Some families find that bed-sharing fits best into their lifestyles, and they prefer it over any other sleeping arrangement. If done in the safest manner, bed-sharing can really be a positive thing for every family member. But it can only last for so long. Physical space can become an issue, not to mention the physical and emotional toll bed-sharing can take on adults. Sometimes you may wonder, when should you stop bed-sharing?
Generally speaking, bed-sharing doesn't have to start or stop at a certain age. There is no medically recommended hard stop to bed-sharing, and no rules about it, but it's thought that a child will likely self wean around eight years old. Renown child expert and author, Dr. William Sears explained in Parents, that even kids four to six years old are not too old to sleep in a family bed. Additionally, he stated that many children around the world sleep with their parents up until they're eight, nine or even ten years old. The preferences vary culturally and for each family's lifestyle.
Again bed-sharing doesn't work for everyone, and there are some variations to it, but there are many advantages if you are currently doing it or are considering it. According to Kelly Mom, bed-sharing is beneficial for breastfeeding moms and babies, as mom's supply is better sustained and both parties get more sleep. There is also the theory that children who bed-share or co-sleep are making long lasting, positive nighttime memories with their parents, as stated by Dr. Sears in Parents. Many families find that bed-sharing works with infants, but as the child grows it's not really working anymore.
As a child grows, the limited physical space in the family bed may certainly be a big factor in ending bed-sharing. There are also other reasons to stop this sleeping arrangement that are equally valid which include wanting your child to become more independent, wanting to have your bed back, or wanting to have sex in your bed at night again (no shame in that my friends.)
According to the Baby Sleep Site, there are many gentle ways to stop bed-sharing, including sleeping in the same room for awhile, buying and helping them adjust to a new crib or bed, and sitting by the crib or bed until the child falls asleep. By all means, if your child is itching to get to their own bed and doesn't need a transition than it may be best to just go with it.
The most important thing to remember is that you can stop bed-sharing whenever you or your child wants to. It can be for whatever reason and at whatever age. There are certainly things you can do to make it an easier transition, but every situation is different. However you decide to navigate bed-sharing or ending bed-sharing, will likely be the way that works for everyone.