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#1 of 33 Old 09-07-2010, 03:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Has anyone lived in a multi-level house and opted not to put of stair gates?

Julie - Mom to Elizabeth (Libby) age 6, Penelope (Penny) age 5, Elliott age 29 months, and Oscar who is 1 year old!
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#2 of 33 Old 09-07-2010, 03:36 PM
 
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Yes, we did. We moved into our current (two story) house when DD was 2.5 and I was pg with DS. We never did safety gates. With DD we were in an upstairs appartment and also didn't have any safety gate (but it was, obviously, less of an issue).

 

 

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#3 of 33 Old 09-07-2010, 03:49 PM
 
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We live in a really old house--you could, I guess, put gates up, but the way the railings and moulding are make it almost impossible. So we have gone without. But I have not gone without anxiety. She's 2 1/2 now and competent. And she was never one to escape or run away. If she had been, we would have had to give it more thought.
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#4 of 33 Old 09-07-2010, 04:06 PM
 
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I can't even imagine living w/o our gates. They make it *SO* much easier to just let the boys play and not be worried about them climbing up and falling down them all the time, yk? I'd just feel like I had to keep both eyes on them 24/7, and I'm not into that. I'd rather be able to sit and relax sometimes, yk? And w/o them... I just couldn't.
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#5 of 33 Old 09-07-2010, 04:22 PM
 
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The way our stairs are it would pretty much be impossible to install a gate as they angle out from the wall and have posts on both sides. What I did for those months where I was most concerned was to put chairs in front of the steps...that at least slowed them down and alerted me to what was going on by the noise of them moving the chairs.

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#6 of 33 Old 09-07-2010, 04:43 PM
 
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I lived with my mother for a few months when my oldest was a year old, and she wouldn't allow me to put gates up. It was frustrating, but we managed.

I didn't have stairs again until #3 was 2, and we never bothered at that point. We finally put some up when #4 was a toddler and we were homeschooling. I could no longer just jump up and follow him. He had mastered the actual stairs, but I couldn't leave him on another level by himself.

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#7 of 33 Old 09-07-2010, 04:46 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mamadelbosque View Post
I can't even imagine living w/o our gates. They make it *SO* much easier to just let the boys play and not be worried about them climbing up and falling down them all the time, yk? I'd just feel like I had to keep both eyes on them 24/7, and I'm not into that. I'd rather be able to sit and relax sometimes, yk? And w/o them... I just couldn't.

Same here.

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#8 of 33 Old 09-07-2010, 04:58 PM
 
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No baby gates here. When we moved, our kids were 9 mos, 2, 4, and 6. The baby was pulling up and starting to walk. We have carpeted stairs (that are somewhat L shaped with a landing about halfway down) that lead to the ceramic tiled entryway. He just learned how to crawl up and down quickly, and falls weren't a reality. Freaked my mom out, though! We did buy a cheapie wooden gate - but put it up maybe once or twice. Once my kids can pull up, a gate wouldn't stop them, anyhow. They scale things like that in seconds. It was more of an annoyance and hazard, IMO, than to go without. My then 2 yo was totally proficient at stairs by the time we moved, so I never worried about him.

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#9 of 33 Old 09-07-2010, 05:23 PM
 
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I think it really depends on the layout of your house. If your stairs are a little more out of the way, I can see how it could be manageable.

I live in a split entry, and have stairs right at the juncture of my kitchen and living room. It is a very high traffic area in my home. There is also a half wall beside them, so if I am sitting on the couch, I can't see the stairs. They are just too close for (my) comfort to not have a gate.

I also have two large dogs (60lbs and 100lbs) and I worry about them bumping into a wobbly toddler and knocking them down the stairs.

So we absolutely have a hard mounted gate. [It is also a requirement for my home daycare, but we had it before anyways.]

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#10 of 33 Old 09-07-2010, 05:31 PM
 
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I think it can depend on the kid's personality. My first son didn't go up the stairs much. My second kid was very interested in the stairs at a younger age so we gated them. Now we have gates all over and I like it. I worry less.

