The Saga of the Step Stools

My 15-month-old Jacob is a climber. There is ample photographic evidence of that truth right here on this blog, in fact. You can see him scale the piano shelf, or master the playground unassisted. Or there was that time he made it to the top of our patio table. He just likes to ascend stuff.

When Jacob was 11 months old he figured out how to climb 4-year-old Hannah’s step stool. We keep the stool in the kitchen so that our preschooler can stand at the counter and cook or eat or just be part of whatever’s going on. At first, we tried to discourage Jacob’s step stool use. After all, he couldn’t even walk at the time, so climbing up to the kitchen counter seemed a touch ill-advised. When Hannah wasn’t using her stool, we left it lying on its side. But as soon as Hannah needed it, Jacob would hear us and try to push his big sister out of the way.

The kids at the countertop
The kids sharing Hannah’s step stool

It soon became clear that if an 11-month-old on a step stool was sort of unsafe, an 11-month-old and a 4-year-old on a step stool was a recipe for disaster. So I headed to this super-exclusive furniture boutique I know, and bought a second stool. And that mostly worked. The kids each had their space at the counter, and there were really very few bruises to show for it.

Carving pumpkins
Kids on stools at the counter, carving pumpkins

Life was pretty good for a few months, there. I served the kids breakfast at the counter, or gave them utensils to play with while I cooked. Sometimes they would stand up on their stools and help me wash the dishes, separately or together. It was a happy time, and I was a happy mother.

Doing dishes
Jacob helps me do the dishes

But, as they say, all good things must come to an end. In the case of the stools, Jacob got too smart. He realized that if something was out of his reach, he could push his stool around to get it. This is how I found him standing at the stove one day playing with the burner. Thankfully, it was off at the time and no damage was done, but the message was clear. My toddler and his stool were not staying put.

I didn’t see what the solution was, though. Ditching the step stools at that point seemed impossible. The kids and I enjoy them, when used properly. But I clearly couldn’t count on their proper use. And then my husband came up with an answer – the stools needed leashes, so that they couldn’t stray.

Jacob's stool, tethered to the kitchen island
The ‘leash’ on Jacob’s stool

Hannah's stool, tethered to the kitchen island
The ‘leash’ on Hannah’s stool

We bought some rope and tied the stools to our kitchen island. There is some slack, but not enough to reach the knives or the stove or the kitchen sink. Happiness reigns once more. Unless, of course, you’re a toddler who really wants that knife, and then you might be briefly screamy. But that? Is a small price to pay for my relative peace of mind.

Have you had any near-misses that caused you to do some creative baby-proofing? Any experiences that made you want to lock your toddler in a secure cell for a year or two? Please share!

I am also participating in the Green Moms Carnival today! You can read my post, My Kids, The Planet and My Wallet, or you can check out lots of other great posts about saving money through green means over at Condo Blues.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. My mom always tells the story of waking up to my older brother (about 18 months at the time) yelling "hot" "hot" and pointing to the stove where he had turned on all 4 burners!! The controls were on the front back in the 50's. Great idea for the stool leash!

  2. Nah. My kids were thinkers and talkers, not movers. Eve still avoids walking when she can :). But this is funny. Stay, stepstool, stay!
    .-= Allison´s last post ..***************To Whom it May Concern =-.

  3. p.s. not saying your kids are dumb or anything….
    .-= Allison´s last post ..***************To Whom it May Concern =-.

  4. Ahhh, I can completely relate. We had Papa make Victoria a number of small benches to use so she would stop trying to climb up on the counters. She loves her benches.

    Now Amelia loves the benches too. She will pick one up and move it wherever she might need it to get up somewhere. And the 2 frequently fight over the bench.

    Sadly, the idea of leashes really wouldn’t work. And I suspect Amelia would figure out how to unleash it. She’s a sneaky one!
    .-= Carrie´s last post ..Wordless Wednesday: Dear Santa… =-.

  5. My mom always tells the story of waking up to my older brother (about 18 months at the time) yelling “hot” “hot” and pointing to the stove where he had turned on all 4 burners!! The controls were on the front back in the 50’s. Great idea for the stool leash!
    .-= StorkStories´s last post ..America Scores a “D” on the Premature Birth Report Card =-.

  6. I love it!

    We’ve moved & need to re-babyproof some things, like securing tall furniture to the wall and so on. Mikko’s newest obsession is plugging things in. We keep telling him “only mamas and daddys can do that,” and he responds, “only mikkos,” which shows that, though he understands our pronouncement, he doesn’t agree with it. We’ve also taught him that certain things are “dangerous,” which is now his new favorite word to mutter while he’s doing one of those dangerous things. Again, not really the point.

    I’ll have to rethink reasoning with a 2-year-old…
    .-= Lauren @ Hobo Mama´s last post ..Trailer for Formula Fed America and a call to lactivism =-.

  7. I’m terrified of putting a stool in the kitchen. “T” already tries to carry his stool from the bathroom into the kitchen to try to climb up to get stuff. And he is always constantly trying to get stuff down off the counter. His sole purpose in life seems to be to grab stuff he isn’t supposed to have. I know eventually I will have to bite the bullet, as he will want to ‘help’ me do stuff. But for now I’ve been avoiding it.

  8. So clever!

    We have a “tower” which is kind of a stepstool with railings. Buster can climb into it and stand there with his brother, but he can’t climb down from it yet. “Stuck, stuck!” and then we have to rescue him.
    .-= Lady M´s last post ..Awesome Helium Balloon Knowledge =-.

  9. I think that is an awesome idea. We mostly let Suzi sit up at the counter on a stool while I am doing something in the kitchen, so it’s not too much of an issue. We do have a stepstool for her to help me bathe the baby, but she normally doesn’t use it without permission. Probably just because she hasn’t thought of it yet 🙂
    .-= Jenny´s last post ..Their lives ARE worth saving: a mammogram rant =-.

  10. I think you solved your problem, for the moment at least. Sounds like your 15 month old daughter (JOKING, couldn’t resist, I just read your next post and … I have a terrible sense of humor:)) boy, will soon find a way around that rope too.
    No creative suggestions, I’ve always been a little on the negligent side when it came to baby proofing my house.
    .-= Francesca´s last post ..Indoor inspiration =-.

  11. I love this! The leashes are a terrific idea. My son is currently dragging his little IKEA chairs around the house, but so far, he hasn’t really gotten into any hot water. Tying them to his table is definitely the next step, though! haha
    .-= Jessica – This is Worthwhile´s last post ..When 100% might be too much =-.

I love comments! If yours doesn't appear immediately, it was caught by my spam filter. Drop me a line and I'll rescue it.


  1. […] I found out that good leashes make good step stools, if you want to keep your toddler out of […]

Share Your Thoughts


Subscribe to followup comments

CommentLuv badge