Last Updated on 4 April 2019 by Marie Davis
Updated February 22, 2019
The best way to help your kids stay safe when sleeping is to use a bed rail or guard. Not only are they perfect for toddlers who are transitioning from a crib or toddler size bed to adult size, but they are also great for traveling when you may not have access to a crib or your usual sleeping setup.
There are some different types of safety rails for kids with slightly different features. Here is a list of some of the top sellers that have the best reviews and ratings.
Reviews and Recommendations:
Munchkin Sleep Bed Rail
- Very Sturdy
- Comes in 4 different colors
- Works well when flipping down
The Munchkin is a step up from some of the lower priced options on the market. It is very sturdy and robust and is one of the best-reviewed fold down styles. You have to pay a little more for this model, but most users find it is well worth the extra cost. The color choices and the design for this model are great for individuals who don’t like the look of the standard white metal designs.
What do the reviews say?
Reviewers love that the drop down option is effortless to use and the unit is straightforward to install. It is also made of better quality material and feels sturdier than cheaper models.
What should you be aware of?
A few customers have reported that you can hear a loud click when the Munchkin locks in place that could wake up a sleeping child. The height of the Munchkin is 18′, so if you have a pillow-top mattress or a non-standard height, this isn’t the best option.
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Regalo Swing Down Bed Rail Guard
- Easy to assemble
- Made of good quality material
- Doesn’t fit all frames well
Even though it looks like a complicated design, there is very little assembly with the Regalo Swing Down Rail Guard; you mostly have to click parts in place.
What reviewers love:
Reviewers love that it is easy to put together and works well. Many users also comment that it feels very sturdy and durable.
What to be aware of:
It won’t fit all types of bed; it works best with a standard mattress and a box spring design.
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Milliard Bed Bumper
- Easy to set up
- Works with almost any type of bed
- Soft and comfy
- Is a little lower than traditional designs
The Milliard Bumper is a good alternative for those who don’t like the look of the metal and plastic child safety rails or for those who have a mattress that won’t fit the standard metal guards. They are easy to move or climb over to let your child get into bed, but high enough that they won’t roll out. If you’re looking for a bumper that doesn’t require a box spring under the mattress, this works well.
What the reviewers are saying:
Users love that it has a soft design and won’t be uncomfortable if a child rolls into it. It also works well for co-sleeping.
What should you be aware of?
It may be a little low if your toddler moves around a lot at night.
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The Shrunks Inflatable Bed Rail
- Stays in place well when tucked under fitted sheets
- Tall enough to keep kids who roll around safe
- Comes with a manual pump
- Compact for easy storage
- Phthalate-free and lead-free
- Some chance you could puncture it
- Some users found that the air leaked out overnight in some units
The Shrunks Inflatable Rail is an excellent product if you travel a lot. It is lightweight, compact, and easy to “install” since all you have to do is add the inflated guards under the fitted sheet at the edge of the mattress. This bumper design is easy to carry in a suitcase, as they take up very little room and they work with pretty much any type of bed that you may come across. You can buy them as a single pack or a double pack, and it comes with a small foot pump, so it is quick and easy to inflate. Some users find these work best for travel or a temporary sleeping arrangement, if you are looking for a permanent solution for a bed that your child is sleeping in every night, there are better options available.
What do reviewers love?
Users love having a small portable option to help keep their kids safe when they are traveling. The material the bumpers are made from is comfortable for kids and doesn’t emit any off-putting chemical smell.
What could be improved?
Some users found that the bumper stayed inflated for most of the night, but by morning it started to lose some air. There is also some concern that these bumpers don’t fit well with a regular fitted sheet and you may need to purchase a deep fitting sheet so it can have the most secure fit.
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What Parents Need to Know Before Buying
When it is time for your child to switch from a crib to a larger frame mattress, most parents will worry about their child falling and hurting themselves. While using a guard is a great way to prevent injury, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind before using one of these types of products.
If you are planning on co-sleeping, it is essential that you don’t use a design that could trap your baby between the rail and mattress. Look for a top-of-the mattress or certain bumper styles that state they are safe for co-sleeping.
If you are looking for a guard to prevent your child from falling off the mattress, it is crucial that you get a design that will fit the frame properly and is properly secured. To ensure that you get a secure fit, measure your mattresses height and length and then check the specs of any product you are considering purchasing.
Children and infants have died from becoming trapped in the gap between rails and mattresses. While safety standards have dramatically improved in the last ten years, if not used correctly there is still some chance of injury. It is imperative that you spend a bit of time researching what will fit your frame correctly to keep your kids safe.
There are a few different style and types of sleeping safety options to be aware of. The three main types are:
Probably the most common type of design, this style allows you to have the rail up at night and then take it down during the day if your child likes to play on or around their bed. They are also useful if you read in bed with your child, making it easier to get in and out. They are often made of steel and mesh fabric, and they have a hinge where you press a button, and the device either releases down or locks in place upright. When shopping for this style, you will need to confirm that you have the right type/size of the mattress for any model that you are considering.
