We kept meaning to install stair gates, but never got around to it. I'm now wondering if we can do without them? It's obviously a lot more work to constantly supervise near the top and bottom, but does it lead to better "stair sense"?
11mo crawling DS has started climbing the stairs, and can go all the way from bottom to top. He's been looking down the stairs from the top but seems sensible enough to realise he can't launch himself down them. My worry is that when he starts to walk, the slightest stumble or trip on the landing could mean a nasty fall down the stairs.
We considered it but worried about sleepy night time wanderings. We'd take it off sometimes and show dd how to go up and down safely, and at other people's houses she was free range. (They had kids with toys upstairs so everyone was piling up and down, I wasn't just letting her explore houses without permission).
I have an almost-crawler again now, and only one stair gate. I think it will be at the top of the stairs and left open when we are downstairs, then shut if we go upstairs.
I'd say they are worth it. We've always just had one at the top of the stairs. I found there was a long period when they were just walking/crawling where you are following them around and so you don't need the gates as much. But when they get older you do a lot less of that constant supervision and so sometimes it is useful to just be able to shut a gate and know that they are just happily upstairs.
We do have steep and narrow stairs through, with an awkward turn that means if a child stumbled they could have a very nasty fall. It's been useful when we have other kids around to play who are less familiar with the layout, so we can safely just shut them all upstairs to play by themselves.
We have this gate, which collapses down against the wall. I love it because it's not like you need to always have it there and always use it; if you're not using it, it just folds up against the wall and you barely notice it.
I'd say they are worth it. We have a gate to the kitchen, and gates at the top & bottom of the stairs. We were going to take them off, but the other week DD decided to try running down the stairs - she fell all the way down. Thankfully no serious damage, and she now knows not to mess about on the stairs...