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#11 of 33 Old 09-07-2010, 06:39 PM
 
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I can see forgoing them in a house depending on the layout. We have a split level and the stairs from the front door lead right into the living room. To get anywhere else in the house you have to pass them, and they aren't always visible so I feel better having a gate. Not that I don't watch the baby, but I like not having to follow her around anytime she scoots away from the couch, or put her in something so I can go to the bathroom.

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#12 of 33 Old 09-07-2010, 07:49 PM
 
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Yep. The bottom of our stairs are nearly impossible to gate. We had a gate at the top a couple of times when dd was little, but that was it.

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#13 of 33 Old 09-07-2010, 08:14 PM
 
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No gates here. The only time we did have gate was when we lived in Colorado and Conner was little. No gates in Southern Cal, Bozeman, Lawrence or here in STL.

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#14 of 33 Old 09-07-2010, 08:33 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jillmamma View Post
The way our stairs are it would pretty much be impossible to install a gate as they angle out from the wall and have posts on both sides. What I did for those months where I was most concerned was to put chairs in front of the steps...that at least slowed them down and alerted me to what was going on by the noise of them moving the chairs.
I actually just found a product online today that can make stair posts "gate ready" so you don't have to mess with the wood at all.

They aren't that cheap but I really feel we'll need a gate. That's the only un-friendly-to-baby thing in the house. Otherwise she can have free range.

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#15 of 33 Old 09-07-2010, 09:00 PM
 
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We thought of going no gates as well, and ended up compromising.

We have one gate hard mounted at the top of the stairs, it only gets closed at night when we, me & DH, have gone to bed; or when we might be totally indisposed - bathroom or shower and DD is up stairs with us. The last one up closes it. Now that DD is 3 we mostly use it at night.

Our upstairs is really just a hallway with a bedroom at each end and the bathroom directly across from the stairs, so there isn't a lot of room. We mostly worried about DD walking from her room to our room at night, if she woke up and wanted us.

We kept a watchful eye on DD around the stairs, and allowed her to climb them with supervision and certain rules - No playing on them etc. This helped a lot especially when we went to our families' houses when they didn't have gates either. DD had learned to wait for an adult to say she could go down and to be careful. There was probably a little more anxiety than if we had waited, but at least she was learning how to be safe on the stairs while she was little and moved slower. She started out climbing the first few steps, and down and as she got to be a better crawler/ climber and eventually walker she did more of the stairs. Now she goes up and down freely without us worrying.

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#16 of 33 Old 09-07-2010, 09:35 PM
 
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Gate at the top of the stairs but not at the bottom. The kid's play area is upstairs and I felt safer knowing they couldn't be rough housing and accidentally take a tumble down the stairs.

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#17 of 33 Old 09-07-2010, 10:40 PM
 
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We don't have gates--we live in a 2-story house with a finished basement. My youngest is 12 months old, and does really well on the stairs. There was a brief period of time when she could climb up really well, but couldn't come down (rather, she could come down, but she couldn't get *started* coming down). She seemed to understand her own limitation, though, and would stand at the top of the stairs and whimper/yell (depending, I guess, on her mood ) until someone came to get her.

So far, so good. The only thing I'm a tad worried about is when we transition her out of out bed and into the room with our other two kids, I worry a bit about her having to walk past the staircase in the middle of the night. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it--not for another 6-12 months, at least).
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#18 of 33 Old 09-08-2010, 01:23 AM
 
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IMHO gates are to the stairs what the helmet is to the bike...
Of course it is entirely optional but then again.. many kids many times
will grew up withouth using one and yet many will end up with life long disabilities due to not taking advantage of one.

Back on topic.. the gates.. they are slightly inconvenient to the adults but I think this is a little price to pay for the added safety. Especially when a child starts carawling and using all kinds of ride on little contraptions it is super easy to just misscalculate speed, angle and child might simply roll out the stairs into the staircase downstairs.

I think that this is a decission every parent is facing but for us personally it was no-brainer. Just comparing to what "might" "could" happen without a gate made us decide pro gates. It is not that you can keep a child forever from climbing it and all but it is entirely different even if a child is old enough and strong enough to climb it as they are just skillful enough and this is different mind set to climb a gate then have an unprotected ditch that a child might end up in by total accident and misscalculation.

