We installed the upstairs baby gate before Babby even figured out how to crawl, but we were slower about installing the downstairs gate.
A friend had given us a great pressure-mounted gate which fit my decor perfectly, back when I was still pregnant. However, it didn’t quite fit the width of our stair well.
My friend said that she had expander pieces for it in her basement somewhere, so we agreed that I would pick them up some time.
Fast forward a YEAR AND A HALF, and I still hadn’t gotten around to it. When he started crawling, though, I told her that I definitely needed to come get those pieces.
And we did! We really did! PH was going to dig out the gate and figure out how to put it together with the expandy bits that very weekend!
And do you know what happened in the meantime?
BABBY DISCOVERED THE STAIRS.
Now, some mothers worry about accidentally drowning their baby. Others fret about losing control of the stroller on a hill. Others have horrible visions of their baby falling from a great height.
I worry about him smashing his big old melon head.
…So I’m not a fan of Babby + stairs.
At first he would just get up on the first step and freeze. He couldn’t get up, couldn’t get down. Eventually he’d topple over backwards and I’d catch him. That wasn’t so bad.
After all, my friend the social worker says the bottom gate should be on the third step anyway “so they can learn how to get up and down, but can’t get high up enough to really hurt themselves.”
Okay, so that wasn’t so bad, and we’d put up the baby gate and everything would be fine.
Then, all of a sudden, Babby figured out how to go up.
And boy, did he go up.
Of course, removing him from the stairs just made them all the more enticing, and I realized that I had begun a sort of game – “How far up the stairs can I get before Boob-Lady catches me?”
No amount of distraction could keep him away, and I had no idea how to assemble the dang baby gate. He would clamber up the stairs giggling wildly, and I would come after him.
Of course, I could take him upstairs and just never let him down EVER AGAIN, but he gets bored up there after a while, and a bored Babby is an angry, angry Babby.
Besides, I knew that this was a skill he had to learn sone time. Babies need exposure to stairs in order to learn how to navigate them safely.
So I faced the inevitable. I decided that maybe I should just accept my fate… and change my plan of attack.
I decided not to remark on any upward progress (just stayed close behind him to catch him when he toppled over or slipped), but I made a big fuss over any attempt to get down.
I threw a huge party every time his foot moved DOWN a step instead of UP a step, and within half an hour he had the hang of it, and seemed to have forgotten how exciting UP could be.
Instead he would go up a step or two, and come back down to recieve my wild admiration and excessive applause. He got pretty good at it, really. No more toppling over, no more slipping on the steps. He was the valdictorian of stairs, as far as he was concerned.
As far as I was concerned, I wished I had the dang gate up so I could stop having visions of him smashing his head in.
Anyway, he went up and down, up and down, and this kept him entertained for a while, and I much preferred it to the mad dashes up the stairs.
And then, after a pause to play with his ball, the devil must have spoken to him or something because otherwise WHY WOULD HE DECIDE TO TAKE HIS BALL UP THE STAIRS?
Suffice to say, we PUT UP THE BABY GATE THAT NIGHT.
Babby isn’t impressed with it, but no obstacle really fazes him for long…