How Long is TOO Long for Kids to Sleep with Their Parents?

family feetA while back, I shared my personal experiences and opinions about bed sharing in a blog post. And many people thanked me for making them feel a little better about their routine of sleeping with their children. 

Obviously, at the forefront of the debate are safety issues that cannot be ignored when it comes to co-sleeping. There are several articles here on EverydayFamily where you can read all about that. 

But let’s say your children DO sleep with you. At what age is enough, well, enough? 

I recently researched an article for a client of mine about this very subject.  Interestingly, I found out that there are no ‘real’ laws about sleeping arrangements within a family. However, many people become skittish when, say, an 11-year-old boy or girl is still sleeping with mom and dad. Suddenly, the family bed issue becomes one of sexuality and a question of right or wrong

Yet, I know lots and lots of people who still pile into one bed at the end of a long day, turn on a movie and fall asleep together. From time to time (okay, more often than not), I do this – even with my 13-year-old daughters. It’s our version of an all-girl slumber party and we can talk and giggle and fall asleep with our feet touching. I can say for certain, that there will come a day when I miss these slumber parties. 

Eventually, your bigger kids can become hard to sleep with. And definitely, if your kids are spending the night in mom and dad’s bed, then it will cause a conflict in the intimacy department. Additionally, being able to sleep alone is definitely a developmental milestone in a child’s life. All that aside, does co-sleeping eventually become morally corrupt in your opinion?

The truth is that there are still lots and lots (and lots) of families that opt for the family bed for whatever reason that works for them. They might not be advertising it on Facebook, telling their pediatrician, or talking about it at school – but they are doing it. 

Are they harming their children? Is there something wrong with an older child still sleeping with his or her mom? Do you think that eventually (and always) kids reach an age where sleeping in the same bed should be forbidden? If your kiddos sleep with you, have you set a time limit of how long you will allow this to go on?

 

What do you think?

How Long is TOO Long for Kids to Sleep with Their Parents?

Stef Daniel is the 40ish year old, experienced (meaning crazy already) mother of count ‘em…4 daughters (yes, she takes prayers) who have taught her nearly E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G she needs to know about raising kids and staying sane. She hails from a small town in Georgia where she lives with her family in a red tin roofed house (w ... More

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55 comments

  1. Avatar of Larry Larry says:

    Co sleeping will destroy a marriage. Take it from me I am ready for a divorce. My wife has all three of our kids sleeping in the bed with her. I sleep in another room (got sick of sleeping on the floor). Take my advice if you want a happy marriage keep the kids out of the bedroom since that may be the only alone time you may have with you spouse. As soon as your spouse doesn’t see that line he or she has given up on the marriage and is being selfish by co sleeping.

  2. Avatar of Ami Ami says:

    My daughter sleeps in our bed.
    Before I got pregnant I had trouble falling asleep quickly so me and my partner have never had intimate or important conversations in bed unless it was in the morning we also don’t have sex at night for that reason and because he used to work swing shifts, so essentially co-sleeping doesn’t get in the way of our intimacy at all if it did we’d be screwed since we live in a one bedroom.
    I think it all depends on your needs and those of your child younger children need well rested parents and school aged children need well rested selves and if co-sleeping helps with that then there is nothing wrong with that.
    I think any parent would be able to tell if co-sleeping was hindering their child’s social development and change sleeping arrangements accordingly and if they can’t there are probably bigger issues than whether they let their child sleep with them or not

  3. Avatar of Kelly Kelly says:

    Just want to clue some people in on this topic. My experience, I had 2 children that never slept in my bed. They were started out in a bassinet, then changed to a crib then to their own beds. They are very mature and self sufficient, neither one has ever had low self esteem. They are very independent! Now I am raising my granddaughter the same way and still no troubles. She is 6yrs old, very independent, and confident. UNTIL, my boyfriends 10 yr. old daughter comes to visit. His daughter still sleeps with mommy. She is very heavy set, low self esteem, no independence at all, and when the sun starts going down she starts stressing that she isn’t home with mommy. She has our ENTIRE house in an uproar, even the kitties are put out for her(she sleeps on the sofa in their bedspots) because she says she can not sleep in the bed alone. I must say whenever she is here, my boyfriend and I go head to head many times. Very stressful!!! Then I have to retrain the 6 yr old to understand that we all must sleep in our own beds. UGH!!!

