Bed Safety For Kids

Podcast

May 16, 2024

Over the years we’ve covered a lot about crib safety, but what about open bed safety for kids? I’ve invited Holly Choi from Safe Beginnings to come talk all about open bed safety. We cover crib climbing, toddler beds vs. twin beds, bunk beds, bed rails and what entrapment dangers are between mattress and the wall.

In case you haven’t heard of it, Safe Beginnings is a Canada-based infant and toddler safety company. They’re the leading provider of infant and toddler focused safety courses – first aid, car seat safety, and injury prevention work like child proofing. They help families all across North America, both in person and online, keeping their kids safe at home!

I wanted to have a conversation about bed safety and knew that Holly would be the perfect person to help share all the tips with you, so I asked her all the FAQs I get from Little Z’s families about bed safety for kids!! Let’s jump in!!

 

WHEN CAN I MOVE MY CHILD FROM THE CRIB TO A TODDLER BED?

This is one of the biggest questions I always get from Little Z’s families!! Holly shared that the main consideration of the crib is that the crib is a really safe space. It keeps them contained. They can’t get out of their crib and run around the room and potentially get into cords or, worst case scenario, get out of their room and then onto the stairs or down to another level of the home where maybe they have access to doors. 

So their crib is kind of the first line of defense for safety. Ideally, we want to keep them in their crib as long as we can for that reason. However, Holly pointed out that there are situations where that’s not reasonable. Some children start to climb out of their crib, and we don’t want them to do that. 

This is where we want to be aware of leveraging items. Some children use things like stuffed animals or even crib bumpers to get out of the crib. You also want to be sure that as soon as your child can pull themselves up and they’re sitting unassisted, the crib mattress should be dropped all the way down to keep them as safe as possible.

At Little Z’s, I advise families to keep their child in a crib until they’re 3 years old. The reason for this is because children under 3 have zero concept of understanding limits and boundaries. So if we can keep them in the crib until 3, that’s great.

 

WHAT DO I DO IF MY CHILD KEEPS CLIMBING OUT OF THEIR CRIB? 

Not all cribs can do this but if you have a crib that’s taller on one side, turn the shorter side against the wall to make it more difficult for them to climb out. Sometimes that can help with climbing. 

Again, if there’s anything that they could use to leverage climbing out, or if there is furniture nearby that makes it tempting to them, move those things out of the way. 

You can also use a sleep sack without feet to keep them in the crib. And of course, we want to make sure the room is safe so that if they do get out of the crib, they are not going to put themselves in any danger.

 

WHAT ARE POTENTIAL HAZARDS WHEN MOVING YOUR CHILD OUT OF THE CRIB?

First and foremost, the room has to be safe. The first thing to do is make sure that your furniture is anchored to the wall – most cases of tip-over incidents have been fatal. It can happen quietly, even if you’re in the next room, so we just have to make sure your furniture is anchored. That is what Holly would say is the most important baby proofing!!

Then, when we’re thinking about making the room safe, here are some other things to check:

  • Where are the choking hazards (like cords) at their level that they can have access to?
  • Are stairs blocked outside of their room?
  • Do you have a way to be notified if they break out of their room? (For example, attach a bell to the stair gate so you know when it’s being moved!)

 

WHAT TYPE OF BED SHOULD YOU MOVE YOUR CHILD TO?

Holly recommends toddler beds to keep kids from being stuck between a bigger bed and the wall or the mattress and wall. Entrapment does happen where a child gets stuck and seriously injured.

Becca typically recommends skipping the toddler bed when moving to a big bed at age 3 so they aren’t getting up all night long. But what’s actually safe?

Toddler beds are typically designed with rails so they can’t get stuck if they roll between a bed and wall. This will help them as they’re rolling a lot to have 3 sides that are more closed in, like they are in a daybed.

Even if your children end up growing into bunk beds (which aren’t recommended for children under the age of 6), be sure that they have rails on all 4 sides to keep them safely in their beds.

When it comes to using something like a twin bed, try to choose something that’s low to the ground. This is like a toddler bed in the sense that if they do roll out, they’re not going to have a huge fall. Plus, if you keep them away from being right up against the wall, they aren’t able to be entrapped in the same way. You can also avoid this by placing a rail on the bed that meets the current ASTM Standards. 

