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Stairgate or no stairgate?

(9 Posts)
JanZ Wed 17-Jul-02 11:10:05

Are we the only parents who made a conscious decision NOT to use stair gates? Instead we "taught" ds to cope with them from an early age. This was on the advice of my best friend, who's a GP and mother of 4. Also, it would have been difficult to find a stair gate to fit the entrance to the main stairs - and which wouldn't have damaged the Vicorian plaster moulding.

In the early days, when ds started crawling (at about a year), we barricaded the top of the stairs (we live on the first floor) with something we could move easily for our own access. We then spent time with him "teaching" him to crawl down safely. Initially, we tried to encourage him to go down backwards on his front, but his preference was to bum shuffle down fowards, and after a while watching him, we were confident that he did so extremely cautiously and stopped trying to turn him around all the time.

We were more worried about the stairs to the attic floor, which are steeper and on a spiral - but he always coped with them fine - and we kept the door shut to them until we were confident about his ability.

Within a couple of months, we took the barricades away, and he was always fine. He learned to climb UP stairs at his great granny's in South Africa at 13 months.

Now, at 22 months, he is going up and down stairs standing up - he can do it on his own, using the wall for support, but prefers to hold my or dh's hand if we're there.

He shows a good awareness of stairs/steps - sitting down to shuffle forward and lever himself down if he thinks they are too steep, and he has never fallen down stairs.

Having said all of this - it did rebound on us once, when he got down the stairs, out the cat "flap" and round to the house next door without us knowing (see the thread on "lost child!" (my fault - I'd left the outside door open when leaving the house early).

Azzie Wed 17-Jul-02 11:20:42

We had a stairgate with ds, but after having the extension built (they knocked through into it at the top of the stairs) the gate would no longer fit so we did without it for dd - we were just extra vigilant.

We had the problem with dd that, because she walked early (9.5 months), she wanted to walk down stairs, and absolutely refused to turn round and crawl down backwards. Gave me a few gray hairs!

PamT Wed 17-Jul-02 11:25:57

When the children are wondering around at night to go to the toilet I do prefer to use a stair gate across the top of the staircase as their bedroom faces directly onto the stairs and they have a single step out of their room. I haven't really used one during the day but have had 2 of my children somersault down the full flight (on separate occasions), they both went down like ragdolls and those have got to be some of the worst moments of my life. Fortunately they were more shocked than hurt.

SoupDragon Wed 17-Jul-02 13:03:21

We have a stair gate at the bottom. This is mainly to stop DS1, 2 & friends from trashing the upstairs and playing in the bathroom.(Found DS1, 3yrs, and his fiancee washing each other's hair in the bath recently. No water but LOTS of shampoo! ) Also, I don't like the idea of DS2 (16mnths) being able to go upstairs by himself without me knowing. DS1 can actually climb over it if he wants to.

We too taught both DS1 & 2 to come downstairs properly, favouring the "turn and slide" method where they come down feet first on their tummy - this also works well for getting off the sofa, beds, everything else.

FrancesJ Wed 17-Jul-02 13:13:09

We couldn't fit a stairgate to the top of the stairs so pretty much did the same as you've done - barricaded it with something a crawler couldn't move, and then taught her how to navigate them safely (interestingly, she was really careful on them, which helped). If she's fall-over tired, ill, and napping, or if I'm worried about her roaming around in the midnight hours and tumbling down by accident, then I still barricade it - and have attatched jingle bells to barricade. I know she can get through pretty much any barrier, but if it's a noisy one, at least I know when she's trying to!

JanZ Wed 17-Jul-02 17:30:12

I like the idea of the jingle bells!

Ds is still in his cot and likely to be so for some time, so I don't have the issue of night time wandering. He's also happy to play in his cot when he wakes up in the morning, until we go through and get him (great for weekend lie-ins!)

Once he is "loose" at night, then I may need to re-consider and put a stairgate on his bedroom door, especially as dh wants to move his room to the attic floor (our own bedroom is on the first floor). I don't know how that would work with potty training though - but maybe I'm analysing too far in advance and should be just taking each step at a time.

SofiaAmes Wed 17-Jul-02 18:58:49

I think it really depends on the child and how adventurous/fearless they are. We put stairgates top and bottom for our son as we have steep timber stairs and he learned to climb up them several months before he learned to go down and loved being on/near the stairs. Once he could safely go up and down (around 9 mo.) we removed them and several weeks later, he was sitting at the top of the stairs throwing his toys down (one of his favorite occupations...the louder the better) and managed to throw himself down with one of the toys. We still left the gates off and have had no mishaps since (he's now 19 mo.). My friend's son who is the same age can still only go up stairs and not down them, but she has never put up stair gates as her son expresses very little interest in going up or down or even near the stairs.
I am actually contemplating put a gate back at the top of the stairs when we take my son out of the cot and put him in a real bed. He is the type of child who will get up, wander downstairs and figure out how to get out of the house and wander down the street...he has no fear.

jodee Wed 17-Jul-02 21:20:32

We've still got a gate at the top of the stairs which we also only use at night, for the same reasons as PamT. But we still use constantly the gate across the arch from the dining room to the kitchen, only because my kitchen is so pokey, I would probably trip over ds when carrying a pan of hot water or steaming kettle.

AimeesMum Wed 17-Jul-02 23:07:53

We too chose not to use stairgates. I felt that Aimée would benefit more from learning how to go up and down the stairs safetly.However I did not tell our healt visitor, as being a young parent (20) she is a bit of a devil..and tends to think she knows everything..even though I have corrected her on several aspects to do with vegetarian children (dd is one!). Aimée is 21 months, and has been walking up and down for several months now. DD is going in to a bed soon, and I feel I might put one at the tops of the stairs, as her room is very close to them, just in case she is dissorientated during the night.
I do plan to do the same with future children.

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