What age is appropriate for a bunk bed?
Bunk beds are a magnetic rite of passage for kids. The adventure of climbing into a special place to hide, play and sleep has a magic appeal. But it’s important to ensure a bunk is the most appropriate option for your child and that they’re mature enough to use them safely.
The safety experts at The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents recommend that children under the age of six do not use the upper bunk. Children below six are simply not considered to be coordinated or disciplined enough to climb up and down to sleep.
But there are other factors which must be taken into account depending on your child’s individual characteristics.
RoSPA also suggest that parents should consider whether it is safe for younger children to occupy the bottom bunk because of the risk of entrapment and the collapse of the top-level if the bed is not constructed and maintained safely.
Are bunk beds really a significant risk for young children?
Squabbling with siblings over who goes top has been a childhood ritual for time immemorial. A fight for whose turn it is could result in an unfortunate accident alone. There are also strangulation risks should bedding or clothing become entangled at height.
But falls are the most serious risk.
Indeed, in the UK around 1,000 children a year are admitted to hospital after sustaining an injury falling from a bed.
And while there are clear risks around the use of a bunk bed, it’s important to note that only around one percent of all child hospital admissions are as a result of falling from a bunk bed and falls from the top bunk account for less than four percent of fractures treated.
A bunk bed is in itself not an unsafe object. The prime concern of manufacturers is to ensure that their products are safe. Dangers come from how the bed is installed and the nature of those who use it.
So how do you work out if your child is not only old enough to sleep in a bunk, but mature enough to have one in their bedroom?
When can kids use a bunk bed?
Although six years old is considered by the industry and safety experts to be the minimum age for using a bunk bed, kids are only old enough to use a bunk bed when you are sure they are mature enough to use them safely.
For parents who are more cautious, for whatever reason, it would be recommended that nine years old may be a more appropriate age. Bunk beds are never safe for toddlers. It may be that a child of three or four years old can safely sleep on the bottom bunk.
Yet, even if your little one appears responsible, the temptation to use a bunk bed as a springboard can be too much for some.
Other factors, aside from some kids simply possessing a more reckless nature than others, include any disabilities your child may have, and their physical abilities to climb up and down safely. You should also consider how often your child tends to get up to go to the toilet during the night.
If you have any worries or concerns about the ability of your children to use a bunk bed safely, you can lower the risk by choosing low bunk beds. Whatever the height, always ensure that side rails are both in place and operational and check ladders regularly to assure yourself that they are secure.
Educate your children on how to use a bunk bed in a safe and responsible manner. At first, allow your child to spend one night in the bunk and consider how they got on. You might wish to slowly increase the number of nights they sleep on the top bunk. This technique should also allow your child to adapt while the novelty factor of the new bunk bed subsides.
What is the maximum age for bunk beds?
There isn’t necessarily a maximum age for bunk beds.
Age doesn’t tend to determine an older child’s upper age suitability for a bunk bed. Height and weight are much more important.
Different bunk beds have different maximum weight capacities. The specifications for every bunk bed will be listed on product information materials and on websites.