Is “No Stairs” a New Trend?

Readers — Sometimes when I am trying to explain why the fbbiasfnee
laws against letting kids wait in the car a few minutes make no sense
, I point out that if we are going to prosecute parents for putting their kids at some infinitesimal risk, we’d also have to include all parents who raise their kids in homes with stairs, or feed their kids solid food. After all: those pose some danger, too. Where do we draw the line? Is ANYTHING in daily life safe enough?

And then I opened today’s email:

Dear Free-Range Kids:

In two recent episodes of House Hunters I noticed that the young mothers looking for a new home insisted it be a single story as they were afraid of their child falling down the stairs. Am I missing something? What about using baby gates? Being in a bungalow is now a necessity to keeping your child safe?

Shaking my head in Toronto.


This is truly the first I’ve heard of stair-phobia. If it is nothing more than a twice-off, no biggie. But if it’s a trend, it would represent a new milestone in underestimating our kids. Now we can’t let them ride their bikes or walk to school or GO UP AND DOWN THE STAIRS? It is ALL too daunting and dangerous? Please let me know if you have heard of this anyplace else. I am really curious. – L.

There are stairs and then there are STAIRS.

Not many split levels have stairs like these. 

, , , , , , ,

80 Responses to Is “No Stairs” a New Trend?

  1. BL September 30, 2014 at 10:49 am #

    As a child, I usually took the stairs two at a time.

  2. Michelle September 30, 2014 at 10:53 am #

    Well, today be honest, I didn’t want a two story house for the same reason. But, last time I was house-hunting, I had a toddler, and I was pregnant, and I expected to have more after that (and I did), and I didn’t think I would live here as long as we have, so I was definitely thinking in the short-term. One story is more convenient with toddlers. I, personally, hate trying to climb over baby gates, especially at the top of the stairs. But I don’t consider it a safety-must, and now that most of my kids are past that stage, I wouldn’t mind two stories.

  3. Melissa September 30, 2014 at 10:54 am #

    No, never heard of this. The insisting of rooms on the “same level” I think is a bit too much as well. The house I grew up in had a strange layout. My sis’ room and mine were practically in another zip code from my parents’ room. Have a friend who is experiencing some paranoia about putting a child in a “front” room with windows that look out to the street. What is THAT all about?!

  4. Michelle September 30, 2014 at 10:54 am #

    *to be, not today be. I hate auto-correct.

  5. Rachel September 30, 2014 at 10:54 am #

    By chance we moved into a stairs-free house before our daughter became mobile. It was convenient, not needing to fuss around with gates at the stairs. Mostly getting huge tubs of laundry up and down stairs WITH a gate at the top (and bottom?), not the kid issues. Once a kid gets bigger, stairs are just a bumpy indoor slide, which is awesome.

    I can’t imagine this being a major trend in homebuying or more new home construction would be single story.

  6. TRS September 30, 2014 at 10:57 am #

    I did not want a lot of stairs because I was thinking ahead – I wanted a house I could live in through my 80’s.

    If you think about it. If you have a house w/o stairs it is one less thing and your child would be more free to roam. I did not put up baby gates with my last and she did fall down the stairs once. Fortunately did not get hurt. The incident did take my breath away. I ended up being more vigilant and less “go where you want.” Still did not put up baby gates because I had two 5 year olds I did not want to trap up or downstairs.

  7. K2 September 30, 2014 at 11:01 am #

    I have a little knee issue and didn’t want to carry a baby up and down stairs. I was more afraid of me falling than that the baby once walking would fall. I also didn’t know when we would move again, and if we ended up staying wanted a house that would be appropriate for retirement.

  8. Rachel September 30, 2014 at 11:01 am #

    @Melissa: If there’s gunfire on your street, the rooms closest to the front are most likely to get stray shots? Insane reasoning of course, but one of my mother’s neighbors got a bullet come through above the bed thanks to drunken New Years celebration.

    More likely they don’t want the kid visible when changing clothes because of all the pedophiles that surely have their eyes and recording devices trained on all front windows.

  9. Jill September 30, 2014 at 11:01 am #

    But if the house is all on one level, with no upstairs, kidnappers can easily climb through a child’s bedroom window and abduct her or him. They won’t even need a ladder!
    I suggest the parents of small children (so small! So vulnerable to predators!) invest in one of the underground bunkers that used to be part of our military’s missile system that are currently up for sale. They’re VERY secure, although somewhat dreary inside, and in need of a bit of sprucing-up.

  10. Rick September 30, 2014 at 11:02 am #

    I’d also bear in mind that most of these lifestyle shows have a team of story editors behind them whose job is to create drama where there is none. It’s quite conceivable a writer concocted the “no stairs” thing to create a story point to focus on.

  11. J- September 30, 2014 at 11:03 am #

    @ BL

    I see your “two at a time” and raise you 9 stitches in my lower lip from when I took the stairs eight at time.

