Bunkbed & Loft Safety
Berkeley Parents Network >
Bunkbed & Loft Safety
Yesterday's (10/19) earthquakes really spooked us and the kids
insisted on sleeping in our bed. Which is fine for a night or two -- but
they're in bunk beds and now I'm worried about what would happen to
the bunks. I worry about the top bunk collapsing onto the lower bunk
and the top bunk throwing my other son out over the safety rail.
The beds are the all-wooden type that can separate into two beds.
They're secured with four-inch metal pins between the foot and top
post of each upper and lower bunk post. That doesn't seem like much.
If we should fix them, I really want to get someone to do it who is
experienced in this and who won't screw up the beds so much they
have great big holes in them and the walls (if we should brace to the
walls) when we do finally separate them into twin beds. Has anyone
actually done this and has recommendations for how to proceed?
Or, am I being paranoid? I have never been through a major quake so
have no idea what to expect...
I'm not sure I have much advice about the connection
between the upper and lower ''bunks,'' as this seems like a
design issue within the bed itself, but definitely,
absolutely, 100% DO secure the bed to the wall. I would
worry more about the bed tipping completely than the top
falling onto the bottom in the event of seismic activity.
The recent earthquakes have definitely made me realize
that I also need to be more on top of things like this. I
just ordered bracing for our dresser, and a wall-mount for
I would recommend attaching them to the wall. Which is
more important, a few holes or your kids? Ask for advice
at your local hardware for the correct materials. You need
to use a stud finder to ensure that you are drilling into
structural material and not just plaster. Also, think,
could there be any water, electrical or gas lines running
up the wall in that area?
All bookcases and waterheater should also be strapped and
secure. If you want to go further, put child proof locks
on your kitchen cabinets and you can buy strapping with
velcro for your TV and desk top computer.
Being prepared will make you feel better.
A recent tremor here in berkeley got me wondering about the safety of
our kids new ikea bunkbed. Should the thing be bolted to the walls?
Anything else we can do to make it safer in a larger earthquake?
Hi - I work for Home Safety Services and we do in-home assessment and
installations for child safety (AKA child proofing), senior safety, and
preparedness. In answer to your question, ideally bunkbeds would both be
together (top & bottom), and anchored to the wall. For those with a
base, a couple of straps secured to the wood studs would probably do the
No,I don't think you have to worry. My kids have had IKEA
bunkbeds for 5 or 6 years, they've been through earthquakes, and
we've been fine. I understand your concern, but from experience,
I think you'll be fine.
Big Bunk Bed User
I don't agree with another response you got (we haven't had a
nice big earthquake in more than a decade). I would tie the
bunkbed to a wall stud, and if not in the middle, I'd put two
ties, one on each end. Also, if it is the kind that stacks and
the top part comes off easily, tie the upper and lower parts
together also (use flat metal strips).
If you see a video of what happens to a 4' tall file cabinet on
the upper floor of a house on a shake table (strong jolt), you
would want to tie it.
Anyone have a preschooler in a loft bed? My son has a very small
room and we think a loft bed would be the perfect solution to his
space issues. We are considering a ''half-height'' loft bed, but
wonder if it's too dangerous to have a 5-year-old climbing in and
out of bed. Also how can we protect our 2-year-old from getting
hurt if she climbs into the bed -- which she certainly will do at
some point. Maybe parents of bunkbed sleepers can weigh in here
too. If you've gone the loft bed route and have the name of a
great company/builder that information would be much appreciated.
soaring to new heights?
Hi - we faced this exact problem and opted not to get the loft
bed because of the safety issues for the younger child, who is a
climber. Our older child was mature enough for the loft bed,
but how do you keep a toddler from climbing the ladder, etc?
Moving the ladder makes it difficult for the older child to get
in and out of bed easily (especially at night for potty). We
got good advice from the Berkeley Kid's Room (which is in
Oakland on College Ave near Claremont), which basically sealed
We are about to move our 4.5yo into the Flexa
(www.flexa.dk) ''mid-height'' loft bed -- it's a little under 5'
high and he's almost 4' tall, so I'm not too worried -- there
may be a few cries for help the first few times he has to get up
to pee in the middle of the night, but I'm not anticipating
anything more serious than that. It has a good railing all the
way around, too. They carry them at Berkeley Kid's Room on
College near Claremont (and they make a ''low loft'' as well
that's just under 4'). So far, in testing at the store, our 2yo
(a little monkey) has not been able to get all the way up the
vertical (as opposed to slanted) ladder by himself -- and if
playground experience is any indication, when he does make it up
he'll call for help getting down. Btw, my husband points out
quite correctly that he used to sleep on a top bunk without
*any* railing as a kid and fell off ''all the time,'' and he
turned out ok. :)
I Survived Childhood
We bought my son a beautiful loft bed when he was 4 and it worked
His bed has a slide and a tent around the bottom. He's a lucky
kid. It was expensive. Here's a link:
Ikea had one also!
our bunk bed clearly states that kids should be at least 5 years
old before sleeping up there. that being said we just moved our 4
year old in to it and he's fine.