    • Avatar of Ami Ami says:

      If you have nothing kind to say about your partner’s child you probably shouldn’t be with him… and if you can’t stand kids who aren’t perfect you shouldn’t be raising somebody else’s child. It’s also a bad sign that you put the needs of a cat ahead of those of a child.

  4. Avatar of Dario Dario says:

    11 is TOO OLD. I think 5/6 it good cut off age to sleep in their own bed, start practicing from crib-age.

  5. Avatar of Nan Nan says:

    I always thought they’d grow out of it. Nobody told me about this until it was too late! My son will be two in a few days. I hope this will not become an issue when it’s time for him to move out of our bed.

  6. Avatar of Olivia Olivia says:

    My child is two and she’s very attached to me.. I haven’t tried to get her to sleep alone, even with me in the bed with she still wake up crying for me.. now I have another one on the way and I know I’m gonna catch it if I don’t start trying to get her out now

  7. I think that really just depends on the childonly one of my kids stayed in my bed most nights until he was 3. my other kids were out of my bed around 1, 1 and a half when I stopped breastfeeding them

  8. Avatar of Kelly Kelly says:

    As im writing this my two year old daughter is sleeping in my bed with daddy as im on the floor next to the bed so i could get some “me” time (generally means checking emails, reading articles etc etc) but id say that even though i love snugglibg with her, i do not like her foot in my ribs, falling off the bed, and not havibg sex for two years. I didnt plan on co sleeping but she was a preemie and i was a nervous wreck when she came home (she stopped breathing one night). T is avery hard thing to break. She has a big girl bed with sheets she picked out, and sonetimes my husband will carry her backibto her bed but she always comes back to cuddle. I do not see anything wrong with it at any age, we decided to have children, i will never turn her away. We just have to make “us” a priority or it will be just me and my daughter in the bed same time next year.

    • Avatar of Larry Larry says:

      Yup it has already happened to me I sleep in a separate room now. Stop that before your alone time is gone. If he can’t put his foot down then he is selfish and is not serious about the marriage…

  9. For me, we wanted our LO out of our room as soon as possible. She stayed in our room(in a rock n play) for a little less than 6 weeks. I think that a husband and wife’s bed/room is for them to connect and is truly a sacred place, and if kids are always there then I think it’s detracting from the bond a husband and wife need to be strengthening without kids. It should strengthen their relationship which will greatly bless their children.

  10. Avatar of Cassandra Cassandra says:

    My nine year old daughter has started sleeping with me again.. while her father was still in the picture we would let her sleep with us sometimes,, but getting her to sleep in her own room wasn’t easy. She has been sleeping on her own for at least a year. The new man in my life has switched to Nights so now my daughter is now back in bed with me. I do enjoy spending this time with her. and it helps us bond, We have been falling asleep watching Alice in Wonderland. My son who is almost 20 never did have a hard time sleeping in his room.. So if you start them sleeping in their own room when they are young… I do not see anything wrong with a child sleeping with their parents.

  11. I don’t think there is a wrong age for this topic. I’m 21, married and pregnant with my first child and ever since I was a baby every Sunday night my mom and I would crawl into her bed together after dinner, watch sappy shows and movies, eat ice cream and fall asleep. Some of the most fondest and memorable nights I have with my momma dukes!

  12. Avatar of Brandie Brandie says:

    My son is 9 and still sleeps with me,when his father and I were together he slept with us as well I dont have an issue with children sleeping in their parents beds but I do find it troubling for children to be sleeping in the bed with mom or dad and their boyfriend or girlfriend. I dont think my son should have to sleep alone if its just him and me. He does have his own room and spends most of his time in there but at bed time he comes in to my room watches TV for a little bit and goes to sleep.

  13. Avatar of Maria Maria says:

    My son never slept in the same bed with me, he slept in the same room up until he was 4 months then moved to his own room in his own crib. Him and I are both crazy wild sleepers so it never really worked out.

