It's a big moment when your toddler graduates from their crib to a toddler or 'big kid' bed. It might happen because they're too big for the crib because they 'earned' the bed with good behavior, or because a younger sibling needs the crib for their infancy. No matter what the reason, this is a big change for both you and your toddler.
The most important difference is they are no longer confined inside the crib rails at night. This leads to two major concerns for parents. First, the little one may roll out of bed and hurt themselves in their sleep. And second, your toddler may get curious in the night and go on unsupervised adventures. Both problems come down to bed safety.
So today, we're here to share the parenting secrets of the internet on how to keep your toddler's precious head and elbows safe from a tumble and a few tips on how to curb midnight adventures. Now that your little one is in their big kid bed, it's time for some big kid bed safety precautions.
Secure the Bed in a Corner
The first thing you can do is a little subtle room arrangement. Always secure a toddler's bed in the corner of a room. The wall can face the headboard or the footboard, but the key is one whole side of the bed is not an available falling space. Your toddler can't fall through the wall which leaves you only one long side to worry about and, potentially, the open end.
Fortunately, there are dozens of ways to arrange your toddler's bedroom furniture where a corner bed is convenient and fun. You might consider building a fort out of dressers, shelves, and curtains to make staying in bed more appealing.
Use Foldable Attached Bed Railings
After putting the bed against the wall, the next best safety measure is attachable bed railings. These are very common with toddler beds and you can find them in a variety of designs. The best in function can be folded down. Bed railings can make sure children are unable to roll accidentally out of the bed and fall
Of course, you should also assume your toddler will learn how to fold down the railings for themselves. You may even want to encourage it, so they can wake up and play quietly in the morning or learn to take themselves to the bathroom. Foldable bed railings are a great safety measure until your children are old enough to be safe without them.
Place a Pad or Pillows Under the Bed
There may also come a time when your child is at greater risk of falling out of bed. Your toddler might be determined to climb or take down their railing. Or you might be weaning your child off the bed railings, but are still afraid they'll roll and fall. The solution to this stage is a pad or a layer of cushions underneath the dangerous side of the bed. Make sure it is fluffy enough to really cushion a fall.
It can help protect your child when they are prone to falling, or during the first few weeks after removing the railings. Consider an inflatable mattress (checked nightly), camping bed pads, a futon mattress, or a layer of very fluffy pillows. You can also make a padded step if your goal is to encourage a toddler to play safely in their room in the morning.
Explain Your Concern
When your child gets to the point of independence where they start climbing out of bed, one solution is to communicate with them. No matter how old the child is, they can be made to understand when it's time to stay in bed and how to get out of bed safely.
Younger children might need to rely on the rules. But some children might be able to connect to your perspective. Explain you're afraid of them getting hurt climbing and exploring without supervision. For children who don't stay asleep, explain that rest is important even if they're not asleep, and to stay in bed anyway. A small radio or MP3 player attached to the headboard might be able to play sleepy music or keep a child who doesn't sleep occupied in bed.
Choose Your Bedside Table Wisely
Another concern parents have discovered is the bedside table. Without a railing, they worry their child will hit their head on the table in a tumble off the bed. But even with the railings, they can be a challenge. A child might, for instance, try to crawl up over the table where the railings posed a problem.
Choose your bedside table with care. If you have the option, consider alternatives like shelves built into the headboard for near-bed storage instead of a separate table. If you do have a bedside table, consider either padded sides, distance, or design to discourage climbing.
Install a Soft Night Light
Sometimes children wake up before they're supposed to. Sometimes you can even stay asleep if your toddler knows how to go to the bathroom and put themselves back to bed. Many children are independent enough to either call for help when they need something or get themselves to sleep.
If your goal is to encourage independence, and your child's ability to manage themselves will depend on light. And few toddlers can reach a light switch safely. A soft night light or two in the right outlets can make a lot of difference, without being too wakeful for your toddler to get back to sleep. Some children need to look around, establish their room is the same and can drift off happily again.
Stay in Touch
Finally, whether you keep your young toddler in bed with railings or provide a padded landing for safe morning play, it's important to stay in touch with your toddler once they're out of the crib. Toddlers can learn when to call for help and can be counted on to call on you when they're scared or uncomfortable.
Remember to listen for your toddlers. You can even connect with an intercom or baby monitor if your house doesn't have convenient acoustics.
Keeping your toddler safe in (and out of) bed is all about planning. The corner trick automatically halves the fall risk of your toddler's big kid bed. Railings are great for younger toddlers, and padding may remain useful well into middle childhood for children prone to rolling. Whatever you do for big kid bed safety, if you make it a game, your toddler will be all for it. For more great tips on how to ace beds and bedrooms, contact us today!