He's a very careful kid and learned to climb (stairs, retaining
wall in the garden) before he could walk. the bed has the
siderail on it that came with it. so far we haven't had any problems.
We have the ''half height'' IKEA KURA reversible twin bed for our 4-1/2
which he's had since he turned 4 and we LOVE it. We also bought the bed
explained to him not to lean on it because it won't hold him in. I think
makes him him safer and more cozy. The bed is cheap ($185) and it's a
design. Our 18 month old can't climb the ladder yet so were lucky there,
but we told
the little one she can't go up there unless her big brother ''invites''
her, and told him
not to invite her unless an adult is there, so when our little one is up
isn't very often at all, we're always standing there watching. On
another note, I have
to admit, he doesn't play alot underneath it, but he has a pretty big
room. We've laid
a super thin mattress on the bottom and a bunch of pillows and he goes
more now. Also, in the wee hours of the morning, while it's still pitch
climbs out of it fine and comes to us, stepping over all the toys and
tripped or fell. It's also great because at bedtime, since he's up
there, we don't lay
with him to help him go to sleep. We just give him one of those ghost
from IKEA and walk out. We also told him if he needs quiet time away
from his sister
or wants to play with small choking hazards, he can go up to his bed and
bothered by her. He loves that.
My 4 year old has a quasi-loft bed I got at Ikea (Kura?). I
got the semi-circle canopy for it, and I feel comfortable that
he will not fall out of the bed. I put the head of the bed
against the wall and put a star-light on the wall over his
pillow to give him a night light. So far, he has not fallen
out of the bed. The Kura bed has short rails on the side,
which also add security regarding the risk of rolling out of
the bed. One other security thing I have are thick carpets in
the room. Note the Kura bed is only around 4 feet off the
ground, which may make it shorter than traditional loft-beds,
but I have a bunch of toy storage under the bed, which is
loft bed momma
Well, I've been a bit worried about the same thing, but we felt
we had to make more room by installing bunks. We have a 6 yr
old and a 3.5 year old. Their room is directly off the kitchen
and dining room, and the door's always open, so supervision has
not been a problem so far. We have strict rules: neither child
may block the other from going up or down. Only climb the
ladder facing into the bed. And: no kids near the bunkbed if
any other children are over to play. So, I'm crossing my
fingers. So far things seem to be working. good luck.
Hi. I'm not a member but wanted to add a caveat to those considering
bunkbeds for their kids. I've worked in the injury prevention
field. Kids can strangle on the corner posts of bunkbeds - they can
hang by their overall straps, lanyard cords, drawstrings, or anything
else that they can tie on. Bunkbeds have a voluntary, not mandatory,
standard that the corner posts should not be higher thatn 1/4". Many
bunkbeds do not meet this criteria, so check carefully before you buy.
Many times, you can remove the decorative piece or saw the top off of
one that you like. Hope this is useful.
I'm moving my younger child who's 1 1/2 in with his older
sister, 5. I'd like to get a bunk bed and I think my daughter
is old enough not to fall out of it (I know they say 6, but I
think she'd be fine), but my big dilemma is how to keep my son
from climbing the ladder and falling from the top bunk. Has
anyone had experience with this? Should I just give up on the
bunk bed for a year or two or is there a way I can make this
We bought a bunk bed for our kids when our littlest was born but boy oh boy do I wish I had just waited. Now they're 3 and 5 and I *still* can't safely leave them in there with the bunk bed and the ladder down. My son, the 3 year old, LOVES to jump off the ladder... ugh! I'd suggest hangin' on a bit longer - do
2 toddler beds or a double/queen for them to share until they're really ready for bunks... I'd say another year r so - 'till you can trust your youngest.
We have a bunk bed and children of similar ages to yours (1 1/2 and 4). We had to remove the ladder to prevent our younger child from climbing up to the top bunk. Our four year old can still get up to the top bunk and down again with very little effort by climbing up on the headboard and stepping up. It's worked well so far and we have had no accidents or injuries.
