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LuckyGuy's avatar

How would you prevent a "precocious" 19 month old from climbing up stairs using the outside of the banister newels?

Asked by LuckyGuy (40077points) February 9th, 2018

The stairs are closed off with a gate at the bottom and the top. However, the child has figured out that she can climb up the stairs by grabbing onto the newels supporting the banister and going up one step at a time while hanging over the edge above the ceramic floor. It is frightening and dangerous. Her mom is terrified about reaching over the top and grabbing her causing both of them to fall over the edge.
I would suggest a modified electrical cat scat mat on the first few newels. That would give a small electrical shock if she touches them. But that suggestion will probably not be accepted.
What would you suggest?

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35 Answers

janbb's avatar

Put wire netting (chicken wire) across the outside of the railings so she cannot grab onto the railings.

Or you could try this

elbanditoroso's avatar

@janbb – that poor frustrated squirrel !

@LuckyGuy – I think you’re underestimating the intelligence of the 19-month old. If she wants to make it up the stairs, she’ll find a way. And all it will take is a tumble or two down 2–3 stairs to (a) teach her better skills or (b) to develop a respect/fear for climbing. Kids learn from failure just as much as they do from success.

funkdaddy's avatar

Saran wrap is cheap, probably already in the house, and more than enough to stop tiny hands. Even better if you can find some of the packing/stretch wrap used for moving or pallets (they make large and small rolls)

Wrap the bannisters for a couple of weeks and you should be done. There will be a new game soon after this one goes away though.

canidmajor's avatar

Large raptors (with crocheted little socks on their talons to blunt the razor sharp effect) trained to pluck said toddler off of dangerous places should do the trick.

Really, that’s the best I could come up with. A determined toddler is the slipperiest and cleverest creature alive.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Grease the hand holds, like the street poles in Philly. Although that didn’t keep drunks off…~

zenvelo's avatar

@janbb has the right approach, but it needs to be more like window screens, not chicken wire, because chicken wire would just be more holes for a toddler to hold onto.

Either that, or a piece of plywood cut to the steps that extends almost to the top of the banister, and held in place by zip ties. This will work until the child can reach the top of the bannister.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I like these suggestions. FYI This is not my child , or house.

CWOTUS's avatar

May I suggest that if she has the capability to do the climb you’re talking about, then there’s no point in cutting off access to the stairs, which are now the safer option. It would be a good idea to teach her how to climb safely, and to descend under control by sliding feet-first and belly-down, but “passing more laws” isn’t going to work at this point.

Inspired_2write's avatar

Give that child something safe to climb.
Check toy dept for active kids.
Perhaps a budding mountain climber ?

janbb's avatar

@CWOTUS It’s not laws; it’s prevention. She is climbing up the outside over a ceramic floor. First you prevent the dangerous behavior with a baby, then you teach.

kritiper's avatar

Saran wrap would be quick and easy, and not harmful to the wood finish.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@elbanditoroso I don’t think you understand the question. The kid is climbing on the outside of the railing. A tumble would send her crashing down onto a hard, ceramic tiled floor.

Part of me wants to say, “She’s a monkey! That’s what monkeys do!” But we don’t want them to do that. Even Lucy fell out of a tree.

I agree with @CWOTUS. My kids have stairs to the basement. They took the gate off when their kids were about a year old, when they learned how to walk. Teach her how to climb the stairs.
But it certainly won’t be as exciting as climbing the outside of the stairs.

I’d go with put an electric pad on the first two or three outside risers. BUT then she might freak out over learning to climb the stairs proper!

Zaku's avatar

I’d probably just keep an eye on them, let them do it, and go help and/or remove them when they get too high to be safe, and gently explain that it’d be bad if they fell, so hopefully they develop their own awareness of danger.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Kids learn best by experience, by natural consequences, but there are some natural consequences that are unacceptable, like running out in the street. We can’t just let them get hit by a car to teach them that it’s bad. We have to substitute logical consequences. @Zaku at 19 months a kid is pretty much non verbal. They understand a handful of words, but not a complicated stream of words. If they don’t want to find a way to physically make access to that part of the stairs impossible, they need to find another way of discouraging the kid from climbing. What if you’re not in the immediate vicinity in the few seconds she takes to climb and you don’t know she’s climbing? The consequences of falling are not acceptable. Talking isn’t going to do the trick, either.

When my grandaughter was about 19 months old, she’d sit on our large, comfy German Shepherd. A few years ago, when the dog was young and strong it wasn’t a problem. But it became a problem. She had bad hips, and I was worried that if my granddaughter accidentally hurt her Dakota might snap in pain, although she’d rather chew off her own paw before she’d hurt one of “her” kids. So I had to teach my granddauther, in no uncertain terms, to never, ever sit on the dog. And I did. She hasn’t done it since. She’s 4 now.

Aethelwine's avatar

Shoot her with a water gun whenever you catch her trying to climb. She’ll get the hint. (I kid)

Dutchess_III's avatar

That’s a great idea, actually! Except I’d use a plastic sprayer, not something that looks like a gun.

