I wrote in Safety vs Independence about letting kids have access to stairs right from the beginning.
I hang out with Dylan a lot on the main floor of our house, which has the living room, the kitchen… and the stairs down to the basement. I put a baby gate there so he doesn’t dive down the stairs while I’m making dinner. When Joshua and I are getting ready to go somewhere, Dylan ends up hanging out in the hallway that’s the nexus between Dylan’s (future) room, Joshua’s room, Joshua’s bathroom, my office… and the stairs down to the main floor. I put a baby gate there so he doesn’t tumble down while we’re distracted with other things.
We are rarely hanging out in a way that gives him access to the stairs headed upstairs, where he could safely play around with a few of them. The places we congregate all have stairs headed down.
Except the stairs between my office area and my bedroom. Now, those are perfect!
There’s one step up to a small landing under a window which is where I’ve put Dylan’s nap area that I call The Nest. Then there are two more steps up to another landing which makes a nice little cave area underneath a bookshelf and a slanted ceiling. Then there are three more steps up to where I’ve put one more baby gate.
Dylan loves this area. He loves climbing up and down the stairs. I love it because he can only ever fall three steps. This little space will grow with him over the coming months, too. It’s a small space, but the stairs and the hidden cave area give it lots of creative possibilities.