How to Use Baby Gates for Your Stairs

Baby boy sees mom in the kitchen
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A baby gate is essential if you have stairs in your home. Baby safety gates can help ensure that your crawling and walking infant or toddler doesn't fall down the stairs.

Some things to consider when using a baby gate with stairs:

  • Use a baby gate both at the bottom and top of the stairs.
  • Use a baby gate that actually screws into the wall at the top of the stairs. Never use pressure-mounted baby safety gates at the top of a staircase; use them at the bottom, if at all.
  • Keep items that your toddler could use to climb over the gate away from the gate (chairs, step stools, stepladders, large toys).
  • Consider getting a configurable baby gate with extensions if your stairs have a wide landing.
  • Put the gates up by the time your child is 5 or 6 months old and before they are crawling and walking.
  • Keep the gates up until you are convinced that your child can walk up and down the stairs safely, usually at around 3 years of age (after which time they will likely learn how to bypass the gate anyway).

Baby safety gates are also a good way to keep your toddler in their room once they go to bed. If they wake up in the middle of the night, a gate will prevent them from being able to come to your room, which typically creates a habit of continuing to wake up. However, this is no longer a good option once your child is using the toilet instead of wearing diapers at night.

Baby Gates in Other Areas

In addition to preventing falls down stairs, baby safety gates can double as other types of gates to protect other areas of your house, such as:

  • Rooms that aren't childproofed or that you simply want to keep your toddler out of (like the kitchen)
  • Rooms or areas where your dog spends time, to separate the dog and the baby
1 Source
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  1. Kendrick D, Zou K, Ablewhite J, et al. Risk and protective factors for falls on stairs in young children: multicentre case-control studyArch Dis Child. 2016;101(10):909–916. doi:10.1136/archdischild-2015-308486

By Vincent Iannelli, MD
Vincent Iannelli, MD, is a board-certified pediatrician and fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Iannelli has cared for children for more than 20 years.