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making bunk beds safer?


ktgrok
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Anyone ever enhanced the railing or something to make it harder to fall out of a bunk bed? Were looking at getting them for my kids, ages 6 (will be 7 right about when we get them) and 4. (he turns 4 next week). The 7 year old would get the top bunk. But, I'm sure the younger one will get up there during the day, etc. And I worry about them both being up there, someone falling out, or standing and falling out, etc. 

 

I can't seem to find anything about making the rail taller, or whatever. Anyone ever do this? Seen it done? Have a better search term for me to use when googling?

 

We're going to have three in a room and I don't see another way to realistically fit everyone. 

 

We are also considering an Ikea Kura bunk bed, as it is at least lower to the ground and has the canopy. But I like the regular bunk beds, with stairs, with a trundle underneath in case I need a spot to escape when DH is snoring, or I want a low place to lay down with the new baby when it comes, etc. No way to do that with the Kura without raising it up which defeats the purpose. 

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Hi, I just wanted to chime in that I bought this bed from wayfair and really like it. I don't have kids, it is used in a guest room that my aunts use when visiting - they sleep on the bottom bunk and trundle bed... However, I did make it a point to purchase thinner mattresses. That way, if any one is up on the top bunk, it will be a bit safer since that person would be hunkered down some more. 

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Sam's Club has often had nice, sturdy, well priced bunks. My kids used one from Sam's for years. I think the main thing is to get a relatively new set that meets current safety standards, which are much more stringent than the old-days. My husband (or maybe it was one of his brothers) fell out of his top bunk as a kid, landing on his brother below, and breaking an arm in the fall. He fell between the wall and the bed, as I guess there wasn't a safety rail on the wall-side! 

 

The modern manufacture ones we had did have a full safety rail on one side and a nearly-full one on the other side (only on the top bunk).

 

I agree with a low profile mattress. This isn't the time to get a super thick fluffy mattress. 

 

FWIW, I don't think it is common to fall over those top guard rails sleeping. It mostly happens in rough housing . . . So, I'd enforce a no-active-play-on-the-top-bunk rule. That'll help them last longer, too. (Our bunks had wooden slats for supporting the mattresses . . . Over the many years, several slats were broken, clearly from a kid jumping on the bed, as they wouldn't break otherwise . . .) We had two kids in bunks for at least 8-10 years total. Maybe longer. I don't think we ever had a sleeping child fall out of the top bunk. I don't think we ever had any significant injuries from the bunks. 

 

FYI, the scariest moment we had with our bunks was when our baby was 10 months old . . . Dh was helping the 5 & 7 year olds (who shared the bunks) brush their teeth, and the 10 month old (newly walking, but already walking well, VERY physical kid) was toddling around the hall area between the bathroom and the kids' bedrooms. Dh glanced up and saw her, about 15 feet away from him, already half-way up the bunk bed ladder!! Of course, as a 10 month old, she'd never even been placed on or near a ladder previously! His expression of surprise and shock amused baby girl, and she scampered all the way up the rest of the ladder in the seconds it took him to get there from the sink! Stinker!! She was a-ok and no harm came, but it was a scare!! So, anyway, that's the most dangerous moment we had with the bunks. So, watch your baby as much as you watch your bigger kids! That ladder was oh-so-tempting!

 

 

 

 

Edited by StephanieZ
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Yes, the baby eventually climbing it also terrifies me. We are looking at some with steps, where we could maybe gate off the steps somehow, during the day?

 

In our home, the big kids' bedroom was NOT a safe place for the baby/toddler anyway, as that was the place the big kids could keep their dangerous legos, not-baby-safe toys and books, etc. 

 

If your baby/toddler will share the room, then I agree that the safety of the top bunk/ladder will be an issue. For us, since the first time the baby climbed the slanted ladder she obviously was a master of climbing, we never really worried about it. It scared me, but the baby wasn't supposed to be in the big kids' room unsupervised anyway . . .  

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I'm considering a trundle, but just don't think there is room to pull it out, really. It's not a big room, and we need to fit two beds and a crib. Plus dressers, etc. 

And they don't sleep together particuarly well, and as they are boy/girl we are getting to an age where people might make a big deal about it. Bad enough they are sharing a room. (Hoping to move to a house with another bedroom in another year, give or take.)

 

Right now we have three bedrooms. One for my husband and I (and he refuses to consider moving the kids to the Master bedroom), one for my teenager who is up much later than the littles and has a lot of expensive electronics that the littles can't be touching, and one for the two littles. 