I would like to encourage you to read this article "Kidscan't fly - preventing fall injuries" to gain more perspective on the gate issue..

just take a look at the number of falls from the stairs among children in the
year 2002 - (see the table on the second page) :
250 000 falls..

I think that this number alone gives good idea aobut how dangerous stairs are in case of little children.

Good luck with your choice making process.
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#19 of 33 Old 09-08-2010, 02:18 AM
 
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I really didn't want to do gates but after chasing ds up the stairs hundreds of times a day we put one at the bottom of the stairs, there has never been a reason with our set up to put one at the top.

I think child proofing is more about the individual child's temperament than anything else.

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#20 of 33 Old 09-08-2010, 07:00 AM
 
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I think it depends entirely on things like the personality of the child, the layout of the house, the situation of the supervising parents, etc.

My house has a stairwell to the basement in between the kitchen and living room. It is a hard stair with metal strips on the edge of each step for traction. My house is small so we're always near that stairwell. So for my sanity I really prefer a gate on the stairs, though I COULD have just constantly redirected from 10 months to 2 years or so with DD. DD is a cautious personality and was late in getting mobile.

Now we're going to have two more, and I don't think I could do it without a gate there. Especially if the twins are more adventurous or earlier walkers than their sister.

We also have an upstairs, which has basically bedrooms and a bathroom. I could have gotten away without a gate there because DD sleeps with us and is fine on the stairs now at 2yo. But it was nice to be able to, say, let her wander around while I put away clothes without worrying.

Both gates are down for the time being, but I will put them back up when the twins start getting mobile.

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#21 of 33 Old 09-08-2010, 09:40 AM
 
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We have a gate. We got away without one for the first 1+ years (despite him learning to climb the stairs at ~8 or 9 mos) but by the time he was 13 mos or so he was just all over the place so we put the gate up. The second floor is very dangerous (construction & places he could just fall off the edge of) so he's only allowed in one room up there & has to be with us. I don't mind having the gate as much as I thought I would, it's actually nice that with the gate + a few closed doors, I can let him wander freely in the main part of the house without worry.

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#22 of 33 Old 09-08-2010, 12:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by BellaClaudia View Post
Of course it is entirely optional but then again.. many kids many times will grew up without using one and yet many will end up with life long disabilities due to not taking advantage of one.
I don't want to debate baby gates. I want to hear about the experiences of people who have not used them for whatever reason.

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They are slightly inconvenient to the adults, but I think this is a little price to pay for the added safety.
Oddly, as the number of small children in our household has increased I have become more and more concerned about the baby gates themselves being the hazard. Older kids climb on (and over) the gates. The kids fail to properly latch them, and I'm concerned that somebody will lean against a gate that is only closed over and will fall through it. The kids play with the gates and they get broken, or become improperly installed at which point the gate could fall over onto somebody, or again, let go when somebody leans on it. At our house, it has never been interesting to throw toys down the stairs, but it's fascinating to push stuff through the gate and turn the stairs into a death trap obstacle course.

Baby gates are safe when they are used within the parameters of normal operation as set by the manufacturer. What has become apparent is that a toddler, a preschooler and a six year old are not able to use stair gates according to any sort of usage guidelines. Monitoring the gates for appropriate usage and proper installation is enough of a task with three small kids using them that it seems easier to just monitor the baby and skip the gates.

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Especially when a child starts crawling and using all kinds of ride on little contraptions it is super easy to just miscalculate speed, angle and child might simply roll out the stairs into the staircase downstairs.
We don't have any ride on toys. I agree that ride on toys at the top of ungated stairs is a recipe for disaster.

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I think that this is a decission every parent is facing but for us personally it was no-brainer. Just comparing to what "might" "could" happen without a gate made us decide pro gates.
I actually don't find this to be a decision that parents struggle with. In my experience, everybody just puts up gates. I feel that we are in a very small minority on this, which is why I posted here looking for other parents who might have some insight into our situation.

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It is not that you can keep a child forever from climbing it and all but it is entirely different even if a child is old enough and strong enough to climb it as they are just skillful enough and this is different mind set to climb a gate then have an unprotected ditch that a child might end up in by total accident and miscalculation.
I'm not sure I follow you here. It sounds as though you are saying that ungated stairs are an unprotected ditch, and that even if a child is climbing on the gate it is safer than having open stairs. If I had to choose, I would rather a child fall down the stairs starting at floor level than from the top of gate. However, my experience has been that our kids respect stairs, and when they are paying attention to a gate they are not paying proper attention to the steps... again making the gate a hazard.

