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

More to learn more to love

Everyday extras

Tell us what you think!

63 comments

  1. Profile photo of Sarah Sarah says:

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with just sleeping together, especially if its a special occasion like family movie night and every just drifts off together. Humans are social creatures. We’re supposed to bond and spend time together.

  2. Profile photo of Kay Kay says:

    I don’t think our baby will ever sleep in our bed. My husband is a very heavy sleeper (and a big guy) and twists and turns in his sleep so my biggest worry is that he will crush our baby unknowingly. If we had a king size bed, maybe I would consider it, but since we don’t it doesn’t seem to be an option. Secondly, I don’t want the baby getting attached to sleeping with us, because when he gets older he is going to have trouble sleeping alone and will constantly cry and fuss during the night, and then when he is old enough get up and come into our room. I also don’t understand how couples who have their 3yr and up children sleeping with them have any intimacy in their marriage? And even if you’re single… how old is too old?
    My ex’s mother was divorced, and his sister slept with the mother from the time she was about 6, until she was 13. I find that kind of awkward mainly for the mom who had no privacy for all those years.
    We plan to have our son sleep in a bassinet next to our bed for the first month, and then my husband wants to move him to his own room. Personally, that is too early for me, but I do want him out by the time he is about 3 months. I guess to me maintaining my marriage and intimacy with my husband is just as important as spending time with our children.

  3. Profile photo of einz einz says:

    I don’t ever recall sleeping with my parents other than maybe a couple of times when I was really small/in a bassinet as a newborn, but I do remember when I turned 16 and saw my first horror movie with my friends and could not sleep alone for about 2 weeks! My parents slept in separate rooms so sometimes I would go with my mom but I remember sometimes going to my dad too. It wasn’t weird, or sexualized, I was just TERRIFIED to sleep alone, and couldn’t go to sleep without at least a parent in the house. Only when I moved out did I start to get more comfortable being home alone overnight (daytime was fine, as was babysitting, it was just going to sleep without anyone in the house).

    Now? I can’t believe I was ever like that. Although I still don’t like horror movies 😉 My roundabout point is I think there’s nothing wrong with it if it’s right for the child at any age… I’d be more concerned if the parents were pushing for it, but for a kid it just makes them feel more secure, they’ll always grow out of it (how many 25 year olds do you know that can’t sleep alone?). I do think it’s natural to want them to get used to sleeping on their own, though, I’m sure by 3 or 4 I wouldn’t want them sleeping with us every day but for now it’s actually a lot more convenient and we enjoy the extra snuggles!

  4. Profile photo of dismalgrin dismalgrin says:

    When my 6 younger siblings and I got ‘too old’ to share the bed with my parents it became a weekend morning routine. Some of us were in our twenties climbing into bed with our parents to wake them up Sunday mornings. I think that is a good transition for people who want to make the bed off limits.

  5. Profile photo of davidsmom davidsmom says:

    my sister was the same way. she was 9yrs old & still wanted to sleep in my parents bed. my dad perferred to sleep on the sofa since my sister took up the whole bed.

  6. Profile photo of Mom2two12 Mom2two12 says:

    I don’t allow my son to sleep with us…he is two because I heard it was a really bad habit to break once you start. He sleeps in his own toddler bed in his own room. Only time he has slept in bed with me is when we are traveling or camping.

  7. Profile photo of nydia rivera nydia rivera says:

    I slept with my mom until I was 9 and she re-married, I definitely didn’t want to sleep with her anymore! My daughter slept with us until she was 7 and we just had to get her to sleep on her own bed, and she still ended up with us at 2am! With my son, he’ll sleep with us until he’s 2 or 3, then move to his toddler bed.

  8. I say let them do what they please! It isn’t hurting anyone. If it makes them happy, do it! Who cares what people think?

  9. I have two teenage sons that slept with their Dad and I until they were app. two yrs of age. And then I put them in their own room together in the same bed. They did okay although I did sleep in their bed with them for awhile until they got used to it. They turned out to be fine young men. Now I have an eight month old daughter and she sleeps with my husband and I also. I breast fed all my children, so it made it easier to just sleep with them. I will do the same with my next (last) child. There is absolutely nothing wrong with sleeping with your children. People in different countries do it all the time. I think if you feel comfortable doing it, do it. If you don’t, don’t. My opinion is, why make a big fuss about letting your baby sleep with you. It’s not going to hurt them, really, it’s not. My older sister let her youngest of four sleep with her until he was a little over five yrs old. I say, whatever makes you happy, do it. Who makes the rules anyway?