 

My only other option is to put the crib either under the window in their room (which creates a hazard with blinds/curtains/etc) or put the crib in the closet and take the doors off. Which eliminates much of the storage in that room that will now be holding 3 people. I'll post some pictures. 

 

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Didn't read all the replies, but my 4 and 6 year olds sleep in bunk beds with no guard rail.  No one has ever fallen out.  My older boys, all grown up now, same thing.  We just stopped putting them on after a few moves.  No ladder either.  The just climb up the end and into the top bunk.  Or they heave themselves up and over from the side.  Every kid jumps off the top bunk as well to get down or just to jump because jumping off high things is fun I guess.  lol  Nobody has every gotten hurt.  YMMV

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Notes:

 

I suggest replacing the miniblinds with a roller-type pull down blind. Much safer and less dust/mess, too. Much less likely to get grabbed/wrecked by a toddler. Super cheap, too. :) 

 

You can put cute curtain(s) on the side(s) of the bottom bunk, making it into a cool hideout for your little boy. Adds privacy, too. And is cute.

 

For my kids, one of the best things I did with the bunks was to install wall mounted lamps for each bunk. I got some from IKEA (cheap!) that had a grate across it, to prevent any hot bulb from getting in contact with anything flammable or skin. Also, I used CFL bulbs because they don't get hot! Now, you can get LED bulbs that are even better and also do not get hot. Those little lamps were like $10 or so at IKEA. SO worth it -- made the bunks independent little living spaces and allowed one kid to read without the huge hassle of climbing up/down the ladder and also much less disturbing to the other kid(s). You can also put in little book rack (sort of slanted shelf thing) by each bunk for the kid to stash their reading materials. If it's possible to get bunk beds that have some sort of shelving built in to the head board of foot board, that would be AWESOME because that was one real lack of the bunk beds -- somewhere to stash a cup of water, an iPod, a stack of books . . . You might be able to find some creative way to do that, and if you can, I'd do that for sure. 

 

If you added some sort of privacy curtain to each bunk, then the big kids could read in there (or color or whatever) and it would be much less disturbing to the baby. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My brothers also had a bunkbed with no guard rail (no ladder either; hardwood floor).  We all played up there all the time (toddler on up) and nobody ever fell out.  I'm not going to recommend that setup, but I have honestly never heard of a child falling out of a bunkbed that had a guard rail.

Edited by SKL
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My brothers also had a bunkbed with no guard rail (no ladder either; hardwood floor).  We all played up there all the time (toddler on up) and nobody ever fell out.  I'm not going to recommend that setup, but I have honestly never heard of a child falling out of a bunkbed that had a guard rail.

 

It seems 36,000 kids are treated in the ER each year for injuries from bunk beds. Thankfully, very very few are fatal. But yeah, it happens. Especially with younger kids. I worry much more about the soon to be 4 yr old. 

 

I'm thinking a "one kid at a time in the top bunk" rule will have to prevail. They are both fair well behaved individually, but can get crazy together. 

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Our top bunk was similar to this one: https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B006ZP2JMQ/ref=mp_s_a_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1473647293&sr=8-5&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&keywords=bunk+bed+with+trundle&dpPl=1&dpID=412Gih1k20L&ref=plSrch

 

It had a nice tall substantial rail that completely surrounded the bed except for where the ladder attached. We bought a 6-7 inch mattress and it worked perfectly. There was no weird gap under the railing where she could get stuck, even with the thinner mattress. We used the same size mattress in the trundle drawer. Dd, my gymnast who climbed out of her crib when she was 16 months old, started sleeping up there when she was four with no issues. I think it was actually safer for her, there was no way for her to stand on or jump/do tricks on her bed. ;)

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It seems 36,000 kids are treated in the ER each year for injuries from bunk beds. Thankfully, very very few are fatal. But yeah, it happens. Especially with younger kids. I worry much more about the soon to be 4 yr old.

 

I'm thinking a "one kid at a time in the top bunk" rule will have to prevail. They are both fair well behaved individually, but can get crazy together.

Yes, dd was the only one allowed on her bed. She actually liked that rule; it was her safe space, a little nest. :)

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We have triple bunk beds in my boys' room and a regular set of bunk beds for the girls.  My kids do a thousand things each day that should probably land them in the ER at some point, but I don't even worry about the bunk beds. By the time a toddler is able to climb up them by his/herself, they usually have enough sense to not fall off. The tile floors would make me a little more nervous, but maybe a thick rug at the bottom would help.