Top of the mattress styles look similar to the drop-down method but they are fixed in place and do not drop down. The guard also doesn’t sit flush with the edge, so there is no chance of a child or a baby getting caught in a gap between the side of the bed and the rail, making them the safest type of guard if you are planning on using it to co-sleep. The downside to a top of the mattress style is that it is positioned a few inches in towards the mattress, so you lose some of the width of the mattress, making your sleeping area a bit smaller.
This style is excellent for users who don’t have a standard mattress size because you don’t need the mattress to be a certain width to hold the bumper in place. They are also a nice alternative if you aren’t keen on the metal guard style. Bumper styles are often foam with fabric overlay; they can also be inflatable. They work well if you don’t have a box spring, have wooden slats, a platform frame or you have a thin mattress that won’t hold the weight the metal style rails. The best bumper styles have a steep slope and are high enough to stop your kids from rolling out. They are the easiest to install and most convenient to take when traveling if traveling by vehicle and have space for the foam or take the inflatable options.
Features to consider
Obviously, there are many different types of bed that you can buy, the design that works best with the metal styles is a standard mattress size and a box spring. If you don’t have a standard bed, you will probably want to consider a bumper style.
The standard height of metal guards is 20″ (this includes the part that covers the mattress), which is fine for most children. Bumper styles can range in height from about 4.5″ to around 6″.
For drop down and top-of-the mattress styles the lengths can vary quite a bit, the smaller ones are about 30″ in length while the extra-long ones are about 56. Bumpers styles range from about 24″ to about 56″ in length. When you are deciding on what length would be right for your child, measure your mattress length and think about how much of a gap you would like to leave at the end of the bed to allow your child to get in and out.
If you are planning on using it for traveling, you will want to consider how easy it is to set up and take apart, also how big or how much space it will take up when moving it from place to place. If you are flying and have limited space, a great option is the Shrunks Inflatable Rail, as it takes up very little space when deflated.
You can find a sleeping guard to match any budget, from the very popular Regalo Swing Down Bedrail, that costs approximately $20, up to $80 for some of the higher end models. Most products sell as a single side, so if you want to use a guard on both, you will have to consider that. Some products sell as a double-sided option, but the standard is usually just one side.
If you don’t like the look of bed guards and would prefer not to have it displayed during the day, some products (like the Regalo Hide Away Extra Long Rail) have a hide-away feature. The hideaway feature means that you can easily hide the product under the mattress when it isn’t in use. This feature makes it much easier to make and use the bed during the day when not sleeping.
Don’t buy any models that are not JPM Certified for safety, quality, and performance. Look for a certification sticker from the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) on the rail or the packaging.
No one wants to spend hours assembling a product they have just bought; most manufacturers realize this and, for the most part, the major brands require minimal assembly with no tools needed.
Safety is the most important thing to consider when researching bed rails. Despite being a product that is designed to help keep your kids safe, if they are misused, they could lead to injury, so it is essential that you follow all of the manufacturer’s instruction and warning labels when using.
Rails are intended only to be used with adult mattresses and box springs. They are not meant to be used on cribs or toddler products (unless explicitly stated), because the mattresses are too small to support the guard. They should also not be used on bunk or water beds, inflatable mattresses, or a bed without a box spring. Unless you are using them to co-sleep, the recommended age for use is from around two until about age 5. Children should not use rails unless they can get in and out of an adult bed without help. Experts recommend that you do not use a wall as a guard, especially for very young children as the child could get trapped between the mattress and the wall.
A lot of parents who like to co-sleep like to have the extra safety of a rail that can help prevent your child from rolling off the bed. When shopping for a guard for co-sleeping, experts say that you should use a design where there is no gap between the mattress and the rail. The best type of mattress to avoid having a gap is the top of mattress style that doesn’t fold down. A few of the bumper styles also claim to be safe for co-sleeping.
Most metal styles are for use on full-sized adult mattress, so if you are looking for a guard for a convertible crib, you will need to get a rail that is specifically designed for a convertible crib. There are a few options to choose from, one of the most popular being the dexbaby Safe Sleeper Convertible Crib Rail. It is crucial that you don’t use the wrong type of design on a convertible crib, as it could increase the risk of injury if it isn’t secured properly. Crib mattresses aren’t heavy enough to keep a regularly sized rail in place.
The Bottom Line
Moving from a crib or toddler bed to a full sized design can be an exciting transition for a child, but a nerve-wracking one for a parent; to help make this transition easier for everyone, children’s safety rails are a fantastic investment. Rails are easy to set up, inexpensive, and beneficial to help prevent injury and ensure your kids get a good night’s sleep. You can buy guards that work with different type of bed styles, but you need to make sure that any device you are considering purchasing is safe to use and will work with your current setup.