You already know how dangerous the stairs can be, but many parents don't consider the banister when putting up baby gates and child-proofing the area around the stairs. Curious toddlers, preschoolers and even older children can be tempted to use the banister as their own personal climbing wall, and that can lead to dangerous falls and severe injuries. It's essential to take steps to make the banister just as child-proof as the stairs so your child is safe and less likely to get hurt.
Install banister guards. Any banister rails that are more than 4 inches apart can pose a safety risk because your little one's head can get stuck or she can slip through and fall down the stairs. Banister guards are clear plastic shields that are attached to the banister to create a solid barrier that prevents little heads and bodies from sliding in between. The banister guards also prevent your child from trying to climb up and over the rails.
Put up baby gates. Use one at the top of the stairs to keep your child from reaching the banister rails, but also put one at the bottom of the stairs so your child can't climb up. Choose a baby gate that's certified by the American Society for Testing and Materials or the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, recommends the KidsHealth website. Gates should also be in good repair without sharp edges, broken parts or missing pieces.
Keep the stairs clear and clutter-free. When objects are on the stairs, your child might be tempted to use them as a boost to get onto the banister and climb up or down. Clearing the stairs of books, toys and stuffed animals can make it more difficult for your child to get onto the banister rails.
Find safer ways to encourage your child's love of climbing. Perhaps you could take him to the playground and let him climb on age-appropriate equipment. You might also buy age-appropriate outside toys that encourage him to climb without the risk of dangerous falls.
- Inspect your banister guards regularly to ensure that they're in good repair and securely attached to the rails.
- Purchase used banister guards with caution. Carefully examine the guard to be sure it's in good condition and isn't cracked or otherwise damaged.
- KidsHealth: Household Safety: Preventing Injuries from Falling, Climbing and Grabbing
- KidsHealth: Choosing Baby Safe Products: Gates
- MayoClinic.com: Fall Safety for Kids: How to Prevent Falls
- Mommy Can Do It: A Do-It-Herself Guide to Baby-Proofing; Kelly A Smith
- Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images