A Tale of Four Beds and a Bed Rail

Here is the part of the blog where I recount the dry details of my life in case it’s helpful for someone somewhere for some odd reason.

Our 3-year-old daughter transitioned to her fourth bed last night.

At birth, she slept in an Amby Baby Motion Bed.

At 8 months, she graduated to a twin mattress placed directly on her floor. We never bought or needed a crib.

At 18 months, my wife got a hankerin’ for her daughter to move into a “big girl bed.”  That meant a twin bed with a headboard. We would forgo a toddler bed because it’s a waste of money when your kid is just going to grow into a twin bed anyway.

I fought her tooth-and-nail because, hey, the kid is fine with the mattress on the floor. No! No! No!

At 2 years, a friend offered us her grown son’s twin bed. It was free, so we took a look. Pushing the mattress snugly against its footboard created a good 10-inch gap between the mattress and the headboard. That’s right, a nice big drop to the floor inviting injury or death. Centering the mattress in the middle of the bed didn’t help. Thanks, but no thanks.

Photo of a single bed frame with head and footboard and a custom fitted set of three boards replacing slats for supporting a mattress.

At 2.5 years, another friend offered to sell us her (disassembled) twin bed cheap, and my wife bit. You bought what, honey?

This bed turned out to have a 6-inch gap between mattress and headboard. Our best guess is that the gap affords space for draping a bulky comforter. It’s a useless feature for us because my daughter doesn’t use a comforter or even a top/flat sheet. We just drape a blanket over her that she can pull up when she’s cold.

So, with my wife forging ahead with her dream bed, we had to make a couple modifications.

First, we didn’t want our daughter slipping into the hole, so we slid the mattress forward, and stuffed two rolled up blankets into the hole at the foot of the bed.

Second, we knew that stuffing blankets into a bottomless hole wouldn’t work, so an additional fix was needed. We replaced the wood slats that support the mattress with a foolproof solution.

We measured the dimensions of the bed, then visited Ace Hardware and bought a three-quarter-inch thick board measuring 75″x40″. The store cut the board into three slabs that fit the contour of the bed frame. Three slabs were necessary so they fit in our car. The cost was $30, the same price we paid for the bed.

Not only did we eliminate the hole, but those boards can support a whole team of monkeys jumping on the bed.

Photo of the Gutvik bunk bed.

At 3.2 years, and a baby on the way, we began thinking about bunk beds. Sure, the top bunk isn’t safe until 6-years-of-age, but hey, a bunk bed is in our future no matter what.

I’m a big garage saler, so my plan was to keep an eye out for a great bunk bed at an unbeatable price over the next few years. No rush.

Within a few weeks, Freecycle popped up an offer for a free bed. Freecycle is a mailing list where people give away stuff they don’t want. You connect with a person and go pick up their item at their home. A lot of the offers are for junk, but once in a while gems appear.

A family moving into a new house had a new bunk bed and wanted to unload their old one. It turned out to be an IKEA Gutvik in great condition. We had to remove some butterfly stickers and secure a minor crack with wood glue, but otherwise, hey, our search was over.

Plus, our bed has a backstory. It ranked number 9 on a list of the 101 Dumbest Moments in Business. When the Swedish IKEA sold its bunk bed in Germany, customers there noticed that Gutvik, in their language, sounded like “good f**k.” Oops.

One issue with the bed is that our daughter wants to sleep in the top bunk three years too soon. So, we turned the bed around, positioning the built-in ladder against the wall. A rambunctious kid could still try climbing the rails on the footboard, but our daughter isn’t a climber and would get scared at the thought.

The twin mattress fits snugly in the Gutvik, so we don’t know what was up with the two previous bed frames.

A photo of the bed rail raised and a second photo with the bed rail rotated down for access to the mattress.

With both twin beds we’ve used a Dex Universal Safe Sleeper Bed Rail. Its winning feature is a rail that folds down to ease changing of bed sheets.

