Best Bed Rails

Updated October 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

11 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
163 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best bed rails

Last Updated October 2019

Transitioning from sleeping in a crib to sleeping in a bed can be a challenging experience for both children and parents. Children used to moving freely about their crib while dozing can easily fall out of bed and onto the floor, a scary experience for children and parents. A bed rail can help keep kids from falling out of bed while they sleep.

These long, thin barriers run most of the length of a child’s body and are placed at the edge of the bed to keep the child from rolling off. The rail provides a physical barrier to keep the child on the bed, but body contact with the rail often rouses a child enough to reposition herself.  

Bed rails attach to your bed and keep bodies in them via different methods. Which will work best for your child’s bed? Keep reading to learn more about the options. When you’re ready to buy, check our recommendations for the best bed rails on the market.

A child who climbs out of a crib once won’t necessarily do it again, but if your child repeatedly scales the crib, it’s time to get a bed rail and a big-kid bed.

Key considerations

The type of bed your child uses is a big factor in determining which bed rails will work best: one with a box spring or one without.

Mattress and box spring

  • Bed rails are flat panels framed with steel, PVC, or other strong plastics to make a sturdy barrier that keeps your child from rolling out of bed. These tough frames are covered with soft fabrics and mesh to make them more comfortable to the touch. The panels are stabilized by strong, flat arms to which they connect at a 90° angle. The arms slide between the bed’s mattress and box spring, which sandwich them in place. Many rail arms are additionally secured with a strap that spans the width of the bed and may attach to the other side.

    The arms need pressure from above and below to hold them in place, so they don’t work well with beds that use slats to support the mattress. In a pinch, they can be used with a platform bed or bunkie board (the flat board that supports a top bunk or loft mattress), but they won’t be as stable and may not sit at a 90° angle.
     

  • Single or double rail: Many parents place their child’s bed against the wall for safety. This works well in some homes, but not in others. If your child’s bed fits securely against the wall, you only need a single rail. If not, you’ll need a pricier double rail, one to protect each side. Double rails are usually connected by a strap underneath the bed. Consider getting a double rail if you have even a small gap between the bed and the wall. Waking up wedged in the gap could be even more frightening for a child than simply falling on the floor.

Mattress with no box spring

Bed bumpers are a recent safety solution for beds that don’t use a box spring. These long, slender tubes serve as speed bumps for rolling sleepers. Most sets include two bumpers connected by a length of fabric roughly the width of a twin bed. Some bed bumpers are filled with dense foam, which should be sturdy enough to not collapse if the child puts weight on it. Other bumpers are inflatable. Inflatable bumpers are a great travel solution for hotels or sleepovers.

Unlike bed rails, bed bumpers are not complicated to install. You simply slide them under the sheet and they go to work. But they’re not for everyone. Bumpers are intended to subconsciously cue a child to move back toward the center of the bed. The bumpers should be tall and thick enough to get a child’s attention when they bump into or roll over it. For children who are heavy sleepers, large for their age, or move wildly while asleep, bumpers may not be enough to fully stop them from rolling off the bed.

Length

Consider the length of the bed and your child when you choose your bed rail. Most bed rails measure between three and four feet long, so checking a child’s height is mainly necessary if your child is exceptionally tall. A toddler bed needs only a short rail to keep a child in place since it’s designed for use with a crib mattress. A twin or full bed will require something longer. If your child co-sleeps in a queen or king bed, you might find bed rails in that size. Just remember that you may not need full-length coverage for a child who’s shorter than three feet tall.

CAUTION

Check inflatable bumpers for leaks every night before bed, or you might end up with deflated bumpers and a toddler on the floor.

Bed rail features

Movable: Bed rails create a helpful barrier when your child is asleep, but they’re not as helpful at other times. Folding or swinging bed rails can be easily folded down when it’s time to change the sheets, when your child needs to climb in or out of bed, or when you want to sit on the bed to tuck your child in at night. Hideaway bed rails fold down and slide between the mattress and box spring when not in use, a great solution if you find the rail unsightly, use it in an adult’s room, or use it only occasionally.

Washable: Metal or PVC bed rails should be covered in machine-washable fabric that can be removed in case it is soiled in a bedwetting accident, flu episode, or other messy incident. Bed bumpers should likewise have removable, washable covers, or a wipeable plastic exterior,  just in case. Any fabric rail or bumper pieces that rest under your child should be washable, and possibly waterproof, too.

