How to Use and Choose a Toddler Bed Rail
Latest update: September 16, 2018
Author: Heidi Holvoet, PhD
A toddler bed rail protects your baby or older
falling out of bed.
A good one effectively helps your toddler transition from crib
to bed in a safe and no-fuss way. You can also use a safety bed rail or
bumper arrangement to set up a secure
co-sleeping arrangement at any age.
When choosing which one to get, as with any product, your child's safety is the main concern. As
a rule of thumb: the smaller your baby, the stricter the safety
precautions you will need to think of when choosing and
installing the bed rail.
The main risk will be for a young baby to get stuck between the safety
rail and the mattress, which can be fatal for a little one.
But also at
any later age you need your child in bed safely both to prevent
injuries and to avoid unnecessary awakenings.
Which type of safety bed rail is best for you?
That depends on what you will use it for:
- As a toddler bed rail to transition from crib to bed
- As a family bed bumper to keep your baby from falling off
Let's see how to make your best choice for either use.
Choosing a toddler bed rail to transition from crib to bed
Moving from the familiar protective crib to a big bed is a big step for your
baby. A toddler bed rail helps with this transition in 2 ways:
- It protects your child from falling out of bed, which avoids
getting hurt and traumatized about sleeping in the big bed
- It creates a more cozy, hugged
sleep environment, which effectively improves sleep (often under-rated,
but a pleasant place to sleep truly helps!)
When selecting, I recommend you check each of these requirements:
- Pay attention to how the rail is attached to
bed. A large part of the material must slip under the mattress to
prevent it from crashing down.
- Even better: have a sturdy
attachment to avoid any gap at all. This is especially important for smaller babies.
A good top-of-mattress
rail is the Safety
1st Secure Toddler Bed Rail (pictured at the top of this page).
- What I also like is when, once installed, you can fold the
standing-up part down without needing to un-install the whole thing.
That is very convenient at bedtime, for example when you're sitting on
the bed together to read. Or when changing the sheets.
- Some, but not many, have an extra pocket on the outside. Really practical to
put in a small toy or book. Nice to have, but it's not an essential feature.
- To be safe when using a single
bed rail, you would need to place the bed against at wall. The "open"
side is then protected by the rail itself as in the picture to the
No wall to place the bed against?
No worries, there are affordable double bumper
arrangements as in the picture to the left. Or
a double rail, like
the Summer Infant Double Sided Bed Rail.
See my article When
and how to transition from crib to bed for more about helping your
toddler move to his big bed.
Choosing a safety bed rail for co-sleeping
In line with the co-sleeping safety guidelines, a safety bed rail helps prevent your baby
from rolling off when co sleeping in your bed. Place the rail on mom's side of the bed: baby lies between you and the rail.
Please be careful, it is very (!) important to have no gap at all
between the mattress and the rail. Unfortunately that is often the case
with the classical
fold-down toddler bed rails.
To avoid this, you need a "top of mattress attachment" bed rail that
has no gap at all. I found the Safety
1st Secure Top (as in the
picture at the very top of this page) suitable but decide which one will be safe in your own specific set up.
Another great option is a bumper
arrangement of this type:
Family Bed Co Sleeping Pad