The unit is secured with two bars that slide on top of a platform bed or above a box frame. A tethered disc can run across the mattress and serve as counter-pressure to assure the rail doesn’t fall out.

We noticed last night a safety notice on the Dex stating it is not supposed to be used on bunk beds or day beds, but we were unable to imagine any scenario where the rail could be a hazard.

Meanwhile, the product box touts the Dex as “the only bed rail that works with all beds… even platform beds… guaranteed!”  Hmm, maybe I’ll contact the manufacturer and keep theorizing about how the rail could be hazardous. It seems very secure.

In the meantime, we’ll be using the top bunk to store gear for the next baby.

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9 Responses to “A Tale of Four Beds and a Bed Rail”

  1. thordora says:

    We have to get a bunk bed eventually, but I doubt we’ll score like that!

    We never used the rails on either kid-just pillows on the floor in case. My oldest fell once, my youngest hasn’t yet. We had to get a toddler bed due to space constraints though-my oldest has a captain’s bed which takes up WAY too much room.

    August 16th, 2007 at 6:54 am

  2. Jennifer says:

    I think what they mean is not to use it on the top bunk so you don’t depend on that holding a child so high up from taking a huge plunge down. I don’t think they really mean that it can’t be used on the bottom bunk.

    August 16th, 2007 at 8:16 am

  3. Chief Family Officer says:

    Thanks for making me LOL!

    August 16th, 2007 at 8:03 pm

  4. Stephanie says:

    Sounds like what we went through with my son, except we did have a crib, and the changes were mostly his idea.

    Started in the cradle, then when he was old enough he went to the crib. Day after his second birthday he started pulling on the side of his crib, clearly upset about it, and when I asked if he wanted it off, it was a definite yes.

    Two months later my sister offers us her daughter’s old toddler bed, so in it goes.

    Two months later my son asks his Daddy for a big boy bed. Once again, very clear. Bought this one (from IKEA), and it should last for years. Starts out as a regular bed, but you can flip the whole thing over for a loft bed later on.

    I would have cheerfully done the mattress on the floor thing, but my inlaws would have flipped. At one point they decided my daughter must be sleeping on a box spring because her bed only had one mattress. Took weeks to convince them that no, they did not need to buy her a mattress, she already had one. No, it was not a box spring. Really. We’re positive. The mattress is supported by wood.

    August 16th, 2007 at 10:27 pm

  5. E Munda says:

    HA..twin bed on the floor! great minds think alike that’s what our two year old son is on right now. and with one on the way too, the bunkbed is our path as well. my son did go from co-sleeper (total backsaver) to between mom and dad on the bed to the floor. He climbes between us anytime he feels like it tho.

    August 17th, 2007 at 6:35 am

  6. Mark says:

    You inspired us to go with the mattress on the floor look for ages, but turns out it secretly drove my fiancee batty for him not to have a bed, so we suddenly acquired the bed that SHE had slept in as a toddler. He insists on calling the bed “Papa” because his grandfather made a special visit to bring it to him.

    August 17th, 2007 at 9:35 am

  7. Mark says:

    Oh, and by the way — you don’t know how lucky you are that your daughter isn’t a climber. Brings a whole new element of “excitement” to life when your toddler has absolutely no fear of heights.

    August 17th, 2007 at 9:37 am

  8. Chief Family Officer says:

    Stephanie – Thanks for the tip about the bed flipping over – do you happen to know what it’s called? That would be perfect for my toddler when he outgrows his current toddler bed.

    And Mark’s right – you’re very lucky not to have a climber with that bed in your house!

    August 17th, 2007 at 2:37 pm

  9. Gina says:

    I need to transform my bunk bed into the double bed as shown in manual .

    The only thing i do not understand is that when the 2 beds are attached side by side the middle still has the wooden part which is higer than the wooden slats . Is that not going to bother my daughter when she sleeps in the middle with that lump ?????

    October 2nd, 2009 at 9:04 am