When Should Kids Sleep Their Own Bed

My Daughter Is 3 and I Refuse to Kick Her Out of My Bed…

Mom Jeanine
August 10, 2011


Bed Time, Good Question, hot topic, Jeanine Edwards

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Yup, my daughter just turned three and she’s still sleeping with me. The truth is, she hasn’t slept in her own crib since she was about 7 months. She got a nasty cold around then, so I let her sleep in the bed with me until she started feeling better. Except when she started feeling better, I never put her back in her crib. And she hasn’t been in the thing ever since.

Now I know lots of doctors recommend kids sleep in their own beds as early as possible. Definitely by age 3. I’ve read tons of articles about healthy boundaries and separation anxiety. As luck would have it, though, my pediatrician isn’t one of those doctors. “When should kids sleep in their own bed?” When they’re good and ready, she has said. I will admit she’s a bit of a hippie, but she has told me that my daughter will express interest in her own bed when she’s ready. And that’s how I’ll know when the co-sleeping has to end. There doesn’t have to be a traumatic exile, my doc says.

And yes, her stance on co-sleeping is music to my ears because I don’t actually think I could kick my little girl out of the bed just yet. I’m a single mom and the truth is I love having her sleep with me. Not only because she sleeps like a log when we’re in the same bed–to sleep at 9, up at 9, straight through the night–but also because I love being that close to her. We read our books together in bed every night, then fall asleep together. I feel like it’s given us a really special bond. I might even be more attached to it than my daughter.

I’m also not buying the healthy boundaries theory. One article I read said children need to know there are certain places in the home that are off-limits to them. The stove, yes that’s off-limits. Mommy’s bed, not so much if you ask me. Maybe it’s because I’m not sharing my bed with a man, but I want my daughter to know that if she needs a good snuggle she is totally welcome to crawl into bed with me. And yes, that offer stands every day if she needs it. The idea of positioning the bed I’m in as a place where my children can’t come freely just doesn’t sit well with me.

A few weeks back, Farah wondered if it was time to start weaning her 2-year-old, but the issue at hand this week is co-sleeping. Is three too old for a child to still sleep in the same bed with mom (and/or dad)? Obviously, I say no, but what’s your opinion? Do you buy the whole healthy boundaries argument? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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  • ll
    August 10, 2011

  • I agree with you. They are only little once. Enjoy each other and don’t care what others would think. Heck, we had our son in our bedroom till he was 10. Yes, he had his own bed. But I remember a family I knew who owned a bar and they had one bedroom and tons of beds lined up and had 6 kids. That is what they could afford, so who is to say?
    We lost our daughter at age 21. You can’t get that time back.

  • Bringing Up Brooklynites
    August 10, 2011

  • If there are two parents in the mix, then as long as BOTH parents agree, do what works best. I’ve seen it happen though, one parent doesn’t agree with the co-sleeping then there is more than separation anxiety they have to deal with. I do believe that for the most part, mama and papa’s bed is mama and papa’s bed but our girls are more than welcome to snuggle whenever they want to…and do! We love our weekend mornings when we spend a good hour or two on our bed talking, reading, laughing…

  • Tina Graziano
    August 10, 2011

  • My daughter shares my bed with me and I don’t mind one bit. We have a really small one bedroom apartment that we share and both of our beds are in the bedroom and she still sleeps in my bed. I, too am a single mom and I am trying to cherish every moment I have with her. I work so much to provide for her that if she wants to sleep in my bed, I am going to let her. I try not to read any articles about co-sleeping because I feel there is nothing wrong with it. I don’t know about the “healthy boundaries” or separation anxiety, but what I do know is that I love my daughter with all my heart and sharing my bed with her is a joy.
    My dad has 11 siblings and he and his 4 brothers shared one bed growing up and his sisters shared another. So I think the two of us in a small quaint apartment we call home is really great if you ask me.

  • LIndi
    August 10, 2011

  • I am all for cosleeping. My son is 4 and he usually falls asleep in the bed with me. My husband moves him to his bed when he comes to bed. Since I work, bedtime is our time to talk, tell stories, read, and snuggle. There is noting like the warmth of snuggling.

