. This was much much more of a problem than kids falling down un-gated stairs.

Our approach: no gates. As baby and toddler they were often lying on a futon in the living room and whenever they got to the edge the would simply plob down to the carpet (maybe an 6"-8" fall). The quickly learned how this works and even as very young toddlers would automatically turn around and go butt first for any stairs or steps they see.

On our stairs we had some carpet on the steps and a big fluffy rug at the bottom. I'm quite sure they all fell or slipped at some point but it was completely harmless. For a while one of there favorite game was to slide down on the stairs on their bums.

  • Depending on the architecture of your stairs this is definitely something to consider. In our case we gated the top because we have a very short top flight of only three stairs, so the baby couldn't fall more than a few stairs down if they did climb, and we chose a harder to climb gate that is screwed in and relatively tall with vertical only bars. If you have a straight stairway with no good place to gate before, gating is probably a bad idea; falls down the stairs are not very serious in most cases, due to the baby's height - but add two feet of gate and a head first fall is more likely.
    – Joe
    Apr 2, 2014 at 13:36
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    I'd say the purpose of gates is to slow down and discourage your child using the stairs. No device is foolproof, and no device can replace being an alert parent. In other words, putting up a gate doesn't mean "now I can ignore the baby".
    – James
    Apr 2, 2014 at 16:21
  • Can I ask what age these children were? We basically had gates from 9 months - 18 months, after that our kid was able to navigate the stairs themselves. I don't think he would have been able to climb the gate at that point, though he certainly would have been able to at 24 months. I'm curious if he has seen very young toddles climbing gates.
    – Ida
    Jul 1, 2014 at 18:05

My 1y little girl began climbing the stair when she learnt to crawl. When she learnt to walk, she began going upstairs in a mix of crawling/walking. She can goes all the way up, about 16 steps.

When taught her to just climb the first and then sit on it, be it to eat, drink or play with something. She only tries to climb further when someone goes upstairs in front of her. So far it has worked, so we're not planning to put a gate there.

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