    Of course that was a 20 years ago when kids could get away with that sort of thing. I guess kids were made of tougher stuff back then.

    According to the experts, if my kid were to jump from the landing to the foyer, he would shatter like the T-1000 after being frozen with liquid nitrogen, and I would get the death penalty for reckless ownership of a staircase.

  12. TRS September 30, 2014 at 11:03 am #

    Insisting rooms on the same level is not too much. We have a 4 bedroom house and I can not hear a thing in the guest room on the 2nd floor of our 4 split level home. Our neighbor’s teen daughter was raped in the same room in their home. Mom and brother were in the home and could not hear her screams. It was a neighbor (un registered sex offender that recently moved in with his mom) that raped her. I insist that my kids sleep on the same level as the master.

  13. Kimberly Herbert September 30, 2014 at 11:04 am #

    I know several people in my family have explained they want a one story house. The reason wasn’t they were worried about the kids in this way. Some worried about the kids sleepwalking and stairs. (I’ve posted before that many households in my family have alarm systems in part to alert other family members if someone sleep walks out the door).

    Mostly they said they planned to spend the rest of their lives in the house. We watched our parents and grandparents attempt to stay home as long as possible. 2 story houses have definite drawbacks in those situations. Even with the master on the ground floor, there are problems. One family member had extensive damage to the 2nd floor that went unnoticed for years, because no one lived up there and the owners couldn’t climb the stairs.

  14. SnarkyMomma September 30, 2014 at 11:04 am #

    We didn’t even use baby gates in our two story house. Our staircase is too wide, and the gates that were wide enough were so weak from being stretched to their max that we felt the kids would be in more danger leaning against the gate and falling down the stairs than if we taught them how to responsibly go up and down the stairs on their own.

    Now they’re 2.5 and 4 and they know there’s no playing on the stairs, to go slowly, and to not carry too much stuff up or down. They ask for help carrying big items, and they take their time to make sure they don’t fall. They’re free to go up and down as they please because we trust that they’ve learned how to use the stairs responsibly.

    What are these parents going to do when they encounter stairs out in the world?

  15. ChicagoDad September 30, 2014 at 11:13 am #

    The senior (65+) set in my family recently bought homes that are one level with hard floors and wide doorways so that they wouldn’t have to move if they became disabled. Seems smart for them. Not so much for families with kids.

    Here is a babycenter forum on the issue with several reasonable responses:

  16. Brad September 30, 2014 at 11:15 am #

    What will these cocooned kids think about themselves when they’re surrounded by kids whose parents think they’re capable of handling stairs, walking, playing, and generally being independent? Their whole identity is that they’re incapable of things that are pretty basic.

    Are they safer, or is this about the parents being too crippled by fear?

  17. BK September 30, 2014 at 11:16 am #

    I saw these (or similar) episodes of House Hunters as well, and the mothers had me shaking my head. Shouldn’t we be PREPARING our children for life, instead of hiding things from them? Guess what? Stairs exist, and they’re everywhere! Of course they pose a fall-risk (for everyone) but I would far prefer my child learn to how to carefully and safely master stairs under my care, and sooner than later, so that I am comfortable knowing my child, show they come across stairs somewhere else or without someones watchful eye, they’ll be prepared and fine!

  18. ChicagoDad September 30, 2014 at 11:21 am #

    Just want to add, it is a lot harder for teens to sneak out if they have to go down a flight of creaky stairs first!

  19. Linda Wightman September 30, 2014 at 11:31 am #

    Each house configuration has pluses and minuses, and you have to choose the risks you want to take. Fortunately our kids had already learned to manage stairs before we moved into our one-story house. (Not really our choice, but they are much more common in Florida.) It’s riskier, as someone pointed out, if you’re concerned about an abductor (or a boyfriend!) climbing in through a window. But it’s also safer, if you’re concerned about climbing out in case of fire.

    Here’s a risk of life without stairs that you might not think of; I certainly didn’t consider it until we experienced it for ourselves. A house with stairs provides considerable exercise merely through everyday life. Our first house, for example: up the stairs to put the kids to bed, up again if they need anything, up to go to bed ourselves, down every time we needed to go to the bathroom (no bathroom on the second floor), down in the morning, up and down again to get the kids, down and up multiple times because the washer and dryer were in the basement, up and down innumerable times during the day for chores, following the kids, naps, etc. The kids, of course, got plenty of exercise themselves running up and down all over the house. In a one-story house, this just doesn’t happen. It’s an obesity risk, for children and adults.

    As with all of life, you can’t eliminate risk. You just choose what form you think best.

  20. Meg September 30, 2014 at 11:33 am #

    When my oldest was 18 months or so, we went on a preschoolers tour if the fire station. Other moms with 2-3 year olds were stopping the kids to carry them up the stairs and were amazed, and not all so politely, at my son’s independence for doing them himself. It had never occurred to me that kids shouldn’t be able to stairs safely by a year or so and I only used gates beyond that to keep the kids out of trouble (like flushing toys down the potty) not for safety reasons. My third just turned a year and he has the belly speed slide down the steps down pat.

