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Safety bed rails for kids

Consumer Reports News: May 05, 2010 05:08 AM

When your child begins to climb out of the crib or reaches a height of 35 inches, it’s time to leave the crib behind. Some children will try to escape from the crib earlier than others, so be sure to make the switch if you see this behavior, even if your child is still less than 35 inches tall.

If you don’t have a toddler bed, consider using an adult-size bed and install bed rails to keep you child from falling out of bed. Use bed rails only with adult mattresses and box springs. Never install portable bed rails on a crib or toddler bed because the mattress is too small to support them. And don’t use them on bunk beds, waterbeds, youth beds, inflatable mattresses, or a bed without a box spring. (Young children should never sleep on waterbeds.) Look for a certification sticker from the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) on the rail or the packaging. (See What does the JPMA certification seal really mean?) Bed rails should be used when your child is about 2 until age 5.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing bed rails. If they leave a gap or loosen during the night, your child could get trapped, so use the rails strictly according to the instructions and check them each night before use. Be sure they fit tightly with no gaps between the mattress and the rail, so that your child can’t get stuck. Leave at least 9 inches between the bed rail and the footboard and headboard of the bed.

Don’t use the wall as a bed rail. Putting a bed against the wall is not an acceptable substitute for a bed rail. Your child could get trapped between the wall and the mattress. Look for bed rails that can be securely attached on each side of your child’s bed.

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