Make The Crib To Bed Transition Easier With The Best Toddler Bed Rails (2020 Guide)

Make The Crib To Bed Transition Easier With The Best Toddler Bed Rails (2020 Guide)

I don’t think there’s a scarier sound than hearing your child fall out of bed!

It didn’t happen often, but when it did, it scared the life out of me.

I thought my son was ready to sleep on his own, but without a rail?

Nope, I was wrong.

While it was an added expense and something else to assemble, better safe than sorry!

If you’re getting ready to transition from crib to toddler bed, be sure to invest in a rail that will keep your little one safe, and grow with them until they are ready to go without one. 

What is a Toddler Bed Rail?

A toddler bed rail is an item that attaches to your bed (or sits closely to it), that prevents your child from rolling out. 

It’s generally soft, padded, or mesh, so it’s breathable and it won’t disrupt the sleep of your child (or hurt them!) when they turn and roll wildly throughout their slumber. 

When Do You Need a Toddler Bed Rail?

You need a toddler bed rail when you’re ready to purchase a “big kid bed.”

And, by this, I don’t mean the pint sized bed that resembles a crib (because it’s low to the ground already) and already has a small rail built into the side.

I’m talking about the use of a twin or full sized bed, as a little one. 

Many parents actually skip the use of a mini toddler bed because they see it as an added expense. Others go for a queen sized bed to totally avoid another bed purchase for the rest of their child’s life, while in their home.

So, a bed rail is vital in these kinds of situations.

If you’re splurging on a big bed, add a rail to your long term purchase.

4 Types of Bed Rails to Choose From

I also had no idea there are so many bed rails to choose from!

Swing down styles. These rails lock in an upright position for overnight use, and unlock and swing down so your child can get in and out of their bed on their own.

Fixed rail. This looks similar to a swing down style, but it remains fixed, in one sturdy position, in the middle of your child’s bed. They must go around it to get in and out of bed.

Bumper rail. This kind of rail is long, large, and ultra-padded. It gets covered with a fitted sheet and stays tightly put and doesn’t allow small children to roll up and over it. 

Pool noodle. No, I’m not kidding! If you are on a seriously tight budget, visit your local dollar store and pick up a pool noodle or two. Arrange them as you would a bumper rail and take comfort in knowing that you have something set up for your child. While it isn’t as secure as a bumper rail, or a rail installed with hardware, it is better than nothing and will at best wake or alert the child as they turn or bump into it, preventing them from going over the side.

Benefits of Using a Toddler Bed Rail

Bed rails do have numerous benefits. Among them are:

  • Safety. This is the most important and most obvious. Your child isn’t at risk of rolling, falling, and breaking their body parts or, more seriously, hurting their head. It also stays put, is strong, and doesn’t wobble when your child rests or rolls up against it.
  • Containment. I’ve noticed that when my son was placed in his bed with a rail, he was less likely to try to get out and come downstairs or play. It was almost like a visual cue to remain put, since he virtually couldn’t go anywhere. 
  • Installs comfort and confidence. Some kids like to feel “contained.” It gives them a sense of warmth and security. And, when you child can sleep through the night and stay put, it also builds their confidence since they aren’t afraid of falling out.

Things to Consider Before Buying

Some bed rails are much better than others. Before you make a purchase, be sure to consider the following:

  • Safety. Do your research as some bed rails get higher safety ratings than others. The whole point of using a rail is to be effective and efficient. Always read up on how parents who have used a rail receive and rate it. They may offer insight and make points that you didn’t consider. 
  • Type of bed and mattress. Not all bed rails are compatible with every bed. Some rails fit better than others. Before deciding on a rail, measure your bed and mattress. You may need a longer than normal rail, or if you use a pillow top mattress for your kiddo, you could need a taller rail. Some brands of bed are only compatible with padded rails (like Ikea).
  • Type of base. I had no idea there were so many kinds of bases—box springs, slats, flat tops, a steel frame-this totally matters to ensure you get a proper fit. And in some cases (like if you have a slat base), you may need extra accessories like zip ties to ensure it stays put. 
  • Easy to clean. A bed rail should require a lot of effort when it comes to cleaning. Look for something that is sleek and streamlined, and easy to wipe down when needed. Also, something that resists stains is important for nights when your child wakes up with a tummy ache or flu.
  • Design. Do you want to always keep your rail attached? If so, look for a rail that can raise up and down with ease, and that stays out of your child’s way so they can get in and out of bed before tucking in for the night. Do you want something that is plastic, or something that is wooden and blends in with the bed itself and the decor of your child’s room? The design is just as important as the function.