  21. BL September 30, 2014 at 11:42 am #

    “Just want to add, it is a lot harder for teens to sneak out if they have to go down a flight of creaky stairs first!”

    I suppose nobody sneaks out the second-story windows any more.

  22. Lisa September 30, 2014 at 11:46 am #

    My kids don’t use the stairs, they just ride the bannister down to the main floor.

  23. dot September 30, 2014 at 11:54 am #

    I actually fell down a small set of stairs holding my infant during a middle of the night thing. thankfully both of us were ok… and i actually believe sleep deprived parents are at more risk on stairs than small kids!

    I did see an episode of house-hunters (or maybe ‘love it or list it’) where the mom was freaked out that the kids rooms would be upstairs, and was worried they’d fall down the stairs–and they were older than toddlers! I didn’t get it, and actually commented on it at the time.

  24. lee Baldwin September 30, 2014 at 11:57 am #

    i live in an 1815 Federal style house. my son fell (or rather slid head first) down the front hall stairs exactly once, when he was 9 months old (he was walking at 6 months). that taught him to be careful on stairs. of course, the advantage to old houses is there are doors to close off the stairs, unless they were removed by intermediate owners. the disadvantage is that the stairs are steeper than would be allowed by current building codes. in any case, if you haven’t taught the toddler to negotiate stairs yet, just gate them off. but remember, climbing stairs & ladders is an excellent exercise in crossing the midline, and that’s pretty important in a child’s development.

  25. lee Baldwin September 30, 2014 at 12:03 pm #

    sleepwalking & stairs? really? when i was a teen, i sleepwalked (more than twice) down 2 sets of stairs, out of the house & 5 miles away…

  26. Jennifer September 30, 2014 at 12:09 pm #

    We have stairs. Lots of them (tri-level construction, so three not-full-flights). Most of them not very gateable. The upside was that the stairs my kids navigated the most are the shortest set (5 steps). So yeah, they fell. But not too hard and they learned.

    The downside was the time I caught my daughter, then age 3, hauling the sled up the longest flight of stairs. She was totally planning to ride that sucker down. I’m sure it would have been a blast until she hit the wall at the bottom!

  27. pentamom September 30, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

    TRS — insisting that the bedrooms all be on the same level doesn’t accomplish your concern unless there are no other rooms out of earshot, either. Predatory rapists aren’t that picky about whether it’s a bedroom or not.

    Sure, a lot of you are listing valid reasons for not wanting stairs. SKL’s hits home with me — when we bought this house, it was the best decision at the time but I knew this wouldn’t be our last because we wouldn’t be able to grow old in a split level — laundry and kitchen are on different levels and you can’t go in or out the door without using stairs. But it sounds like this mom thought stairs are just too dangerous for young kids, period. Unless you’re expecting to have a passel of kids so that not having to deal with stairs might be an advantage over a decade or more (as in our case, though we’ve always had stairs) it seems overkill to make it a reason to buy or not buy a house. Typical kids are potentially unsafe on stairs for maybe three years, from ages one to four.

  28. Lyndsay September 30, 2014 at 12:22 pm #

    With both of my children, we left the bottom of the stairs ungated so that they could learn to climb them with confidence. I suppose I was wishing harm on them?

  29. SOA September 30, 2014 at 12:24 pm #

    Odd. That might just be her personal preference. Maybe she does not want to fool with baby gates as they can be a hassle. I know lots of people that just prefer one story houses. I would not enjoy going up and down stairs all night long with a baby either. Maybe that is what she meant.

    Baby gates typically do the trick. They have so many different styles they will work on any house pretty much.

    I still have my stair gate up on our split foyer but only because I don’t even trust myself not to slip and fall down there. It is in a weird location with slippery hard wood where if you were stumbling down the hall in the dark at night it would be super easy to fall down the stairs. I would probably put one up even if I did not have kids. I am klutzy as heck.

    So it will probably stay up forever. The kids have started wrestling right in front of the stairs and if the gate had not been there I think they would have fallen down. They are not bright when it comes to stuff like that. We also still have people with younger babies over to visit and the gate being there protects them too.

  30. SOA September 30, 2014 at 12:27 pm #

    I was also so happy the day my kids learned to climb stairs and go down them on their own. I was in so much pain from having to carry them up and down stairs all day long every time we went to the car. Pain the butt. Carrying the groceries was hard enough. I taught them the scooting down on your butt way and the crawling up way about 2 years old. Saved my back.

    I know this is not where we can live when we get old. Stairs suck for old people. We will move to a one floor place for sure.

    So I get why people don’t want stairs in general. I think maybe they just misunderstood her.

  31. Reziac September 30, 2014 at 12:43 pm #

    This “fear of stairs” isn’t new — I’ve heard of it back into the 60s. But we always thought it was granny who’d fall down the stairs, not little Johnny.