  14. Avatar of Christy Christy says:

    My son is eight months old and he falls asleep in his own bed but eventually ends up in our bed in the middle of the night.I’m sure eventually we will make him stay all night in his own bed we just haven’t decided when that will be. I’m not to sure I want him sleeping with us as a big kid.I guess we will just see have to wait and see what happens. My parents made me stop coming into there room to sleep when I was around 10 which I think was a good age. I think every parent and every child is different.Every parent should do what is right for their child.

  15. Avatar of Joy Joy says:

    I put my kids in their own beds when they can sleep through the night. But I see no problem with a family bed. People used to do it all the time. However, both my husband and I like our space when we sleep and I can’t imagine cramming all those little people into our bed.

  16. Avatar of JessiLoveday JessiLoveday says:

    When I was really little, I remember sleeping in my toddler bed at the foot of my grandparent’s bed. My grandma is a big lady and she didn’t want to crush me, so the big bed was off limits. But I always knew that if I needed something or was scared I just had to wake one of them up and I would be fine.

  17. Avatar of Stephe Stephe says:

    My son is four years old and he sleeps in his own bed for most of the night but usually ends up in bed with me and my husband around four or five in the morning. We don’t have a problem with it since we feel like he just wants affection and to know that we are always there for him even at night. We are expecting our second this month and plan on keeping him in his crib until he is big enough to sleep in a toddler bed and if he wants to do the same thing his older brother does that’s fine with both me and my husband. I feel like it’s very important for children to know that no matter what they can always count on there parents to be there for them.

  18. Avatar of Ailin Ailin says:

    My 3 month old baby sleep in his crib unless he is sick. But I think its better to sleep kids by them selfs so that they can become independable and confident

  19. Avatar of tiffany tiffany says:

    I always said no but out came my 1st son n from day 1-8 months he slept in my arms every night I still do on occasion he is now 18months but he prefers to sleep in his crib unless he is sick. my 8month old has slept with me on and off since he was born and now I usually put them 2 bed, have my me time n then when im ready 4 bed I will bring one or both into my bed. sometimes just me. however if my child wants the comfort of mommy I will never turn them away

  20. Avatar of Christina Christina says:

    I had my first child 15 years ago and she slept with her father and I until she was 5 years old. The night of her 5th birthday she insisted to sleep in her own bed because she was a big girl. Her father and I where devistated…Thankfully, we had a baby on the way. We welcomed him into our family a month after my daughters 5th birthday. From that point on, he has been in our bed. Its been 10 years already and i wouldn’t have it any other way. My son has his own room & at his request, he asked for 1000 count sheets (like mine), a down comfortor with a 1000 count duvet cover & feather pillows…I bought it all. He sleeps in his bed 1/2 nights out of the week about 2 times a week at his grandparents house on the bunk beds they bought for him. and about 4 nights a week in our bed! I give my son the freedom to choose where he would like to sleep. sometimes, when his friends stay the night they sleep on the livingroom sofa. My son says to me that he just needs to be held. It makes him sleep better knowing im holding him. He is a wonderful athlete, very compassionate, loving, secure 10 year old. He is kind and very respectful. He is also very independant & not needy. when my son greets a person to say hello, or nice to meet you goes in for a hug. He loves to be touched. My daughter on the other hand, will not go for the hugs, but rather a stiff hand shake. she is not interested in our hugs anymore nor even entering our bedroom. She was raised in the exact same home as her brother with both her parents but she is just different. I hate that someday my son will decide not to sleep with us anymore but I know its the inevitable. I will hold him, love him, kiss him and say our prayers together for as many nights as he gives me. I wouldn’t trade it for the anything. One day, he’ll be a grown man, a respectful & gentle husband because his mother and father held him. Touch is not bad, sleeping with your children is not bad. Its the people talking about how wrong it is that makes it bad. Maybe they needed to be held more when they where kids to understand the connection between parents and their children. Everyone loves differently but for my husband and I, our children’s happiness matter more to us. We find time to be intimate, for instance, when the kids are at school, at grandparents house…etc. We arent just intimate at night. We talk throughout the day about important things & spend out nights with our kids.