Mesh: Most bed rails have a mesh panel that allows a child to breathe even when sleeping with their face against it to prevent suffocation.

Frame: While bed rails should have a cozy covering, they also need a strong frame underneath. Quality frames should be made of steel, PVC, or other strong plastic components that will keep your child from knocking it loose.

Pump: Inflatable bed bumpers should come with a pump so you’re not left huffing and puffing while delaying tuck-in time.

Bed rail prices

Inexpensive: You can find inexpensive bed rails starting at around $20. At this price point, you will mostly find single traditional rails and single or double inflatable bed bumpers. Rails will be in the smaller range, from around 3.0 to 3.5 feet, and may fold down for easier access to the bed.

Mid-range: Options that cost $25 to $30 are a step up from budget models and sometimes include extra-long single rails measuring 4.0 to 4.5 feet long. Traditional bed rails in this price range should slide or fold down for convenience. You’ll also find thicker inflatable bumpers and inexpensive foam bumpers in this range.

Expensive: High-end bed rails cost $30 to $45. You’ll pay this much for double bed rails, as well as for high-quality foam bed bumpers. Traditional rails in this price range should fold down for convenience and possibly even slip in between the mattress and box spring.

EXPERT TIP

If you don’t already have a nightlight in your child’s bedroom, the weeks during which you transition from crib to bed are a good time to start. A little light may ease your child’s fears and help them leave the bed safely if they get up to find you at night.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Some choose to use a double bed rail even if their child’s bed rests against the wall. Having the second rail in place prevents your child from getting stuck if the mattress shifts.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Check the rail height. The average bed rail is around 20 inches tall. Check the height of the individual rail if you’re using it with an extra-tall or pillow-top mattress.

  • Check for a bag. If you’re planning to travel with inflatable bumpers, make sure they come with a storage bag to avoid accidental damage.

  • Check the bed height. Bed rails with a swing-down function may not fully work with a bed that is low to the ground. Make sure you measure the height before ordering.

Other products we considered

We stand by our top choices, but here are a couple more to consider. Parents of particularly active sleepers should put the Summer Infant Extra Long Folding Bedrail to the test. At 54 inches long, it should contain even the wildest sleepers. This rail fits beds ranging from twin to queen size, and it folds down when not in use. We also recommend the hiccapop Convertible Safety Bed Rail for use with a convertible toddler bed. Steel clamps keep this unique bed rail secured firmly in place. The rail folds down when not in use or when you want easy access to change the sheets or share a bedtime story.

Many parents who co-sleep with their babies use bed rails to make their master bedroom safer for their infant.

FAQ

Q. When should a child transition from a crib to a bed?

A. Aside from your child climbing out, there are no hard-and-fast rules about timing. The majority of children make the switch between 18 months and 3 1/2 years of age. The majority of children are tall enough to climb out at 35 inches, although some will sooner and some will never try. After the age of 2, children may become more attached to their crib, and the transition could be more challenging.

Q. What’s the best way to help a child make the move?

A. It helps to give your child chances to buy into the process. Together, you can pick out new bedding featuring a favorite color or character. Make sure your child knows that any security objects, like a beloved blanket or plush animal, will come to the new bed, too. Stick to a regular bedtime routine. At first, consider letting your child try napping in the bed but sleeping in the crib at night, when the stakes for roaming are higher. If possible, don’t broach the subject until your child shows interest. If another baby will soon need the crib, try to make the transition about two months before your due date, so your toddler doesn’t feel like they’re being replaced. And try to avoid switching during other times of transition like potty training or switching daycare providers.

Q. Do I need a bed rail with a toddler bed?

A. Many newer cribs convert from a crib to a toddler bed, using the same small mattress for both options. The toddler bed design usually has a built-in bar that prevents the child from rolling out of bed. In fact, adding a bed rail to this style of toddler bed could make it difficult for the child to get out of bed. However, if your toddler’s bed doesn’t have a built-in rail, we recommend buying one. Kids aren’t likely to be injured falling out of a toddler bed, since the bed is so low to the ground. Still, just falling out can be frightening enough for a toddler and can disrupt your child’s transition and lead to other sleep disturbances.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Kristin
    Kristin
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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