The Pros & Cons of Bunk Beds

Many of my parenting decisions are based on what I wished for and never received as a child.  The big three that I prayed for every night were a swimming pool, a house with two stories, and bunk beds. Well, we live in NYC, so it’s highly unlikely that my kids are going to get a pool.  There are a few stairs that lead to our elevator, so that one is kind of covered. Ah, but the bunk beds were an itch that I could really scratch.

Soon after my oldest daughter turned 6, we were off to IKEA for the king of kid beds. After a few hours of utter torture and marital strife, my husband and I had erected the TROMSÖ bunk bed, in white. A thing of (very affordable) beauty. The little kid in me was finally satisfied, and my own two daughters were out of their minds with glee.

What I hadn’t reckoned on when we brought home the goods was the amount of policing that a parent takes on with a set of bunks. I’m still happy we went vertical, but I’ve given the beds a lot of thought.

Here’s the breakdown of pros and cons:


More space – it’s like my girls’ room just grew by another 50 percent. There’s a lot more dancing and duck, duck, gooseing going on in there these days.

Cooler looking space – along with the added space, there’s a lot more I can do with their furniture. My inner designer is titillating

Easy forts – another of my obsessions from those wonder years was making forts. No longer do we have to use brooms or chairs for structure. The bunk bed frame practically begs for a sheet to make an awesome fort.

Light options – I’ve got a 6-year-old reader and a 4-year-old that needs more sleep. With the purchase of one little clip on lamp, the war over the light being on has ended in relative peace.

Instant trundle – I had the forethought to grab another (very affordable) mattress from IKEA, which I store under the bottom bunk. Now, sleepovers are a breeze.


The worry  — It seems like ever since we got the beds, I’ve seen about 30 million warnings about the dangers associated with them. There are more than 36,000 cases of bunk bed related injuries each year (more often with little boys).

The fights – although my 4-year-old knows that no one under 6 is allowed to sleep in the top bunk, she is just counting the days until it’s her turn. This, I know, will be a battle.

Tidying up – All of my hard work to get my first-grader to make her own bed has pretty much gone up in smoke. Top bunks are not easy to make. And even don’t talk to me about changing the sheets.

The littles — Over the weekend we had a visit from some friends with a 2-year-old. With the regular beds, I’d let any age kid roam freely, but now with the potential to fracture bones, I can’t let really little kids play unsupervised in my girls’ room.

The Rules –  We’ve got a few rules in my house, like don’t stand on the coffee table or put objects up your nose, but for the most part I like to keep the dictatorial spirit to a minimum. However, bunk beds are no joke, so I’ve had to make some pretty clear rules with pretty harsh punishments.

Here’s a quick list of safety tips:

  • Always use the proper size of mattress in the bunk bed.
  • Do not allow children younger than 6 sleep on top bunk.
  • Have guardrails on both sides of the upper bunk, even if one side is against a wall, with gaps no larger than 3.5 inches.
  • Keep things like ceiling fans in mind when deciding where to put the bunk beds.
  • Use a night light to help illuminate ladders in the dark.
  • Make sure bunk beds and ladders are secure and strong.
  • No horsing around on the bunk beds!

Saves on floor space

One of the most obvious space benefits of bunk beds is that they save on floor space. With one bed stacked on top of the other, you get two beds for the floor space of one! This frees up floor space for other things such as a desk, dressers, or a play area.

Maximizes sleep spaces

Another of the more obvious space benefits of bunk beds is that it allows for more sleep space. With a bunk bed, you can easily accommodate any guests for sleepovers without anyone feeling cramped or uncomfortable. It is also great for siblings sharing a room so they each have their own designated sleep space. You can even go with a trundle style bed which allows for a third mattress to be placed underneath the bottom bunk for even more sleep space.

Under bed drawers and stairs eliminate the need for additional furniture

Another great way to save on space using bunk beds is by adding under bed drawers. These drawers are usually on casters, so the drawers will wheel right out for easy use. This helps to maximize space for string items such as clothes or toys. Another option for maximizing space with bunk beds is the ability to add drawers underneath stairs for even more space. These drawers can be used for toys and clothes, and in some cases, can even be used to eliminate the need for a toy chest or dresser altogether to save on space even more.

Changing space needs

Many bunk beds can be separated into two beds side by side as needed. While this may seem like the opposite of a space saver, it can come in handy if a sibling is getting their own room after sharing a room for a while. You can easily move the top bunk bed to the additional room which will open up even more space ceiling-wise for the bottom bunk left in the original room.

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