  10. Profile photo of Mrs.Newton Mrs.Newton says:

    I never slept with my parents. I do remember sharing the same room for many years. My son occasionally sleeps with me and his dad. He is two and we are trying to slowly break ME of not having him here with us. It’s getting harder because he flops a lot and I’m pregnant, so hopefully he’ll start to go to sleep in his own bed before the baby gets here.

  11. Profile photo of Francesca Francesca says:

    My husband’s aunt (the surprise baby in her family) slept with her parents until she got married. Weird? Maybe, but she is a very normal person. While I never slept with my parents, my brother and I would climb into my parents’ bed Saturday mornings and play. My baby slept with us until he started sleeping through the night, but he is always welcome if he’s having a rough night. I know many people who shared beds with their siblings. I think we should stop sexualizing things that are not sexual at all. There is nothing inappropriate about (literally) sleeping together.

  12. Profile photo of Madalyne Madalyne says:

    I slept with my sister in the same bed until I was 9 or so. I slept with my mom occasionally until I was in high school. Since she was a single mom and gone a lot of the time, it was our way of staying close. Nothing creepy about it at all.

  13. Profile photo of jfreeman1791 jfreeman1791 says:

    When i was little i was sick and had awful nightmares a lot so i ended up cuddling up with my parents almost every night until i was 6 or 7, we’ve always been a cuddly family. When my son was born i never wanted to put him down so he slept with my husband and i but i found that while i loved being able to hold him all night i didn’t sleep at all. I was terrified that if i did i would roll over on him or he’d some how sufficate on the blankets or my shirt or roll of the bed. Needless to say he only slept with us a few nights. he slept in a bassinet until he was 3 months in our room and then he moved into his crib for a month and then it was on to his own room and he’s sleeping better and so am i. as far as when is too old? well they say that opposite sex siblings can share a room until they are around six and i think that’s a good age to stop co sleeping.

  14. Profile photo of smokiechick smokiechick says:

    I always thought co-sleeping was for other people. I had a friend who still co-slept with her 3 year old and felt really sorry for sex life. My daughter didn’t sleep through the night until she was 3. Eventually, she would wind up in my bed and stay there for the rest of the night – I was too tired to put her back in her bed again.
    She’s 7 now. She is still in my bed on nights when she has nightmares, but I’m pregnant and there isn’t much room for her anymore. She knows that and has been trying to stay in her room. Last night she was inconsolable with pain. She just wanted cuddles. Eventually we got her pain under control, but I suddenly missed sharing my bed with her. It was like when we weaned and I felt like I lost a magical mommy tool.
    I don’t think there’s a magical number for co-sleeping any more than there is a magical number for weaning – what works best for your family is best for your family.

  15. Profile photo of Alyssa Alyssa says:

    Honestly in my opinion they shouldn’t sleep in your bed anymore once they can sleep through the night even before just put their pack and play in the same room. If you’re breast feeding that’s a different story, but it’s better in the long run that you don’t let them sleep with you too long because then they won’t want to sleep by themselves and will throw tantrums till they are throwing up and literally won’t stop till you put them in bed with you. I know someone with a two year old that does that , naps and stuff are fine. and a lot if the time it puts strain on the marriage if the child sleeps in bed with the parents. Plus when the kid gets older and wants sleep overs what’s going to happen when their friends see them wanting to sleep with mommy and daddy?

  16. Profile photo of BrandiWright BrandiWright says:

    My son is 12 months and has only slept with my husband and I a handful of times! He slept in his cradle beside our bed for 2 months and then we moved him into his crib in our bedroom. As soon as he turned 6 months he moved into his own room. That transition alone was wonderful! He started sleeping longer and started self playing! Not only did my son benefit from the change but my husband and I did as well. I personally am against children sleeping with their parents but that is how I was raised. Every parent is different!

