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We co-sleep with our little one and it has generally been very successful. Now she is on the brink of learning how to crawl, and we are worried that she might crawl off the bottom of the bed while we are sleeping.

How do people avoid this happening? Will she automatically not do this or will we notice if she does?

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Been co-sleeping for 17 months and counting. My daughter always woke me up because she would nurse upon waking. When she started walking we put the mattress on the floor. We put her crib mattress on the floor in between our bed and the wall (keeps her bed from sliding). Trying to slowly transition her to her own bed. –  Rhea Sep 29 '12 at 7:21
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Kids need to learn that things have edges and that you fall down when you crawl or toddle over them. We had our kids often on a futon on a carpet. Maybe an 8" fall. That was perfect for learning what happens if you go over the edge and what to do about this. As a result they were all very early "staircase" safe and knew what to do when approaching an edge.

Barriers prevent this learning from happening. I'm friends with a brain surgeon at Boston's Children hospital. According to him one of the main causes for serious brain injury are barriers at the top of the stairs. Kids climb eventually over them and the resulting fall is typically head first much much worse than simply falling down the stairs as is.

In your case it really depends on what a fall may look like. If it's a 4 foot fall on stone tiles, you need prevent it with all possible means. If it's only two feet and there is only one spot where the youngster could escape, I would consider putting a thick pillow or elevated cushion there. In any case, I would make sure that there is some opportunity for safe falling so that the kid can learn the properly handle that.

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You'll need to put up some sort of child barrier, definitely. Once children start getting mobile in bed you've got to make sure they're contained as they move in their sleep and could easily wriggle their way off the end, sides, or anywhere they can possibly get to.

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That's just silly, unless your bed is two meters high or something. Our baby is super-active, and he's never fallen off the bed while we're asleep -- and while he did fall off a few times when he first started crawling, literally within days he figured out that he has to go down butt first. –  jpatokal Sep 24 '12 at 0:59
    
@jpatokal, have you ever considered you were just lucky? –  GdD Sep 24 '12 at 7:48
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GdD - kids should fall off things - that is how they learn. Couple of falls and they don't want to hurt themselves again. All you want to do is try and get rid of the really sreious risks, as @Hilmar said. –  Rory Alsop Sep 24 '12 at 8:18
    
@RoryAlsop, to me a child falling off a bed onto a hard floor counts as a risk. OK, it's only a couple of feet but a child can break something from that high. At the very least put down some cushions if you want them to learn a lesson out of it. –  GdD Sep 24 '12 at 8:56
    
Agreed - that's why I referred to @Hilmar's point suggesting exactly this. –  Rory Alsop Sep 24 '12 at 8:57
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