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My 7 year old girl and 5 year old boy have shared a bunk bed (she's on top, it's the IKEA Mydal) for a couple years and we haven't had any issues. They definitely can't jump on the beds, they're too close to the ceiling and our son has fallen out but it hasn't bothered him, our daughter has never had an issue, the railing is pretty secure and high enough even without low profile mattresses like what the bed is made for.

 

 

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Could you make the top bunk off limits to the 4 yr old? That might be hard to enforce. How do the kids feel about a bunkbed? I wanted to get one for ds before, to use the bottom half as a desk area or storage lol. But he is scared of heights! He hates the idea of bunk beds.

 

Dd is nearly 2. We didn't get a crib for her. She usually co-sleeps or sleeps in pack in play, which is kept in our room (I'm going to assemble the toddler bed any day now). You could potentially keep the baby in your room instead of theirs? By the time she's older maybe you'd be in another home? I cannot remember your feelings on babies sleeping in the master, sorry. I was just wondering if that would help with space issues and also to keep her away from their toys.

 

It's not that soft, but better than tile, you could get that foam flooring. We got some on Amazon but I have seen it cheap at Sam's Club. Ours is a bit different but same basic concept. http://www.samsclub.com/sams/reversible-foam-mats-8-pack/prod3310384.ip

 

We have a boy and a girl and I totally get the issue of bedroom arrangements with limited rooms.

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Baby will be in the master for a few months at least. We don't co sleep because my husband is not safe to do so. He actually once rolled over on me, putting a pillow over my head, and fell back asleep that way!

 

I co slept with my first, off and on with the second in a different bed, with the third off and on in a chair (only place he would sleep for months...me sitting upright holding him in the nursing position) and then later on a futon on the floor. 

 

So I'm not opposed to cosleeping, just can't do it with my DH, hence the idea of a trundle under the bottom bunk that I can pull out if need be, then slide back in. But I don't know if there is even room. 

 

 

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Have you already bought the bunk bed? IKEA has some bunk beds where the top bunk is still quite close to the ground. It also makes it easier for the person changing the sheets.

 

Not yet. We are VERY much considering that one. It has a ladder versus steps but is so low I wouldn't worry about climbing up and down even when sleepy. The ONLY drawback is no pull out bed for me if I want a refuge from snoring husband or a place to co sleep. 

 

But you know, we have a fairly comfortable pull out couch in the living room I could sleep on if need be. Or we could put a trundle under the master maybe? Not much room at all to pull one out there though, and wouldn't help with the husband snoring issue. The man needs a sleep study!

 

(he hates doctors. He keeps saying he's getting a vasectomy after this baby and I just roll my eyes. I mean, maybe he will, he's certainly motivated enough, but I can't get him to get a check up, lab work, or even to fix a tooth that is infected! And the one time he found a lump on his testicle and had to get an ultrasound I had to go with him and block him in the room to keep him from leaving, lol.)

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Ok, I WAS the child that fell out of a bunk bed while sleeping and broke my collar bone and elbow.

 

What about using the taller mesh guardrails inside of the rails that come with the bunks?

 

That's not a bad idea. I think it's easier to find tall ones of those. 

 

Did yours have a guard rail when you fell off?

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Honestly, I'd put the crib in the master bedroom or another location in the house (we had a crib or PNP on a hall landing, in the master bedroom, in a converted walk in closet, in the living room at different times) and let the 3 and 6 year old grow up a bit before they have to share a room with a baby. Not just because of the bunk bed safety issues. It sounds like the 3 and 6 year old aren't sleeping all that well as is and I would be afraid that adding a tiny interloper would make things worse and cause you undue stress. Also, they shouldn't have to wake up for the night time feedings.

 

My younger son was one of the 36,000 treated in the ER, he was about 4 and flung himself from the top bunk. He wasn't too seriously injured but it was somewhat scary. We seperated the beds for a bit. Now that he is 7, he can jump down safely (though he rarely does.) honestly, on tile floor, I think his injuries would have been worse. I'd put down a thick pad and rug.

Edited by LucyStoner
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Crib in the master long term won't work well...both for space reasons in their and husband's sleeping issues. Plus, he's uncomfortable with certain marital activities in the same room as baby once baby is a certain age. But really, we have room for a pack and play but nothing bigger. And none of mine liked sleeping in a pack and play,ever. I am going to get the separate mattress for it to see if that helps though. 

