Is it just us, or does having kids make it feel like there’s never enough real estate inside the house? Kids and their stuff take up a huge amount of space — and a kids bed is a major furniture item (and space-sucker). So, whether your kids are room-sharing (#apartmentlife) or you just want an extra sleeping option for sleepovers and visiting cousins alike, a bunk bed can be a fantastic investment. But safety comes first, so we talked bunk bed guidelines with Dr. Lara McKenzie, principal investigator for the Center for Injury Research.
McKenzie, who works with the website Make Safe Happen, notes that while bunk beds can be convenient space-saving sleeping arrangements, there are an estimated 36,000 nonfatal bunk bed-related injuries each year. “Children get hurt in bunk beds playing or sleeping — these injuries are from falls, jumps, ladders, bed malfunctions and striking the bed,” she says, noting that bunk injuries are more severe than those related to conventional beds.
So if you go with a bunk bed, make sure you look at brands and styles that meet current safety standards — and rule out homemade or hand-me-down bunks. And don’t forget to check that the model you buy has not been recalled at recalls.gov; “There are a lot of bunk bed recalls,” cautions McKenzie.
Then, when setting up bunk beds, make sure there are guardrails on either side of the top bunk that are at least 5 inches above the mattress — and that have gaps 3.5 inches or smaller to prevent kids from getting stuck or falling out. McKenzie also recommends placing bunk beds in the corner of the room (and away from ceiling fans, obviously), so there are walls on both sides. “Discourage children from playing on or under the bunk beds,” she adds, also warning: Only one person on the top bunk!
To prevent nighttime falls, use a nightlight for those ladder-climbing bathroom breaks — and clear any objects from around the bed. Also, children under 6 shouldn’t sleep on the top bunk, period. Find out more about furniture safety with the free app Make Safe Happen.
And now comes the fun part: choosing a bunk bed that meets all those standards and is still somewhere your child will get psyched to sleep. Luckily, there are plenty of fun, elegant, fantastical and oh-so-safe bunk beds that will make you want to be a kid again — and will let your kids rule their room (and corner the sleepover market too). Read on for ideas.
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A version of this article was originally published in May 2017.
Cabina Bunk Bed
A minimalist mama’s dream, this bunk ain’t cheap but it will stand the test of time — and look cool doing it. Add that yellow-and-gray color scheme and you’ve got a Scandinavian-chic kids room that will never go out of style.
Pottery Barn Tent Bunk
Pottery Barn Kids always has fabulous picks, and this tent bunk is no exception. Its simple design lets you go wild with your imagination — and your decor. Rainbows like this pic? Woodland creatures? Turn it into a starship!? The possibilities are endless.
Twin-Over-Full Bunk Bed
Modern, sleek and downright beautiful, the Lawanda twin-over-full bunk bed not only meets all ASTM and CPSC safety standards, but it also includes anti-tipping brackets. The drawers and extra storage are a major plus too.
The name sounds like menstrual relief, but the Mydal is actually Ikea’s super-popular wood bunk bed. Safety-wise, Ikea says: “High beds and the upper bed of bunk or loft beds are not suitable for children under 6 years of age due to the risk of injury from falls.”
Okay, this one is not for the faint of heart — or wallet — but can you even?! It looks just like a classic dollhouse, complete with picket fence. Think of the pretend play this beauty would inspire! The only drawback we can think of is that changing the sheets could be a challenge…
Another big-budget bunk, this one is handcrafted in Denmark. But, hey, it is knot-free Scandinavian pine from 100 percent certified and sustainable forests after all. It features a top cabin bed, a bottom bunk and a pull-out drawer that can be a third bed for guests.
The Fort bunk bed from Room & Board comes in beautiful colors like blossom pink and ocean blue. Further customize your duo by choosing a twin-over-twin size or a twin-over-double.
Bonus: The beds can separate for when kids age out (or just decide on a reorg). Made of sturdy steel, the fort bunk complies with or exceeds all safety standards.
The most epic of the bunch: The camper van. Despite its SoCal vibe, this amazing camper van bunk bed is handmade in the U.K. The plywood bunk features a working door and surfboard ladder to inspire nomadic beach dreams.
It’s a whimsical winner but take heed: The camper van bunk comes flat-packed to you at a steep price.
The Tree House twin-over-twin bunk bed is a top contender for us due to its fun design and quality craftsmanship. It’s available in three colors (white, brushed gray and darker wood), and is tall, so make sure you have a ceiling height of at least 9 feet in your kids’ room.
The Tree House bunk comes with an anti-tip kit, and the beds should be mounted to the wall.
The Woodland twin-over-full with twin trundle by Viv + Rae features… pretty much everything!
A twin on the top bunk, a full bed underneath, plus another twin trundle bed ensure that you can fit all the children on this setup — a slumber party dream. Plus, it has attached stairs that are also a bookcase so you can store all their stuff to boot.
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