As parents get ready to transition babies and toddlers to their ‘big beds’ it’s important to know children are safe while learning the boundaries of their new sleeping arrangements. Bed rails offer the perfect solution – but there are a few different designs and set ups to choose from. Check out the main considerations and take a look at our pick of the best bed rails in 2019 for all budgets.
Considerations when buying bed rails
It goes without saying that the most important criteria for all of the bed rails we’ve reviewed is safety. So you can all get a good night’s sleep without worrying about babies and toddlers falling off the bed and heads going bump in the night. Safety aside, the best choice for you will be determined based on how and when you’ll use the bed rails and your nighttime routines.
Don’t buy a bed rail without taking a few quick measurements, though. Beds and mattresses come in a range of sizes, just like bed rails. Make sure your rail is tall enough and gives adequate height with the mattress in place.
Types of bed rail
There are four main types of bed rail to suit different uses and situations:
Swing down rails are mesh rails, usually with a metal frame, that attach to the bed by sliding its rails underneath the mattress. They operate on a hinge that when pressed allows the rail to swing down out of the way. These are the best toddler bed rails if you want the option to access to your child’s bed either to read, to change the bedding or simply to make it easier for her to get in and out of bed.
Fixed (best for co-sleeping)
Fixed bed rails are very similar to swing down rails, the only real difference is that they’re fixed in position and can’t be moved. Your baby can still get out of bed through the gaps either side of the rail but it does make it slightly harder to change the sheets. A huge plus about being fixed is that they’re more secure – so great for co-sleeping.
Foam bumpers are effective and a breeze to fit. Simply slide the bumper(s) underneath your sheet and you have a toddler-proof rail to keep your child from rolling out of bed. They’re less intrusive than traditional bed rails and make it easy for babies to get in and out of bed. They’re a great option for travelling too.
Inflatable rails work the same way as foam bumpers – the only difference is that they’re inflatable. The fact that they deflate and pack down small makes them even more portable. Super convenient for throwing in a suitcase. Although, if you’ve ever slept on an air bed you’ll know that anything inflatable is likely to need a top up from time to time.
Here are our picks of the best bed rails for each type.
Best Swing Down Bed Rail
Regalo Swing Down Bedrail
First up is the Regalo Swing Down Bedrail. Regalo is a well-known brand among parents with products built for durability and longevity. Their swing down rail is no exception and we think it’s a great choice for families on a budget that need a high barrier for their child.
The rail is quick to set up without any tools by simply sliding a long rod under the mattress. Measuring 43 inches long and 20 inches tall, it’s a good size for toddler beds or regular mattresses. The Regalo bed rail is made of nylon fabric that wipes clean or you can remove the cover to wash it in the machine. The rail itself is steel so you can rest assured that it’s sturdy and durable.
The neat feature for this bed rail is that the entire rail swings down on the side of the bed giving you easy access to the mattress for changing sheets and for allowing your child to easily get in and out of bed. The height of the rail itself should be kept in mind since it will need at least 20 inches of clearance between the bottom of the mattress and the floor to lay flat against the bed instead of at an angle against the floor.
Overall, this is a great product for a low price and it will protect your child from rolling off the bed while still allowing easy access.
Best Hide-Away Bed Rail
Regalo Hide Away Double Sided Bed Rail
This next bed rail is also from Regalo, however, this is a double-sided option with a mechanism that allows the rail to slide underneath the mattress when not in use. This is a great option for beds that are open on both sides instead of against a wall.
This Regalo bed rail measures 43 inches long and 18 inches tall so it can work on either toddler beds or on adult-sized mattresses. The fabric is mesh nylon which can be wiped clean with a damp cloth and the rail is steel so it’s durable and strong for protection.
Setting up the Double Sided Regalo is easy and doesn’t require any tools. Once properly installed, the rail operates on a Glide Trac system allowing the bed rail to fold flat and tuck in between the mattress and box spring. The bed rail is then out of sight until you pull it back out at bedtime.
This is a great product at a very fair price and provides peace of mind and protection for children 2 to 5 years old.
