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How Old Is Too Old To Share A Bed With Mommy?

How Old Is Too Old To Share A Bed With Mommy?

When your kids are young, the convenience and security of the family bed can easily outweigh the negatives. But eventually, the time does come when every child needs his own bed  and when parents need theirs back.

If you're wondering when this day should arrive in your home, or how to make the transition, here are three helpful suggestions  gathered from moms who fall on both sides of the family bed debate.

1. Let Your Child Decide

If there's a magic age at which kids should be in their own beds, moms can't agree on it. But there is consensus on one point: that age can be different for each child. When single mom Marianne D. had questions about whether it's okay for her 6-year-old son to continue sleeping with her, the overwhelming majority of the moms who responded (over 200 in total) felt that six is not too old to sleep with mommy, especially if doing so achieves the main goal of bedtime: good sleep! As a Circle of Moms member named Lisa notes in her response, "what actually matters is that everyone get the most restful sleep possible."


Circle of Moms member Mary S. found that her son was ready to sleep in his own bed all night at around age 9: "We didn't even talk about it, he just stopped and we both knew it was time. :-)" Claudia G. had a similar experience: "I have a 13-year-old who slept with me until he was 10, now he's Mr. Independent, and sweet and normal as can be."

A few moms indicate that sharing a bed with mom should be for the benefit of the child, and not just to make mom feel more secure. A mom named Elfrieda, for instance, suggests that if you have a child who is eager to please, it might be a good idea to make sure you're not guilting him into it: "If he's very keen on pleasing you, he might keep sleeping in your bed long after he wishes he could be on his own." Pamela W. adds that you should not use your child to replace having a partner in bed: "you may want to consider what it may mean for YOUR dependency on his company in bed, and go from there in whatever choice you make."


2. Set Puberty as the Boundary

Things usually start to change as kids near puberty and realize that they want more independence and privacy. In her response on the issue, Becky H. agrees that co-sleeping is "nothing to worry about" with young children, and paraphrases the perspective of her state's social services agency: "when the male child begins to show interest (like mommy is different than me) or [is] beginning to be curious about his own gender (why does my friend not sleep in his mommy's bed?), that is probably a good time to introduce his options about his own bed, for privacy issues." 

If your child is showing signs of entering puberty and you feel it's time for her to sleep alone, you might want to "set a date," as Shaunise did for her twins girls: "I think it's your decision as a parent. . . my twins just turned 12 and I had a long talk with them and set a date for them to sleep in their own bed, no matter what."

3. Do What's Best For You and Your Partner

Whether or not to continue co-sleeping with big kids may be less about the age of the kids, and more about whether everyone in the family bed is truly happy with the arrangement. For single moms this can be an easy choice, but if you have (or someday hope to have) a partner or spouse, that changes things.

Circle of Moms member Leea S. feels that single moms should consider the impact it could have on your child if you do begin an intimate relationship down the road: "Do you kick your child out of your bed now that you have a new spouse to share your bed?  That can be emotionally detrimental to your child.  Not to mention, the resentment your child will likely carry for the person taking their place in your bed."

If you are married or in a relationship, and having kids in the bed every night is causing problems with your partner, it can be a tough choice. Roxanne F. brought the issue of her "disapproving husband" to the Circle of Moms communities and got some great advice. Theola W. takes a strong stance on the issue: "I know you say you like having your kids sleep with you (I like the snuggles with mine too) - but if [having] the kids in your bed is causing a problem between you and your husband, [your kids] are going to pick up on the friction and it will make things worse for them."

If you are stuck in the middle between a disapproving partner and a kid who refuses to sleep without you, Tricia K. suggests adding a sleep place for your child in your room: "My son is two and he has his own bed on the floor of our bedroom. He has to be next to me in order to go to sleep. I lay on the floor until he falls asleep. So, if you put a mattress in your room and don't mind laying with your child until they fall asleep and then getting back in bed...that might work."

At what age did your kids stop sleeping in your bed, and how did you make the transition?

