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Is there an age when it becomes inappropriate/unhealthy for a family bed?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

I am a single mom to a 7 yo son.  He didn't start sleeping with me until he was about 3 when we moved into our own house.  We both really enjoyed it.  My mom gave me a lot of grief about it, so for a while I really pushed for him to be in his own bed.  After fighting for about 6 months with him over it, I decided that if he wanted to sleep with me, he could.  I told my mom to back off - it was my decision.  


So, now that he's 7, my mom is starting to hint that he is too old to be sleeping in my bed.  My ped asked at his last appt about where he sleeps (not sure how it came up), and I was dumb enough to say "in my bed with me".  Got a little bit of a lecture about how important it is for a child to learn to sleep in their own bed, he would sleep better, etc.  Occasionally, the subject will come up with friends, and people are really shocked to know that he still sleeps with me.


Is it inappropriate for a boy to be sleeping with his mom at his age?  I assume as he gets older, he will want privacy and will naturally want to sleep in his own bed.  I know I am totally comfortable with it right now.  


I guess the question is whether I'm providing him support to know that I am always there (thereby making him a more confident and self-assured child), or if I'm teaching him to be too dependent on me.  


Anyone else have an older child sleeping with them?  Any thoughts?  


PS - Please be honest - If most people say its time to quit, I like to hear that too.  None of my friends kids sleep with them, so they have no advice.

post #2 of 24

We had our own beds, and slept in them some by that age, but we were always welcome in my parents bed.


I think it would be good for him to have his own bed, either in your room, or his own room, but let him come in if he needs you.


Humans slept as a family for hundreds (probably thousands) of years.  I don't see how you could do harm.

post #3 of 24
Originally Posted by greencarnation View Post

I think it would be good for him to have his own bed, either in your room, or his own room, but let him come in if he needs you.

I agree. My kids are 2 and 4 (so, young). They each have their own beds (starting around 2) and definitely by 4 I encourage DS to sleep by himself but he's welcome if he's having a bad night.

To me it's a nice balance so I have some privacy but he has comfort when he needs it. The goal is that he doesn't need the comfort at night. That he just sleeps smile.gif
post #4 of 24

Nothing inappropriate about it! The motivation for us to stop the family bed was desiring our own bed again as a couple but if you don't have a problem with it, and he doesn't then why not? The only thing I would do is provide a bed for him in case he would like to start trying and just so you can tell people he has his own bed- less judgement and arguing that way :)

post #5 of 24

My 8 year DD1 just stopped sleeping with DH last month. We didn't have a bed in "her" room for her to sleep in, she had zero interest in doing so until one day she decided it was time. We have 3 soon to be 4 children and we kept multiple family bedrooms, the girls had been sleeping alone with DH for over 2 years now, it is just 4 year DD2 left in that room now. I see nothing wrong with it, the day will come when he will want his own room. 

post #6 of 24

Our almost 8 yr old ds still sleeps with us, as do our 5 yr old and 3 yr old. I have a friend who is married to an African man who never slept alone until leaving home. 

I think it's fine, as long as he and you are both comfortable with it. I insist on private bits being covered at this age, both parents and kids, and our kids all have their own beds in their own rooms so that 1) they can sleep there when they are ready and 2) their friends don't need to know where they sleep (for embarassment factor...). Even when my kids have sleepovers here they start in their own rooms until the friends fall asleep and then move in with us. 


I think it's cozy, safe, comfy and builds an incredible bond b/w parent and child. 



post #7 of 24


My 9yo daughter and 5yo son still co-sleep (with whichever parent they are with...I am split with their dad).  But they have beds of their own (as others have said, both so they can use them sometimes and have them when their friends come over).  I figure it is like breastfeeding...they will stop when they are ready...and I am in the "don't offer, don't deny" stage of this part of our relationship too!

post #8 of 24

Our DS has his own room and bed and falls asleep in his bed. If he wakes in the night, he can always come in our bed if he wants. We also let him fall asleep with us on Thursday nights in our bed. That makes it a special treat where we all pile in, read together and fall asleep. DS is almost 8 and that's our arrangement. It allow everyone to have privacy but also gives room to support DS when he needs it. And family bed night is just fun!

post #9 of 24

My son will be 7 soon, got his own bed a few months ago, and still generally shows up in the big bed in the middle of the night.  Sometimes he just gets up because he needs to use the bathroom (and he's happier using the master bath rather than "Papa's bathroom" down the hall, he's biased against that bathroom), and if I'm awake enough I help him get back to his bed, but other times I'm too tired to do that, and other times he just wants to be cozy.


No one is forcing him to sleep in there, and nothing inappropriate is happening, so i cannot possibly see what harm could come from it.




