What is the Best Age for Bunk Bed Usage? What’s the Minimum Recommended Age?
Get two beds and stack them on top of one another and you’ve got yourself a bunk bed — most commonly seen in the military, hostels, dormitories, and the like. Nowadays, bunk beds are most commonly seen in kids’ rooms. As parents, we want to be as careful as possible with our children, so in this article we hope to answer your question ‘What is the best age for bunk bed usage?’. For a quick answer…
The best age for bunk bed usage is 6 years old. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of 6 do not use the top bunk of a bunk bed due to safety concerns. However, there is limited guidance available about what’s the best age for using the bottom bunk bed.
Approximately, 36,000 people receive emergency treatment for injuries associated with bunk beds in the U.S. alone. Injuries may vary from mild cuts or bruises to more major cases such as fractures and cerebral concussions. It is worth mentioning, however, that half of those injured are children who are younger than 6 years of age.
The majority of these injuries are minor and often happen following playtime activities — usually when kids jump off or onto their bunk beds. Kids also get injured when they fall off during their sleep. Boys are the more commonly injured demographic, partly because of their more energetic nature. However, there are other, covert dangers regarding the structure of the bunk bed that could potentially lead to suffocation or strangulation.
For these reasons, The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents allow no child under the age of 6 to sleep in the upper bunk. Most younger children simply aren't coordinated enough or disciplined enough about their habits, to climb down safely and avoid falling out of the bed.
What are some safety hazards of bunk beds?
Some safety hazards that of bunk beds include:
- Guardrails that are not properly secured can accidentally collapse and allow a child to fall
- Mattresses that are improperly sized for the bed can make it easy for a child to fall off if they are too tall
- Children playing on the top bunk can try to jump off or accidently might fall during play
- It’s possible for children to fall on hazardous objects in the vicinity of the bunk bed
- Ceiling fans can cause injury to a child on the top bunk
Can bunk beds break or collapse?
Yes, bunk beds can break or collapse if they are not assembled properly. It’s also possible for bunk beds to bend or collapse if the inhabitant on the top bunk exceeds the weight capacity. How much weight can a bunk bed hold? Here's our guide.
What is the best age for bunk bed usage / What is the recommended age for bunk bed use?
The recommended age for bunk bed usage is 6 years old according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, as stated before. For parents who are more conservative, it is recommended that the child in the top bunk bed is 9 years old. At this point they have the discipline to follow your rules and don’t play recklessly in their bed room like their younger siblings might.
Bunk beds are excellent solutions for families that have limited space in their house or want their children to grow up sharing their sleeping quarters & toys. However, it is essential that you follow bunk bed safety guidelines from the AAP & manufacturer’s recommendations such as this manual which also mirror the AAP guidelines -- the minimum age for the top bunk is 6 years old. We also have another article providing tips for bunk bed safety.
How old do kids need to be before using a bunk bed? Are bunk beds safe for toddlers and 2 year olds? Are bunk beds safe for 3 and 4 year olds?
Bunk beds are not safe for toddlers and 2 year olds (especially not the top bunk bed). The lower bunk bed doesn’t have any safety guidelines so please use it once you determine if your child can safely sleep there using your own instincts. We recommend that you buy a bunk bed with a trundle for your children. Bunk beds with trundles provide you all the space benefits and allow your children to share the same room, but present none of the safety hazards. Here’s an example of a highly reviewed bunk bed with a trundle.
Lower bunk beds should be safe for children who are 3 and 4 years old. However, as before, use your own discretion.
How can I make my bunk bed safer?
To make your bunk bed safer, follow these tips from sources such as the Nationwide Children’s Hospital:
- Install guard rails on all 4 sides of the top bunk of a bunk bed (including the side facing the wall)
- The railing should be at least 5 inches higher than the mattress of the top bunk. Do not purchase a bunk bed mattress that is too thick for the top bunk.
- The opening for the bunk bed ladder must be less than 15 inches wide
- The lower edge of the guard rail should be less than 3.5 inches above the foundation of the bed.