Our 1 1/2 year old is still in a crib but we are about to move him into the bottom bunk with a guard rail along the edge. So far our 4 year old has only slept in the bottom bunk. I'm still not sure what to do about the middle of the night trips out of bed from the top bunk once we move her up. Climbing down might be a little tricky without the ladder. May need to add it on just for night time. Good luck with the transition!
We got a set of bunk beds when my son was 4 and my daughter was just 2. Our biggest concern was whether our son would fall out in the middle of the night - we didn't even think about our daughter, but you seem to be much more foresightful than we were - about a month after we got the bunk beds, she had learned to climb up the stairs so we took the stairs off the bed and just had our son climb up the end of the bed to get in. Well, it didn't take her long to figure that out either, and one day she climbed up into his bed and then went headfirst out of the top bunk onto the floor (carpet+wood). I don't know exactly how this happened because obviously I wasn't watching. Needless to say, we separated the bunk beds! Amazingly though, she didn't get injured (lots of screaming, but no bumps or bruises), Anyway, I think you are absolutely right to be concerned. I think that if you go ahead with the bunk beds you should be a lot more careful than I was and devise a better syste!
m for keeping your youngest out of
Anon - I'm really not a bad mother
I have a 5 & 3 yr old girls, and a 2 yr old boy who all sleep in the same room. To save space we got a bunkbed when one girl was
2 and the boy was 1-1/2. Here's what we did. The 5 yr old slept on top, and the then 2 yr old slept on the bottom. BIG RULE we have is we would keep the ladder (its detatchable) on the top bunk AT ALL TIMES. NO EXCEPTIONS. It only came down just before she went to bed at night, and soon as she got up in the morning it goes back up. (We put it up). Bunkbeds could be very dangerous if children play on them unattended. (I have a friend who lost her 3 yr old on one by catching his shirt on part of it). We are strict about when they play on it, (one of us has to be there), because of course kids get excited about being on the top. One other thing, when newness novalty wore off, my 5 yr old slept at one end on the bottom bunk, and the 2 yr old slept at the footend against the wall part. Good luck and just keep the safety issue in mind and you should be fine.
We have a 2 & 4 year old, and the 2 year old is currently in a
crib, with her older sister on a twin futon bed. We are trying
to have baby #3, but I am conflicted on how to fit them all in a
bedroom when the future baby comes along. My thoughts:
bunkbeds, with the oldest kid on top (she'll be 5 by then), and
the will-be-3-year-old on the bottom, at least at the beginning.
But how do folks keep a young toddler off the steps of a
bunkbed? If our kids are 6,4, and 1, how do we keep the 1 year
old from climbing, playing, & falling off the top bunk? Put a
baby gate in the bedroom doorway? Take the ladder off the bed so
the oldest kid has to be lifted up? Put a babysafe ''fence''
around the whole bed? The room is about 12 x 13 feet, and I'm
convinced there is a creative way to fit 3 kids in there, with
bunks and/or loft beds, and still leave areas for play and
storage. Any advice on how to do this will be much appreciated.
Hi - I have 1st hand experience w/ 3 kids in one room! I have a
4year old, 21 month old, and 10 month old. The 4 yr old is in a
twin bed, the toddler in a toddler bed, and the baby in the
crib. I would NOT recommend bunk beds, as the reasons you said
earlier and possible hazards that could happen. i.e, climbing,
jumping, etc and it is not fair to make a 5-6 year old
responsible for keeping the stairs put up. I plan on getting a
trundle bed soon for the girls then switching the crib for the
toddler bed. Its a matter of organizing and staying on top of it.
(Which is hard!) I have a 5 drawer dresser that the girls share,
1 each for tops/ panties, then pants/ socks, then they share the
PJ drawer. The baby has a small dresser with his clothes in it
then of course they share the closet. I also put some deep
woodent shelves in the closet for storage of toys, etc. Ikea has
some really good ideas too, and their beds are a small size.
Email me if you would like some ideas, and I can share what I've
gone through. GOOD LUCK!
Our solution for a similar situation was to remove one of the
rungs from the bunkbed ladder. My older child can still use the
ladder, but his younger brother can't yet manage it, at 2 1/4
years. Once the younger one graduates to the lower bunk (he's
still in his crib), we'll probably replace the rung.
Put 4-year-old in upper bunk?