Image Source: via iStockPhoto

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

Join The Conversation
CindyJackson72211 CindyJackson72211 4 years
T Jennings, sorry 2 burst ur bubble but this is NOT a new thing & YES it did happen back in the day!! i don't know how old u r but i'm 44 & my parents had 7 kids & it was MY DAD that made the kids sleep with the parents til we were in school so it is NOT just a way 4 the wife 2 b away from the husband in ALL cases!! however i did do this ALLOT 2 stay away from my now ex coz he was 1 of those men that think SEX is ALL there is in a relationship & he also had been verbally abusive 2 me 4 yrs!!! my son just turned 16 & he loves 2 sleep with me still, NOT every nite but once in a while he will but it's only when my bf is NOT home sinc ehe is an otr trucker!! i don't think there is a problem with it if it's once in a while but i don't agree with every nite!!
RobinPatrick87113 RobinPatrick87113 5 years
I never let any of my three sons sleep with me, from the time they were born. I breast fed, and they slept in a cradle until they were around three months old, then moved to their own crib in their own room, where we all slept better. I knew that if I ever let it get started, it would be very difficult to stop, and could cause a problem with my now ex-husband. Even after he left, the kids were adjusted to their own beds in their own rooms, and I feel that we all got a better nights sleep that way. That being said, I also feel that it is a personal choice, and all parents AND children have different needs. I do have to disagree, however, with Meclara (1/19) regarding anxiety disorders/causes. I was physically, emotionally, and sexually abused by my alcoholic father, (who came to MY bed), and if you think that I was already "mentally ill" and this just triggered it, you need to think again!!! Wherever did you get that idea??? Think of lying awake at night, as a small child, terrified of hearing the footsteps coming to your door, the fear, and the don't think that causes anxiety disorders?? You need to think again!!
CoMMember13613195588323 CoMMember13613195588323 5 years
you can come up with all kinds of answers but it depends on you and your child. I had 9 misscarriages and I finally adopted a little girl. I was so close to her I could not let her out of my sight. Then when I turned 40 the dr.'s told me I was going thru the change I had a 7 1/2 pd baby girl, which also slept with me. Now I have a grand boy which sleeps with me b/c he lives with us. I am so sorry hearted, and I worry a lot, and if it means sleeping with my kids well be it. Both my girls slept with me untill they were 10 yrs. now my grand son is still sleeping with me b/c he is so afraid that i will leave him. but he will soon go to his bed on his own. I think you are the parents raise them like you want to.
MelodieAvis MelodieAvis 5 years
Kelly, don't worry about where he sleeps right now. It seems like he has bigger worries. If you change too much at once it will just increase his insecurities. If we as adults don't want to sleep alone, why do we expect our kids to sleep alone? And a big point for newborns, birth is a big change for them, they should at the least sleep next to mom in a bassinet or carrier. Every child and parent is different and our children survive and develop even when we make mistakes.
DeniseBeynen DeniseBeynen 5 years
My 1st son slept with me till he was 1 and a 1/2 my 2nd son slept with me till he was 3 or 4 and my daugher slept with me till she was 4 almost 5 it worked very well I always slept with 1 of the babies and there father always slept on the couch needless to say we r no longer together now and me and my kids r so much the better for not having him live with us anymore!
MadeleineSilver MadeleineSilver 5 years
I have found the best solution ever. As I feel sleep is the most important issue here and that everyone in the household must feel well rested in the morning to perform daily tasks. So for us having junior (my then 2.5year old now turning 3 soon) in bed just didn't work. However we ended up taking him to his bed two to three times during the night which lead to no-one getting much sleep. So I decided to use his cot mattress that was packed away as he was introduced to his new bed and make him a very nice bed next to mine in the corner of the room. It has all the trimmings, teddy the works and he absolutely loves it! Since I have done this he won’t even lie in our bed for afternoon naps and the only snuggles we get is early morning cuddles once the alarm went off. And that is so nice and special because everyone is well rested and can actually enjoy the moment. If we take him down to his own big bed (which we occasionally try to see if he will sleep through there) he just comes up straight into his little bed on the floor next to the bed. In the morning we don’t even know he snug in and no one was woken or bothered during the night.
sarairichardson sarairichardson 5 years
It is very rare that my son comes looking to sleep with Mommy and he is 5, but it does happen. My daughter who is 4yrs old comes in on most nights, so I have a little camp out spot on the floor for her. Sometimes they need the snuggles on the bed, but most of the time they resort to the nest little sleeping spot on the floor ready for them to snuggle in. From the first day home though my kids have always had their own place/bed to sleep. And on some nights I will move them back to their beds if my bf wakes up and asks me to, usually it doesnt bother him :)