    They’d have collective heart attacks at how we took the stone stairs at my high school — 2 and 3 at a time both up and down, because we had 3 minutes to traverse up to two blocks, and invariably classes were at opposite ends of the building and on a different floor. We looked like a herd of wild goats, but everyone lived through the experience.

    My personal peeve are those really low windows being required in new houses — no more than 18 (24?) inches from the floor, in case a child needs to climb out to escape a fire. I’d think more of a concern would be kids running into these low-set windows and breaking the glass. (I know someone who had a dog run through a window, cut its throat wide open and bled to death.)

  32. EricS September 30, 2014 at 12:48 pm #

    Sadly Lenore, this is how it all starts. It’s starts with a handful of paranoid parents, then it spreads to a group, then a community. Then it hits the internet, and people’s minds begin working overtime, making themselves believe in hypotheticals. To the point that, IT MUST BE TRUE if it’s online. Now the ball is well on it’s way down a big hill, gathering more dirt, sticks, leaves, making it bigger and bigger. Trends tend to happen quickly online, and some catch on for a long time.

    Stop the trend, before it becomes one.

  33. Becky September 30, 2014 at 12:51 pm #

    The spiral staircase at a brand new Children’s Hospital in Alabama×360/05.jpg

    We are a bit more free range down here…

  34. EricS September 30, 2014 at 12:54 pm #

    Though I don’t fear stairs, having slipped and falling down a set or two in my time, I do cautious from time to time. Specifically if they are wooden stairs, and I’m wearing socks (basically no traction). I always hold onto the bannister. I also teach mine to walk down, not run, and hold on to the railing. Now that he understands that, I don’t think twice about him going up and down the stairs. From time to time, I do need to remind him to “slow it down”. And get him to repeat the answer of why we don’t run down the stairs, especially with socks. He does it less and less, and reminds his cousins too.

  35. delurking September 30, 2014 at 12:55 pm #

    What I’d really like in a house is a padded room for the kids. I don’t know why homebuilders don’t do such an obvious thing that would dramatically improve the safety of our kids.

  36. Stacy September 30, 2014 at 1:09 pm #

    We had a gate only at the top of the stairs, which prevented a few wild toddler runs down the hall from turning into very long tumbles down the stairs. I would otherwise have needed to hover while the reckless toddler was playing and I was doing upstairs chores. We did not keep a gate at the bottom, so they could learn to walk up and down safely. Since it was pretty simple to have a gate at the top and that only lasted about one year per child, I can’t imagine ruling out houses because of it. That said, I have seen stairs on House Hunters International that I wouldn’t want in my house — no rail to hold onto or open sides, and no carpet to cushion a fall by someone of any age. Also, as someone else said, House Hunters is not as real as it pretends to be. I’m sure the home buyers are told to play up certain “problems” with the different houses to create a story. On the other hand, they apparently think stairs are a believable problem.

  37. Captain America September 30, 2014 at 1:13 pm #

    It’s stuff like this that make men think that women have a small Krazy Part in their brains! Life isn’t safe.

    WE HAVE already incorporated this Krazy Part into school codes.

    What’s worse is that there is now One-Upmanship on the Safety Issue. . . “I am MORE concerned, and MORE knowledgeable, and MORE experienced, and MORE educated than YOU, since I can—-where you can’t—-recognize the many dangers inherent in the act of XZY.”

    THEREFORE I CLAIM power over you and your family.

    I was on the phone this morning with my kid’s principal. Terrible worriedness over a basic stickman shoot’em up drawing that he’d done in class.

    WOW! I used to be big on sketching all kinds of stuff like that.

    WOMEN: you’re not little boys, so it’s tough to understand a boy’s mind. But let’s say you’re bored off your gore, the minutes feel like HOURS, and what’s EXCITING is to draw exciting stuff!

    Not flowers or little ponies with long manes.

    Boyhood is pressured like hell nowadays.

  38. bluebird of bitterness September 30, 2014 at 1:20 pm #

    When our firstborn was a baby, she bounced down the basement stairs in a baby walker and landed on her head on a concrete floor. It scared the heck out of us, but if it knocked a few points off her IQ, she must have had plenty of them to spare. When our son was born a few years later, and we had to move to a larger house, I insisted that the stairs be carpeted, so that when anyone (child or adult) fell down them, there would be less bruising and pain. We’ve lived here for almost 30 years and there have been plenty of falls, but no lasting damage.

  39. Mrs. H. September 30, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

    I find the demands of parents on these house-hunting shows totally bizarre, and I’ve attributed it to suburban (i.e. cheap housing) privilege.

    For example, I recently saw one where a young mother insisted on a separate playroom so she wouldn’t have toys in the living room, but she wanted to reject a house in which the playroom was in the basement. She thought her three-year-old would refuse to play one whole floor away from mommy. Guess what! That house was the lucky winner, and in the “two months later” recap at the end she expressed delighted surprise that her child was happy to play a whole flight of stairs away from her.