  17. Profile photo of Alicia Alicia says:

    Our oldest is 4 and she slept with us off and on. We would always try to get her to sleep in her own bed, but she would always wind up getting into bed with us. So eventually we just decided to go ahead and let her sleep with us. But of course it became hard for my husband and I to get a good night’s rest when we were all sleeping on a queen sized bed. We eventually were able to get her to sleep on a big girls bed(twin) and we let her pick out her own bedding. Now she loves sleeping on her bed. We were shooting for preschool age to get her switched over. It really didn’t bother us until the bed got too crowded for all of us to sleep comfortably.

  18. Profile photo of Jen Jen says:

    My son is 10 months old and has slept with me since I brought him home from the hospital. He sleeps in a pac n play at the sitter and his bed for naps. I always lay him in his bed at night and he will fall asleep but typically wakes up crying for me a few hours later. So I grab him out of the bed and lay him with me. He sleeps all night. My girls, who are all teenagers now didn’t sleep with me as babies or toddlers. Just something about this little boy. Makes us all want to cuddle up with him.

  19. I know me too, even though I want him to be independent and sleep on his crib, I love being close to him and cuddling, I just love sleeping together, but I need to let him grow lol.

  20. Profile photo of candace candace says:

    my baby when she got home slept in her own crib for almost the first month she then started to spit up in her sleep we took her to the hospital and the the whole three days we were there she slept with me so when we came home i just kept her with me i felt better that she was close to me and now that she is fixing to be six months i want to try and get her use to sleeping alone. but i am gonna miss the cuddling.

  21. Profile photo of anne anne says:

    I’m just going to start out by saying my son is 47 weeks old and he still sleeps with me. My boyfriend is on a different schedule then my son and I so it is just to two of us in bed at night. At nap time he goes down on his own bed. i believe that after a child is potty trained then they are to big for sleeping with mommy and daddy every night. Even now I’m starting to try and get him to spend some of the night on his own.

  22. Profile photo of jennifier33 jennifier33 says:

    My son slept with us until he was 4 months old. Now he sleeps is a crib in our room. If he’s sick or upset he will only go to sleep in bed with me and his dad.

  23. Profile photo of Leslie Leslie says:

    My brother slept with my grandma until he was about 8 or 9 when i finally said that was enough and moved all his stuff into his own room… (i know.. I’m a mean sister), my twin sisters slept with my mom and stepdad until the beginning of this school year… so at 7. I now have my own son is 4 months old, but throughout the day he sleeps on his own, because I’m too busy to be holding him, and at night he sleeps in his crib until his morning eating time. I make him a bottle and he cuddles up between me and daddy and takes a morning nap with us.. later on when he sleeps pretty much all night and doesn’t wake up to cry he will be all crib.. I love our cuddling time but I don’t want my son to feel that he needs to sleep with us and put up a fight like my brother and sisters did… it was extremely difficult to move them out of my parents and grandmas room.. and even now my brother is 13 and still needs to sleep with the door open, and for my sisters, instead of having their own beds they have a queen size bed that they cuddle up together in… the bunk beds we got for them… got sold last week since they don’t use it. I don’t know how it went for other families.. but it was difficult for mine, and so I don’t want that for my son… plus me and daddy like out own cuddling time… its the only time we really get to ourselves. :)

  24. Profile photo of SKWeaver SKWeaver says:

    Our oldest slept with me til she was 8 months old, her father was gone alot for military reasons and since i was breastfeeding it was just easier. then her father came home and all of a sudden the bed was too dern small, lol. she likes to "spread out" when shes sleeping and more often then not would end up laying along the pillow instead of beside me. now we are expecting our second child and i have vowed i am not going to have this one in the bed with me. just my personal experience. in my opinion it is up to each individual set of parents on "how old is too old".

  25. I do not know if there is a certain age on which children should not co-sleep with their parents anymore I also do not know if it harms them. But in my opinion I feel that sleeping with parents too long its a sign of dependency, and one goal of a parent is for their child to be independent. My baby is 7-months old and he still sleeps with me and my husband, but starting next month I will start training him to sleep in his crib.

ADVERTISEMENT

×