My three-year-old can physically get up and down the stairs by himself. And we sometimes let him do it by himself -- if we know he's about to, and we remind him to hold on, go slowly, and pay attention. But when we're not right near him we keep a gate up because he's too absent-minded and prone to try going down with his arms full of stuff (and unable to hang on), with something on his head obscuring his vision, etc. He just doesn't have an appreciation for how dangerous it is.

At what point did you remove the gates and let your kids use the stairs unsupervised any time they wanted? How did you know they were ready, and/or how did you prepare them?

asked 11 Nov '09, 17:54

lgritz's gravatar image

accept rate: 14%

As soon as possible. Our flat has three levels with seven step between each, so we wanted to be sure that our children (20 months old and 3 years old) were able to safely use stairs.

At first, even before walking, they tried to go up the stairs with both arms and legs. We supervised by making it a game. Some months later they tried downstairs the same way. Little by little they wanted to go up and down by walking with one arm on the wall.

I think that the key is to start with loose supervision: they feel free and you are behind them just in case something goes wrong. I have observed that they learn danger very quickly and move with great care. Now we let them use the stairs without supervision.


answered 11 Nov '09, 19:29

mouviciel's gravatar image

accept rate: 7%


I totally agree "As soon as possible." I feel is MUCH safer if they learn how to navigate stairs rather than be prevented by a baby gate. (same reasoning as taking down a crib railing for a climbing baby)

(14 Nov '09, 09:58) Sabrina

I let my 15 month old son go up the stairs with supervision but he's not going down them yet. My daughter (now 4) we supervised until she was about 3 and now we let her go up and down as she pleases. We do still use a gate so that our son doesn't play on the stairs, but I trust my daughter now to be safe on them.

As for preparing her, we made sure she knew to watch where she was going and didn't carry too much stuff. And if she starts to feel uncertain, she sits down and scoot down the stairs. We would also let her practice on the pulpit steps at church before and after service. Since there were only 3 steps there, it allowed her to learn to go up and down without us worrying about her falling very far.


answered 11 Nov '09, 19:08

mkcoehoorn's gravatar image

accept rate: 8%

At What Point In Time To Remove Gates: When my son was a little over a year we took down the baby gates. He's currently 15 months and navigates the stairs up and down by himself (backwards crawling style). When we moved to this house my older daughter was 16 months and she learned within 2 weeks to "backwards crawl" up/down the stairs and was safe. When she was 20 months she was able to use her hand along the wall to navigate forward safely up/down stairs. My children currently 15 months & 2 1/2 go up and down stairs unsupervised as noted in this previous question.

Prepare: My daughter regularly asks me to carry things down the stairs for her. In fact I try to deter her from carrying things up/down stairs because, yes, it is probably more dangerous. I'm not so worried about up as down. Maybe if you are nervous about this you could make a rule that he can not carry things while he is going up or down the stairs...until he's older.

Ready: I felt my kids were ready when I watched them several times and felt they could navigate safely. I also liked that they cried if they were too tired to go up or down and wanted me to carry them. This made me feel that they understood they were not able to go up/down by themselves. My daughter will often ask me to carry her downstairs after her nap when she is still groggy. In the mornings however she is very awake and capable of going down on her own. She has even come downstairs in the middle of the night a couple of times (from her room to our room) and had no issues with the stairs.


answered 14 Nov '09, 09:55

Sabrina's gravatar image

accept rate: 21%

We used moving house as an opportunity to rid ourselves of stairgates. That was when our twins were ~30 months. We had previously gone from two stairgates to one around their second birthday, from what I recall, removing the bottom one. The concern was that they might get out of bed either sleepy or sleep-walking and fall down the stairs.


answered 11 Nov '09, 20:03

Jon%20Skeet's gravatar image

Jon Skeet
accept rate: 35%


We solved that one by putting a gate on her door at night.

(12 Nov '09, 02:53) mkcoehoorn

I lived in a flat untill my son was 16 months old, and never bothered putting a stair gate at the bottom, have one at the top and its left open throughout the day he is free to go up and down as he pleases, as our bathroom is upstairs. He is 2 1/2 now.


answered 12 Nov '09, 13:49

Phil%20Seller's gravatar image

Phil Seller
accept rate: 9%

Your answer
toggle preview

Follow this question

By Email:

Once you sign in you will be able to subscribe for any updates here



Answers and Comments

Markdown Basics

  • *italic* or _italic_
  • **bold** or __bold__
  • link:[text](http://url.com/ "Title")
  • image?![alt text](/path/img.jpg "Title")
  • numbered list: 1. Foo 2. Bar
  • to add a line break simply add two spaces to where you would like the new line to be.
  • basic HTML tags are also supported



Asked: 11 Nov '09, 17:54

Seen: 11,055 times

Last updated: 14 Nov '09, 09:55