    Many, many of the moms insist they need the dreaded “open floor plan” because they need to Keep An Eye On The Children while preparing dinner.

    My view: let them spend a year in a typical 900-square-foot NYC apartment, and suddenly spending every waking moment in the same room with their kids won’t feel like such a blessing.

  40. E September 30, 2014 at 1:25 pm #

    I’ve seen at least 1 episode of House Hunters were the young family was very stairs averse. I thought it was strange because it seemed like they were fearful.

    But I agree with the poster that said they trump up the “must haves” for all these shows (where they’ve already selected their house before they are selected to appear on the show anyway). Otherwise, you’d think that having granite counter tops was equivalent to having running water.

  41. Wendy W September 30, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

    I’ve noticed the same episodes on HGTV and just rolled my eyes at them.

    To teach little ones about stairs, put the gate about 3 steps up from the bottom. They have a few steps to learn on, and they won’t get more than a bump if they fall.

    When we bought our current house our youngest was just turning 1. We have a 4-level split plan, with 3 half-flights of stairs. While looking for a home, the one layout I would not consider was the master bedroom separated from the kids rooms. Not because I was paranoid about safety, not even for the 1yo, but because I had a 6yo who was a bed-wetter and had nightmares. There was no way I wanted to be traipsing all over the house in the middle of the night on a regular basis. Purely a consideration for my own convenience and safety (Lego underfoot in the dark? OW!)

  42. Meagan September 30, 2014 at 1:28 pm #

    Not sure if this is a trend, but I live in a tri-level split level house. When our kids were toddlers, a friend of mine brought her daughter over to learn how to use stairs. They lived in a ranch so her daughter didn’t know how to go up and down stairs, but there are stairs everywhere!

    I figured my kids were safer in the long run because they were pros at stairs. Our short flights were great training for all the places they’ve been with longer flights. And my back always appreciated not having to carry them up and down all those stairs!

  43. Emily Morris September 30, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

    We lived in my grandmother’s basement apartment this past year before we purchased our house. Our baby entered that house at 6 months and thus learned to crawl in that house. We originally had a baby gate for fearing her falling down the stairs… then, the baby gate was simply used to corral her upstairs or downstairs depending on who was watching her.

    My daughter is a Mistress of Stairs. She LOVES crawling up the stairs (now trying to walk up them). We went to a mall this summer with a splash pad… next to an enormous flight of stairs. She didn’t want to play in the water, she wanted to climb the darn stairs. And she could, too.

    It’s good for her development.

    My aunt and uncle had two flights of stairs in their home. They taught their babies how to get up and down them as soon as possible. Why? Less risky than a baby who can’t handle stairs.

  44. John September 30, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

    I was a late in life child who had a sister 18 years older than I and I distinctly remember when my sister was packing up her belongings to go to nursing school back in the late 1950s. So as a toddler I was crawling up and down the wood stairs from the living room up to my sister’s room where she was packing up her belongings and moving the boxes down to the living room. Well I did my fair share of falling and rolling down the stairs and sure, I cried but I also learned how to be more careful when going up and down the stairs. And most importantly, I survived unscathed!

  45. KC September 30, 2014 at 2:01 pm #

    It’s not a two time issue – I watch House Hunters all the time and there a tons of people who don’t want stairs. I saw a couple who wanted all the bedrooms together so they baby wasn’t on the other side of the house.

  46. Dee September 30, 2014 at 2:09 pm #

    I have noticed this on House Hunters a lot. They are always terrified of stairs, even deck stairs. Of course, by the time they film, they have actually made a choice. I think they might be making up things to be upset about to make for good TV. Doesn’t make it any less annoying and means that it normalizes this behavior. That said, I love House Hunters!

  47. Cynthia812 September 30, 2014 at 2:12 pm #

    I vividly remember stairs being the best part of the house that we moved into when I was three. They were hardwood and slippery, and we have all fallen on them, including my mother holding a baby, but we all survived. The other bad part was the overhang where the downstairs ceiling joined the stairway. We’re all tall and all grew up in the house, so all of us have hit our heads running down the stairs, not realizing that we’d grown too tall to do that. Our current house doesn’t have stairs. Most of the houses in our area do not. I agree with whoever it was that said you get a lot less exercise. Also, my kids are disappointed that we don’t have any. They had to learn stairs at the playground and grandma’s house.

  48. SamRI September 30, 2014 at 2:17 pm #

    On the next episode of House Hunters, a house without a bathtub because the kids could drown!

    Sure, I fell down the stairs as a kid. I also used my mattress to slide down it when I was older. How can one deprive a kid of that?!?