MariaMessrutherWasBown MariaMessrutherWasBown 5 years
my son has NEVER slept in our bed and I wouldnt allow it. He will come in the morning and get in for a cuddle but thats the only time hes allowed in our bed. I dont have anything against others doing it but after 7pm is our time as we devote our time to our son and work. We also need time together so we remember the romantic side of our relationship and dont become just parents and cohabiting. It gives my son space as well we all need somewhere where people cant follow us and have some peace for ourselves and that in our house is our beds.
AmberCossey AmberCossey 5 years
My son is 7 almost 8!! I have always made him sleep in his own bed except for special weekends or if my husband happens to be out of town! He sleeps better in his own bed than with us cause he is so hot natured!
GinaBishard GinaBishard 5 years
Elaine, they do grow up fast enough, dont let ur partner cause u to miss out on the last few yrs ur child will actually want to be next to you! I made that mistake listening to everyone else with my daughter,11 now, but my son is 4 this month, and he falls asleep next to me then gets put in his bed, sometimes he wakes up in the am and comes bak in our bed, I am married. SOmetimes my husband or I will go in his room and snuggle with him till he falls asleep (he has a double size bed) but my husband understands, ur partner is not the father and although he may love the child still he doesnt have that maternal bond!
MaryEllenHoppenjans MaryEllenHoppenjans 5 years
I agree that its whats best for the family. My daughter is four and has Sensory Integration Dysfunction and has slept in our bed (my husbands and mine) since she was 6 weeks old. She is becoming more independent every day so I know it wont be much longer until she decides she would rather sleep in her bed that is in her room. My son on the other hand is two and has never wanted to sleep in our bed. He has had the option to sleep with us but prefers to sleep in his own bed in his own room. Personally I don't think there is a right or wrong answer for this issue.
ElaineGanley ElaineGanley 5 years
I am a single mum, I too have a 6, nearly 7 year old boy who likes to sleep in mums bed. (he sleeps in Dads bed when at his house, as I presume this is easier for Dad). I don't see the harm in it as I feel he will grow out of this on his own (I've not heard of adults still needing to sleep with their parents). My son is an only child and he does it for company not fear of sleeping alone (he sleeps well in his own bed always has). The only person who has a problem with it is my partner (of corse my son doesnt share the bed when he stays over). But he thinks I should make him grow up! I feel kids grow up fast enough
MecarlaDownie MecarlaDownie 5 years
I also forgot to say good luck to all parents out there, everyone is different. Different doesn't equal wrong. Unless of course it's dangerous or manipulative then yes it is wrong :)
MecarlaDownie MecarlaDownie 5 years
@ Kelli- anxiety disorders are not directly caused by a horrible event/parent. Most mental illness lies dormant until it is triggered by such events. Some people reach well into middle age when hormones are changing or another traumatic event takes place before it is activated. I would try to relax about your son, he could very well be suffering as you do. This is not your fault at all. I think with all situations including this sleeping one we as parents should be relaxed so that our kids don't feel so much pressure. I'm not saying coddle them but as parents we should educate and support children. Kids are alot smarter than most people think they are./
RobinGray RobinGray 5 years
This just seems odd to me.. You are told to not let your kids sleep with you from day 1 when you find out you are preggo. Babys are a bad idea for safty reasons. I have a 3 almost 4 year old and she only slept with me when she had a late night feeding. then it was back to bed.. Vacations, when there was only 1 bed and not enough space for a play pen and thats been about it.. in the morning when I am sleeping she can come lay with me for as long as she wants till she is ready to get up.. but when its time to sleep, its time to sleep. Everyone in there own rooms and beds.
EvelynAnderson EvelynAnderson 5 years
My son is 3 years old and does not sleep in our bed. I let me sleep in my bed when his father is occasionally out of town on the weekends. I allow him to snuggle in my bed before he goes into his own but he knows that he is supposed to sleep in his bed. If he wakes up in the middle of the night I walk him back to his room and tuck him back into bed and he is fast asleep. There is no reason why children should be sleeping in their parents beds well into school age years. That's just crazy.
CindyBryant39207 CindyBryant39207 5 years