Important Features to Look For

  • Hinged fold-down wall. These are great because they stay attached and are super easy to get up and down in a snap.This also makes changing sheets a breeze and encouraging independence when getting in and out of bed. 
  • Ease of assembly and installation. Who wants to fiddle with setting up yet another object? I don’t! Choose a bed rail that can be attached with little (or no) hardware.
  • Eco-friendly. If it’s coming in contact with your child’s bed, sheets, face, skin, and body; be sure you choose eco-friendly materials and hypoallergenic features so they don't’ have their sleep disrupted due to exposure to less than savory substances. 
  • Fabric and decor. There are many bed rails that can blend in (rather than stick out like a sore thumb) with your child’s bedding, room decor, and bed material.
  • Breathable. You want to install something that will promote air flow and not be a danger to your child as they sleep. Look for mesh panels or rails that have slots in the side of them so enough air can get through.

6 Steps to Installing Your Bed Rail

Installation isn’t too tricky. In fact, some require little to none at all.

But, if you’ve purchased a rails that does, you can get it up and running by following a few easy steps via Home Guides:

  • 1
    First, you need to remove the mattress from the bed to look at the slats.
  • 2
    Next, position the legs of the bed rail on top of the slats and ensure that the outer portion of the bedrail sits firmly against the side rail. You want about 9-10 inches of space between your headboard and bed rail (so your kiddo can get in and out without too much of a fight).
  • 3
    Next, you want to make sure that the bed rails’ legs are centered on top of the slats. This is when and where you place the corner braces or L brackets (on top of the slats and against the bed rail legs). Also, make sure you center these as well! 
  • 4
    Simply mark off the bracket screw holes with a pen or pencil and get to work! I used a cordless screwdriver to help me install everything, but is possible to do it all with a regular screwdriver. 
  • 5
    ​Then, you just reposition the rail, line everything up, and continue to attach the rail with the leftover brackets and screws. 
  • 6
    Repeat any steps if necessary, and return the mattress to the top. Voila! You’re done.

The great thing about installing anything today is that you have the help of the internet and can easily watch videos and refer to installation tips from the manufacturer and it’s installation guide.

Best Toddler Bed Rails

#1. Regalo Extra-Long Swing Down

The Regalo Extra-Long Swing Down (click here to check the price on Amazon) is an excellent, swing down system that gives you added peace of mind.

The steel construction makes it durable and secure, and you'll appreciate that it's suitable for toddler beds on up to king size.

The exclusive patented Gap Guard feature prevents children from sliding between the mattress. If you have a restless sleeper, this may be the solution for you.

This product is longer than most others, and having the extra long 56-inch length is an advantage. If you need a rail for older children or adults, this is a good option.

We also like the quick and easy setup. As a certified Juvenile Manufacturers product, with a rating of "frustration-free", you can feel confident that setup will be a breeze.

Some parents have noted the discrepancy in height as advertised. Described as 20 inches in height, it has been found to be only 16.5 inches high. If you have a deeper mattress, this rail may not be high enough.

Also be aware of the removable mesh sleeve. Although easy to assemble, you may have trouble fitting the sleeve over the frame. With a little practice, however, you should have your technique down.

#2. Summer Infant Double Safety

The Summer Infant Double Safety (click here to check the price on Amazon) is the design to have if your bed is not positioned against a wall.

The two rails connect under the mattress for stability, and it meets current ASTM 52085 standards.

The ease of assembly and installation is a really nice feature. No tools are needed to put this thing together, and the two rails are securely attached to each other with sturdy straps; the straps fit under the mattress and won't slip.

We also like that one of the rails is designed to fold down for easy access. This style is convenient when sitting bedside, and it's also handy when changing linens.

What's also nice is that the rails are covered with a breathable mesh material that is easy to wipe clean. The fabric can be removed, machine-washed, line dried and easily replaced back on the rails.

Do keep in mind that this product is not suitable for some platform styles. If the platform is designed with a lip which the mattress sits, this product will not attach properly.

Also note that it requires box springs. If mattress sits only on slats, the straps will not be as secure.

