It can be a nightmare.
In the middle of the night you wake up to the wails of your baby only to see them having fallen from the crib. You get up immediately and rush to lift her up and console her. If his bed is at a greater height, you’ll have to check if there are any injuries and tend to them.
With more awareness these days, you must have already taken some precautions to prevent it. In case you are still clueless or need more ideas how you can prevent your toddler from falling off their bed, this post is here to give you some ideas.
My 2 year old niece is the darling of our family. Even a small scream from her is enough for us to run up to her and see what has happened. When she sleeps at night, just like any toddler she moves a lot in her sleep. Her parents were worried that she might somehow fall off her bed and so made her sleep with them.
To find a permanent solution, I was tasked with finding a good safe toddler bed and other ways how we can ensure that she stays in her bed and doesn’t fall off while fast asleep. I did my research and brainstormed a few ways that can prevent this from happening. I’ll share this with you.
Studies have shown that not only babies but also children in the age of 6-7 years can fall from their beds if they are sleeping in bunk beds above the ground. For babies and toddlers, the injuries can be quite severe although the occurrence of severe injuries is not as common as minor ones.
A study was done by the Accidents & Emergency division of the Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital in Scotland, to find out the percentage of injuries in children below the age of 6 who slept in toddler beds and upper bunk beds. Among them, 48 children were below the age of 3.
You can find the results of the study here : https://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/6/4/291
Ways to prevent your toddler falling off the crib
There can be ways how you can prevent such accidents from occurring. Let me walk you through some of them below.
Buy a cot with high guardrails
Every wooden toddler cot or bed these days comes with guardrails. Side guardrails are one of the fundamental safety apparatus to be included in a cot since a long time.
Since babies move a lot in their sleep, side rails are very important as they restrict the movement of the babies beyond the bed. Even if the baby moves sideways, she is guarded by the side rails.
A problem occurs if the side rails are too low. I have seen a few cots where the side rails are low enough for the baby to climb over them in sleep. Most of the falls take place because of this reason. While asleep, the toddler turns over and climbs out of the bed falling on to the ground.
Hence it is imperative that the cot should have high rails on all sides to prevent the toddler from falling. The wooden cot that was bought for my niece – it has side rails high enough for her to even stand and avoid the risk of falling off the cot.
So how high should the guardrails be?
The ASTM F 1427-07, Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Bunk Beds, states that the guardrails must be at least 5 inches above the height of a standard 6 inch toddler bed mattress. I would suggest a guardrail height of anything above that.
I’ll tell you why.
There are chances that your toddler starts standing up with the support of the bed at some time. You do not want to be caught unawares when that happens as there are chances for him to climb over the guardrails. While the standard might be right for a sleeping toddler, what if he stands when you aren’t in the room? So the higher the guardrails, the better it is.
However, for convenience of lifting the baby up from the bed, one side of the bed can have extendable guardrails. When the baby is sleeping, the guardrails can be adjusted as per the required height. And when you want to lift him up, you can simply lower the guardrails to the lowest level.
Ensure that the bed is sturdy
We have seen that the guardrails should be at a sufficient height for safety. But what’s the use if they are not sturdy and cannot stand pressure against them?
The guardrails as well as the base of the bed where the mattress is placed should be sturdy so that they can take the weight of the child. The guardrails should be fixed firmly. If the toddler pushes against the rails in his sleep or even otherwise, they shouldn’t even shake. Such should be their toughness.
When I was barely of 3, I had this weird habit of leaning against the guardrails and swaying back and forth. Despite my parents telling me not to do so, I continued to do it. In fact I enjoyed it! Luckily, my cot was made of teak and the guardrails were sturdy enough to withstand the pressure. But there have been incidents when the guardrails have given way because of loose fitting.
Ensure that this is well taken care of.
Prefer a plastic toddler bed? Here’s what you need to ensure
Unlike the wooden beds which have guardrails with spindles, plastic toddler beds have solid plastic boards at the sides for protection. The solid boards are needed because if you have plastic spindles, they might not meet the toughness standards.
