Long before your child is a toddler, you'll want to make your stairways safe.

Safety for Children for Stairs and the Rails

by Kathy Gleason

Ah, kids. They provide so much joy and entertainment, while at the same time making you a nervous wreck. By the time your child is a toddler, if not before, you will need to think seriously about safety for all of the staircases and railings in your home. Often, people remember things like outlet covers and protection for sharp table and fireplace corners but neglect to think about the climbing ability of toddlers and preschoolers. A little forethought and preparation now can save you a good deal of trouble or even heartache later.

1. Childproof

While your wallet may be unhappy with the money you'll spend to childproof stairs and railings, it's really important to do this job right. Install baby gates at the top and bottom of all stairs. Use banister guards to childproof railings. This is just a sheet of vinyl that is cut to fit your railing and prevents little ones from squeezing through railings, sticking toys through them and onto the stairs and being able to get a foothold on the banister for climbing over.

2. Move Furniture

Keep couches and chairs away from staircases and railings, as these can be used by kids to climb onto stairs and railings, potentially causing great injury. If possible, use wall anchors to keep furniture from being slid away from its designated spot and into a more advantageous climbing position. Determined toddlers and preschoolers can be surprisingly strong, and if you have several children to work together... Well, it's just better to fasten the furniture so there's no possibility of your little sweetheart using your couch to rappel over the staircase railing.

3. Keep Toys Clear

Keep the stairs free of stuffed animals, books and assorted dirty socks and doll sweaters. It's possible for kids as well as adults to slip on any of these items and have a nasty fall on the stairs. Also keep these items off the floor in rooms around the staircase, if possible, as young kids could pile items, like a stack of books, to make themselves tall enough to climb over a baby gate or railing. In addition, make sure that the stairs are well lit and are not slippery for when you or your children do use them.

4. Supervise

As always, no matter how great your safety precautions are, nothing takes the place of good, old-fashioned supervision for your toddler or preschooler. Young kids should never be left alone to their own devices, because they are often surprisingly creative in finding ways to get around your safeguards.

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