Best Toddler Bed Rails & Bumpers

Neve Spicer
Written by Neve Spicer Updated on April 19th, 2023

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Progressing from a crib to a big kid bed is a necessary step for a child’s safety and maturity, but like all transitions during toddlerhood, it can come with some difficulty and uncertainty.

Sturdy bed rails and soft bumpers can help ease the change, helping to create a “contained” feeling that soothes kids into sleep and can prevent them from falling out of or wandering from their bed or convertible crib.

If you’re unsure about what bed rails are or which are best, dive into our buyer’s guide to find out what’s available and for help with choosing one that’s right for your kiddo and their sleeping requirements. We’ve also compiled a list of which are the best bed rails for toddlers and why, so read on.

What are some types of bed rails and bumpers I can choose from?

  • Large rails: If you’re transitioning to a co-sleeping situation, or your child will be moving directly to a larger mattress, large bed rails might be appropriate for your needs. Their intent is to offer greater coverage on all sides, but they can be pretty large, ungainly, and often not adjustable. They’re rather tough to escape from, though, so good for wanderers and ideal for when a bed must be placed in the middle of a room rather than with two sides against a wall for added security.
  • Fold-down rails: Often favored by parents who still need easy access to their younger child during the night, fold-down rails are designed to do exactly that! With the press of a button, the rail folds down, allowing parents to reach in easily without disrupting the rail’s attachment to the bed. They’re easy to use if well-made, though inferior picks sometimes have stubborn switches that can lead to frustration.
  • Adjustable or convertible rails: An alternative to fixed rails, adjustable ones are less solid in their construction, but create a barrier encouraging kids to remain in bed during sleep. You’ll worry less about it fitting your child’s mattress, as the intent of these rails is size versatility. While not all adjustable rails do this, some are also height-adjustable, which can be helpful as kids grow.
  • Fixed rails: If your child’s a bit older, a fixed rail might be a good pick. They consist of solid panels which don’t fold down or adjust, and attach to the underside of your little one’s mattress. They tend to be smaller than their adjustable counterparts, and leave a bit more room for your kiddo to leave bed on their own; meaning they’re more suitable for kids old enough to understand basic safety and follow rules.
  • Inflatable, portable, or foam rails: This covers a wide variety of products, which can include large foam inserts with coverings, inflatable plastic bumpers, and portable bumpers and nap pads with raised sides that prevent injury. Both foam and inflatable bumpers are simple to use and clean, as most slip right under a standard sheet and are waterproof or have a waterproof cover which can be wiped clean. Less sturdy than rails, especially ungainly picks may require larger sheets secured with clips. For those in a pinch, regular craft foam, pool noodles, and pillows under the sheet can all double as makeshift bumpers.

What are some things I should consider when choosing a bed rail for my child?

  • The size of their crib mattress: Unfortunately, when it comes to cribs, beds, and mattresses, size standards don’t really exist. It’s important to measure their mattress in order to know exactly what size rails you’ll really need to keep them safe; keep in mind that some brands will only work with matching accessories, so do your due diligence and make sure you’re choosing a rail that will work with their mattress.
  • The type of base under the bed: While this concern is irrelevant when using bumpers, the type of base that’s under your kiddo’s bed matters when choosing a rail that will work for them. If they have a slotted box spring, their mattress will need to have enough heft to keep the rails in place. If they’ve got a thin cot or crib-style mattress, a thicker rail likely won’t work, so you may have to opt for a thinner, lighter adjustable rail. If they have a sunken bed, using rails is probably a no-go, while bumpers may do the trick.
  • What the rail is made of: Like all gear used to protect or contain your child, it’s wise to look for materials that are durable, safe, and easy to clean. Wooden rails that look nice may contribute to the aesthetic of their bedroom, but don’t necessarily extend to function, which will matter far more to you in the present.

In what ways could a bed rail benefit my child?

  • It makes sleep safer for tots: A tumble out of a big kid bed or convertible crib can lead to serious injury, especially for a smaller child. Even if only resulting in bumps and bruises, falling can make kids transitioning from a crib feel afraid of bed sleep and stymie progress that’s already been made. A bed rail or bumper can prevent these falls and setbacks, and full-sized bed rails can also prevent younger children from access to danger by keeping them contained.
  • It may make them feel more comfortable as they switch to a big bed: While the sensation of being contained during sleep is something they’ve experienced their whole life, making the transition to a bed can feel totally different and a little bit scary. The use of bed rails can mimic the contained sensation cribs offer, which can make the change feel less intimidating.
  • Parents get more sleep: A kiddo taking a tumble from bed or wandering into your room is a surefire way to put an end to your precious sleep. When bed rails are installed, both are far less likely, allowing you to remain soundly at rest.

When should I start using a bed rail for my child? For that matter, when should I stop?

As bed rails for toddlers are designed to be used as a transitional tool, there are no hard and fast rules as to when their use should start or stop.

It’s safe to start transitioning your toddler to a bed (or convert their crib) by the time they reach 18 months, so we think that’s the earliest age at which a rail can become useful.

