Bunk beds are a very popular choice for kids' rooms — they save space and make for a fun and different sleeping arrangement. But it’s important to know that bunk beds present some safety risks. The child in the top bunk could fall out, and the child in the bottom bunk could be injured if the top bunk collapses.
If you decide to buy bunk beds for your kids, follow these safety measures to keep your children from getting hurt:
- Limit top bunks to kids over 6. Don’t allow children younger than 6 to sleep in the top bunk. Kids younger than 6 haven't developed the coordination needed to climb safely or to keep themselves from falling.
- Ban playing on the beds. Don't let your children use the bunk beds as monkey bars or trampolines. Make sure they don't jump or roughhouse on either bunk.
- Get a tight fit. Check that the mattresses fit snugly within the bed frame and don't hang over the edge.
- Support the slats. Make sure that the top and bottom mattresses are supported by wires or slats that run directly underneath and are fastened securely at both ends. If the mattress on top is held up only by a bed frame or is not secure, it can fall through to the lower bunk.
- Secure a ladder to the bed. A sturdy ladder will give your child safe access to the top bunk. Provide a night light in your child's room to help your child see if he has to get up and down in the night to use the bathroom or come find you.
- Install a guardrail on the top bunk. The space between the guardrail and the side of the bunk should be no wider than 3 1/2 inches. Check to make sure your child can't roll under the guardrail while sleeping; if you find that there is room for her to slide through, adding a mattress pad to the bed may be a solution.
- Place the bunk beds in a corner. Having walls on two sides of the bunk helps brace the beds and removes two out of the four sides where a child could fall out.
Contributed by: Patrick S. Pasquariello, MD