#3. Munchkin Sleep

The innovative fold down Sleep Bed Rail by Munchkin (click here to check the price on Amazon) features a durable aluminum frame.

The ultimate in safety is combined with a modern design and is available in many fun colors to compliment your décor.

The assembly for this one is really simple. All manufacturers claim that assembly and installation are pain-free and fast, but this rail by Munchkin is so easy that you can put it together in just a couple of minutes.

Munchkin has also nailed it with the fold down site. The push button hinge is user-friendly, and the ease of the hinge operation will not be frustrating for busy parents.

Another ease of use feature is the cover. The mesh fabric cover goes on and off in a flash, and it's totally machine washable and wipes clean in between washings.

Do keep in mind however that it's shorter in length than you might expect. At about 29 inches in length, it is one of the shorter models out there.

The Munchkin is also not suitable for use on cribs or convertible cribs. It is strictly designed for use with twin, full and queen-sized mattresses.

#4. Regalo Swing Down

Another good option from Regalo is the regular Swing Down rail (click here to check the price on Amazon).

This sturdy, swing down model can help you and your child get a better night’s sleep, and it works perfectly for twin, full, and queen size mattresses.

This Regalo model has a nice, longer length, 43 inches long for added security and peace of mind. It's also a good option for older children and adults, and there's still enough room at either end for easy access.

The Swing Down is completely PVC and lead-free, and is certified by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association and backed up by a limited 90-day warranty.

What's also a plus is that the rail cover is made with a breathable mesh fabric, so it's safe if the child snuggles up against it. It's also machine wash and line dry, and easily wipes clean with a damp washcloth between washings.

A few parents did note that this unit isn't as easy to assemble as some other models. Although no tools are required, it might take two people to assemble, install or adjust it.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the hooks are a bit unstable, so the rail may move from side to side with mattress movement, making the rail less secure.

#5. Hiccapop Sleep Bumper

The Hiccapop Sleep Bumper (click here to check the price on Amazon) is good for those toddlers who only need a gentle reminder.

The bumper subconsciously triggers your child's natural passive safety response, and it let's tame sleepers know they are close to danger and should move away.

We really like the design here. Other designs create a wall and can seem cage-like, but this bumper type guard is less noticeable allowing your child to observe the room without feeling boxed in.

The ease of installation is also great, as it requires no tools or complicated attachments. It installs safely and stress-free in just a minute or two, which is ideal if you'll be doing this single-handedly.

Hiccapop is so confident in this product that they offer a 100% money back guarantee. If you are not completely satisfied, for any reason, simply return for a full refund.

A couple of things to be aware of: one, it can be a bit noisy. You may find that you hear an annoying foam on foam sound, which can disrupt your child's sleep if they are a light sleeper or sensitive to noise.

The bumper liner may also not be grippy enough to adhere well to the mattress. If it slides around too much, it will not be as secure as you want it to be.

#6. DexBaby Convertible Crib Bed Rail

The DexBaby Convertible (click here to check the price on Amazon) is a good option for cribs that convert into toddler beds.

DexBaby has designed this fold down exclusively for convertible cribs, and its top of the line construction and materials meet all current safety regulations.

Using a unique dual reinforced anchor system, this rail secures to the frame rather than under the mattress. It's a simple and stress fee installation that requires no tools.

We also love that DexBaby is so confident in this product that they have been offering a lifetime guarantee for twenty years.

This product was definitely built with sturdy construction, as the metal frame holds up as time goes by to grow with your baby. The fabric cover is super durable so that you don't need to worry about tearing or fraying with years of use.

Some parents did point out that the releases used to fold down are difficult to unlock and require two hands. With practice, you might get the hang of it but take note.

Also keep in mind that this system is designed strictly for crib sized mattresses. If you have a crib that converts to a toddler bed using the same crib mattress, this won't be an issue.

Wrapping Up

To me, a bed rail wasn’t just an “added expense.” It was a pure necessity.

I got a much better night’s sleep myself, knowing that I didn’t have to keep an ear out for my son’s movements, or worse yet, his fall.

Choose a bed rail that complements your current bed and bedding, and that is safe so it can grow as your child does!


Hi there, I'm Kate! I started Maternity Glow to be a place for new and expecting moms to come to for practical pregnancy advice, parenting tips, and baby care tricks.

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