If your child is transitioning to a big-kid bed, a toddler bed rail or bumper can keep them safe. But which style is best for you?
We’ve tested and compared a wide range of products to find the best safe sleep solution for your toddler — so they can remain in their bed without injury or the temptation to run wild in the night.
Read on to learn more about how, when, and why you should use a bed rail or bumper. And if you want to ensure that the next thing that goes bump in the night is not your little one falling out of bed, check out our top seven recommendations for the best toddler bed rails and bumpers.
- Cover is machine washable
- No installation or tools needed
- Hardy and easy to clean
- Very easy to use
- Fits all beds
- Little assembly required
- Folds down for easy access
- Folds down fully
- No assembly required
- Fits almost every brand of crib
- Taller and longer
- No assembly required
- Fits up to queen size bed
- The longest bed rail
- No possible way to fall out
- Universal fit
- Impossible to fall out of
- Pretty darn cute
Are Toddler Rails Necessary?
Nothing sinks a parent’s heart quite like hearing a dull thud when their backs are turned. The transition from crib to bed is stressful enough without any scary nighttime falls, so if you’re feeling nervous about bedtime safety, installing a bed rail has a lot of benefits.
- They’re safer: You don’t want your toddler hurting themselves if they roll over and fall. This can be a scary experience for a child, and the disorientation can set back their progress, especially if they were already a little apprehensive about the new bed. But another benefit is that there’s less chance for them to wander unsupervised in their room and get into mischief!
- The psychological transition to a big bed is easier: A toddler bed with a bed rail can be comforting to a child as they leave behind the safety of their crib. The sudden lack of crib bars can feel frightening, but a bed rail can make a child feel more contained.
- You get a better night’s sleep: A bed rail means no leaping out of bed to pick up a screaming child from the floor in the middle of the night. Enough said.
Types of Bed Rails and Bumpers
Let’s look at the most common types of bed rails and their pros and cons.
Fixed Bed Rails
A fixed bed rail is a static panel you install under the mattress with some room on either side for a toddler to get up and leave the bed. This option is the simpler, cheaper choice for when you need a little extra something but not necessarily a prison-grade perimeter with turrets and barbed wire. This is a good choice for older, more independent kids.
Adjustable and Convertible Bed Rails
As the name suggests, adjustable bed rails can be lengthened or shortened to fit the size of your toddler mattress. They are usually lightweight, and some come with the option to adjust their height.
Convertible bed rails are great for replacing one of the sides of a crib, so they tend to be on the smaller side. Though this kind of bed rail is not always adjustable, it’s often lightweight enough to remove quickly if needed.
Fold-Down Bed Rails
If your child still may need your occasional attention at night, or if you’d prefer a product you can tuck away when not needed, look for a fold-down rail instead. Some swing down, while others can be slid or pushed directly down. Either way, these lightweight rails are easy to use.
Lock into place at night to provide a solid barrier, then unlock and swing away during the day when you need to make the bed.
Extra-Long Bed Rails
You might opt for a longer rail if you’re co-sleeping and want to keep your toddler in your bed as they transition to their own. Some rails come in pairs to form a safe barrier on the side and bottom of your bed while you sleep on the other side.
Extra-long rails are also great if you’re transitioning your child to a twin or larger-sized bed or have a bed in the middle of a room that needs extended protection on all sides. They’re great if you don’t want any gap on the side of the rail where your toddler can climb out. One disadvantage is that the larger the rail, the less portable and adjustable it is.
Foam, Inflatable, and Portable Bed Bumpers
A foam or inflatable bed bumper is simply a large bolster pillow that fits alongside the mattress to create a soft barrier. Small and unobtrusive, they may be just the thing to boost your toddler’s confidence. You can install them in seconds. They go under the sheet, and most toddlers find them really cozy.
Foam bed bumpers are made of firm foam in a soft, washable cover. They are a gentle and convenient way to prevent the older or more confident toddler from creeping too close to the edge of the bed.
Bumpers are usually more affordable than bed rails and take up far less space. They are also very portable. Just pack it up to take to Grandma’s house if necessary.
An inflatable bumper may be your best bet if space is an issue. These bumpers usually have a non-slip bottom and are super tiny when deflated.
An inflatable bumper may be best for you if you like the idea of something you can stash away out of sight when not needed anymore.
How to Choose the Best Bed Rails & Bumpers
Here are some factors we consider when comparing bed rails or bumpers.
It may seem obvious, but in an eternal attempt to drive parents crazy, beds and bed accessories are rarely built to a standard size.
To ensure a good fit, measure your mattress. Confirm the length, width, and — most importantly — the height (don’t ask me how I know never to make this mistake again!). It’s best to aim for a toddler bed rail or bumper that will sit at least 6.5 inches above the mattress.
If you’ve bought a crib or mattress that is only compatible with its own brand’s accessories, you’ll need to buy from them again or research online if there are any substitutes or hacks you could try. Take note of the overall height of your bed, as some taller fold-down rails might bump into the floor when lowered.
