Our predicament:

My son takes naps during the day with my wife, while our niece whom she watches, sleeps in his crib.   Our problem is that when he sleeps in our bed for his nap, he has a tendency to fall out of bed, sometimes even knocking his head on the nightstand on the way down.

We’ve tried everything: pillows, blankets; all piled up next to him, but he is such a toss-n-turner that he works his way right over them and onto the floor. They have bed guards at Wal-Mart, Costco, etc, but they all require a permanent anchor, and since I sleep in this bed at night, I don’t want to have to deal with it.

I came up with the following idea, and it’s far safer and durable than store-bought methods, and it’s simple, effective and cheap. It cost me about $29.00 to put this together and about 4 hours of my time.

It’s basically a PVC construction that slips between the box-spring and mattress on one side of the bed when my son is napping, and I can remove it when I go to bed at night. When not in use, it sits up against the wall and holds my wife’s arsenal of pillows that she keeps on the bed. We’ve found it can also be used on a couch to keep small babies from rolling off if you don’t have a Boppy pillow handy.  What’s also nice is that I can expand upon it when my son goes into a big-boy bed. I’ll just remove the bottom segments and extend them across the bed to another guard for the opposite side. Mulitpurpose!

UPDATE:  I've updated this Instructable due to some comments from concerned members.  I've made two options:  Option A (the original Instructable), which is for larger kids, with larger heads (like mine), and Option B (a new modified model and cutting diagram), for infants, babies and small toddlers. 

DISCLAIMER: Please keep in mind that this is my method is what I have chosen for my family. I’ve done a lot of work in the past with PVC and have a lot of experience with it. If you aren’t happy with what I’ve put together, don’t make one for your kids. Go out and buy your solution. Remember, I am not legally responsible for what you do with this Instructable.  Just keep your kid from falling off the bed! 

Step 1: What You Need.

To build this Toddler Bed Guard, you’ll need the following:

3 x 10’ sections of 1-1/4" PVC pipe (Yes, they WILL fit in your minivan)
Device to cut the PVC (see ‘Cut It Up’ section)
PVC Cement
Small Wood Screws (3/4” suggested)
Drill bits, and such

For Option A
6 x 1-1/4" 90 Degree PVC Elbows
8 x 1-1/4" PVC Tees
3 x 1-1/4" 4-Way Tees (see below where to get them)

For Option B
6 x 1-1/4" 90 Degree PVC Elbows
15 x 1-1/4” PVC Tees
3 x 1-1/4" 4-Way Tees (see below where to get them)
Steel Wool
Paper Towels
Mineral Oil

I wanted it to be super sturdy, for obvious reasons, so I chose to use 1-1/4” PVC pipe.  There are all sorts of sizes of PVC to choose from, and I chose 1-1/4” for its sturdiness and 4-Way fitting availability.

I had to create the idea and get the design on paper (or in my case, in Google SketchUp). I normally order all of my PVC fittings from Formufit (www.formufit.com). I hate to sound like a shill, but I love this stuff, and their products are basically like a giant tinker-toy set for adults. It's a PVC builders playground.  They have even provided some pretty nice PVC Fitting Components for Google SketchUp, which are on their website, or can be downloaded from the Google 3D Warehouse .

Here is a link to the Google SketchUp 3D model that I made for this project (for Option A), and a link to the Google SketchUp 3D model (for Option B), both of which I put on the Google 3D Warehouse. This will let you adjust the dimensions to your own bed/situation.
Remember when we rode bicycles without helmets, and grew up in homes with lead in the paint and somehow managed to survive?<br>Kudos to you for your safe, affordable solution to a common problem. Sorry you have to address the issues of people who have children with tiny heads who chew (ewww!) On their beds. I, for one, appreciate your ingenuity and am perfectly capable of adjusting your excellent idea to my own situation. Which, ironically involves dogs rather than children, which I should hope are more likely to attempt to eat their barriers.
Nice bed rail. Will ask my hubby to do it
VERY&nbsp;IMPORTANT:<br /> ===============<br /> Your distance between slats is way too big. &nbsp;The &quot;code&quot; says it needs to be smaller. &nbsp;I cannot remember the number, but I&nbsp;think it needs to be under 3 or 4 inches.&nbsp; With the distance you are using the toddler can stick his/her head between the slats, get trapped and perhaps even choke to death.<br />
I've updated the Instructable to show two options for making the toddler guard:&nbsp;&nbsp;Option A (the original) and Option B&nbsp;(a modified version). &nbsp;Option B keeps the rungs less than 3 inches apart, and only adds the cost of about 8 more Tee fittings.<br /> <br /> Hope you approve of the update! &nbsp;Let me know your thoughts.
You make a completely valid point.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> The purpose of my creation is to keep my son from falling off the bed and hitting his head on the floor and the end table. &nbsp;I certainly didnt intend&nbsp;to replace one harm with another, however, my son is three and has my 'prominently sized' head, which does not fit through, so for my case, I am fine.&nbsp;&nbsp;I will update the instructable to create an option where the user can put the PVC&nbsp;fittings end-to-end, which would leave a 3&quot; gap.<br /> <br /> I do suggest that the end of the instructables that &quot;Another optional item would be to put a mesh-netting over the whole thing for very small children, such as infants&quot;.&nbsp; &nbsp;I'll press this one on too.
If there's any chance at all that your toddler might be chewing on this thing (which I would think there is....) you might want to reconsider your materials&nbsp; PVC is nasty stuff..not &quot;food grade&quot; by a long shot.&nbsp; <br />
No. &nbsp;Mine is past the chewing phase.&nbsp; However, PVC at room temperature is fine.&nbsp; It's when it gets heated that it can become dangerous. &nbsp;That actually goes for any vinyl-based plastic, which, sadly, is what most toys are made out of.&nbsp; The pipe I use and the fittings that I order from Formufit are made in the US and contain no leads, like some foreign PVCs do.
Still a very good idea. Well done.
&nbsp;PVC's a miracle, isn't it? Great idea, I could have used one of these when I was little; I was always falling out of bed too.
great idea.<br /> :)<br />

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