  21. Avatar of Christina Christina says:

    I had my first child 15 years ago and she slept with her father and I until she was 5 years old. The night of her 5th birthday she insisted to sleep in her own bed because she was a big girl. Her father and I where devistated…Thankfully, we had a baby on the way. We welcomed him into our family a month after my daughters 5th birthday. From that point on, he has been in our bed. Its been 10 years already and i wouldn’t have it any other way. My son has his own room & at his request, he asked for 1000 count sheets (like mine), a down comfortor with a 1000 count duvet cover & feather pillows…I bought it all. He sleeps in his bed 1/2 nights out of the week about 2 times a week at his grandparents house on the bunk beds they bought for him. and about 4 nights a week in our bed! I give my son the freedom to choose where he would like to sleep. sometimes, when his friends stay the night they sleep on the livingroom sofa. My son says to me that he just needs to be held. It makes him sleep better knowing im holding him. He is a wonderful athlete, very compassionate, loving, secure 10 year old. He is kind and very respectful. He is also very independant & not needy. when my son greets a person to say hello, or nice to meet you goes in for a hug. He loves to be touched. My daughter on the other hand, will not go for the hugs, but rather a stiff hand shake. she is not interested in our hugs anymore nor even entering our bedroom. She was raised in the exact same home as her brother with both her parents but she is just different. I hate that someday my son will decide not to sleep with us anymore but I know its the inevitable. I will hold him, love him, kiss him and say our prayers together for as many nights as he gives me. I wouldn’t trade it for the anything. One day, he’ll be a grown man, a respectful & gentle husband because his mother and father held him. Touch is not bad, sleeping with your children is not bad. Its the people talking about how wrong it is that makes it bad. Maybe they needed to be held more when they where kids to understand the connection between parents and their children. Everyone loves differently but for my husband and I, our children’s happiness matter more to us. We find time to be intimate, for instance, when the kids are at school, at grandparents house…etc. We arent just intimate at night. We talk throughout the day about important things & spend out nights with our kids.

  22. Avatar of Ellesar Ellesar says:

    I know that this will horrify some… but my 13yo son is sleeping next to me right now. We do not have any ghastly Oedipal issues(honestly!) – it is simply a co sleeping arrangement that we find acceptable. Sometimes he sleeps in the other room, which he shares with my 16yo son, but usually he is here. I have never had a sexual relationship while I have been a mother (work that one out!) so that has never been an issue. My older son separated much earlier, by 11/12 he was gone.

  23. Avatar of Kim Kim says:

    Every once in a while we let our child sleep with us, but it always becomes a difficult habit to break. It’s more of a treat. I’m just wondering if the children are actually more comforted, or if it ends up becoming our desire to be comforted through our children? Loving children isn’t necessarily giving in to every single creature comfort known to man, which is what I notice we tend to do here in America. Setting boundaries early establishes healthier relationships, and healthier children ultimately. I love my kids, but I will not be their "best friend," and this isn’t necessarily neglectful.
    On a practical level… when do parents whose kids sleep with them get quality mom and dad time? You know… sex, snuggling, bed time conversation? I figure putting kids in bed with you simply helps your married time slowly deterioriate.

  24. Avatar of enjoli muthu enjoli muthu says:

    I’m a single mom with an 8 month old daughter who sleeps with me. If I stay a single mom, which is highly likely, I don’t see why I’d ever "kick" my child out of the bed. What kind of sense does it make for the two of us to say goodnight and go to separate bedrooms to sleep alone in the dark? People were made for human interaction, and if she’s not interacting with a sibling and I’m not interacting with a spouse, we’re going to be interacting with one another.
    She still has her little nursery, and if when she gets older she decides she wants privacy or would like to try sleeping in her own bed, or course she’d be more than welcome to. But I will never be the one to initiate that. My baby will always know that she is welcome to snuggle with mama anytime she wants. And if she sleeps with me until she grows up, gets married, and moves out, so much the better. If it were up to me, she’d never have to sleep alone in her life.

  25. Avatar of enjoli muthu enjoli muthu says:

    Love your response! That’s why I can’t bring myself to transition my daughter to her crib… it just doesn’t feel right for a little baby to be left alone in a room for 8-10 hrs in the dead of night.

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