As the plastic boards at the side are continuous, they are made of a lower height. This is done so that it does not block the flow of air in the sleeping area. Also, you can keep a watch over your toddler while he sleeps.
It is for this reason that you must ensure that the height of the bed is very low. So that even if your toddler climbs out of the bed, he won’t have a fall from a steep height. And injuries can be prevented. In many cases, the total height of the bed is the height of the side boards. So that’s not a lot.
If plastic bed is the option you want to go for, check out my article on the safety of plastic toddler beds.
Use a thinner mattress in the bed
Standard baby mattresses are 6 inches in height. By using a mattress less than 6 inches, you give that extra height to the guardrails or the side boards which can help prevent your child from climbing out.
The main cause of worry is when your toddler can stand on his feet and will want to stand and climb out. So the higher the clearance, the better it is for safety.
Let your kid sleep on a mattress on the floor
Personally, I’m not a big fan of this option. Mainly because at night time you don’t really know what insects or lizards might be roaming around in the house. Baby skin is soft and tender and so you should take proper steps to prevent your child from insect bites.
However if you’re confident that you live in a pest-free house and there’s no risk of insects roaming around in the house at night, you can try this option. If you do not want to invest in a toddler bed or are worried about its safety because of other reasons like chemicals used, small parts etc., a mattress can be a good option to prevent your child from falling in his sleep and ensuring he gets a good night’s sleep.
Personally I wouldn’t be very comfortable if my own niece were to sleep on a mattress on the floor. Toddler beds made by reputed brands are completely safe and I advise that you invest in one.
Keep the toddler bed aligned adjacent to your own bed
See you can’t really have your own way always when you’re dealing with toddlers. You might want him to develop the habit of sleeping in his bed, but what if he doesn’t want to let go the feeling of you being around him? What if you daughter feels secure in your presence while she’s sleeping?
You cannot force your kid to sleep in the toddler bed separately. So what do you do in this case?
If you have a wooden toddler bed with adjustable guard rails on one side, bring the guard rails down and align the toddler bed with your bed so that they are adjacent to each other. If the guard rails cannot be brought down, ditch the bed and make your toddler sleep with you. However ensure that your baby sleeps in between your husband and you. This way he can be protected from falling off the bed.
These are precautions you can take that can prevent your toddler from climbing and falling off the bed. At the and of the day however, you cannot beat the will of a toddler. If he wants to climb out of the bed, he will find a way to do so. And especially if you sleep in another room, you must take some steps to ensure that even if he falls, the damage is kept at a minimum.
Let us now see some steps that can be taken to minimize the injury in case your child does fall off the bed.
Have a soft rug placed around the toddler bed
This can reduce the impact of the fall to a great extent. If your toddler does fall off the cot, he will land on the soft rug and the injuries will not be so severe. Even if you have taken all the precautions, you must use this technique as a safeguard.
A better option is to use soft cushions instead of rugs to place on the floor. The soft cushions will reduce the impact even further and your child will escape almost unhurt after falling off the bed.
Install a video camera facing the bed
If you are in another room or are working elsewhere in the house, you would want to keep an eye on your toddler while he sleeps. This is not only to check whether he has woken up but also to see that everything is in order.
If your child does fall off the bed, and you are out in the garden, the live streaming of the video on your mobile phone will alert you of it. Most security cameras do not have a mic to record the sound. Hence I suggest using a camcorder with audio output so that if the child falls and cries, you will be notified by the sound of the video on your phone.
Extra steps to be taken for your toddler’s safety
You must however ensure that you place any stray objects or dangerous objects and furniture out of the reach of your child. When the child will be sleeping on the floor on even in a low-clearance plastic toddler bed, he can easily crawl out of the bed or the mattress. So it is important that you do not have any sharp objects or dangerous objects in the baby’s room.
Another thing you must do is install a baby gate. When the child gets up from sleep and has crawled out of the bed, he will try to get out of the room as fast as possible. If you are in the middle of something and cannot come to monitor him, having a baby gate at the exit of the room can be an obstacle for the toddler to go out of the room where he might find something of his interest to fiddle with.