Co-sleeping – whether it’s bed-sharing or sleeping with a child in the same room – has many benefits.
It can enhance bonding between parents and the child, help the child feel safer and it’s convenient in terms of breastfeeding and keeping an eye on the child. You don’t have to constantly wake up and walk to another room in the middle of the night.
Co-sleeping also has its risks, especially for younger children. It can also cause psychological issues when it involves older children.
In this quick guide, we explain the dos and don’ts of co-sleeping at different ages. So when is a child too old to sleep with parents?
Is It Okay for Parents to Sleep With an Infant?
The general advice from health experts is that parents should not sleep on the same bed with infants under one year old.
The risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) is especially high in infants younger than 6 months.
Paediatricians recommend co-sleeping with an infant in the same room, not on the same bed. Place the child in a cot or moses basket right next to your bed where you can easily see and reach the child.
Is It Safe For Parents to Sleep With a 1 Year Old?
At 1 year, it’s generally safe to co-sleep with a child in the same bed. But there are still some risk factors that might make that a bad idea.
If one of the partners smokes, even if they don’t do it in the bedroom, then co-sleeping is not recommended even if it’s in the same room.
That’s because third-hand smoke that remains on the skin and clothes can still affect toddlers.
It’s also a bad idea to share a bed with a toddler if both or one of the parents takes alcohol or medication that makes it harder for them to stir or move at night.
For some parents, the safest option is to continue co-sleeping. That’s where the child is in the same room but in their own cot.
It’s also at this age that many parents switch to solitary sleeping, where the child sleeps in their own room.
When Is A Child Too Old To Sleep With Parents?
Many parents continue co-sleeping with their kids beyond the one year mark, with some kids staying in their parents’ bed into their preteens.
While the situation may vary in different families, 5 years is generally a good age to move the child to their own room.
At that age, your child has enjoyed plenty of bonding and they no longer fear sleeping on their own. They may be a bit anxious the first few nights, but they soon get used to it.
When you move the child to their own room depends on the needs of the child. At 5 years, it’s when they kids want independence. They are excited about having their own space and having their own possessions like a bed, bookshelf or bedside clock.
Keeping a child in your bed or in the same room as you beyond this age increases the risk of prolonged dependence and other psychological issues.
Don’t forget that sleeping with an older child can also affect your relationship with your partner.
Where experts draw the line when it comes to co-sleeping is when kids become pre-teens – usually between 8 and 12 years. At this period, their bodies and emotions are changing. They need privacy and independence.
Is It Normal for a 5-6 Year Old to Sleep With Parents?
Yes, it’s totally normal and even okay for a 5 or 6 year old to sleep with parents either in the same bed or the same room.
But, as we’ve mentioned above, this is the typical point at which kids should begin transitioning to their own room.
Is It Normal for an 8 Year Old to Sleep With Parents?
In terms of statistics, yes it’s normal for an 8 year old to sleep with parents. But it’s probably not healthy for both the parents and the child.
It can hamper self-reliance in your child and affect everyone’s sleep quality. This is also the age when some children get into their pre-teen period, a time when they should have their own private space.
Is It Normal for a 12 Year Old to Sleep With Parents?
12 years is pushing too far. At this age, your child should be sleeping in their own room.
If you are having trouble transitioning them to their own bedroom, consider if they might be experiencing issues like anxiety and insomnia. You may need to consult a child psychologist.
Some kids at this age can sleep in their own room, but often come back to their parent’s bed in the middle of the night, what’s called reactive co-sleeping.
If this is the case with your child, check if they are anxious about sleeping in their own room or whether they are experiencing other psychological issues.