  49. Steve S September 30, 2014 at 2:17 pm #

    Someone mentioned that these shows like to present some kind of drama. I have seen more than a few stair averse couples, but I have also seen all sorts of other requests that I thought were strange. I have seen at least two people that had to have the toilet in a separate room/area from the rest of the bathroom. I saw someone that hated brass fixtures. I can’t say that I am a huge fan, but they are easy to replace.

  50. SOA September 30, 2014 at 2:17 pm #

    Reziac: I agree about those low windows. I never liked them. Just a personal thing.

    I actually hate open floor plan houses. I think they would be hard to childproof as you can’t shut the kid up in one area which is what I like to do. I also like for families to have a sense of privacy and be able to get away from each other. So different rooms is a good thing!

    I also insisted on some kind of playroom area for our kids when looking for a house. I did not care where it was but I wanted them to have their own room for all their toys and to play. We ended up with a house where the dining room area became their playroom and that works.

    I did have a couple mom friends complain about playrooms in basements or attics that the kids never want to go in there. They seem to feel the need to drag the toys into main part of the house and play near the parents. Even when the parents were telling them to go away. So the dining room playroom works super well since it is near us. But I was not all about “Oh I have to see them and know what they are doing.” I ignore my kids way too much to be all about that.

  51. Janice September 30, 2014 at 2:24 pm #

    Sounds like a contrived statement made to boost ratings. We are house hunting now and I want a ranch style. Not because I’m in fear for my child (house we have now is 2 stories plus a basement and when son was 3 he took a stumble down the stairs because the house prior was ranch and he had no experience…but he learned) but because I’m tired of cleaning a house on multiple levels, tired of heating and cooling a house on multiple levels. I suspect the young parents are thinking along the same lines but that makes boring TV. Hyper parenting is controversial and will get people talking about their show.

  52. gap.runner September 30, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

    It’s a good thing those parents weren’t house hunting in either the Netherlands or some parts of Italy. The stairs in Dutch houses and some Italian ones are really steep! It’s a miracle that Dutch and Italian kids survive their childhoods.

  53. Nicole 2 September 30, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

    As a child I couldn’t be trusted to safely walk up and down stairs. I had some epic falls down stairs resulting in concussions and sprained ankles. Heck, I even caused a permanent injury to my knee by falling *up* stairs when I was 15!

    I’m partial to stairs with a mid stair landing, vs stairs that go straight down, because stairs+kids sort of freak me out and I’d like to limit the length of a fall. Plus eventually I’ll get old, and stairs are really efficient at killing old people.

    Anyway… none of this is to say stair free is completely rational. But I’m not sure it’s completely, out of the ball park crazy to think about stair safety when stairs cause a freakishly large number of injuries and deaths each year.

  54. Tiny Tim September 30, 2014 at 3:17 pm #

    The no stairs thing is somewhat geographic. There are places in the US where small-medium sized houses are generally one floor and people have a very strong preference for them. Never figured out why, but something I observed.

  55. Melanie Jones September 30, 2014 at 3:28 pm #

    No stairs in my case is about convenience more than safety. Houses here tend to be two story (as in many places) because of the small lot sizes. So we have stairs now because stairs is what we can afford. I never used baby gates because that is the inconvenience – adults and children injuring themselves trying to get over the damn gate:) There is a door at the top of the stairs, and if we were at the bottom of the stairs I just had to watch for about a year until my son was a skilled stair climber. I’ve fallen down the stairs in my house a couple of times, once while holding my son, always holding something that prevented me from breaking my fall, and it hurt like everything and I cursed those stupid stairs. So, if I were house hunting, I would certainly be avoiding stairs. They really are annoying and inconvenient. I also hate how stairs are kind of useless square footage. You can certainly call me lazy and entitled, but no one could ever call me a helicopter parent with a straight face.

  56. lollipoplover September 30, 2014 at 3:29 pm #

    We used to go sledding down our spiral staircase growing up and later when we threw parties when the parents were out of town. Take the twin mattresses off the beds pile on top and away we went…those were good times!

    We also could climb in and out of our second floor windows and used to sunbathe on the roof of our house. Later I learned to climb up our brick chimney to sneak into the house when I missed curfew. Life skills are learned with stairs.

  57. Puzzled September 30, 2014 at 3:35 pm #

    I used to take stairs 2 at a time. I now take them at a quarter of the rate – one foot down, other foot to meet the first, etc. I don’t know why I started doing that.

  58. Tabatha September 30, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

    My kids have both taken headers down the stairs and came out none the worse. They where both about three at the time and the only thing they got was a bruised ego and a life lesson in using the railing, my youngest also found out why we said no stocking feet on the wood stairs.

  59. Shannon September 30, 2014 at 3:50 pm #

    I have a friend whose son wsa 4 before he was allowed to walk to up the stairs to his bedroom alone and at 5 and a half he still is strongly discouraged from playing games that would include going to his room because “that floor at the foot of the stairs is hard and what if…” That mom almost has a heart attack when I come over and let my 2 year old follow the boys up the stairs.