They may begin to reject it on their own as they feel more secure, especially if you keep an open dialogue about its presence and the purpose it serves.

While continued use won’t do any harm, some parents continue to use soft bumpers to keep restless sleepers from falling out of bed even into their children’s elementary school years.

What are some important bedtime tips for toddlers?

  • No more crib by three: Though a crib is unbelievably handy when your baby is small, it becomes less safe as they grow. By the time your baby is gaining the strength to sit up on their own, it’s wise to lower the crib mattress for their safety. When pulling themselves up, they have the potential of falling out, which is dangerous. By three, they’re likely to be more than capable of climbing out on their own, which poses a hazard and renders a crib ineffective; it can also lead to an unhealthy attachment that will disrupt their transition into a big kid bed.
  • Use care when choosing bed or convertible crib placement: Placing their bed or convertible crib anywhere that’s near dangling objects, cords, strings, or other things they can grab can lead to accidental strangulation, suffocation, or other injuries, therefore it’s essential to choose a space that’s free from such objects and distrations.
  • Say goodbye to mobiles, or at least move them: While a pretty mobile above the crib was a great tool for helping your baby’s developing eye muscles, once they’re toddler-age, they’ll now be able to stand up on their own two feet and yank it right down to play with. They’re not intended as hands-on toys, so this can pose choking and strangulation hazards, among other issues. If you really love one particular pick, consider hanging it high up over a craft table or somewhere they won’t be able to grab at it.
  • Restrictions can be eased a little: By the time your child reaches 18 months, they’re no longer as vulnerable to SIDS concerns as they once were; this means that it’s fine for them to choose the sleeping position they find most comfortable, and that a small pillow and blanket are acceptable sleep companions, though it’s still best not to overload them with pillows, blankets, and stuffed animals while they’re small.

Our top picks for the best toddler bed rails & bumpers

Editors choice

Our opinion

Type: Crib rail
Material: Metal, nylon, plastic
Height: 16 inches
Single or double-sided: Single
Bed sizes accommodated: Convertible crib

Convertible cribs are a highly functional pick for a nursery and bedroom, as all can transition into a toddler daybed, while some can even be converted into a full-size bed frame once your child is old enough.

If you’ve opted for one, you may be searching for a convertible rail, a form of bed rail specifically designed for convertible cribs. This pick from Hiccapop (check price on Amazon) checks all the boxes, offering sturdy anchoring to the crib frame for safety and an easy, functional fold-down switch to allow access to your little one.

The height isn’t adjustable, but at 16″ it’s just about right for any lowered convertible crib. Parents should note that while this rail fits most major brands of cribs, IKEA cribs are not compatible.

What we love
  • It’s just the right size and shape to keep them safe and comfortable when transitioning their crib to a daybed
  • It folds down to allow easy access for a bedtime story, diaper change, or anything you need
Watch for
  • Though it’s compatible with cribs from all other major manufacturers, IKEA cribs won’t work with this rail

Upgrade choice

Our opinion

Type: Bedrail
Material: Polyester, metal
Height: 18 inches
Single or double-sided: Single
Bed sizes accommodated: Twin, full, queen

A gap between a mattress and a bedrail is an invitation for lost objects, stuck arms, and pinched fingers. It’s important to close that gap as much as possible, which the Munchkin Sleep Toddler Bed Rail (check price on Amazon) achieves through the use of strong safety straps, allowing it to fit flush against the mattress.

It’s a fold-down rail with a very simple mechanism, so a great pick when they first make the transition to a big-kid bed. You won’t need to be an engineer to install this pick which takes about a minute to assemble, while cleaning it is as simple as wiping with a damp cloth and leaving the rail to air dry.

Parents should note that while this rail can accommodate twin, full, and queen-sized beds, it’s not suitable for a king mattress.

What we love
  • It helps to close the gap between the rail and the mattress through the use of safety straps
  • The button hinge works well, and is rounded for your child’s comfort
Watch for
  • Though it’s fine for a twin, full, or queen mattress, it’s too small for a king

Best budget buy

Our opinion

Type: Bed Rail
Material: Polyester, Metal
Height: 21 inches
Single or double-sided: Double
Bed sizes accommodated: Any

If transitioning your child to a larger bed or co-sleeping situation, or if their bed placement is central rather than in a corner, double bed rails can add some extra security to bedtime.

They don’t usually come cheap, which makes this budget-friendly Summer Double Safety Bedrail (check price on Amazon) an extra good get — you won’t break the bank, and the sturdy rails extend to accommodate twin, full, queen, or king beds.

They also have extra panel height, so kids will be protected even if their mattress is thick. These rails also fold down on one side, offering ideal access to younger children and making life easier when changing their sheets.