Don’t be tempted to look only at the manufacturer’s pictures. Consider how the rail attaches under the bed. You won’t need to worry about this if you’re going for a bumper, but the type of base your bed has makes a difference.
Take a good look at what’s under the mattress. Does the bed have a box spring, wire coils, or slats?
Make sure you have a clear idea of how you will attach the rails securely to the bed base. The only thing worse than falling out of bed is falling out of bed and taking the bed rail with you.
For flimsy or thin cot mattresses, you might need to err on the side of a lighter, fixed rail made of mesh. If you have a slatted bed, you may need to ensure your mattress is heavy enough to support the bed rail. If you have a sunken bed, be extra careful, as few bed rails will fit.
If you’re anything like me, you’re still clinging to the silly idea that your toddler’s room decor should look as cute as you imagined after scouring those baby furniture catalogs. But there are reasons besides vanity to consider the material the rail is made from.
Wooden bed rails, for instance, look wonderful but may get dirty easily and are on the heavy side. Mesh or netting can feel lighter but will be less robust than a solid canvas or plastic panel. Look for finishes that you can wipe down.
Finally, even though they’re designed for children, confirm there are no sharp edges, toxic materials, or other hard and pokey bits that might hurt your child.
The Best Toddler Bed Rails and Bumpers of 2022
After comparing all the strengths and weaknesses of the top-selling toddler bed rails and bumpers, we’ve found these seven options to be the very best.
1. Hiccapop Foam Safety Guard for Bed
Best Foam Bumper
We aren’t the only ones who love this product — and for good reason. This foam bumper consistently gets high ratings from parents looking for an easy-to-install solution. The materials used are free from nasty chemicals, and the bumper passes all federal safety standards. The manufacturers offer a lifetime guarantee, so you don’t need to worry if it gets damaged.
The cover is machine washable, and the whole bumper is hypoallergenic. If you’re a little freaked out by the idea of caging in your toddler at night, this is a gentler option. Two bumpers on either side can create a cozy cocoon your child will actually want to sleep in.
If you co-sleep, you might even find that you fall in love with this bumper, too. It’s soft, reassuring, and easy to put on or take off as needed. It’s high enough to keep little ones contained but low enough that it still feels like part of the bedding.
- Affordable compared to most rails.
- No installation or tools needed.
- No fussing with sizing, straps, clamps, etc.
- The bumper sometimes shifts around during the night or falls off the bed.
- More determined children can roll right over it.
- It’s bulky and may take up valuable real estate on a bed.
2. The Shrunks Portable Bed Rail Bumper
Best Inflatable Bumper
This bed bumper is low commitment, hygienic, water-resistant, and seriously easy to use. Plus, I feel like anything inflatable is just more fun somehow. It’s made of really thick, odorless PVC, and even the clumsiest toddler would find it hard to hurt themselves on it.
I like this solution because of its elegance. Blow it up, tuck it under the sheets, and just like that, your kid’s bed resembles a bouncy castle. And don’t worry, the plastic surface has a silicone back that holds it in place.
An inflatable bed bumper is a gentle and bouncy reminder of where the bed edge is, so your toddler can simply roll back into place if they’re prone to moving around on the mattress as they sleep. You can deflate the whole thing and fold it up, ready to take on trips, or simply pack it away when not needed.
- Hardy and easy to clean. Just wipe down.
- Couldn’t be easier to use.
- Fits all beds, meaning you don’t have to worry too much about sizing.
- If you have very tight fitted sheets, these bumpers may be too snug to fit.
- A really acrobatic sleeper could conceivably dislodge one during the night.
- It takes up quite a lot of room on the bed, which can be a challenge for co-sleepers.
3. Summer Infant Double Safety Bed Rail
Best Adjustable Bed Rail
This cheap and cheerful bed rail set is ideal for when you know you’ll only be needing a rail temporarily. The rails adjust to fit beds from twin to queen size and come in a pair, making it ideal for beds that aren’t pushed directly against the wall, although you should note that only one of the rails folds down.
We especially liked the sturdy construction and how easy this was to install. The design and minimalist gray color also go surprisingly well with any room decor.
The best thing is that these rails can be adjusted to fit a whole range of beds, meaning you could reuse them for a different bed or another child’s room later on.
- Minimal assembly required.
- Folds down for easy access to bedsheets.
- Not suitable for beds without a box spring.
- The fold-down mechanism can be a little stiff, making it tricky to use.
- You must use both rails at once, so avoid if you only need one.
4. Hiccapop Convertible Crib Toddler Bed Rail Guard
Best Convertible Crib Bed Rail
We loved using this bed rail, and many moms seem to agree. What’s unique about this product is that it securely, and I mean securely attaches to the crib.
Unlike other rails that “float” and are just held down by the child’s weight or anchors on the other side of the mattress, this one directly attaches to the metal frame of the crib.
With two adjustable steel clamps screwed to the crib frame under the mattress, you won’t find a more secure fit. After screwing the frame in place, you can easily fold the rail down and click it back up into place.