  60. Jill September 30, 2014 at 5:36 pm #

    Houses tend to have floors that are made of brutally hard materials, like marble, wood, terrazzo and what-not. Imagine what would happen if a small, defenseless child slipped and fell down onto such an uncaring, inflexible surface!
    Fortunately, Squishy Floor has the answer. Our floors are made of a patented spongy material, two feet thick, that will cushion your children, should they fall down, like the infinitely delicate creatures they are. Don’t allow your children to fall prey to hard floors. Call Squishy Floor today for a free estimate. Operators are standing by.

  61. kim September 30, 2014 at 5:45 pm #

    My (then) two year old donned my red high heels, some long necklaces, grabbed a clutch and began dancing around upstairs. I thought it was cute. He then tumbled a## over teakettle down the stairs. My husband who is in the military saw what was happening and tried to grab him. He had a full 40 pound duffle bag on his arm which slid off and plowed over the top of our son in a heap at the bottom of the stairs. After we got over the shock, we laughed until we cried. We had stairs, knew it was bound to happen, but never in such a spectacular way. I remember what it was like to be a new mom. I worried over things that now i can laugh about. At the time, they were extremely important to me.

  62. SOA September 30, 2014 at 6:09 pm #

    FYI you can get all kinds of baby gates now that do not involve stepping over them. Most require wall mounting instead of pressure mounting. The kind we have is wall mounted and has an opening swinging gate with a latch.

  63. Julie R. September 30, 2014 at 8:17 pm #

    I sadly have friends with this frame of mind. Once, when a friend’s 1.5 year old tripped a bit coming down the TWO stairs I had in my living room, she commented while over reacted to his fall, “Well, he’s not used to stairs”. I always taught my daughter to go down on her bottom, wherever we encountered stairs, and that was that.

  64. Mandy September 30, 2014 at 9:38 pm #

    We live in an old cape cod with very steep stairs. I slid down the basement stairs once and ended up with a bruised hip and a very firm awareness of how slippery they are. Another time I was carrying my toddler down the main stairs (only because he was being obstinate; he was perfectly capable of doing it himself), slipped down a few, and let loose an expletive. Nearly a year later, every time he goes down the steps he sits down on the top one and declares that he is sitting on the steps. Glad he misheard me.

  65. Mary September 30, 2014 at 10:12 pm #

    OT to this post: my family was recently on vacation visiting family in North Idaho. On the way home we stopped in Dillon Montana so our 4,3, and 1 yr olds could stretch their legs and play at the local park.

    When we arrived there were two girls that looked to be 8 or 9 playing in the park together, alone. I was so happy to see it. Then they *gasp* crossed the street and climbed a 6+ ft chain link fence to play on the playground of what I think was a private school. Kids! Outside! Being kids!

    This is the first time I’ve seen kids younger than teens alone at the park since having my own.

  66. CrazyCatLady September 30, 2014 at 10:15 pm #

    First: My mother, age about 3, didn’t like having a sibling, so she threw him down the stairs – he was about a year. At least as much as child her age can throw a child his age. No permanent damage seemed to happen.

    Second: For the women who picked up their 2 and 3 year old kids when confronted with stairs at the firehouse, walking up and down stairs, one foot at a time, then alternating, is a developmental stepping stone. Granted, when I had my 3 year old evaluated for issues, I had to think about his ability to go up and down steps because we only had a couple in the front of our house. We were in a rental, and our choices included exactly what we could afford, nothing at all about steps or even size of the house (which was about the same footage as our previous home a 10 foot wide trailer, at 3 times the cost due to it being in CA.)

  67. Donald September 30, 2014 at 10:55 pm #

    This confirms my theory. Some helicopter parents have OCD.
    Some OCD sufferers wash their hands until they are raw/bleeding in an attempt to eliminate germs. These OCD sufferers are frantically eliminating every possible disappointment their child could face

  68. SKL September 30, 2014 at 11:28 pm #

    LOL, I lived in a bungalow when I was a tot, and I fell down the stairs plenty. There was an attic and basement and I was determined to get all the way up those attic stairs by myself. (I think the problem was that there was no railing or anything to hang onto for balance.) Maybe if my mom had encouraged me to learn how to do it right I would have borne fewer bruises. At 2 I busted open my head (not on the stairs) and the doctors questioned me quite a bit over where I’d gotten all the bruises etc. Today I might have been taken away – all over those silly attic stairs. 😛

    My kids were walking up & down the stairs shortly after they started walking. I kept a gate at the bottom of the stairs until they were getting close to 2yo, but that was mainly to keep them out of the adults’ bedrooms.

  69. MHM September 30, 2014 at 11:49 pm #

    I had young children in a two story house and it was bad. Not safety but bad in having to go up and down the stairs. When we moved both my husband and I said we wanted a one story. No more stairs. Perhaps the show focused on the stairs being dangerous to add drama.

    From the new homes I’ve seen stairs are still a thing.