What we love
  • An affordable double rail set that works with any bed size
  • Panels have extra height, so even if the mattress is thick, there’s still enough rail to keep them safe in bed
Watch for
  • Only one side folds down, so if the bed is centrally placed, this can be inconvenient
  • Folding down the panel requires two hands, as two knobs have to be simultaneously triggered

Best foam bumper

Our opinion

Type: Bumper
Material: Foam
Height: 4.5 inches
Single or double-sided: Single
Bed sizes accommodated: Any

The ease of installing a bumper makes the Toddler Bed Rail Bumper (check price on Amazon) an ideal pick for parents who’d rather not struggle with clunky hardware; they also slide right under the sheet, which makes them less obtrusive.

These performance-tested bumpers are made of CertiPUR-US foam, a non-toxic, soft, but sturdy material that offers passive protection during sleep by encouraging sleepers to move in a different direction if they should feel the bumper while sleeping.

A washable cover with non-slip fabric beaded with silicone helps to keep the bumper in place once installed, making it superior to alternatives like pool noodles and pillows, which can slip around and quickly lose their utility.

It’s also sized to fit under any deep-fitted sheet, so they’ll probably work with some of your existing sheet sets.

What we love
  • Soft foam construction offers gentle prompting to move away from the side of the bed without exposure to a hard rail panel
  • The washable cover has silicone dots which hold the bumper in place under the sheet
Watch for
  • It’s a better pick for older kids, as a little one could still get out of bed easily with a bumper

Best inflatable

Our opinion

Type: Inflatable
Material: BPA-free plastic
Height: 4 inches
Single or double-sided: Double
Bed sizes accommodated: Any

If looking for double-sided sleep protection that’s handy to use both at home and on the go, look no further. The Shrunks Inflatable Rails (check price on Amazon) come in a convenient two-pack, so children will be able to have one on each side of their bed no matter where they are.

Both rails inflate with the use of a convenient foot pump which is included with the set, along with a durable and convenient storage/carrying bag. They’ll be able to use these bumpers both at home and away, easing the transition into sleep for little ones on vacation by creating that familiar sense of containment and safety. When deflated, they take up hardly any room at all in luggage.

What we love
  • A set of two bumpers, so kids are protected on both sides of the bed, if not placed against the wall
  • Small when deflated, perfect for travel, and come with a simple foot pump
Watch for
  • No surfacing on the bumpers to keep them from sliding under the sheet, so you may want sheet clips to secure the tension

Best twin bed rails

Our opinion

Type: Bed rail
Material: Metal, Nylon, Plastic
Height: 19.5 inches
Single or double-sided: Single
Bed sizes accommodated: Any

If you’d rather not worry too much about the engineering specifics of choosing the right bed rail, then one that accommodates all bed bases and sizes is probably what you want. That’s the case with the ComfyBumpy (check price on eBay), which can be attached to any bed size from twin to king and doesn’t require a specific type of box spring to attach.

The rail attaches under the mattress with Velcro straps and flat iron panels, so even if the mattress is thin, they’ll be unable to feel the securing hardware as they sleep. There’s also a central mesh “window” in the rail which they can see through from the bed, helping them feel safely contained, and not ‘trapped’.

What we love
  • Works with all bed sizes from twin to king, and any box spring type is compatible
  • Makes use of flat iron panels and Velcro straps to attach, so kids don't feel the hardware through their mattress as they sleep
Watch for

Best portable

Our opinion

Type: Portable
Material: Foam and waterproof velour
Height: 7 inches
Single or double-sided: Double
Bed sizes accommodated: n/a

If you’d rather not deal with inflating bumpers when it’s naptime or bedtime on the go, a comfortably padded nap mat with raised sides can create a cozy place for your child to sleep without having to worry about restless sleepers taking an uncomfortable tumble.

This portable toddler Travel Nap Mat from Milliard  (check price on Walmart) has a soft velour inner lining that’s cozy and warm to sleep on, with plenty of padding between them and the floor to allow for a relaxed sleep.

The mat has raised bumpers on all four sides, creating that sense of comfort and secure containment that prevents falls. Both the mat cover and included fitted sheet are washable, so keeping the nap mat clean is a breeze.

When it’s time to carry the mat, it simply folds into a convenient briefcase shape secured with a Velcro panel and can be carried via handles that snap together with an additional small cloth panel to keep the mat closed during carrying.

What we love
  • If you don’t want to deal with inflatable bumpers while on the go, this mat offers a nap or sleep spot that discourages rolling, creating a sense of contained comfort
  • Both the mat cover and included fitted sheet are machine washable
Watch for
  • Nap mats should never be placed on existing beds, as they’re designed for the floor or a solid, flat surface — enough movement could send both the child and mat falling off the bed.

And the winner is…

Convertible cribs are highly functional, so their common use isn’t surprising; finding a quality bed rail that’s compatible with almost all convertible cribs, is easy to install and clean, folds down without a struggle, and won’t break the bank, is something of a godsend.

Though it’s not adjustable, the Hiccapop Convertible Crib Toddler Bed Rail (check price on Amazon) can be a significant help in easing the transition when converting their crib to a daybed. Just remember, parents — IKEA cribs won’t work with this one.

Neve Spicer
Written by Neve Spicer Updated on April 19th, 2023

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