Transitioning from a crib to a big kid bed is a huge moment—both for a toddler, and their parents. And while we know you’ll never stop worrying about your baby, one way to get some peace of mind at night is to get a bed rail or bumper. And if you pick the right one, you’ll never have to worry about your little one taking a tumble out of bed.
Why Buy a Bed Rail?
When your child reaches a height of around 35” (just under three feet), this is a good time to leave the crib behind. And no matter your baby’s height, if they begin regularly trying to climb out of their crib, it’s a good idea to give a new big kid bed a try.
Bed rails and bumpers are devices you can attach to the side of your toddler’s bed to make sure they stay safe and sound. If your toddler has outgrown their crib, but you don’t feel comfortable leaving them unattended in their new bed just yet, you might want to give a bed rail a shot.
But how do you know what bed rail to buy? There are so many different options; it can be overwhelming trying to decipher which bed rail is the right fit for your family and your needs. Which features really matter, and which are just bells and whistles?
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. With this buyer’s guide and list of recommendations, you can shop confidently.
Types of Bed Rails
There are three main styles of bed rails, all with their strengths and weaknesses.
1. Convertible Bed Rails: These are the most similar to a crib. Convertible bed rails are metal or plastic railings you can connect to the side of your toddler’s bed. But as opposed to a crib railing that fastens solidly in place, convertible bed rails can fold down.
2. Foam Bumpers: Foam bumpers are a much more significant change from a crib than convertible bed rails. They are soft foam railings—basically firm pillows that run along the sides of your toddler’s bed.
3. Inflatable Bumpers: These are just what they sound like—bumpers that inflate with air and tuck under the bed’s fitted sheet. But they are much less permanent solutions than foam bumpers, as they need to be regularly re-inflated if you intend to use them every night. Inflatable bumpers are great solutions for families who travel frequently and want reassurance that their toddler will be able to stay put in an unfamiliar bed.
Our Bed Rails Recommendations
I. Best Convertible Bed Rails
Here are our favorite convertible bed rails:
II. Best Foam Bumpers
The following are our favorite foam bumpers:
III. Best Inflatable Bed Rails
Here are our favorite inflatable bed rails:
What to Look For when Shopping for Bed Rails
There are a wide variety of factors to consider when shopping for a bed rail. When your baby’s safety is in question, it’s essential to get this purchase right. Here are a few of the most important things to consider:
How Tall is the Rail?
Bed railings can vary dramatically in height. Bumpers especially can sometimes be somewhat close to the bed. If your child is a particularly active sleeper, it’s crucial to get a taller rail. Active sleepers can roll right over lower bumpers.
If your baby is a sound sleeper, we recommend using a foam bumper. But if they are active at night, it’s probably best to go with a convertible rail and a particularly tall one at that.
What Is The Rail Made From?
The importance of the bed rail’s material is two-fold. First of all, the higher quality material from which it’s made, the more durable it will be, and the longer it will last. If you want one bed rail to last the entire time your child is transitioning to their big kid bed, be sure to look for one made from solid, durable materials.
Second, you must get a rail that isn’t manufactured with any harmful materials. The bed rail is going to be in your child’s bed after all, and many plastics can leach toxic chemicals. Every item on our list meets all necessary safety standards in this regard.
Does it Have a Sturdy Hinge?
Convertible bed rails can fold down and out of the way. That is convenient around bedtime and helps your child learn how to get themselves in bed. But the last thing you want is for the rail to fall down in the middle of the night. Make sure you look for a stable, sturdy hinge when shopping for convertible bed rails.
Is it Compatible With Your Bed frame?
This last factor is purely practical. Foam bumpers and inflatable rails are simply placed on top of the mattress so that they will work with any bed. But convertible bed rails need to be fastened onto the bed frame itself. You don’t want to buy a bed rail and then find out that it isn’t compatible with your toddler’s bed.
Make sure you check this off the list before you make a purchase.
The Final Word
Bed rail bumpers can be a tremendously useful product to keep your child safe as they make the jump from a crib to a big kid bed. And with so much at stake, and so many options to choose from, this can be a stressful shopping experience. But if you follow this guide, you’ll know exactly what to look for.
You can shop confidently, knowing you’ll find the right bed rail for you and your child.
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