We have a lot of experience with kids and stairs. We have four kids, and we just moved out of a town house with four levels of living space. Our girls shared the loft as a bedroom which was accessed by set of spiral stairs. We've had all sorts of gates, including custom built gates that were bolted through the wall. I didn't start out wanting to avoid baby gates. I've come to this after seeing kids use and abuse the gates, and seeing babies and toddlers learn to use stairs carefully (and very quickly) when they had the opportunity.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BellaClaudia View Post
I would like to encourage you to read this article "Kidscan't fly - preventing fall injuries" to gain more perspective on the gate issue.. just take a look at the number of falls from the stairs among children in the year 2002 - (see the table on the second page) : 250 000 falls..
I am familiar with this article. In my opinion, it boarders on fear mongering.
It isn't completely clear, but I believe that those numbers are emergency room visits for all persons under the age of 16.

This is really a whole other topic, but my experience has been that these types of articles, PSAs, etc breed hypersensitivity to certain dangers. My MIL has caused so many near falls by not letting our kids concentrate on stairs while she nagged them about being careful, and jumped around making gasping noises and causing a massive visual distraction.

I won't deny that stairs, playgrounds, and beds are a factor in many falls, but honestly, you take reasonable precautions and accept a certain amount of risk in life. I would suggest that inattention is the biggest risk factor for most falls and other accidents, not lack of safety devices. It is not uncommon for people to rely on safety devices, and take risks they wouldn't normally take because they feel safer with the devices in place.

Like most parents, I started out assuming that babies and toddlers would fling themselves down stairs like lemmings. Of course, I can only speak for our own children, but when given the opportunity I found that they actually approached things like stairs in a very cautious and mindful way. I won't deny that I find the learning period stressful, but once we're through it, I feel safer knowing that our kids know what their bodies can do and know how to handle themselves in more challenging environments.

When it came right down to it, I felt that a 14 month old who knew how to go up and down stairs was safer than baby gates being improperly used and abused by other children. I knew that DS (or anybody else) could fall, but in the grand scheme of things it seemed that developing and using good stair skills offered the greater safety overall. And so, the baby gates came down with our first DS after about eight weeks.

DS #2 is now 11 months, and he knows how to climb down the stairs. He can't do the whole flight yet, but he's making really good progress. For a long time he would just lay on the upstairs landing and look down over the edge of the top step. He started going down on his own about two weeks ago. He figured out to turn around and go feet first on his own. The top and bottom of our stairs wind around a corner, and he knew to cruise along to the fattest part of the winder stair. I know that he could fall, but with the progress he's making he should be able to go up and down completely on his own sometime in the next six to eight weeks.

I want to be clear though that I'm not campaigning against stair gates. I'm just looking to connect with other parents who found themselves in a similar situation to our own.

Julie - Mom to Elizabeth (Libby) age 6, Penelope (Penny) age 5, Elliott age 29 months, and Oscar who is 1 year old!
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#23 of 33 Old 09-08-2010, 12:12 PM
 
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We don't use baby gates, except very occasionally at my ILs vacation home in VT. This is because the railings on the stairs are not "to code". Otherwise, I feel like they limit my DD's movements around the house. I want her to be able to go anywhere in my apt and explore....and she does very well.

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#24 of 33 Old 09-08-2010, 12:22 PM
 
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I think layout makes a big difference. We have no ride on toys of any sort upstairs. Those are all downstairs (or outside) toys.

In our case it was not a dangerous choice at all- the kids were only upstairs as toddlers when they were with us in our bedroom or bathroom. Then we could close doors (and did when they were at stages that it was needed)


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#25 of 33 Old 09-08-2010, 12:27 PM
 
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We had to lie without gates in our rental when DD was 9-15 months old. The stairs were right in the middle of the living space. I almost lost my mind. DD had to stay next to me at all times. It was really frustrating for both of us.
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#26 of 33 Old 09-08-2010, 12:31 PM
 
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We never got around to putting up gates. Not for any philosophical reasons... it just turned out that way. DD was mobile very late (didn't crawl until 13 months, didn't walk until 15), and she was very cautious. For climbing from the bottom, she would get scared on about the 2nd step and refuse to go any higher. And the only time we ever really went upstairs was to sleep, and she was in her crib then, so her playing at the top of the stairs just never happened.