 

Any other suggestions? We'd definitely put down a rug, or foam pad, or something. I'm leaning more to the Ikea Kura, which is the very low bunk bed, and if I need a space to escape I'll have to figure that out later. Of course, that leaves the issue of baby climbing the ladder when he's older. A bunk bed with steps I can rig something to block the steps....DH could make a gate with a latch. 

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My kids chose to sleep together in the bottom bunk for much of the time they had a bunkbed.  So that might happen with your kids.  :)  They mostly used the top bunk for toy storage.  They had a very small room.

 

I bought something like this to make the room look a little neater despite all the toys, pillows, etc. that they slept with:  https://smile.amazon.com/Twin-Playhouse-Curtain-Color-Additional/dp/B004Y6A8SA/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1473686865&sr=8-9&keywords=loft+bed+house+girl. You might want to see if there is anything like this that your son would like.  They seem to have more options now.  )

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We got a bunk bed when my dd was 3 and ds was 6.  It was just a rule that dd could not go up there.  Only one person at a time up there.  When we had younger toddlers over, we'd close that room off.  I would set some hard ground rules.  The novelty is over pretty fast.

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We bought a bunkbed at one of those unfinished furniture stores when our kids were 6, 3, and baby.  The rails and ladder seemed really safe.  We also built a little trundle to go under the bed to have one more twin mattress in there.  At one point we had 3 girls on the bunk(one using the trundle) and a baby in the crib all in the same large room.  It was a large room, and we had another bedroom, but used it for a play room.  We had wood floors in that house, and I had a nice rug, but the rug made it hard to pull out the trundle.  

 

Our kids grew up without any major accidents - all broken bones and accidents needing stitches happened at the park and even once at the library! The biggest trouble with the safety rails on the upper bunk, is that it's hard to change those sheets!  And we had bed wetters!  I got really good at climbing up and making that bed...

 

I think the main thing is to set safe rules and make sure your 4 year old can follow the rules.  

 

Since you don't really need the trundle for a child, you could just have a regular twin bed with trundle and pull it out every night for the little one.  It's a pain, but it gives you more room in the bedroom during the day, and eliminates the danger of the bunkbed.

 

 

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Two IKEA Kuras.

 

Crib in closet. Clothes storage under one of the Kuras. Bed on floor under the other Kura for mom and baby. Later on, the bed on the floor can become the post crib bed for the baby.

You know...this may be freaking brilliant. I have to decide if I think the almost 4 yr old (will be four next week, we aren't doing this until probably february) would be okay on the top of a Kura. Probably, given how low it is. 

 

Of course, that leave TWO ladders for the toddler to try to get up later. Although, maybe we can move before the new baby is walking/climbing. 

 

And I'm not sure how easy it would be for me to put away clothes or sort them if they are under the Kura. Hmm.

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My problem with just doing a Trundle, versus bunks is that 1. I'm not sure there is even room to pull it out and still have room to walk to the crib, and 2. that the younger one wouldn't get to have his bed "on display" as it were. It would always be hidden, and I don't think he'd like that one bit. 

 

Honestly, part of me is back to the crib in the closet idea. We can put an extra dresser in front of the window where that weird book case is. (actually, the book cases aren't there anymore, now we have their desks there). 

 

Or if I did two Kuras like we talked about...I could put their desks under the Kuras. But still that leaves the crib in the closet, which DH hates the idea of. 

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Crib in the master long term won't work well...both for space reasons in their and husband's sleeping issues. Plus, he's uncomfortable with certain marital activities in the same room as baby once baby is a certain age. But really, we have room for a pack and play but nothing bigger. And none of mine liked sleeping in a pack and play,ever. I am going to get the separate mattress for it to see if that helps though.

 

Any other suggestions? We'd definitely put down a rug, or foam pad, or something. I'm leaning more to the Ikea Kura, which is the very low bunk bed, and if I need a space to escape I'll have to figure that out later. Of course, that leaves the issue of baby climbing the ladder when he's older. A bunk bed with steps I can rig something to block the steps....DH could make a gate with a latch.

Crib in closet? Hall? Dining room?

 

Marital activities don't usually take all night (if so, yay you) and when we shared a room with a tot, we could go elsewhere or move the tot out of the room for a short time while they were sound asleep.

