{diy with style} How to Child-Proof Horizontal Railings

It seems like kids can find a way to make just about anything dangerous! Am I right?! Deciding what to child-proof, and what not to, in your house is challenging, but the ultimate goal is to strike a good balance for your family somewhere between "bubble wrap all the things" and "fingers crossed they survive."

Obviously baby-proofing is no substitution for good parental supervision, but there are some dangers that are just too great to overlook. In our house - that danger is the horizontal railing in our second floor hallway, right between our boys' bedrooms. 

When we bought the house, this railing seemed innocent enough, but the moment we had kids, I realized it was really nothing more than a ladder begging little boys to climb it... and then fall to the first floor. 

Not only is this a serious danger, it's also one the kids won't outgrow quickly. I can see this railing being just as much a climbing temptation to an 8 year old as it is to a 2 year old. Which is why we knew that we HAD to find a way to child-proof this railing in a manner that we could easily live with for many years to come.

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One thing that I quickly learned about baby-proofing is that there are a lot of options to choose from, but find products that actually work for the configuration of your house can be a major challenge. 

Take baby gates for example. Putting a gate on the stairs is one of those baby-proofing staples, especially in a house with three sets of steep, 20 step staircases! But finding gates that actually working on our stairs proved a huge headache!

Baby proof stairs child proof railings

Most safety gates can't attach properly at an angle - but due to the height of our baseboards and the positioning of our hand rails, an angle was a must. I finally found super sturdy option that gave us the flexibility we needed and we installed these baby gates on all three sets of stairs in our house. Thanks to these gate clamps {which we painted black} we were even able to attach a gate to our black banister without damage.  Best of all, the latches on these gates are secure enough that the kids have never been able to crack them!

baby gates on stairs safety gate

Options also abound when it comes to ways to child-proof railings. One popular product is a railnet - basically a netting that your stretch around the inside of railing. While this probably works great for vertical railings {it would stop kids from putting their head between the rails or dropping toys through}, netting is stretchy and really wouldn't be able to stop a kid from putting their feet on the horizontal rails if they want to climb.

Child Proof a Horizontal Railing

Finally I found a better the perfect solution for our horizontal rails - a roll of thin, durable, shatterproof, clear plastic that creates a shield around the railing while maintaining an unobstructed view!

I measured our railings, and then bought on 15' roll of the banister shield.

You'll notice that the roll looks to short for our railings, but it's actually just the right height to cover the span from the top rail to the bottom, leaving just a small gap uncovered below the bottom rail.

easiest way to child proof horizontal railing impossible to climb

We used the following simple "tools" to install the banister guard...

Installation Tools
11" Black Zip Ties (or other color to match your railings)
Measuring Tape
Hole Punch
Yard Stick (not pictured)
Wrench or Pliers (not pictured)

We started by unrolling the banister guard and measuring the length of one side of our railing. We marked the length using a Sharpie and used a yard stick to mark a straight line. Be sure to draw your Sharpie line on the side of the plastic that is covered in a removable, protective film.

The plastic is very easy to cut through with just a basic pair of scissors.

The process of installing the banister guard is fairly simply - you just punch holes in the plastic and use zip ties to secure the plastic to the railing. Be sure to place the side of the plastic with the protective film on the outside, so that you can easily remove it after installation.

Installing the banister guard is a two person job {at least until you get the top corners secured in place}. You'll need one person to hold the plastic in place while the other person uses the Sharpie to mark the location for punching the first two holes for wrapping zip ties around the top rail and side rail {as illustrated in the photo above}.

Once you have the top corners secured, flatten out the banister guard, and mark the spots that you'll attach the banister guard along the sides and bottom of the railing. Once again, don't worry about leaving Sharpie marks, because you'll later remove the protective film.

Use a hole punch to create a whole in the spot you marked...

Then wrap a zip tie through the hole and around the side rail.

You'll want to make sure the zip tie is tightened as much as possible, so use a pair of pliers once you can't tighten it any more by hand.

Once the zip tie is secure, use your scissors to trim of the excess.

With both sides of our railing covered in the plastic banister guard, but before protective film was removed, here's what it looked like...

Finally we were ready to remove the film. Starting in one corner, we slowly peeled away the film to reveal the crystal clear plastic.

