It’s a fear most parents have. Whether they are indoors, or outdoors, just the sight of stairs is enough to send your heart racing as you imagine all the worst-case scenarios that your little one could face.
Babies are fearless. They have no worries about falling or concerns for their safety. They are most interested in exploring the world around them, and if stairs happen to get in their way, they will tackle them head on (literally). Which means as a parent, it is your job to keep them safe at times like this.
So, how exactly can we protect babies from stairs?
Babies and Stairs
Did you know, on average, every six minutes a child under the age of five is treated for a stair-related injury in the US in hospital? That’s an alarming amount of injuries for something that is completely avoidable. With just a few simple measures in place, you can ensure your children are always protected from stairs in your home.
Learn By Doing
First things first, the best way to teach is by doing. Children aren’t born knowing how to get up and down stairs. It is a skill they learn along the way. Most babies will instinctively go head first down the stairs – it’s what makes sense to them. Teach them the right way. Get down and crawl with them and show them how to turn around and climb down stairs. Next, try this with them, help them get their bottom first and guide them down the stairs. This is a skill you can practice each day after they have learned to crawl.
As they get older and are up and walking around, teach them to always hold on to the railing when going up or down stairs. Have some rules in place to help keep things as safe as possible:
- No running on the stairs.
- Never bring toys or anything up and down stairs in their hands.
Baby Safety Gates
Of course, you can’t always be watching over your kids all the time, which is why baby gates are so important. It is an essential part of keeping your home babyproof, but it needs to be done right.
Parents often make two mistakes when it comes to baby gates.
The first, is only putting a baby gate at the top of the stairs. While this is a great first step, crawling babies and toddlers, will learn to climb the stairs on their own from the bottom, which creates another risk. The safest option is to have one gate at the top of the stairs and another at the bottom. The twin retractable gates from Perma are ideal for this. You can put one at the top and the other at the bottom to ensure your stairs are completely cut off.
The second, is not installing the gates properly. The safest way to install baby gates is by screwing them into place. Pressure-mounted gates can be knocked out of place and cause even bigger injuries if kids fall through them.
It’s not just about teaching your kids to be safe on the stairs, but also practicing safety yourself. Don’t bring your kids up and down stairs unless necessary – even if they are in your arms. If you are simply going up to grab something, it is best to leave your child in a safe spot downstairs and head up on your own.
Always have one hand on the railing when going up and down stairs. This is not only safe, but your kids will be watching and learning from you. This also means don’t fill up your arms to head up and downstairs. Take small piles at a time to ensure you always have one hand free to hold the railing, even if it means taking a few trips.
Keeping Floors Clean
I know, this one is easier said than done with little kids around! But toys, clothes and other items are potential hazards to kids making their way up and down stairs. Many parents get in the habit of
leaving things they need to take upstairs at the bottom, ready for the next trip. Try and find a new place for these objects that is more suitable. This will avoid anyone from tripping over toys and causing accidents.
On this note, if you have wooden stairs, consider putting carpet over the top. It’s no secret that wood can be slippery, especially if you are in socks, which just adds to the danger.
Don’t Forget Outdoors
Of course, don’t forget any stairs you have outdoors. These can often be overlooked, which is when accidents occur. Either opt for a baby gate, or keep the door locked unless you are outside with them.
The same goes when you are out and about with your children. If you are at a friend’s place, or somewhere else with a staircase, it is always important to assess the situation. Have a plan in place to protect your child from the stairs, such as sitting them in their pram while you are there or blocking off the stairs some other way.