Any opinions/experience related to the issue of letting a 4-year old sleep
in the top bunk of a bunk bed or loft? We've started our search for a
"real" bed for our daughter who's been sleeping in a toddler bed. A
loft/bunk is the best solution for us in terms of solving problems of
limited space (and other issues), but she'd have to go in the top, and some
stores we've visited say don't do it until they're 6 years old. Others say
it depends on the child--if they're comfortable and competent climbing up
and down, it's fine even if they're younger than 6. The thing is that our
daughter is fine with it (loves it!) during our visits to stores. The
question I have is whether she'll be fine in the middle of the night? (And,
no, we don't have any friends or relatives who have bunk beds where we
could do a sleep-over to test this out.)
If any of you have put a younger child in a bed that requires a ladder to
get down from, or have any insights or different ways to look at this, I'd
love to hear about it! Judy
We put our daughter in the top bunk when she was around 5, I think (baby
brother got too big for his toddler bed and they were out of space). Never
had any trouble whatsoever (and haven't since with the littler one sleeping
up there out of preference though they now have their own rooms). One
caveat: we always let her know that if she wanted help getting down, she
could have it and she took us up on the offer. Instead of getting out of
bed at night to find us if she were scared or needed to pee, she'd yell at
us from the other end of the house. Didn't bother me much (I always wake
up if they get up anyway) and that way I didn't have to worry about her
missing a step in the dark and her semi-wakeful condition. This is a bed
with a partial rail about 6 inches higher than the mattress top and about
four feet long (so there's an opening at either end slightly more than a
foot long). Nina
About the loft bed, our daughter has been sleeping in the top bunk of a
loft bed for 1 year. She is now 3 years, 10 months. At first she needed a
little help going down the ladder but it wasn't long until she could do it
easily by herself. Her younger sister Emma (now 2 years, 11 months)
considers it a big treat to take a nap there when her sister isn't home. I
would take the 4yo to the store to look and she what kind of interest she
has in climbing the ladder and being on the top bunk. Panda
To the person who asked about bed rails for the bunk bed: Toys R Us sell a
bed rail that slides under the mattress and the other part flips up and
locks in place. It has a sturdy mesh that keeps the child from falling out
of bed. Ours works great, we use it on the lower bunk actually to keep the 2
yr old from falling out. On yours it would come up between the mattress and
the wood edge. I think it was about $20. You can still use a ladder with it
as it runs about 3/4 of the length of the bed. R.
We faced this dilemma too and were strongly advised not to put a child unter
6 in the top bunk (our daughter is 3 1/2 and also loved going onto the top
bunk in the shop). Frankly, I might have disregarded that advice if it had
not been for the younger one who would definitely have tried to climb up to
the top and who would definitely have fallen out. So now we have one of
the beds set up and are waiting to install the full bunk bed until our
daughter is 6 (and the younger one 4). Interestingly, the bed is so large
for her, that she does tend to sleep perpendicular or diagonally in it,
which makes me think that she might still fall out of it one night - and
then I'll be glad it is only 15' off the ground.
Another word on the bunk-bed controversy. It is common practice to
consider a bunk-bed when the first kid is, say, five or six and the
littler one is perhaps two or three. We were on the verge of making
such a purchase ourselves and I did some homework on the subject. The
children who, statistically, are at the greatest risk of the greatest
injury, tend to be three-year-olds, tend to be boys, and injuries occur
most often from children playing on the upper bunk and falling off
because they are so busy playing that they forget where they are and
tumble off. This scenario is far more common than a child rolling off
the top bunk. Additionally, for those that do purchase a bunk-bed, it
is advisable to purchase the type of ladder that is screwed in to
between the upper and lower beds, and totally vertically. While the
other type, that is removable and at more of an angle, is easier to
climb, it is for exactly that reason that it is a less safe choice. The
ladder that is more upright demands more attention, and kids have to
climb it with both hands. Thus they can't play around and fall off
while climbing as easily.
A neighbor of my sister's purchased bunk-beds on a recent weekend. Her
two-year-old son couldn't seem to climb the ladder when they set the
beds up, so she relaxed a bit and left her two kids unsupervised. The
next day, she was in the kitchen, heard a thud, and found her son
unconscious on the floor. Ambulance called, resucitation, trip to ER.
The child is fine but the lesson has been learned, painfully. No bunk
beds for us until our son, now 3, is at least six. Deborah
this page was last updated: Oct 29, 2012
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are transitioning to a new website: BerkeleyParentsNetwork.org
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network