Best Easy Access Bed Rail
Munchkin Sleep Bed Rail
This bed rail is top-of-the-line when it comes to providing a tall barrier between your child and the edge of the bed. We think this is a great product for children transitioning to a big boy/girl bed who need a little help learning their boundaries but who are mature enough to get in and out of bed on their own. This is also the only bed rail on our list that comes in a variety of colors for a pop of fun color in your child’s room.
The rail is easy to assemble by simply sliding it between the mattress and box spring. Measuring 36 inches long and 18 inches tall, it’s perfect for mattresses ranging from toddler to queen. Once installed, the rail can lay flat against the bed with the touch of a button making it a great choice for children who can be trusted to get in and out of the bed on their own.
Another great safety feature on the Munchkin bed rail is the safety straps that help eliminate gaps between the rail and mattress which can be a hazard for children. With safety straps and a durable aluminum frame, this is a bed rail that you can trust to give you and your child a safe and peaceful night.
Best Foam Toddler Bed Rail
Hiccapop Toddler Foam Safety Bumper
For parents not wanting a tall barrier for their children, a bumper like this one by Hiccapop may be a great solution for you. The foam bumper provides a low barrier that when touched activates a child’s natural “Passive-Safety” response that lets them know to move away from the edge of the bed.
The Hiccapop foam bumper fits under any deep-mattress fitted sheet for beds ranging from toddler to king meaning there is absolutely no installation needed. Plus, since the bumper is made of foam and not air, you don’t have to worry about it deflating and it can be comfortably rested on while reading your child a book or tucking them in at night.
We think this is a great option because it does allow for easy interaction with your child while still providing a bumper to keep them from rolling over the side of the bed. Once your child outgrows the need for the bumper, simply roll it up and store it for the next child.
Best Inflatable Bed Rail
Toddler Bed Rails by The Shrunks
If you do a lot of traveling and have a trip coming up with your toddler, this may be a great option for you to check out. The Toddler Bed Rail by the Shrunks is an inflatable barrier that’s 48 inches long and about 7 inches tall when fully inflated. It’s a great size for any bed and it provides just enough of a bumper to keep a child from accidentally rolling off the edge of the bed.
These inflatable rails come in a set of two along with a manual pump so you can take them anywhere and easily create a safe environment for your toddler in minutes. Simply tuck them underneath a fitted sheet and you’re good to go!
As with any inflatable product, there is a possibility for leaks so don’t necessarily recommend this for long-term use. However, it’s a great travel bed rail for on the road or for at a grandparent’s house.
Best Bed Rail for Co-Sleeping
Safety 1st Top-of-Mattress Bed Rail
If you’re looking for an extremely secure and safe bed rail that provides a serious barrier to the edge of the bed, this may be the product for you. The Safety 1st Bed Rail sits 18 inches over the top of the mattress and is 36 inches long. We think it’s the safest bed rail available due to the design which eliminates potentially dangerous gaps between the mattress and the rail as well as the SecureTech indicator light which lets you know the rail is properly locked into position.
With so many safety features, you may think it’s going to be a hassle to install however no tools are required and it can be set up within three minutes out of the box. The rail is made to fit a twin, full, or queen sized mattress and is particularly great for co-sleeping due to its design and manner of attachment since it sits on top of the mattress, several inches in – rather than flush with the side of the bed.
This bed rail does not fold down or tuck away so keep that in mind when looking for your ideal bed rail. However, since it ratchets down onto the mattress, it’s extremely sturdy and safe for small babies that may otherwise fall into the gap between the rail and bed. But that’s not to say it’s hard to remove, you can still easily take it off to change sheets and the shorter length gives you room to get in and out of bed without having to crawl over the rail.
We think this is a great design for parents with younger children and especially for those that are co-sleeping. But what about the gaps? Some parents fit an extra rail when they’re babies are rolling for extra security.
It’s a little more expensive than the other models but we think it’s a sound investment for peace of mind in the middle of the night.
Choosing the best bed rail for you really comes down to your personal needs and sleeping arrangements but we don’t think you can go wrong with any of these options. If you’re looking for the absolutely most secure and safe product, our choice would be the Safety 1st Top-of-the-Mattress Bed Rail.
If after doing your research you decide to go it alone, you could grab a handful of your softest cushions and make a crash pad! I tried this with my first and found him underneath the bed a couple of times – still asleep!
For more bedtime tips check out our guide to childproofing the bedroom.