DS crawled at about 10 months, but didn't seem to even notice the stairs for many months after that. He did figure out how to go up and down, and he goes very slowly and carefully. At this point, it also seems very unfair to DD that she wouldn't be able go up to her room and play with her toys freely if we had a gate.

Hopefully it's a decision I won't regret (not that it was a decision so much as it was us never getting to a point that we thought that our kids are in grave danger and we need to go out and buy a gate). And I'm pregnant now, so it's perfectly possible that #3 will be a little daredevil child and by 6 months I'll be needing a gate before she hurtles herself down the stairs again.

We also have an old house with very wonky stairs. First of all, the ceilings are so low that the staircase isn't terribly tall. It also has steep risers and narrow treads that are a PITA for most adults, but actually seem to be the perfect size for a toddler to be able to creep down very slowly and carefully. You'd think that this setup would make things even more dangerous, but for some reason it works really well. If we had a more conventional staircase, we'd probably be more likely to have a gate.

Trying to live a simple life in a messy house in a complicated world with : DH, DD (b. 07/07), DS (b. 02/09), and DD (b. 10/10)
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#27 of 33 Old 09-08-2010, 12:46 PM
 
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We've never had gates on the stairs. I worked with ds1 to teach him how to get off beds & go down stairs safely & he never had any interest in going upstairs alone. We were in an apartment with ds2, but we've been in a place with stairs with ds3 and the other boys taught him how to go down the stairs safely when he started getting interested in them. He mostly went up for months (& then had to be rescued, because he wouldn't come back down).

He is a little scary on them at the moment because he sometimes turns around & stands up on a step & terrifies me, but I'm sure he'll get past that soon.

Oh, we did use a playyard to block the bottom of the stairs for awhile because he'd climb up and disturb the older boys when they were going to sleep, but it wasn't because of the stairs, that was just a convenient way to keep him from waking his brothers.

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#28 of 33 Old 09-08-2010, 01:40 PM
 
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With my oldest we lived in a home with stairs from about 4 months to a little over two years. Because he was a climber everything I had read said a stair gate would be more dangerous then no stair gate (the fall from the top of the gate vs a regular tumble down the stairs). I had a gate on his room door upstairs and a gate on the kitchen though. They didn't last long because he could climb them. I ended up getting the extra tall gates they were harder to climb.

Once I had DS2 I ended up ditching the gates for much the same reasons the OP stated once he became mobile having a 6 year old and a2 year old messing with the gates made them seem unsafe. I was constantly readjusting them and the kitchen one damaged the plaster becoming impossible to install correctly.

I would say I spent over 200 bucks on gates and that ultimately they were a complete waste of money.

Ima Sophie + D + J =
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#29 of 33 Old 09-08-2010, 03:27 PM
 
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We always thought we would do gates but never did.

A big factor in our life without gates is that our DS simply was always playing near us.

I wouldn't have, for example, left him alone upstairs at an age young enough where I would need to worry about him falling down the stairs. I guess that is another way of saying he wasn't playing unsupervised, near stairs, until he was old enough to safely handle the stairs. Now, that being said, we live in a large old house.

If I lived in smaller house with a different layout, maybe we would have needed a gate somewhere. I can think of friends houses where the basement stairs are open, right between the kitchen and family room. A little one could easily tumble down those stairs in the blink of an eye.

I do think house layout and a child's personality a big factors.

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#30 of 33 Old 09-08-2010, 05:11 PM
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No gates here. We live in a tri-level house, 6 stairs to the upstairs and 6 stairs to the downstairs. All the stairs are carpeted. The main living area has hardwood floors, but the bottom floor has carpet.
All of my kids have been interested in climbing stairs and I just help them learn. The worst that would happen is they would fall down 6 stairs onto hardwood floors, and it happened once or twice to each of them.
If I had a house with 20+ stairs that were not carpeted I would think about having gates. Luckily, I don't.
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