When Can Baby Climb Stairs and How Can You Keep Them Safe?
As baby gets better at walking, they’re able to do more on their feet.
That includes going up and down stairs! Learn more about when baby is able to go up and down stairs, and how to help baby master this milestone. Also, learn some safety tips for baby around stairs.
Before baby walks up and down the stairs, they’ll probably try crawling on them. Going up and down stairs with support is a 19-24 month motor milestone, but baby will probably attempt to crawl up the stairs long before that! When baby is able to crawl, they can move on their own for the first time. Crawling is a 7-9 month motor milestone. Around this age, baby may be tempted to try out their new crawling skills on the steps. They will most likely try to climb up stairs, rather than down, on all fours.
When baby begins crawling, be sure to keep baby safe around the steps. Crawling up stairs at this young age can actually be a great exercise for baby, but make sure to think safety first! Some safety tips:
- Only have baby go up the stairs—going down on all fours can increase the risk of falling (more on that below).
- Only do this on carpeted steps.
- Only do this with adult supervision. Position yourself below baby so as they crawl up you are behind them, to prevent any falls.
- You can also show baby how to crawl down the stairs at this age. The safest way to do this is by scooting on their tummy, with their feet first. Once again, baby should only do this on carpeted steps and with an adult nearby.
- When you are not around, keep a baby gate by the steps to make sure baby doesn’t attempt any independent adventures. Baby gate should be placed at the top and bottom of the stairs.
Once baby can walk, they may attempt to walk up and down the stairs. Taking several independent steps is a 10-12 month motor milestone. By 13-18 months, baby should be walking independently. As they become better at walking, they will try to walk up or down steps with two feet. They will usually need support at this age to get up and down the stairs.
What does it mean to walk up and down steps with support? As mentioned earlier, walking up and down stairs with support is 19-24 month motor milestone. With support can mean a railing, or with your hands. It’s still important to stick close by at this age, in case they slip, fall, or get stuck.
It may take baby some time to get used to stairs. It’s usually expected that a child will climb stairs without support by 4 years old. They will most likely go up stairs without support before going down, but they usually do both by 4 years old. If baby is not going up or down stairs with support by 2 years old, talk to a healthcare provider to see how you can help baby meet this milestone.
Don’t let the name fool you—the baby gate should probably stay up even if your little one is no longer a baby! Baby gates should typically stay up until your child can safely and confidently go up and down the stairs. This means they are walking independently, their legs are long enough to go up and down the stairs, and they can get up and down the stairs without assistance. This is usually around 3-4 years old, but every child (and staircase!) is different, so make sure your setup works for your little one.
Remember: Not all stairs are created equal! Stairs come in a variety of forms—carpeted, hardwood, stone; big and small steps; railing and no railing, etc. All of these factors may influence baby’s ability to walk up and down them safely and independently. It’s also important to remind your child of some basic safety tips around steps, such as:
- Don’t play on the stairs or leave toys on the steps.
- No running up or down the stairs.
- Don’t carry anything while going up and down the steps.
If you have any questions, ask your child’s healthcare provider.