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 (with just ONE bathroom mind you) on a farm - with tons of animals of course. One day, due to her sheer aversion to shoes and her immense lov ... More

Tell us what you think!


  1. Profile photo of Candle Candle says:

    Give the child their own room as soon as 6 years old or maybe even younger. I am thirteen and I still have to sleep in the same room as my mom, dad and two little brothers. My brothers and I are planning to move out as soon as we can afford an apartment together. I know this sounds like a terrible idea, but I don’t want to live with my dad at all anymore. My dad never met his dad, and his mom treated him terrible as a child. He thinks he’s the best father in the world but doesn’t realize how much problems he is causing. I have broken down in front of guests, but he is still oblivious. I have even though about not helping my parent pay the bills in the future, but my mom has helped support me though this and I want to reward her for dealing with him. If you don’t want your children hating you in the future, don’t do this to them. By the way, we are well off financially. My father just uses me and my siblings as comfort tools. Letting children sleep with you occasionally is okay, but don’t let it get out of hand.

  2. Profile photo of Amanda Amanda says:

    I dont have a child myself but my boyfriend of 9 years has an 8 year old. He went to prison for 2 years and his mother and her husband had custody. He is now 8. He never had his own room. Always sleeps with his grandparents. Thhey use him for their own comfort / problems. His mother refuses to give my BF custody. She (grandmother) had 4 kids my boyfriend , 2 sons & her daughter (my ex bestfriend) her two sons have been in prison for 9 years. & my old bestfriend is hooked on drugs really bad & lives with her mother. She allows this. What do i do? Whenever we have him hes on his best behavior. We always use discipline. He acts up the moment his grandmother is around. Its sick. Me not being his mom , what am i supposted to do?

    • Profile photo of Megan KlayEditor Megan Klay says:

      Hi Amanda – Have you and your boyfriend met with an attorney to discuss regaining custody? Meeting with an attorney to discuss your rights would be a good place to start. From there ask the grandparents to sit down with you and discuss the options from a legal perspective. Try to continue to be as respectful of the grandparents and their support as possible. Best wishes!

  3. Profile photo of Tracy Tracy says:

    I really think it all depends on the family. I have custody of my grandchildren. My granddaughter is 5 and still does, but is getting more independent and venturing sleeping alone on occasion. My grandson who is 3, will not leavey side. I have had him since he was a month old. I think all kids will develop their own independence when they are ready
    Stop stressing moms and enjoy their company.

  4. Profile photo of Tassai Tassai says:

    It really depends on the child and how you raise them overall. My 2 year old still sleeps with me and she is pretty independent. I have a 10 month old who sleeps in a crib but is very attached to me.

  5. Profile photo of Jenny Jenny says:

    I moved both of my children into their own cribs and out of the pack and play next to the bed at 6 months. The oldest (2 yrs) has trouble sleeping throughout the nights but we work to keep him in his own bed. If one of the boys is sick or injured we allow them to spend the night with us so we can keep an eye on them, but only for a night or two, if any longer my husband and I feel like we are missing out on our only alone time. However, nap times are a family affair we all pile into my bed together and cuddle up. I love getting to spend this time with them and it ensures everyone gets their nap! I can see the pros to both, but I feel it is important to make time for your significant other, or they will begin to feel that they mean less to you than co-sleeping.

  6. Profile photo 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.

  7. Profile photo 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

  8. Profile photo 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!!!

    • Profile photo of Sarah Sarah says:

      I disagree Ami and Sara. She didn’t say she disliked her boyfriend’s daughter, she dislikes a habit that the parent(s) have created. I am dealing with a similar issue, but I have since remedied the situation (at OUR house at least). When my husband and I started having overnighters, his daughter would try to find different ways to get into bed with us. I thought it was a little odd, but then he explained that one of the biggest fights him and his ex-wife had was the co-sleeping issue. He was, at the end of their marraige, forced to sleep in a separate bed because his ex-wife thought that having all kids in bed with her was more important than having her husband in bed with her. Yes, being close to your kids is great, I am VERY close to my daughter (who is very sociable, confident, smart, mature, and incredibly independent) and stepchildren, but I certainly do not sleep with them. Children need to learn to soothe themselves and to be independent. My stepson (11 years old) and stepdaughter (8 years old) are STILL sleeping with their mom with all the lights on. My stepson is starting to really have behavioral issues around his mother now more than ever because she smothers him and does not really allow personal space. She goes out of her way to kiss and hug him theatrically in front of others (while he is yelling “NO! STOP!”, does not allow him to sleep in his own bed, and he barely has any personal time because she feels that spending that amount of time with them will boost their self-esteem and help them to be confident and whatever else Dr. Spock wrote about. Is sleeping with your kids for so long for THEM or for YOU? There are things that happen to boys at that age and waking up to those things next to your mother is going to traumatize him. What the Hell is wrong with you people that think sleeping with a child, especially of the opposite sex, until that age is OK? Kelly, I know it’s hard, but continue to work with her. I know the angst and frustration of this, but since I came into the picture, and my husband and I have fought for their well-being, they have become a lot more independent and well adjusted…until they go back with their mother. I continue to pray everyday that nothing awful happens to my stepson, and that his mother wakes up to reality and realizes that is an unhealthy behavior.

    • Profile photo 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.

  9. Profile photo 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.

    • Profile photo of Sarah Sarah says:

      I agree. I don’t really agree with sleeping with your kids if they are old to sleep in their own bed, but I can respect that decision as long as it doesn’t exceed that age – or even younger…

  10. Profile photo 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.

  11. Profile photo 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

  12. 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

  13. Profile photo 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.

    • Profile photo 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…

  14. 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.

  15. Profile photo 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.

  16. 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!

    • Profile photo of Sarah Sarah says:

      That’s a whole different story. I used to have the occasional movie night with mom and end up falling asleep in her bed, but having sleepovers once in a while is one thing. Sleeping with mommy or daddy at the time that puberty occurs on an every-night basis is gross.

  17. Profile photo 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.

  18. Profile photo 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.

  19. Profile photo 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.

  20. Profile photo 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.

  21. Profile photo 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.

  22. Profile photo 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.

  23. Profile photo 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

  24. Profile photo 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


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