Do you enjoy co-sleeping with your child?
Did you start co-sleeping when your child was a baby, but find that as he or she ages, it’s becoming more and more of a problem?
Do you find yourself wondering whether or not co-sleeping is really having a good effect on your child as time passes?
There are a lot of reasons why you might be thinking about when to stop co sleeping with a child, but no matter what concerns or questions bring you here, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about determining whether or not it’s time to stop co-sleeping. You’ll understand the reasons you and your family might have for stopping this nighttime routine as well as the signs your child might be giving you to let you know it’s time to stop.
Whether you’re preparing for the future or looking for an answer right now, we’ve got all the information you need to figure out whether or not co-sleeping is still right for you and your family. Although the choice may be different for every family, there are many ways you can determine if the time is right for your child to move on to his or her own bed or own room.
Read on to learn more!
7 Reasons to Stop Co-Sleeping
When you’re trying to figure out what age to stop co sleeping with your child, it’s a good idea to take a step back and think about the reasons why you’re considering stopping. Your personal reasons may be different from another parent or caregiver’s reasons, but there are a few common ones that often lead most families to eventually stop the co-sleeping nightly routine. In this section, you’ll find a list of the 7 most common reasons why families may want to stop co-sleeping. Check them out and see which one, if any, fits your situation the most.
1. It may become dangerous.
Depending on how you handle co-sleeping, there’s always a time at which it could get dangerous. If you or your partner must regularly take medication that makes you groggy, if either of you stops being willing to co-sleep, or if you find that your child regularly gets moved around in the bed too much during the night, co-sleeping may be too dangerous to continue.
2. It may get physically uncomfortable.
This is one of the biggest reasons co-sleeping eventually comes to an end. As your child gets bigger, the amount of space everyone has to comfortably sleep gets smaller. The bedroom and bed may be too hot with so many people sleeping in such a small space, and you or someone else in your family may regularly wake up with aches and pains. This means it’s time to stop co-sleeping.
3. You may not get any sleep.
Although your child may be sleeping through the night, you and your partner might not be, depending on how well the sleeping situation is going. If you find that you’re often exhausted even after trying to get a full night’s sleep, this may mean it’s time to go back to the sleeping arrangements you had before your child joined them.
4. Bed wetting.
Some children don’t have as much of a problem with this as others, but all children are likely to wet the bed at least a few times in their lives. If your child is a bed wetter, it can be much more frustrating to wake up during the night to a shared bed that has become the scene of an accident. This may also be more upsetting to your child than wetting his or her own bed would be.
5. Naptimes may become difficult.
As your child becomes more and more used to having you close by during nighttime sleep, he or she may want you there for daytime naps as well. This can be especially difficult if you’re not at home during the day or when your child goes to preschool or kindergarten. If this trend is beginning, it’s probably time to stop co-sleeping.
6. Organizing sleep schedules can get complicated.
When you have a young baby or infant at home, everyone in the house may be on a similar sleep schedule. As your child gets older, however, he or she may need to go to bed at 8 pm, for example, while you and your partner might want to stay up a few more hours. With co-sleeping, this becomes impossible, so you may need to stop co-sleeping to get some of your personal time back.
7. Some people believe co-sleeping for too long can cause children to become dependent or spoiled.
This is not necessarily proven, but it’s something to consider when thinking about when to stop co-sleeping with your little one. If your child is showing signs of becoming too dependent on you or acting too spoiled in inappropriate situations, you may need to stop co-sleeping. This is subjective, however, and may not apply to all families.
7 Signs Your Child is Ready to Stop Co-Sleeping
Even if you’d like to keep co-sleeping with your child for a long time to come, there are some signs that you should be looking for to determine if your child is ready to stop the process. Your child may eventually become uncomfortable, either physically or emotionally, with co-sleeping, or he or she may simply want to move on to sleeping in a “big kid” bed for a change. Whatever the reason, if your child is ready to stop co-sleeping, you’ll notice one or more of these signs taking place, so it’s best to pay attention and look for them.
1. Your child thrashes around a lot and seems physically uncomfortable at night.
- This isn’t always a good indicator on its own since some children are naturally more wriggly than others. However, if your child has been sleeping peacefully during the night and suddenly starts to get more mobile and kick, toss and turn, or move around too much during the night, this may be a good sign he or she is ready to go to a separate bed.
- This can also be uncomfortable for you and your partner!
2. Your child can nap during the day without someone close by.
- If your child is able to sleep during naptime without having someone around, you may be able to use this as proof that he or she can sleep all night without having someone nearby too. You may want to explain this to your child so he or she understands that this is the reason for stopping co-sleeping.
- However, sometimes a child who can nap alone still isn’t comfortable sleeping all night alone, so consider your child’s individual needs.
3. Your breastfeeding infant demands to be fed more than is necessary all night long.
- This becomes a moot point as your child gets older and stops breastfeeding, but when your infant is still nursing during the night, you may notice that he or she demands to be fed at any time and much more often than is needed. If this happens when co-sleeping, it's probably because your proximity to your baby has not established enough nursing boundaries.
- Be sure to speak with your pediatrician to determine whether or not you need to feed your child more frequently before you decide to stop co-sleeping because of this habit. In some instances, your child may just need more nutrition before bedtime to solve the problem, but your pediatrician will know best.
