Kids' cribs are among the furnishings most often reported for safety issues, so it pays to be doubly cautious about your child's bedding by checking the CPSC Web site for current recalls before you shop. By the age of about 6, a child can be introduced to a standard sized bed, and a bunch of new options open up.
Choosing flexible bedding for a child who's past the toddler stage is a great idea. Options like loft beds can maximize the space in a room with a two story approach that puts the bed on what would be the top of a bunk bed arrangement while reserving the lower bunk area for storage, seating and even a desk. It's a great choice for a small bedroom that has to work on many levels (pun intended). We like loft beds because there are so many style options to choose from. Before you fall in love with a loft bed, though, measure the room you have in mind. Check the door swings and the location of the windows, electrical outlets, vents and ceiling fixtures. These units are large, and they have to fit the layout of the room closely in order to work properly.
Options like trundle beds and standard bunk beds are another flexible choice in bedding. They can sleep two children to a room without sacrificing personal space in the process. Bunk beds have been around forever, and the concept is pretty useful. Where there's elevation, there's some cause for concern, though. There have been reports of children falling out of top bunks, getting their heads stuck in the guardrails or becoming trapped between the bed and the wall (or between the mattress and the frame). This doesn't mean that a bunk or loft bed is a poor choice. You should inspect any unit you're interested in carefully, though, and make sure your child is mature enough to use a bunk or loft bed safely. Consumer Reports suggests waiting until a child is at least 6 before allowing him to take the top bunk, but maturity should always be your guide.
There are some other bedding choices that deserve attention, too. Some are standard single bed sized but start off low to the ground for easy child access that can be adjusted upward as your child grows. They're a cost effective choice as they can stay with your child through his tween and teen years, too. Sticking with that notion, one of the most practical choices for an older child is a standard double bed. If you have the space, this has the advantage of being suitable for a developing child, but will still be practical in a young adult's first apartment -- or can become part of a spare bedroom once your child is out on his own. If you like this approach, you'll be placing a child in an adult bed, so make sure the bed frame is sturdy and there are no gaps between the frame and mattress, or between the headboard, footboard and mattress that could cause pinching or entrapment issues.
Storage is also an important consideration. Kids accumulate a lot of stuff in a short period of time, and whether it's wall, closet, chest, armoire or under-bed storage, chances are good that you'll soon realize you can't have too many places to stick your kid's belongings. It's hard to teach a child to stay organized if her room doesn't have effective storage. One great solution is modular, adjustable closet storage. The shelves, baskets and bins can morph and change as your child's wardrobe and interests change. That way you can hang a belt collection as easily as you can find a spot for a pile of stuffed elephants or discarded dolls.
Before you start thinking about the style of your child's room, give some thought to how you'll secure or otherwise brace heavy objects. A child dies every two weeks in the U.S. alone as a result of tip-over related accidents. Many are televisions, bookshelves, appliances and chests that aren't secured properly. While you're at it, brace heavy furniture pieces in other areas of your home, too. Buy delightful bedroom furniture that will give your child a cozy place to sleep and daydream, but be sure to go the extra step of making your entire home as safe as possible.