Nick Acaster is Managing Director of stair accessories and décor supplier Stair Rods Direct. In this post, he’ll be sharing his expertise on how you can child-proof your staircase to make it safer for your little one.
There’s so much to think about when you’re preparing for the arrival of a new member of the family, from all the clothing and equipment you’ll need, to the massive lifestyle changes that come with having a newborn. But, one thing that can be particularly tricky is baby-proofing your home. While your little one is unlikely to get into much trouble while they’re still an infant, it won’t be long until they learn to walk, and before you know it they’ll be causing mischief all over the house! So, you’ll need to make a few adjustments to your home to make sure it’s safe for your little one to explore.
The stairs can seem like a difficult area to baby-proof: after all, they’re an essential part of the home that you use every single day, but they can also be a risky area when you’ve got an inquisitive toddler who wants to explore. So, I’ve shared my top tips for making your staircase as safe and child-friendly as possible below.
Secure The Banisters
If you have traditional banisters on your staircase or landing, then you should check that these are going to be safe for your little one. UK Building Regulations state that the gap between spindles should be no more than 99mm, which should be narrow enough to stop children wriggling through. But, if you’re worried that your children may get stuck between the spindles, you can always fit a cover. You can buy clear Perspex shields that provide effective protection without spoiling the look of your bannisters, or you could go for a more traditional fabric style.
Declutter The Stairs And Keep Them Clear
It can be quite easy to fall into the habit of leaving a few bits and bobs on the stairs to take up with you later in the day, especially when you’re rushed off your feet looking after a newborn. But, a cluttered staircase can present a major tripping hazard, particularly when you’re sleep deprived and you’re going up and down the stairs with a baby in your arms. So, try to be strict with yourself about keeping the staircase clear at all times.
If you find it hard to shake the habit of leaving laundry and other bits and pieces on the stairs, place a small storage basket in an out-of-the-way spot near the bottom. Then, you can pop all your stuff in throughout the day, and take it up with you next time you go upstairs. You can even buy wicker stair baskets which are shaped to fit neatly on one side of the staircase. Not only is this safer, but your home will look much tidier and more stylish, too.
Fit A Non-Slip Floor
Painted and polished wood floors can be slippery underfoot, so they generally aren’t the best option for a young family. A low-pile carpet is usually the safest choice but, if you love the look of your wooden staircase, you can always fit a stair runner instead. This will provide grip and a soft carpeted surface, which can be helpful when your little one is learning to move up and down the stairs on their own. Adding a coat of non-slip paint or varnish to your floorboards will also help to make any exposed areas less slippery.
Another important aspect of child-proofing your stairs is ensuring that they remain in good condition over time. If you notice any carpet starting to come loose from the stair treads, or if it starts to look worn out in patches, then be sure to fix or replace it as soon as you can.
Pay Attention To Practical Details
While the safety of your little one is obviously going to be your main concern, there are other practicalities to consider as well. Once your baby is up and about, you’ll soon find that they become very good at causing mischief and making a mess wherever they go. And, you might find that the oh-so-stylish plush cream carpet that was once your pride and joy soon becomes a magnet for spills, stains, and dirt. So, you’ll want to make sure your stairs are designed and decorated in a practical style that’s easy to clean.
Wooden and laminate floors can usually be wiped clean, while carpets and stair runners in a darker neutral shade will hide the dirt better. I’d also recommend going for a lower pile or flat weave carpet, as these are much easier to clean and generally need a lot less maintenance, as the pile won’t get as trampled over time.
You’ll also want to find a wallpaper or paint that’s water-resistant and easy to clean, so any crayon marks or fingerprints can simply be wiped away. That doesn’t mean you need to compromise on style, though: wallpapers with a small, fine print can be both practical and stylish, as the pattern will help to disguise any marks. If you’ve got your heart set on an impractical colour or paper, you could always fit wood panelling on the lower part of the wall, and then have your dream shade on the upper half.
There’s so much to think about when you have a baby, and child-proofing your home can be one of the biggest jobs. And, while it’s never possible to make your house completely risk-free, following the steps I’ve shared here should make your stairs much safer for when your little one starts to walk.
Please note: Stair Rods Direct is not liable for any accident or injury resulting from this advice. If you need further advice on making your home a safe environment for infants, then please seek a professional opinion.