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Hey everyone -<br><br>
I have a typical modern (90s) open concept house with a vaulted ceiling in the living room and an upstairs hallway that is open to below. It's not a true catwalk because the stairs are on one side but one side is just a big open hole with a regular railing. I should have measured before posting this but now I'm here so I'll guess that the railing is 36" high. It's the same as the railing that goes down the stairs and feels to me to be typical height. It is very solid and the rungs are 3-4" apart so can't fit a child's head. There are no horizontal rungs so it can't be easily climbled.<br><br>
I absolutely hate this opening. Whenever I am walking by with my wiggly toddler in my arms, I am terrified that he's going to launch himself overboard. I feel like it has a gravitational pull. And all I can think about is DS dragging a step stool from the bathroom or a pile of books or anything (a friend's shoulders) to give him a boost to look over or play dare devil. I think it's high enough that a fall could be deadly or at least paralyzing. I'd say it's 11 -13 feet above the living room floor.<br><br>
DS is very aware of heights and always has been (never fell off the bed, always approached stairs carefully when he was starting to crawl, etc) but still I know what little boys can get up to... #2 is on the way and so it will be harder for me to supervise 100% of the time and I don't want to have to anyway.<br><br>
I know lots of houses have this now. How do you feel about them? Have you modified your "open to below" spaces to mitigate risks in any way? Should I just call a contractor and fill the darn opening in somehow? I don't think that just raising the railing height would make me feel any better because then it's just further to fall.<br><br>
Sorry to be so long. Thanks as always for your thoughts!
 

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We have a similar configuration in our upstairs hallway. What we wound up doing was buying an extended-length baby gate, and running it alongside the existing railing, and attaching it with hose clamps. What that did was provide rungs that were less than 1 1/4" apart, to make it less likely that the kiddos would be putting legs, arms, heads, etc. through the railing, and added a few inches to the height. The gate then extended to another wall, to close off the area that is directly at the top of the stairs. It was expensive- I paid close to $200 for the whole thing, plus special clamps to make it work right. We made it a habit to leave nothing at all in the area that could be climbed on, at all-- that meant the hallway was pretty bare for awhile. And I gated their rooms at night and during naps, as double protection, in case they went wandering while I wasn't on point.<br><br>
It wasn't perfect, but it gave me a bit more peace of mind. I also, once they were old enough to understand, gave some graphic demonstrations with small toys, to illustrate the potential consequences of falling down.<br><br>
When DS was less than a year old, I caught him with both legs through the railing, tipped in a sideways way that meant his little bum was almost falling through the railing, and it was really intensely scary. I don't think he would have fallen, not really, but it scared me. I have no idea how he got in that position, but it happened in very little time-- I was changing DD2's diaper, and glanced down, and he was in the bedroom with me, and glance down again and he was through the railing.
 
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