- Ensure that the mattress size matches the size of the bunk bed so your child cannot get trapped between the mattress and the wall or guard rail
- Children should be taught not to play on the top bunk or on the bunk bed ladder
- No jumping, pushing or kicking should be allowed on either bed of the bunk bed
- Only one child must be allowed per bunk bed
- Children must be taught to use the ladder as the only way to get in and out of the top bunk
- Install a night light near the top bunk and the ladder so that children can easily see the ladder rungs and opening in the dark
For more details and additional tips, visit our article on bunk bed ladder safety.
When to buy bunk beds for my children?
Buy bunk beds for your children when they are around 6 years old (minimum) and 7 years old (recommended). At 7 years old, a child has sufficient cognitive decision making skills and provides you ample time to train them to properly use a bunk bed. You can, for example, spend time teaching your children how and how not to use a bunk bed.
You can then introduce them to one and let them interact with it, gradually get them used to how it feels. Allow them to learn the rules of bunk bed safety and constantly test them to make sure they remember them.
After you’re certain your child is ready, allow him or her to sleep in the bed for one night. Slowly grow the number of days you allow your child to sleep in the bunk bed and enforce the rules of bunk bed safety.
You might enjoy this bunk bed price guide which talks about the cost of bunk beds based on what features they have.
How to choose a bunk bed for your children
To choose a bunk bed for your children, first consider whether you want to buy one from a store or assemble it yourself. Consider the material for the frame and the mattress, the bunk bed size, the mattress size, and finally find a good sale within your price range.
Here are a set of articles that can help you with your research:
Take measurements to find the right bunk bed size for your children's room — after all, bunk beds come in different shapes and sizes. The most common type is the twin over twin. Other variants, although not as common, are the twin over full and full over full models. To help with your decision, you should take into consideration your kids' ages and heights as well as the bedroom size and available floor space in accordance with other furniture pieces.
As far as bunk bed materials, there are limited options as you are most likely going to end up choosing between wood and metal. Metal bunk beds are usually constructed of tubular metal and tend to be less expensive. Although they get squeaky with time, they work well and are generally cheaper. Various wood types are available which are heavier, more durable, and also more expensive. The most common types of wood for bunk beds include cherry, pine, or hardwood.
If your kids aren't ready for bunk beds, maybe you can consider a trundle bed instead. Take a look at our comparison guide for bunk beds vs trundle beds for more information.
What age do bunk beds go up to? How old is too old for a bunk bed?
Bunk beds go up to any age where it is unsafe for the occupant to climb up and down the ladder. There is no single age limit. While an adult is far less likely to miss a ladder rung while climbing the bunk bed, older adults might have physical limitations to what they can do due to medical conditions.
A senior person who is 50 years old with arthritis should not climb a ladder to sleep in a bunk bed. On the other hand, a 65 year old who is perfectly healthy can safely sleep in the top bunk without worrying.
What are some safe bunk beds for children?
When it comes to buying stuff for your children, you'll want products that are safe, affordable, and durable. Here are two safe bunk beds for children:
- Harper and Bright, Wood Bunk Bed, Twin Over Twin, with Trundle and Staircase
A perfect bed for families with one child younger than 6 years old and another that’s older than 6. If the young child is a toddler or 2 year old, he/she can sleep in the trundle bed safely. Then your younger child can graduate up to the lower bunk bed while the older sibling sleeps on the top bunk and gets their privacy.
What we especially like about this bed is that it has a well-supported staircase instead of the conventional ladder. This will make it easier to climb and be more comfortable than standard ladder rungs.
It also provides 4 storage drawers for extra pillows and blankets as well as a sturdy, high guardrail for your child's safety.
Unfortunately, the user guide doesn’t provide much information about the best age for bunk bed usage.
- Storkcraft Hardwood Twin Bed for Kids with Ladder and Safety Rail
What we especially like about this bed is that it uses Rubberwood. This wood is naturally denser and more durable than pinewood.
It also has full-length guardrails built-in so you don’t have to purchase them separately. Additionally, the angled ladder will make it easier to climb to the top bunk while seeing the ladder rungs. This should make it less likely for your child to fall while climbing.
Another nice detail about this bed is that it can be converted into 2 separate twin beds once your children grow older and no longer want bunk beds. The long lasting rubberwood should ensure that this bunk bed lasts you.
The user guide from Storkcraft recommends that the minimum age for a child to use the top bunk bed is 6 years old.