What Age Should Your Kid Stop Co-Sleeping?
For parents looking for a manual to this whole raising a child gig, there are few things better than a guideline on ages your kid should be before they can do certain things or have to stop others. Like knowing that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for a year or that children should remain rear-facing until they are now 2 years old. But some parenting decisions aren't quite so easy, like wondering what age should your kid stop co-sleeping.
Here's the thing, I think pretty much all parenting is done with your intuition. If breastfeeding feels right, you do it. If putting your child to bed in their own room feels right, you do it. If buying jarred baby food feels right, you do it.
And the same can be said for co-sleeping. Despite the arguments that co-sleeping isn't safe and that it can lead to issues for your kid, experts pretty much agree that co-sleeping is a choice for families to make. If you and your partner are happy co-sleeping, if your children are happy co-sleeping, and if everyone gets enough sleep at night, there's no issue. So when should your kid stop co-sleeping?
Whenever it's no longer a viable solution for sleep.
Whether that's because your kid wants to sleep in their own room or their sleep is suffering by co-sleeping with you doesn't matter. You should stop co-sleeping with your child when it's no longer working. That includes you and your thoughts on the matter, too. Some children may want to continue co-sleeping into their elementary school years, but if your sleep is suffering or you find yourself dreading bedtime, it's time to make a change.
If you're worried your child is too old and will be affected by continuing to co-sleep (despite your desire to keep it up), let those fears go. According to The Bump, research has actually shown that children who do co-sleep often grow up to be more independent than children who don't co-sleep. There's no research that shows all children who co-sleep grow up to be thumb-suckers without a backbone, so keep those worries at rest — no science-backed evidence can make this decision for you.
Dr. Craig Canapari, director of the Yale Pediatric Sleep Center, wrote on his website that an on-going co-sleeping situation is only advisable if everyone is getting enough sleep, if everyone has enough space in the bed, and if both parents and children are waking up well-rested in the morning. If one or more of those things isn't happening, it's time to put your children in their own room, regardless of their age.
So whether your child is 2 years old or about to start first grade, know that co-sleeping isn't a parenting decision full of rules and regulations. If it works for your family, it works. But when the time comes that it doesn't, take note of your child's age. It most likely differs from what your family members or co-workers told you, but it's the age that works for you and your kid, which is the only type of number you should listen to.