My 4 year old ( just turned ) sleeps in bed with me sometimes but not always. His bed is in my room, small place. It is up to him, I am single now. I hope to move so he can have his own room. His older ( 12 year old ) brother has his room but the younger one likes to share with me. For about 3 1/2 months this year we all sleept in the same bed. My middle child ( 7 year old girl) passed away in an accident and no one was getting any sleep. We got more sleep just being close to each other. He chose to go back to his bed when school started back , the youngest has not. He is scared to sleep , some genius told him his sister was asleep and now he does not want to sleep , at all!!!!! Be very careful what you tell a young child, they are litteral thinkers.
candicestorey candicestorey 5 years
My daughter is , and she is signs that she feels okay sleeping in her bed. I'm sad but happy at the same time!
KellyORourke KellyORourke 5 years
What do you do with a 12yr old who is terrified of walking 500m to school on their own, let alone sleeping alone?
KellyORourke KellyORourke 5 years
Just for those that say NO child should be sleeping in there parents bed into double digits - I was 11 or 12 when I stopped going into my mum's bed. I had my own room and bed, and went to sleep happily on my own. I was also diagnosed with a anxiety disorder at age 5 courtesy of an agressive alcoholic father. I had nightmares and night terrors well into my teens (I'm 26 and still do occasionally). I sleep walked and talked aswell. If I wasn't in Mums bed in the morning, I was in with a brother or sister. Sometimes there are bigger issues than oh dear my child is too old to be sleeping in my bed. I had counselling my whole life, and all sorts.
ElizabethMazak ElizabethMazak 5 years
After reading all the comments it is clear to me that the point is: every child is different and so is every family. There is no right or wrong. We do what works best for us, whether it's co-sleeping or indepedent sleeping. It's frustrating to me that there is such divergent sides to this issue. What works for one family may not work for another and that is OK.
TiffaniReed TiffaniReed 5 years
Now I'm reading the comments and am saddened by all the negativity around this issue. Every child and family is different. What's right for you may not be right for everybody else.
TiffaniReed TiffaniReed 5 years
Thank you for this thoughtful article! My son is nine and still sleeps in our bed. It is working for us and we are all happy. Friends give me grief about it, but I am listening to my heart and not what is the "norm." We are talking about when he will sleep in his own bed. I think he is beginning to feel ready. When the time comes, I will always cherish our co-sleeping days.
StevieLinsley StevieLinsley 5 years
I will say this EVERY child is different, my oldest son who is 2 and a half will fall asleep in his own bed now, having 2 horribly colicky babies is tough and it was easier to co sleep with them when I actually got to sleep. My oldest son would sleep on top of me on his tummy as an infant because it didn't put pressure on his belly. I have slept with both my babies since birth, and I am so aware of them I never even came close to rolling over one of them. I don't understand why women think its normal to have this new tiny little baby and then make them sleep all alone. They were inside your womb for 9 months, of course they want to be close to you! Oh and ALL mammals sleep with their babies its natural!! And I breastfeed so it was also easier for me to co sleep after both c sections. My 2 and a half year old has such bad night terrors even when he's sleeping with me, its just a hassle to keep having to go in and try to soothe him when I can just put him next to me and calm him down. To each is own though, one day they will be all grown up too soon, so I'm going to enjoy every minute I can until I feel they are too big, or are ready to sleep in their own beds which is not yet cause I like to sleep too!
CindiLivingston CindiLivingston 5 years
Aside from an occasional instance, I don't think it's good for a child to sleep in the parent or parents bed at all. As a newborn/infant, it's really not safe unless an appropriate co-sleeping attachment is used. And I think that should be phased out at a similar age that a bassinet or whatever you used for your infant would be phased son slept in a bassinet in our room till 15 weeks, my daughter only 8 weeks. I moved them to their cribs when they were sleeping through the night with just one or no night feedings. They only times either has ever slept in the bed with either of us since (they are now 7 and 4) has been-on vacation when that was the best option for the room layout, a couple times when one of us was out of town for work and it was a 'slumber party' for each kid one night, and a couple times when one of them was sick enough that I felt more comfortable being right next to them-so kicked hubby out of bed and had them in the bed with me. Otherwise, we may all snuggle of a weekend morning or stay up cuddled and watching a movie on occasion, but we do not have the kids in the bed as a norm. For everyone's comfort, child's safety (esp. as an infant), and the child's independence, I think it's best to set the precedent right from the start that everyone sleeps in their own bed and room. I know several people that co-slept or let their kids sleep with them when they were young/toddlers and every single one of them says they shouldn't have done it.
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