  • Paige
    August 10, 2011

  • Up until I was about 14 I would tiptoe in to my parents’s room every night at around 3 or 4 in the morning and snuggle up with my mom until we needed to get up for the day. She always left a little space for me on her side and usually I was quiet enough that I didn’t wake up either parent. She loved it and so did I. Now, I wish I could get my daughter to sleep in the bed with me, but from about 5 months she has been a very wiggly sleeper who really needs her own space. I think every child is different and every family is different, and if co-sleeping works for you and your kid then go for it! I completely agree that children will let you know when they are ready for their own space. In the meantime, cherish those nights spent holding your child.

  • Shari
    August 10, 2011

  • No problem here. I am a single Mom and the time I have with my son is important…even if it’s time that we are asleep. My son is 3. I LOVE reading a book and snuggling in for the night with him. Like a few others have mentioned, these are very special times that you will never get back. There WILL come a point when he will want to sleep in his own bed and I will respect that and encourage him. But until then, we are totally content with our current sleeping arrangements. There is no right or wrong answer on this one. Go with your gut. :)

  • SSK
    August 10, 2011

  • Three cheers! Nice to know that I am not the only mom with this belief! My son just turned 4, and he still sleeps with me. As with Jeanine, I originally started sleeping with him when he got sick as an infant. And as I found it to be a wonderful and affectionate form of bonding. My husband is not an affectionate person, and more often than not, he falls asleep on the couch. It has been nice to be able to snuggle and spend time with our son at bedtime. I am going to gladly keep this time while I have it! He has already asked to sleep by himself a few times; so I know that sooner, rather than later, he will be on his own!

  • Alicia @MommyDelicious
    August 10, 2011

  • Ever since my son became afraid of the dark and started to believe there are monsters in the closet, under the sheets, and that the doors are making noises, he’s crawled into my bed in the middle of the night. Sometimes I don’t even feel him. I just wake up in the morning and there he is — BAM! — right up under me. While I don’t really have a problem with co-sleeping, I don’t always like my son sleeping in my bed because he’s SUCH a wild sleeper. But i never throw him out of my bed. He’s only young once, right?

  • Julia
    August 10, 2011

  • Before I had kids I would have said yes, three is too old. But now that I am a mom of a 2 1/2 year old and one on the way, I have a different opinion. My husband was starting to get annoyed with my son sleeping in our bed, but it all worked out just in time. When he was about to turn two he told me the twin bed in his room was for him. He went to sleep in his own bed that night and hasn’t turned back. He absolutely REFUSES to sleep in our bed. She’ll let you know when she needs her space, but in the meantime, enjoy every cuddly moment.

  • Stephanie
    August 11, 2011

  • Co sleeping is on child to child and environment bases. My daughter from the day we took her home til around 16 months, she would REFUSE to sleep in her own crib. Due to post depression and husband in military, I finally gave in to allowing her to sleep inbetween us or next to me just to help me sleep or it would be a constant every 20 min fuss.

    I had to make sure she would not get smoothered. That was my MAIN concern is her safety. I hear about it all the time in the news of a parent rolling onto of their child or their child falling off the bed.

    My husband has been to Iraq twice and brought up in an abusive home. He is a wonderful man; however, he can’t control what he does in his sleep. His fears and worries was also addressed that he was afraid he would injure or hurt her during a bad dream. (I have been hurt a few times in the past, so his reason was justified). It is not all the time, but even just one time is one time too many.

    By around 12 months, we started to make her sleep in her crib during the day and around 16 months, we switched it to nights as well once she was weaned from the bottle and pacie (which was very easy to do). It took a few nights but now at 25 months, she will cuddle (and I mean more so wiggle.play!) with us but will only sleep in her crib.

    She is also one of those types of kids who is very picky on where she goes to sleep. She has only fallin asleep in her car seat or a bed. Only two times she has ever fallin asleep on my husband as they reclined in a chair or on the floor next to my husband.

    I had sever seperation anxiety all the way up til I was 12. I still have some, but it is more managable as an adult. If I co slept with my mom, I dont’ know if it would have helped me or not. Either way, seperation anxiety isn’t caused by co sleeping. Seperation anxiety can be triggered by alot of things, especially trauma in the child’s life (experience a close death in the family) etc.

    Sure I tip toed in the some early mornings as a kid, mainly because my mom had a water bed (remember those? lol). But I also knew that I was a wiggle worm through the night and I was a sleep kicker. That is not ideal for my mom to have during the night when she has to work the next day.

    So if a mom is against co sleeping, it isn’t always the case of not understanding pro co sleepers. Just some parents rather not put their child at risk when there are risks involved.

    I love to snuggle up to my daughter and she knows she can come to us, but we also draw the line between comfort and safety.