This is the ideal rail for convertible cribs and will give you peace of mind for a smaller child whose weight might not be enough to hold down a less secure rail. Since it’s on the smaller side, this rail is also more portable and is quite tall, making it a great all-around choice.
- This rail folds down fully.
- No assembly required.
- Fits most crib brands.
- This cheaper rail won’t take much wear and tear on the mesh.
- If you have a particularly thin mattress, the support bars might distort it.
- The lightweight frame doesn’t hold up well to rough use.
5. Regalo Double-Sided Swing-Down Bed Rail
Best Fold-Down Bed Rail
The Regalo bed rail frequently comes out on top when rated by parents — and we agree that it’s an excellent choice. These very sturdy rails are generous in length and relatively tall at around 20 inches.
The set includes two rails, which means it’s the right choice if you have a standard single-size bed situated in the middle of the room and want to make sure your child isn’t falling out of either side of the bed.
These rails fit up to a queen-size mattress and attach with straps, making them ideal for co-sleeping arrangements. The rails are neutral-colored and fold out of the way easily, leaving the bed easy to make and accessible for storytime. The design ensures no annoying gap between the mattress and the rail.
- Taller and longer than most rails, ideal for attaching to your own bed for co-sleeping.
- No assembly required.
- Fits up to a queen-size bed securely.
- The tall railing may hit the floor when flipped down if you have a shorter bed.
- The bars are uncushioned and may be uncomfortable for more active sleepers.
- The product takes time to disassemble.
6. ComfyBumpy Extra-Long Bed Rail Guard
Best Large Size Bed Rail
If your toddler seems to be an escape artist, you might prefer this extra-long rail that covers the entire length of a full-sized bed. Install one, and you have a pretty foolproof way of keeping your toddler where they belong as they co-sleep with you. Install two, and you create a large, transitional crib for the child who needs a bit more encouragement to move over to the big kid bed.
The construction of the flat iron bars is innovative, which is great if you have a princess-and-the-pea situation and want to sleep without feeling any lumps or bumps under the mattress.
What I really like about this rail is its breezy assembly, not to mention that it is free from harmful chemicals like BPA, phthalate, latex, and lead, ensuring your child is not only safe from falling but also safe from toxins.
The mesh is finer than on other models, making it feel quite airy and light, and the minimalist design allows you to match your room theme. The mesh still allows you to peek through and check up on your little sleeping beauties.
- The longest bed rail option.
- No possible way to fall out.
- Fits up to a king-sized bed.
- Bulky once installed.
- Doesn’t work with toddler mattresses.
7. Milliard Portable Travel Bumper Bed
Best Portable Bumper Bed
Of all the toddler bumpers and rails on this list, your kid will probably consider this one the best. This bumper was created for travel and is a snug little way to ensure your toddler doesn’t go rolling into trouble when you’re away from home.
The cover design is super cute and makes a nice comforting “nest” if your child is a nervous traveler. Pack a favorite toy and the right blankie and you can offer a cozy zone just for them that will settle any nerves about sleeping away from home.
We love that it’s basically an all-in-one bed. All you need to do is add a pillow and bedding, and you’re ready to go. But you may still need an additional permanent sleeping arrangement at home, as some parents have found that it’s not great to use on top of an ordinary bed.
- Portable and easy to set up.
- Impossible to fall out of.
- Pretty darn cute.
- The foam warps over time.
- At 27 inches tall when folded, this still may be too large to lug on shorter weekend trips.
When Should My Child Start Using a Bed Rail?
You and your toddler can decide together when you’re ready to use a bed rail — if you use one at all.
The first thing to remember is that you don’t have to use one. You may have a child who is content to hop into the big-kid bed without too much fuss.
You can use a bed rail if you feel your child is ready to progress from the cot but not quite ready to be on their own in the big, scary bed yet. Bed rails are all about transitions, but it’s your call how long you want to keep it up.
How to Fit Bed Rails
How you install a bed rail depends mainly on what kind you choose. If you’re unsure about installation, choose a lightweight fixed bed rail that doesn’t require much effort.
Most fixed, adjustable, and fold-down bed rails will require a little assembly, for example, piecing together the tubing through pockets in the mesh. But after that, it’s pretty much plug and play. Follow your manufacturer’s instructions, insert the support prongs underneath the mattress, and you’re done.
Make sure you maintain around 19 inches of free space on either side of the rail. If extra support straps are included, make sure to fix these carefully. Many models require a strap to go under the mattress and anchor on the other side with discs or hooks, so make sure these are firmly in place.
Test out the rail yourself by getting in the bed and pushing on it. The rail should remain firm and safely clicked into place.
Getting That Elusive Good Night’s Sleep
It sometimes feels like getting your children to sleep peacefully through the night should be classified as an Olympic sport. But you’ve got this! As you tackle sleep transitions, remind yourself that you’ll get there eventually.
As frustrating as it can be to help your baby grow up, it’s scarier still for them as they venture out into the world. Be patient. Take your time to find a product that works for you. And relax. Most tumbles out of bed are usually nothing more than a slight embarrassment.