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Are Bunk Beds Safe for Children?

by Shelley Frost, studioD

Bunk beds offer space-saving options for small rooms, but the stacked beds can also put your child at danger for serious injury. The results range from simple cuts, scrapes and bruises to serious head and neck injuries. Despite the injury risks, children can use bunk beds when attention is paid to safety and injury prevention.


Many bunk bed-related injuries happen when a child falls from the top bunk. Rolling off the bed while asleep is one possible cause of an accident. Other kids fall from the top bed while playing. Depending on the way a child lands, he might injure his head or neck. The risks also include minor injuries, such as bruises, and more serious injuries, such as broken bones. Strangulation can occur if a child gets caught on a corner on the top bunk. Entrapment can also occur if a child becomes wedged between the bunk bed and wall. Another potential danger is collapse of the bunk beds, particularly with metal frames that have been poorly welded.

Who Should Sleep In Bunk Beds?

Children younger than age 6 represent the largest number of injuries on bunk beds, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Children in this age range should never play or sleep on a top bunk bed. An older child can usually sleep on either the top or bottom bed as long as he is mature enough to follow safety rules. A child who rolls around excessively or sleep walks will be safer on the lower bed.

Safety Precautions

A safe location is the first step in allowing your child to use a bunk bed without injury. Choose a spot away from ceiling fans so your child doesn't get hit by the blades while on the top bunk. A corner location gives your child two walls to prevent falling out of bed. Scoot the bed close to the walls so there isn't a gap large enough for your child to become trapped. Guard rails on the sides of the upper bed may prevent him from rolling out of bed while sleeping. Securing the ladder also helps prevent a fall. Regular inspection of the frame, screws and slats will allow you to identify a problem before a bed collapses.

Rules for Use

Even with safety precautions in place, your child still has a risk of injury if he uses bunk beds improperly. Set rules for playing and sleeping in bunk beds. The upper bunk should be reserved for sleeping only, since play can lead to falls. Cords, strings, ropes and similar objects hung from an upper bunk bad increase the risk for strangulation if your child becomes entangled in the item. Climbing into the top bunk only with the ladder and using caution when in the upper bed will help increase safety.

About the Author

Based in the Midwest, Shelley Frost has been writing parenting and education articles since 2007. Her experience come from teaching, tutoring and managing educational after school programs. Frost worked in insurance and software testing before becoming a writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education with a reading endorsement.

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