My goodness...my 28 year old brother (still lives with parents) was recently *extremely* ill, and one of the ways they realized just HOW sick he was was when he was wanting to sleep in bed with our dad all curled up and cuddled up.  He was welcomed...they were all very ill that week...but the next day when ALL he wanted to do was nap with our dad, they really figured it out.  If he hadn't been allowed in there, if he'd just holed up in his own room...he might not have made it as they just wouldn't have realized how sick he was. As it was he wound up on a respirator for nearly a month... 

post #10 of 24

That's a great testimony for the family bed! Glad your brother is ok!



post #11 of 24

7 is pretty young in the grand scheme of things. My kids each have their own bedroom and beds. And 98 nights out of a hundred my 6 (almost 7) year old ends up on the floor next to our bed (2 adults in one queen size bed + one tall kid who kicks the covers off everyone when she's hot is not something we're willing to do). About 2 nights out of 10, our 10 year old child also ends up on the floor in our room. I hope that someday, they'll spend all night in their own rooms. If not, they'll learn that skill when they move out.


Since you're a single mom and unfortunately under more scrutiny (from your mom, your ex, if he's around), you might consider having him move out when he nears puberty.

post #12 of 24

our 7 year old still comes to our bed during the night on most nights ... they're still young :hug:

post #13 of 24

I think the family bed becomes unhealthy when someone in the family bed is no longer comfortable. Outsiders who don't sleep in the family bed, don't get a say IMO smile.gif


I think a child should definitely have access to their own bed so they can use it when they are ready, but I don't feel like there is an age where bed sharing becomes inappropriate. Lots of people just don't like to sleep alone! Why deny someone (especially your child) that comfort if you're not bothered by it?


My son (9) has been sleeping with my lately because I am pregnant and he wants to be close to me & the baby. He is very protective love.gif Before that, he had his own bed (since around 4) and slept in it a lot of the time but was always welcome in my bed and had sleep overs when he needed to. I personally slept with my mom until I was 11, and then when I lived with my dad in my teen years, I slept with my mom during sleepovers. And then when my son came along, we both slept with my mom on overnight visits! lol.gif So yeah, I'm a big fan of the family bed! orngbiggrin.gif And I feel like as long as everyone is comfortable, then it's all good!

post #14 of 24

Some people are just weird. Co sleeping is normal and healthy and doesn't have a time limit.


My husband comes from a culture where families co sleep until they go off to marry (yes, teenagers and their parents sometimes co sleep, though it is usually on the floor because families are big). It's normal.


Is the real issue that some people think co sleeping and having sex are synonymous??

post #15 of 24

Co-slept with DS1 from around age 3.5 until he was around 11 years old or a bit younger.  I split with his dad (who was extremely opposed to co-sleeping, even for naps--we had a lot of conflicts about that!) when he was 3.5.  Our son did always have his own bed and bedroom, which he used for play and some naps and sleepovers.  I think co-sleeping is like what LLL says about Extended Breast Feeding--keep on truckin' as long as it is mutually desired (something like that).  The extended co-sleeping was enjoyable and, I think, a comfort to us both (my ex and I have always had joint custody, so I liked that my son and I were together as much as possible when he was with me, including at night!).  He never had any sleep troubles after we began co-sleeping after the divorce, but he had a lot of trouble falling and staying asleep prior to the divorce.  DS2 and my new husband and I co-sleep, and it's great.


I say hang in there and enjoy it until you or your child don't feel okay about it.  I was just extremely selective with who I told since people look at your like you are nuts and assume terrible things.  Our culture's a bit batty about stuff like this, but it's the global norm!  Sweet dreams!  I always felt that one of the sweetest pleasures in life is waking up and looking at your sleeping child.  Enjoy.

post #16 of 24

There's nothing 'inappropriate' about it. 


I say as long as he is able to fall asleep and stay asleep in his own bed, then there's no harm in it. I say this because my 15 year old brother still cannot sleep in a bed in his own room. He sleeps on the couch, on the floor, in someone elses room, in the rec room, etc. My parents have tried moving his room to every other room in the house (other than the master there are four bedrooms), but nothing has made a difference. He simply cannot sleep in his own bedroom at night. It's annoying, but also difficult in cases where people are over, and the only place he can fall asleep is on the living room couch, etc. 


But, if in the even that he needs to, your child can sleep through the night in his own bed, then I say keep on trekking!

post #17 of 24

I think that the important part is whether or not an older child has an "own bed" and that s/he is not coerced into sharing a bed with a parent (not saying anyone would or is doing that... just could see it happening). And that answer is totally motivated by the culture in which we live.



post #18 of 24
I see no problems with it. As someone else said, it doesn't become inappropriate until some one in the situation becomes uncomfortable with it. When I went home for my little sisters funeral several years ago, I found that my younger sister (who was 9mths pregnant with her 3rd and around 19-20) slept in the California King with my mom along with her not quite 3yr old daughter. My parents were divorced and my sis was separated and that's just the way things ended up. My youngest brother (around 17 at the time) also slept in mom's room, on a futon couch. Her son slept upstairs in his own room as did my older brother who was dealing with chemo at the time. Each ended up in the place where they felt the most comfort, and for 2 of my siblings and my niece that was either in bed with, or in the room with, my mom.
post #19 of 24
On a side note, I read an interview with Kenny Loggins several years ago and he specifically spoke about he and his wife co-sleeping with their 11 and 13 yr olds.
post #20 of 24

There is no magical age. A family bed only becomes inappropriate when someone in the family bed becomes uncomfortable. As long as you and your DS are happy and comfortable, forget what everyone else says!

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