More pro tips: Be sure to put a rug (with a non-slip rug pad!) underneath the bed so that if your child falls, they do not get hurt. And of course, always do a quick scan of the room for any potential hazards.

 

WHAT IF YOU WANT YOUR CHILD IN A BIG BED BEFORE 3?

Toddlers have a hard time with what Holly has dubbed “imaginary” boundaries. When you’re 7 and the door is shut, you know you’re in that room. But for a toddler, those boundaries are more imaginary. They know the doors open and shut and so that means that those boundaries don’t seem as concrete as they do for older kids.

Sometimes girls can understand boundaries at a little younger age than boys, more like 2.5 instead of 3 years old. So if you do choose to go with a bigger bed before the age of 3, you essentially should make the room a giant crib. No toys, potentially no furniture. That way it’s a lot less tempting for the child to get out of bed.

 

WHAT ABOUT BUNK BEDS?

Under 6 years old, bunk beds are not advised. This is because littler kids are more prone to falling and it’s a really big fall. So we want to make sure that children have learned how to sleep in a bed and not roll out of a bed before we introduce them to the bunk bed. 

Some bunk beds do have really tall frames on them. But regardless, keep those rails on them and wait until they’re 6 years old to allow them to sleep up on the top bunk.

 

WHAT ABOUT MULTIPLE KIDS IN A BIG BED?

Over the years I’ve had a few Little Z’s families who want one giant king bed for all the kids to sleep – like 2 or 3 kids in a king bed. It is HARD to keep multiple kids contained in a bed. 

From a sleep perspective, that’s hard for them all to share, but also for safety reasons, we don’t want anyone to be pushed out.

For younger children especially, even when we think about safe sleep for twins, we always want children on their own mattress to reduce the chance of suffocation or entrapment. It’s best to have them in their own space whenever possible.

 

WHEN CAN YOU INTRODUCE BLANKETS AND/OR PILLOWS?

Pillows aren’t recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics under age 2. There are still a lot of SIDS related deaths under age 2, so if we can keep the softer bedding out of the bed as long as we can, that’s the best thing to do. At age 2 they can also definitely have a toddler pillow! 

Note: toddler pillows are smaller and thinner than adult pillows so they can have a more comfortable and safer sleep experience!

Blankets aren’t recommended under 12 months by the American Academy of Pediatrics because that’s something they could pull up by their face. So it helps to reduce the risk of SIDS by leaving blankets out of the crib. Remember, this does not include sleep sacks because a sleep sack when worn correctly can’t really get into that position where it would cover their nose or mouth. It’s loose bedding, things like blankets and other sorts of soft things in a crib (like stuffed animals) that we want to keep out until over 12 months. 

Remember that children are really flexible and they can sleep in any position! So even if something looks uncomfortable to us, it isn’t necessarily uncomfortable to them.

 

CONCLUSION

I hope you found these tips super helpful – Holly is always sharing amazing action steps to ensure that your child’s room is safe on her website and social media and I’m so happy to share some of her wisdom with us today! 

Here are some of her top tips for bed safety for kids:

  1. Keep your child safely in their crib by keeping blankets out until after age 1 and pillows out of their crib until after age 2. If they’re climbing out of their crib, be sure to remove anything they can leverage (like a stuffed animal or bumper) to climb out more easily and always check the room for safety!
  2. If the child is able to get out of their bed, pay attention to the stairs they might have access to. Holly recommends also using a bell or some way to alert you if your child starts to move a gate at the stairs to let you know they’re there.
  3. To avoid entrapment, keep your child’s bed away from the wall or use a bed rail to help them stay in their bed and not roll between the bed and wall! (Also, if your child is under the age of 6, keep them off of the top bunk, even if it has rails!)
  4. There are pros and cons to the types of beds you should move your child to when it’s time, but remember that they’re safest in their own space, when they can understand boundaries, and without other hazards in the room.

I’m so glad Holly could share all of this and more with us today! And remember… it IS possible to keep sleep a thing, even when your child is transitioning to a big kid bed in a way that’s best – and safest – for them!! Sweet dreams!!

 

 

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