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When it comes down to helping your baby be safe and comfortable in her bed, nothing seems ever to be enough. Manufactured cribs would already include a railing system to prevent your baby from falling off the bed. But can you add an extra layer of protection for your toddler, such as bed rails?
You can put bed rails on a crib, but you should ensure there are no dangerous gaps between them and the bed; they are created specifically for children and are not the fold-down ones. If they are in foam, it should be sturdy, and your child should be at least two years old.
While fitting bed rails on a crib is possible, there are some safety concerns to address. Let’s find out about the most suitable solutions for your toddler.
What Are Bed Rails?
Bed rails are adjustable metal or rigid plastic components that can be fitted on a bed’s side. These bed rails come in many shapes and sizes, and they can help your toddler stay safe during her sleep.
Indeed, it is common for babies to roll out of bed during the night and, without proper protection, they might run in the risk of dangerous falls.
Bed Rails vs. Cribs
Most cribs come with integrated railings that are attached to the main structure of the crib. These are considered the safest option since the manufacturer would have checked that all parts are suitable for children’s use.
Indeed, cribs are not likely to have parts that can be easily ingested or considered dangerous for the toddler.
Oppositely, bed rails are portable and come in many shapes, including fold-down products and foam bumpers. While they can be fitted on a crib, these might not be specifically designed for such use.
Indeed, bed rails are also used for adults with reduced mobility, so picking a suitable product for children is the first aspect to consider.
Can You Fit a Bed Rail on a Crib?
So, it is possible to fit bed rails on a crib. However, this comes with some safety concerns that it is paramount to address. Indeed, bed rails – when fitted properly – can increase your baby’s safety while asleep.
Oppositely, if not correctly fitted, they might cause harm to younger children and toddlers.
In 2012, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released new guidelines for the safe use of portable bed rails following some injuries and deaths.
Indeed, if not fitted properly, bed rails can leave a dangerous gap between the bed and the rail itself, making it easy for a small toddler to fall through it and get stuck.
Moreover, smaller parts and parts that can be easily dismounted from the rail can represent a safety hazard if ingested or falling on the toddler. So, you should ensure that the hardware is tested for durability and integrity before mounting in on the crib.
Some installation components, such as straps, can also be dangerous when around a toddler. They should be permanently attached to the rail’s structure. This is especially important if you have opted for fold-down products.
Instead, if you have opted for foam bumpers, these should be made of sturdy material to prevent suffocation. Indeed, a toddler that is old enough to roll can quickly end up with her face against the material. If this is too soft, it can impede proper breathing.
How to Safely Fit a Bed Rail on a Crib
If you have found the perfect product certified for safe children’s use, it can be permanently attached and does not leave gaps with the mattress; you can start thinking about fitting it on the crib.
Of course, you should always follow the included manufacturer’s instructions for this process. However, some guidelines can make the process easier and safer for your toddler. Here is what you should know:
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in its report, suggests using bed rail on a crib only for children between 2 and 5 years old. Indeed, at this age, your kids are likely to access an adult bed without help.
- Make sure that the rail’s hardware remains permanently attached to the crib. This is essential to ensure that the rail does not pull away from the mattress, creating dangerous gaps.
- You should avoid using a bed rail on a crib for a toddler younger than two years old. Indeed, due to the small size, it is easier for a baby this age to get trapped in any gap.
- Consumer Reports suggests that portable rails should only be fitted on full-sized beds (adult-sized beds and mattresses) with a box spring structure. Indeed, any other bed might not have a structure strong enough to sustain the extra weight.
- Mount the rail in a way that it leaves at least 9in (23cm) between the edges of the rail and the two extremities of the bed.
- Each night, when you accompany your baby to sleep, check the rails to make sure that they are intact, in place, and completely safe.
Best Solutions for Crib Rails
If you have not been able to find bed rails suitable for crib installation, other solutions are worth considering.
Foam and inflatable bumpers, for example, represent an easy solution for kids older than 6. Indeed, they can be fitted on most cribs and beds and don’t require much time or effort for installing. However, if you have opted for this product, you should ensure that they are made of sturdy materials, and no parts are easily detached from them.
Indeed, a material that is too soft might cause suffocation in children that are too young.
Fold-down rails are also suitable solutions. However, just like in portable rails, it is essential to ensure that they are fitted on a sturdy structure and permanently installed. Indeed, if any of the components can quickly become detached from the crib, it’s easy for them to fall on the baby.
The All-in-One Solution: Convertible Cribs
As we have seen, it is safer to use the rail system already integrated with the crib by the manufacturer. However, what can you do when your toddler is growing? One of the best – and safest – solutions are convertible cribs.
These are cribs designed to follow the changing needs of your baby throughout her life stages. So, it can be modified from a full crib to protect only the center of the bed – just like a rail – or extended to a full bed.
Learn how these work in the video below:
While this can represent a more significant investment than a standard bed rail, it can last you for many years to come, and you can regain the peace of mind that your baby is completely safe while sleeping – no matter her age. Just make sure you have checked all the essential details before investing in a product so important for your baby’s health and well-being.
“Big Kid Bed” Training
If your baby is in that age in which she has outgrown the crib, but she’s not ready for the “big kid bed” crib, you might try some of the suggestions released by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
These include using a crib until your baby is 3ft tall, then moving her onto a toddler bed or convertible crib. Another solution is to place a mattress on the floor in a safe area. This will prevent dangerous falls and with limited investment.
Fitting bed rails on a crib can be a suitable solution to prevent your baby from rolling off the bed after 2. However, when picking your product and fitting it onto the crib, it is vital to keep in mind that not all rails are suitable.
You should pick one that does not leave gaps with the mattress and can be permanently attached to the crib. Portable rails should only be used for older kids and installed on a bed with a spring box to ensure that it remains in place overnight and does not damage the bed.
- Government of South Australia: Safe use of bed rails
- CPSC: CPSC Adopts New Federal Standard for Portable Bed Rails
- FDA: Recommendations for Consumers and Caregivers about Bed Rails
- FDA: Bed Rail Safety
- Consumer Reports: Safety bed rails for kids
- Kids Health: Choosing Safe Baby Products: Cribs
- AAP News: Safe and sound: Help young children get a good night’s rest