Hi Folks! I thought I would do a post about baby proofing and my safety gate for our stairs. We *just* put one up two weeks ago. We live in a split level, and it was really hard to figure out how to jerry rig gates to be secure on our main living area. The typical swing gates just didn't really work with our area, because one side only could go against a spindles, etc. I actually tried with some hand-me-down gates that a co-worker gave me, and all I succeeded in doing was making a lot of unnecessary holes in our drywall and wood trim. Nice. (p.s. The holes are still there, and may always be there for all of eternity).
So, I googled split levels and safety gates and Internet researched a lot, until I came across a mommy blog with a good solution. Here is a link to that post:
She had the exact same set up as I did, so I basically just bought the exact same gate with the exact same extension (the gate had a slightly different name just due to the passage of time thought, I think).
Here is my set up:
The gate I bought was the Custom Fit Auto Close ConfigureGate ® G3000. I also purchased one 24" extension (G4310). I bought them ay Buy Buy Baby with coupons, so altogether, the price was about $124. As far as gates go, that was a little on the steep side, but it was really two gates in one, and they are really well made. It was very simple to put together. It still took some time, just making sure everything was in the right spot, but it wasn't frustrating.
I really like this gate particularly for our setup for the following reasons: when it is closed, you can still go from the top to the lower level without having to go through any gates (rather than having to go through two); there is a little "landing area" before you go up or down the stairs, which is nice; the gate will close on its own, but you can also open it all the way to 90 degrees and it will stay open (this is good for us at night, so Shelbs can walk around everywhere if she wants. We also leave it open while we are at work for Shelbs). Speaking of Shelby, she has no problem really with the gate being closed while we are all on the main level, probably because she is usually there with us anyways and doesn't want to go anywhere else. Once, I accidentally closed it behind me when Ben and I went upstairs, and she cried at the bottom because she wanted to come up with us. First child syndrome.
So far, it has been great. Before I got the gates, I played around with the idea of not having any gates. My reasoning was that, first, my space was hard to do (and I was being lazy). Second, we had been living for the past few months with just chasing him before he got to the stairs. About half the time, we would just let him crawl up for play (with us basically there holding him). Third, I figured that way I could teach him early on how to climb up and down the stairs, and he would just be more responsible about it.
Once I saw the set-up from that other mommy blog, I new it would work for our space without a ton of effort, so the first point was taken care of. Now that we have it, it is so much better. We are still with him all of the time, but he is FAST. So it is just nice that I don't have to worry about him making it to the stairs before I do. I am still a bit worried about the third point - I want him to learn to go up and down stairs in a safe way on his own. So, I am just going to try to remember to open the gate and let him go up and down with supervision on the regular.
So far, it has been sturdy and done its job! Other safety measures we have taken since Ben became mobile have been to put the little electrical socket plastic thingies in all of the empty sockets, to put locks on the kitchen cabinet doors (except for one cabinet that just has pans in it that I let him play in), and put a knob lock on the pantry door. We also just got rid of our coffee table in our living room for now. We did this mainly just so we would have more carpeted play space for him, but I guess it also has a safety benefit because he won't be banging into it. We have a fireplace, but don't have a raised hearth, so we didn't have to worry about that. I also rearranged our hall linen closet so that our extra medicine and toiletries were farther up top and the sheets were lower.
The only thing that I really want to still do is to get the a few furniture anchors for some of the bigger items around our house (a few tall pieces of furniture, a leaning mirror, etc). The ones that I wanted weren't at the store when I went last time, so I will probably order a few online and do that within the next couple of weeks. Then, I think, I will be pretty much done (woo hoo!). I also might put our cleaning items below the sink in a higher cabinet. It is behind a lock now, so I am not too worried about it, but I may just take that extra safety measure as that lock gets opened a lot due to the trash can being in there as well.
All in all, baby proofing hasn't been too bad. But really, nothing is totally baby proof. The cabinet with the pans could easily poke him in the eye, and he is constantly banging his head everywhere. The most recent thing Ben hit his head on was Dan's shin, so I don't know how we could have baby proofed that. I think the most you can do is just try to reduce major hazards and keep an eye on him!