For some parents, co-sleeping is the best way to help their children drift off to dreamland. The children get to sleep feeling safe, and parents are able to check in on their sleeping babies throughout the night with ease. However, at some point, it's time for your little one to take on the task of sleeping all night in a separate room. With this in mind, when should you stop co-sleeping with your baby? As is so often the case, the answer depends on your family's specific needs and preferences.
For starters, you have to consider the minimum recommended amount of time for co-sleeping. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), allowing an infant to sleep in the parents' room for the first 6 months of life is ideal. As further noted by the AAP, infants who sleep in the same room as their parents, but on a different sleeping surface, appear to have the lowest risk for sleep-related deaths. A crib or bassinet in your bedroom may be the safest spot for your sleeping newborn.
What about the other end of that continuum? The age at which your kid should stop co-sleeping is a little more difficult to pin down. As noted on The Huffington Post, it is not that uncommon for children to continue co-sleeping into their tween years, although this may put stress on the family. As further explained by The Huffington Post, preteen kids who still co-sleep may have difficulties developing techniques to self-soothe and manage anxiety at bedtime. Because of these concerns, you may want to encourage your kid to sleep in a room alone sooner rather than later.
Sure, it would be easier if you could just, say, declare that co-sleeping must stop by the time your kid is X years old. But in reality, the best time to stop co-sleeping depends entirely on your individual family. Maybe your 10 month old makes too much noise at night, so he needs to be put down in his own room for sleeping. Maybe you and your partner want to reclaim your bed, so your 3 year old gets to stay in her own room. There's a lot to be said for helping your kid rest easy, but you and your partner definitely need a quiet, reliable sleeping space as well. Whatever the case, you'll know when the time has come to stop co-sleeping and get your own bed back.