  70. ChicagoDad October 1, 2014 at 12:18 am #

    @BL :”I suppose nobody sneaks out the second-story windows any more.”

    How does that work exactly?! I only have 6 years to come up with counter measures.

  71. Crystal October 1, 2014 at 9:09 am #

    We moved into a 2-story house when our youngest was 7 months. And no, we never installed a gate at either end. Today, she’s almost 18 months and can cruise up and down any stairs with no issues…..because….SHE’S HAD PRACTICE.

  72. Thea October 1, 2014 at 9:17 am #

    When my husband and I built our house, we carpeted the stairs for…me. Klutz runs in my family. Case in point, my sister broke her foot walking on flat pavement. Not even kidding. Just had surgery. I’ve fallen up and down stairs all my life. I wanted them soft for me when I fall down then. I know my kid will fall down the stairs. It’s what kids do. My 9mth old just started crawling and my doc and mom are asking about baby-proofing. At this point, I’m still faster than him. I’m not putting up gates until/unless I absolutely have to. I’m quite short, so stepping over gates for me is like doing the hurdles. We might put one upstairs as a corral but other than that I don’t see the point.

    However, when I’m old I’d prefer a one level house. I already hate lugging crap upstairs. I can see a broken hip or 3 when I’m 80.

  73. Sharon October 1, 2014 at 11:23 am #

    We don’t have stairs but it is a location thing. There are no houses that we can afford near the metro and in the school district we want.

    My parents would love to have no stairs. Only my mom can get up and down the stairs for laundry. Only when they have company do they venture upstairs. They live on the main floor and always have.

  74. JP Merzetti October 1, 2014 at 2:18 pm #

    Some innocuous staircase (step up, step down) becomes that physical thing to eliminate from life.
    Meanwhile the 18 lanes of high density traffic pouring by the schoolyard, the backyard (within toxicity range) remains invisible.
    A stair is easy to eliminate. Just design it away.
    Air quality – not so easy.

    One of my buddies taught his toddler how to go down stairs backwards…..sort of like a slinky. Solved the problem nicely.

  75. mandy October 1, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

    Not only have I heard the “It’s dangerous for my kids” with the stair issue on TV House hunting shows but I’ve also heard “I must be able to see them at all times” so unless the house is open plan and the ever hovering mother can see them from the kitchen AT ALL TIMES then the house is not considered.

    Wow is all I can say

  76. Wendy W October 2, 2014 at 1:27 pm #

    Have you ever seen pictures of ancient homes in the middle east/Biblical times? Outside staircase along the wall, only about a ft wide, with no railing of any type, leading to the open roof. It’s amazing anyone survived!

  77. Papilio October 2, 2014 at 3:53 pm #

    So, do these parents also avoid playgrounds with slides??

    @gap.runner: “The stairs in Dutch houses (…) are really steep!”
    Seriously, Dutch stairs specificly compared to other countries??
    Is he exaggerating or is this really that extreme from an American perspective? Because this staircase looks totally normal to me 🙂 I could get the complaint about this one:, but that looks like a pretty old building…

    “climb over baby gates” “stepping over gates”
    And here I was thinking you can, like, open those things…

  78. Lauren October 2, 2014 at 10:51 pm #

    I’ve seen the same thing on House Hunters International. “Oh no, this house has stairs. I’d worry about our kids.” And sometimes they’re talking about 8-year-olds! I keep thinking, what about all the kids in Europe growing up in apartment buildings with no elevators? How come they’re not all dead by now from falling down the stairs?

  79. hineata October 3, 2014 at 8:08 pm #

    @delurking – friends of my nubby in Malaysia actually did have the local equivalent of a padded room in the middle of their house, and I highly recommend them, LOL! It was typical of KL, a terraced house with no section, and a multi-generational household. Grandma and Grandad just left the floor covered in mattresses (it had a raised wooden floor, so effectively it was one big bed)- by night, lots of us slept in it, and by day all the kids including mine (toddlers at the time) used the whole small room as a kind of bouncy castle. Hours of fun, along with lots of bumps and bruises from bouncing off each other and the concrete walls :-).

  80. hineata October 3, 2014 at 8:21 pm #

    @KC – fair enough, but even though I’m a Westerner myself I can never understand the Western obsession with having babies and toddlers miles away from us. Personally we kept our kids in the room with us as babies, and then all together in the room next door when they were older. They can still deal with a lot less personal space than some of their friends seem to need. Also, it’s environmentally friendlier :-). Never saw the need for McMansions….

    Gosh, one really good friend of mine can’t stay with her mother-in-law now because there are only two spare bedrooms in the house, and her two kids, a boy and a girl, would have to share one of the rooms…..Briefly, for like a handful of days. What’s with that? I didn’t like to say that the last time we traveled all three of mine sometimes had to share a bed….never mind the room :-). The boy just slept on one side on the top of the bed, using the duvet as his sheet.