4. Your child suddenly shows resistance to going to bed when he or she did not before.
- When a child is co-sleeping happily, he or she will be excited to go to bed at night—or will at least be complacent in going to sleep with minimal struggle. However, if you notice that your child is becoming fussy at bedtime or grumpy about going to sleep, this may be a good sign he or she isn’t happy with the sleeping arrangements anymore.
- If your child is old enough, you can always ask if this is the reason. If your child is too young to answer, however, you may have to try separate sleeping for a while to see if this helps the problem.
5. Your child wakes up more in bed with you than he or she would in a separate bed.
- Give your child a chance to try sleeping through the night in a separate bed to determine if he or she can sleep more soundly in this situation than during co-sleeping. If your child wakes up less often in his or her own bed, then this probably means it’s time to stop co-sleeping.
- If your child sleeps worse in a separate bed, there’s no harm in waiting and trying a test run again in a few months to see if anything has changed.
6. Your child asks to sleep in his or her own bed.
- This is probably the best way to tell! If your child is old enough to let you know when he or she is ready to sleep in a separate bed, then rest assured that you will be told eventually. Children get excited about sleeping in “big kid” beds or having their own rooms eventually, so if your child asks about this, co-sleeping has probably come to an end.
- It’s important not to argue with your child if he or she approaches you about this. If your child is uncomfortable co-sleeping any longer, then be sure to respect that.
- It may go without saying, but once your child reaches puberty, it’s time to stop co-sleeping. Although you may still offer your older child a chance to sleep in your bed if he or she gets scared during the night, regular nightly co-sleeping should come to an end around this time.
- Some families have reported having good luck co-sleeping all the way up until puberty, while others have stopped the process much earlier than this. You can consider puberty as a final cut-off point in terms of the right age for co-sleeping.
When Is It Time to Stop Co-sleeping?
So when should you stop co sleeping with your child? While you may have realized it by now, the answer to this question differs for just about every family. There’s no one right or wrong answer to this question, and it’s important to try different times and figure out which one will be best for you, your child, and anyone else who may be sleeping in the bed with you.
Below are a few tips to help you remember how to figure out the best time to stop co-sleeping for you and your little one. Think about these suggestions the next time you find yourself wondering if it’s time to stop this practice in your household.
- Think about your feelings—and your partner’s. You may even want to sit down and have a thorough conversation with your partner about the sleeping arrangements you currently have.
You might consider asking your partner to write down a list of pros and cons about your co-sleeping setup, and you can do the same. Then, the two of you can compare notes and see if you agree or disagree on the matter.
- Consider your child’s feelings. Your child may be too young to speak up about how he or she feels about co-sleeping, but you can usually tell from body language while sleeping as well as while he or she is awake.
Keep an eye out for signs your child is unhappy or signs that he or she may be becoming too dependent on you or your partner.
Remember that your child isn’t saying anything bad about you or your partner if he or she is no longer comfortable with co-sleeping. This just means that the situation isn’t physically comfortable enough anymore or that your child is ready to try being a little bit more independent. This is an important part of growing up!
- Talk to your older child. Children who are old enough to communicate with you can answer simple questions about whether or not they still enjoy co-sleeping.
Some families keep co-sleeping all the way until the child hits puberty, so older kids can talk very frankly about their feelings on the matter.
If your child seems hesitant to talk to you about co-sleeping, he or she may be worried about hurting your feelings. If this happens, as your older kid to write down his or her feelings and give them to you in a letter. If your child isn’t able to write yet, you may ask another family member your child trusts to talk about it instead.
- Practice sleeping separately for a few nights. Your child may not be happy about this the first night, so give it a couple more nights just to see how it goes.
If your child is able to adjust and self-soothe into a good night’s sleep, then this is a good way to tell it’s time to stop co-sleeping.
Be sure you schedule this when you and your child have a few nights in a row without having to wake up early. Neither of you may get enough sleep while trying out this separate sleeping test run.
Although these certainly aren’t the only ways you can figure out whether or not to stop co-sleeping, they can give you a good head start toward answering this question for you and your family.
Although it may be hard to determine when to stop co sleeping with baby, we hope that this article has helped you learn a little bit about how to tell when your child is ready to move on to his or her own room. You may have also learned something about your own reasons for wanting to stop co-sleeping, too. Remember that, no matter what the reason, if even one person involved in co-sleeping becomes uncomfortable with the situation, then it’s time to stop.
The safety of your baby is the number one priority in any co-sleeping situation, and as your child ages, that doesn’t change. Although older children will have fewer safety concerns in a co-sleeping situation, this doesn’t mean you can let up on restrictions and rules that keep everyone safe. If one member of the family stops being interested in co-sleeping, those restrictions may lapse, and that can lead to an unfortunate injury. This is why it’s best to be sure everyone is on board with the sleeping arrangements for the foreseeable future.
Co-sleeping may not be for everyone, and it’s important to determine whether or not it’s right for you and your family. There are many different ways to tell if co-sleeping will work for you, and there are quite a few different types of co-sleeping you might try out, as well. Just remember that eventually, this sleeping arrangement will come to an end, so it’s a good idea to pay attention to your own feelings as well as your child’s to figure out the right time to stop.