Make horizontal railings impossible to climb banister guard

With the film removed from the right side, but not yet the left, you can see the drastic difference. On the right side, the plastic banister guard is almost invisible, but for a few reflections here and there.

Now I don't have to worry at all about the boys climbing these railings! 

Of course you know that I love solutions that are both functional and stylish, so it's a great added bonus that the clear plastic banister guard isn't an eye sore. It is nearly invisible, and even the zip ties virtually disappear against our black metal railings.

It's so great having piece of mind that these two little men can safely run and play in this hallway and without the temptation of climbing the horizontal railing.

I used to look at that railing and see nothing but a dangerous ladder, but now I can rest easy knowing it's impossible to climb! 

How to child proof or baby proof a horizontal railing banister guard

Baby Proof Child Proof Horizontal Railing


  1. I've never seen stuff like that before. It should work on upright rails, too. Some kids think they should stick their heads through -- even when they don't fit -- and some older homes have upright rails spaced just right for little heads

  2. What a wonderful solution and you almost can't see it!! Smart girl!

  3. It's really help people for keeping their child safe. Thanks for sharing and caring about kids. I love your blog.

  4. Very lovely work you have done for your kid's sake:) Thanks for the inspiration

  5. Gorgeous. The article is quite detailed and specific, step by step guide to making a handrail stylish and innovative as this. I think this idea will be a lot of people make, especially families with children. Thanks for sharing your article

  6. To the family having kids, stairs may be one of the most dangerous threat because the horizontal railings could be the equipment for kids to step on and falling out. My uncle also used a wooden-proof to cover such railings. Grateful that you have cover them for your kids’ sake.

  7. Are these flexible? Our upstairs is curved so do you think these could work?

    1. Yes! It's very flexible! It comes in a roll, so it wouldn't be a problem at all to wrap it around a curved railing!

  8. That looks awesome but I'm concerned my child may move a chair over to the railing and climb up.

    1. That's always a possibility with any railing. This was only my solution to prevent the railing from being a ladder that would encourage the kids to climb, but we also take other precautions in our home to keep our kids safe as well. For example, we used to have a chair right next to the railing, and I rearrange the furniture to move it further away.

  9. we have a 10 month old and need to babyproof our lofted second floor soon as his bedroom is upstairs. right now i'm trying to decide between using something like this or plexiglass. obviously there's a big cost difference between the two (and i'm not wild about having any sort of plastic/glass in this location but the alternative is even worse to imagine). has this product held up for you? do you think it's sturdy enough? thanks for your thoughts! :)

    1. Sarah, I totally understand that debate. We've had this solution in place for a couple of years now, and it's holding up great. It still looks just the same as it did on day one, and has been perfectly durable with our now 5 and 3 year old in the hall near the railing constantly (the railing is positioned between their two bedrooms). Our boys aren't overly rough, but they do like the sound this plastic makes when they drum on it, and even with that drumming we've had no issues at all.

    2. Thanks for your reply! I'm glad to know it has held up.

  10. Thank you so much for sharing this! We are building a house and I love the look of a horizontal railing but have been really struggling with this decision because of safety as we have small children and because I'd always worry anytime small children would be visiting at our house. You've had success with this and no problems then, correct? Have your kids damaged the banister guard at all? I guess it wouldn't be too hard or cost effective to replace it if that happened.

    1. I'm so glad it was helpful to you! I had the same concern when we bought our current house knowing we would be having kids some day, and I was so happy that we were able to find a good solution. My boys (ages 3 and 5) like to drum on the banister guard soemtimes (because it makes a "good" noise), but even with the drumming we haven't seen any damage at all. Other than the occassional noise making, they pretty much just leave the railing alone - which is exactly they way I like it! It's worked great for us!

  11. This is great. Would you be willing to share any details on the gate you installed? We have a similar set up and I have been struggling to find a good solution with our railing.


  12. THANK YOU! I am looking to have many banister walls in my 3 story home replaced with steel cable but I'm also going through IVF. I'm glad to have a "mind your own business, I got this" solution for all the know-it-alls ;)

    1. Meredith, I'm so glad this post was helpful to you! Sending you lots of good wishes for successful IVF! Lots of people will have opinions about EVERYTHING, but just do your thing - you'll know what's best for your family!