What To Know About Preschoolers & Co-Sleeping

Co-sleeping is a very personal preference and decision for families. Some find it comforting to have their children in the same room as everyone drifts into dreamland, others find it to be a nuisance. As your child goes through the various stages of life — baby to toddler, toddler to preschooler preschooler to grade-school kid — you may find that your sleeping preferences (or theirs) change with it. These changes are totally normal, but what if it doesn't change? You may wonder can my preschooler co-sleep with me still?

It's important to note, there is no hard-and-fast rule about when to stop or start co-sleeping with your child. As explained on the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) website, it's recommended that infants sleep in their parents' room for the first six months of their life. It's considered the safest option and babies who sleep in the same room, but on a different surface, tend to have the lowest risk for sleep-related deaths. Certainly, if this arrangement works for everyone involved, there is no medical reason to stop it.

If you and your child want the co-sleeping to continue into preschool, it's certainly not unheard of, even if no one really talks about it. Renown child expert and author, Dr. William Sears explained in Parents, that many children around the world sleep with their parents up until they're 8, 9, or even 10 years old. It's thought that co-sleeping children will probably want to start separating around 8 years old. Again, the decision to continue or stop is very dependent on a family's lifestyle and even sometimes culture.

There is no shame in the adults making the decision to separate either. The co-sleeping arrangement only works when it's beneficial for all. Your child doesn't necessarily have to self wean from the co-sleeping arrangement, either. Physical space in the room may become an issue, a new baby, a new work shift, or maybe a desire to have a more active sex life — whatever it is, is totally fine.

There are so many things to help you make the transition from co-sleeping to independent sleeping if that's what you choose. As recommended on the Baby Sleep Site, you might consider sleeping in the new room with your child initially or sitting by their crib or bed until they fall asleep. Those are all gentle ways to make the transition if needed, but if your child is leading the way, just let it happen.

The rule of thumb here is you make your own rules basically. If you and your toddler want to co-sleep or want to stop it's entirely up to you. Sleeping arrangements can vary family to family, and child to child. Thankfully, if you do want to make the transition either in preschool or any other age, there are some gentle ways to do it. As long as you're getting some sleep, it really doesn't matter how you do it.