Bunks are generally safe for children ages 6 and older.

How to Keep Toddlers From Climbing the Ladder to the Top Bunk

by Chelsea Fitzgerald

Frightening images of your toddler jumping or falling off the top bunk afflict many parents who purchase this space-saving bedroom furniture. This fear is appropriate since about 50 percent of the injuries resulting from this type of bed are in children ages 6 and younger, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Daredevil toddlers often find the temptation too hard to resist despite parental warnings. Nasty falls may result in a broken leg or arm, a concussion or worse. Take steps to keep your toddler from climbing the ladder to the top bunk.

1 Talk to your toddler often about the dangers of falling off the top bunk bed. Point out that a broken leg or other injury is painful and annoying. An injury of this type will likely prevent him from running, jumping or enjoying many of his favorite activities until he recovers. Ask him to repeat back what you said to ensure he understands. If you have an easy-going and compliant child, these warnings may be all that are necessary. Still, it's best to take measures to ensure safety.

2 Separate the bunk beds if space allows. This creates two separate twin beds or a full and twin bed combination. Once your child is older, he should be able to use the top bunk safely and you can put them back together.

3 Retract the ladder if this feature is available on your bunk bed. This allows you to push the ladder up onto the top bunk or out of reach of the toddler.

4 Remove the ladder during the daytime when your toddler is awake. Many bunk bed ladders simply hook in place. All that is necessary to remove it is to lift it up and out. Other types of ladders require a screwdriver to remove them. Slide the ladder under the bed, put it in the closet or lay it on the top bunk to store it.

5 Move furniture that your child may use to climb onto the top bunk even with the ladder unattached. A nightstand, chair or even a dresser provides opportunity for inquisitive and adventurous toddlers to climb.

6 Shop around for a bunk bed ladder cover or barrier. These work well on metal, wood or pipe ladders and they make it impossible to climb the rungs when the cover is in place. Wrap a quilt around the ladder tightly and secure it in the back with duct tape or another strong tape. This is an effective way to make a homemade ladder cover and it prevents the toddler from climbing.

7 Lock the bedroom with the bunk beds in it during the day. This is particularly effective if you have a playroom in another area of your home. It is also appropriate if the children have difficulty sleeping due to the lure of their favorite toys in the room. Locking the door instills the knowledge that the bedroom is not a playground and is for sleeping only.

Items you will need

  • Screwdriver
  • Bunk bed ladder cover
  • Bunk bed ladder barrier
  • Door lock
  • Quilt
  • Strong tape

Tips

  • Consider purchasing a trundle bed if space is at a minimum in the children’s bedroom. This type of bed allows you to pull out the trundle for overnight guests. After the visit is over, simply take off the extra bedding and slide it back under the top bed. Trundle beds are available in a variety of styles and often resemble an attractive day bed.
  • Ladder barriers and bunk bed ladder covers are available wherever bunk beds are sold and online.
  • Even the most compliant child may ignore safety rules when playing with friends or when boredom strikes. Watch your child carefully to ensure that she does not succumb to temptation when near the ladder.
  • Consider removing the bottom or bottom two rungs of the bunk bed ladder. This enables an older child to get into the top bunk but prevents smaller children from climbing it. Many rungs simply twist out or you can take the ladder to a lumber company and ask them to remove the lowest rungs.

Warning

  • Don't allow a child younger than 6 to use the top bunk, as recommended by Fisher-Price. Children older than this are typically able to climb up and down safely.

About the Author

Chelsea Fitzgerald covers topics related to family, health, green living and travel. Before her writing career, she worked in the medical field for 21 years. Fitzgerald studied education at the University of Arkansas and University of Memphis.

Photo Credits

  • George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images