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How Old is Too Old to Co-Sleep?


Many new parents see the benefits of letting younger kids sleep in bed with them. It's easier to address nightmares and soothe crying babies, but you may find you're unsure at what age co-sleeping is no longer appropriate. There is no right answer as every family is different, but here are some thoughts to consider:

Is co-sleeping affecting your partnership?

What may have started as an easy way to get more sleep by keeping the kids in your room with you may create a rift between parents. Many families find that there isn't a lot of time for just themselves, and those precious moments you share in your bed can be crucial to maintaining a happy and healthy relationship. If little ones widen the space between you at night and that begins to affect your parent time, consider transitioning your kids back to their own beds.

Are you getting enough sleep?

Plenty of people have trouble sleeping. Swirling thoughts about to-do lists and finances are just the tip of the iceberg. Parents who co-sleep with their kids often don't do much actual sleeping. Instead, they spend the night tossing and turning, trying to get comfortable with less room in the bed. Your kids may also experience difficulty sleeping while in this situation, so take these factors into account when deciding if you should stop co-sleeping. Lack of sleep can lead to low energy, memory loss, fatigue and even obesity, so making a change to ensure your family is getting some Zs can be crucial to your sanity and your kid's overall growth and development.

Have you tried to get your kids back to their own beds?

Some parents choose to co-sleep with their children while others feel they'll never get any rest if they don't. If you haven't tried to get your kids into their own beds, you may want to give these methods a go:

  • Use a rewards system to provide positive reinforcement for the nights your children stay in their beds.
  • Stay in your kid's room until they fall asleep and then leave and go about your night.
  • Create bedrooms your children will love and want to spend time in to entice them to sleep there.
  • Is there a perfect age to stop co-sleeping?

    James McKenna, Ph. D. runs the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame. He told Redbook Mag that co-sleeping with elementary-age children is much more common than most people would think.

    "The older the child, the quieter parents get about it," he mentioned.

    So where, then, between macaroni school projects and filling out college applications should a child have to sleep in his or her own bed? One question to consider is if you would be embarrassed if your friends knew your kids sleep in your bed? Would your child's friends make fun of him or her for co-sleeping? There is no specific age, but there will come a time when both parent and kid are no longer benefiting from a shared-bed arrangement.

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