 

I'd be most concerned with the sleep of the 3 and 6 year old TBH. But that is probably informed by how easily my older son woke up when my younger son woke up. So younger son was in with us until he older than two because even after he was basically sleeping through the night, he woke up for baby breakfast about 2 hours before I wanted my older son to wake up, lol.

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You know...this may be freaking brilliant. I have to decide if I think the almost 4 yr old (will be four next week, we aren't doing this until probably february) would be okay on the top of a Kura. Probably, given how low it is.

 

Of course, that leave TWO ladders for the toddler to try to get up later. Although, maybe we can move before the new baby is walking/climbing.

 

And I'm not sure how easy it would be for me to put away clothes or sort them if they are under the Kura. Hmm.

The three and six year old can put away their own laundry. Just give it to them in a basket and let them go to town. Reduce the amount if the drawers are over stuffed. If they need to know where it goes, affix laminated pictures or plain word labels to the drawers for pants, shirts etc. Edited by LucyStoner
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Crib in closet? Hall? Dining room?

 

Marital activities don't usually take all night (if so, yay you) and when we shared a room with a tot, we could go elsewhere or move the tot out of the room for a short time while they were sound asleep.

 

I'd be most concerned with the sleep of the 3 and 6 year old TBH. But that is probably informed by how easily my older son woke up when my younger son woke up. So younger son was in with us until he older than two because even after he was basically sleeping through the night, he woke up for baby breakfast about 2 hours before I wanted my older son to wake up, lol.

 

Once the two that share the room are asleep they are pretty hard to wake up. DH often comes home late at night and the dogs bark and go nuts (two medium/big dogs) and they don't stir. Same with loud tv, etc. So I'm hoping that a baby fussing doesn't wake them. And I'm the type that runs in the minute baby starts fussing, for the most part, so should be okay. 

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You know..my main reason for no Kura was no trundle for me. But, I'm rethinking that anyway. Because 1. no real room. 2. A big kid could get down and step on the baby and me. 

 

So...maybe I can put a mattress under a couch in the living room? Wonder if that would work. Even if we raised the couch up somehow just a bit? Ever heard of anyone doing that? That would be way better, really. 

 

Or, you know, DH could get a freaking sleep study, stop snoring, and maybe not sleep so hard that he is a suffocation risk to everyone in the bed. 

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We have a mesh rail thingy for my parents' house that I have used with dd. The thing is, the part that allows it to fold up/down sticks out a bit so I don't know if you could fit that thing in between a bunk bed rail and mattress.

 

Dd has the pack n play mattress. We waited til she was a certain number of months old before putting it inside the pack n play. I know it's not a manufacturer product so I was leery. We made the mistake of buying the wrong shape one time, so I took the one with square edges to my parents' which fit their pack n play and ordered the one with rounded corners for ours. It ripped, and I think there was a very, very tiny tear when it first arrived, but not worth mailing back to me. So I patched it up and put the fitted sheet over it. She's slept on it several times and the rip got bigger. I figure we got our use out of it, though. The biggest downside to the pack n play mattress is it gives them more height so they can climb out of the thing sooner. But dd would jump up and down and throw herself, too, so I think without the mattress she would have injured herself quite a lot. My in-laws' pack n play came with a much softer default mattress (softer than cardboard, but not as thick as a mattress. It did get soaked in sweet tea once, though so I kinda like having a separate mattress).

 

I don't know if trundle beds can handle the weight of an adult and baby. I thought they were intended for a small child? I would also fear a bigger kid rolling or stepping on the people on the trundle if used at the same time others are in the room.

 

We own a futon couch. We used to keep a spare futon mattress under it, but it didn't fit too well lol. Depending on the couch, I suppose that's possible.

 

Right now I'd be worried about 4yr old proofing the ladder more than toddler proofing lol. Will that lock hold up to the 4yr old? I had trouble understanding the device and my internet messed up so I closed the browser before seeing if there was a video demonstrating it. I will try again later. 

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To make it easy, I'd go for the crib in the closet.  You can make a different decision, as needed, at a later date.  My kiddos were in cribs in our bedroom until they were two years old, then the moved to a regular bed.  

 

Our twin girls were moved to the bottom of double bunks.  We just took away the ladders, and left the top bunks on the lower settings, so they weren't up that high.  The top bunks also had surround railings with low profile mattresses.

Edited by melmichigan
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