Zaku's avatar

@Dutchess_III @Zaku “at 19 months a kid is pretty much non verbal. They understand a handful of words, but not a complicated stream of words. If they don’t want to find a way to physically make access to that part of the stairs impossible, they need to find another way of discouraging the kid from climbing. What if you’re not in the immediate vicinity in the few seconds she takes to climb and you don’t know she’s climbing? The consequences of falling are not acceptable. Talking isn’t going to do the trick, either.”

I meant to prevent mishap by observation and intervention, and to accompany intervention with communication. The child may not be able to speak or understand words, but they can experience non-verbal communication. I don’t mean I’d expect that communication to prevent them from climbing on things (I wouldn’t even expect that of a teen or adult), but I think it’s important the manner with which we interact with children right from the start. So I thought it was important to describe communicating and intention of positive concern, and not an authoritative “thou shalt not” nor a “the human is treating this like an emergency” nor a “bad child! bad thing to do!” and probably not squirt gun attack, either.

Even if the outside of that staircase is physically blocked from child climbing, a climbing child will no doubt be going for other things to climb, so I’d think watching them would be the main thing.

janbb's avatar

I think a squirt gun is a terrible idea. A baby is not a dog.

Dutchess_III's avatar

So if she kept doing it anyway, what would you do then?

elbanditoroso's avatar

@Dutchess_III – I’m not sure I would change my answer. The best way for a kid to learn is experientially. One fall and she will learn.

But a soft pillow in the landing area, though. And parents ought not be too far away,

Dutchess_III's avatar

A fall from 20 feet to a hard ceramic floor is serious. And putting “a” pillow down is useless because you have no idea where they’re going to land. You could put a long air mattress along the landing strip, but that might end up just being fun for the kid and actually encourage them to do it again and again.

To me, this is as serious as running out in the street. The behavior must stop now.

Aethelwine's avatar

I’m reminded of this toddler right now.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Wow! We are climbers! But that was kind of mean of the parents. I hope Mom went in that room to cuddle with the baby.

Dutchess_III's avatar

If it were ME, instead of getting into a power struggle with the child, I’d enclose the whole dang thing in sheet rock and finish it off.
At the least, I’d put up a temporary barrier of some kind, out of plywood or something, until the kid was old enough to understand exactly what I was telling them. By that point they should be trained to listen to you, and do what you tell them to do.
To me it was always important that my kids understood it was their house too. There were only a few rules, such as not messing with my plants or wall sockets.
The rest of the house was theirs. I kept harmless pots and pans and plastic bowls in the bottom shelves of the kitchen, and they were free to pull them out to play with them any time. They had to put them away, though, with me “helping.”
To an adult’s eye my home was pretty barren then, because I didn’t keep things on coffee tables or on shelves that they weren’t allowed to touch, so, for the most part, it didn’t have much decor, except for paintings on the wall. But that’s OK.

Jeruba's avatar

I would teach her how to climb safely.

I taught my boys how to climb out of the crib and how to climb a tree. They were going to do it anyway, and I preferred not to have them break their necks. I didn’t want to teach them to be fearful. I wanted them to know how to accomplish it confidently and without hurting themselves.

This was not a global principle—I didn’t show them how to light the stove at two years old or handle a knife or drive a car—but kids will climb.

LuckyGuy's avatar

It’s like the kid is practicing for a parkour championship. She climbs up on tables, gets in the kitchen sink, gets up on the dining island in the kitchen. It’s incredible. Meanwhile my 16 month old grandson is still barely walking.
I will pass these suggestions along to the proper authorities!

LuckyGuy's avatar

I see that others have a similar problem. Here is a good example: Kids climbing wall for candy

Dutchess_III's avatar

Everyone keeps saying they’d teach her to climb safely. They already know how to climb, and they instinctively know better than to let go. How exactly would you “teach” a non-verbal 19 month old how to climb “safely”?

janbb's avatar

@Dutchess_III I agree. First you prevent the really dangerous thing from happening by child-proofing like my idea of netting so they can’t climb up the outside of the stairs. Then you devise a safer environment where they can walk, climb or whatever. A child size slide, a few steps with a carpeted floor at the bottom, etc.

You teach a child that the stove is hot but in the meantime, you also put plastic holders around the knobs so they can’t turn them on.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Agreed. Revamp your house by any means necessary to make it as safe as possible for the child during those moments you aren’t looking right at them for what ever reason.

funkdaddy's avatar

FWIW, I’ve done the packing wrap around the bannister with “the boy”, who is in fact half monkey…

He stared at it, tried to figure it out for a bit using only the top and bottom gaps, and then moved on to climbing the next thing.

In a couple weeks I just cut the plastic off with a utility knife and he hasn’t been back up the outside of the stairs since. It was a conversation starter while it was up, but I’m not exactly living the fashionable life right now on so many other accounts.

Total time, under an hour. Total cost, maybe $3.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Packing wrap?

snowberry's avatar

@Dutchess_III I think he meant bubble wrap, and attach it with strong packing tape.

That actually makes sense because there would be nothing for her to get a finger hold.

My twins were like that, and I could not keep them in their room. I finally constructed a cage out of two by fours and fine metal fencing, and the crib mattress laid on the floor.. It was tall enough that when I leaned over to get them, I could barely reach them in the bed. But they were tall enough they could just bend their fingertips over the top rail, and with that little grip alone they could pull themselves up and over the side. They were strong and excellent climbers!

Dutchess_III's avatar

That’s a thought.

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