When is a child too old to sleep with his parents? Learn about the negative effects of prolonged cosleeping here.
What can you read in this article?
Co-sleeping struggles: When is a child too old to sleep with his parents?
Sharing a room with mom and dad? Here are some negative effects
How a couple successfully trained their 2 kids below 6 to sleep in their own room
Do you have boarders in your bedroom? And by that, I mean little tenants who invade you and your partner’s bed. Do you still co-sleep with your toddler or school-aged kid? Know when it’s time to evict them from your bedroom – for their own good.
When is a child too old to sleep with her parents?
As a mom of three, I consider myself quite adept at helping my children reach their milestones – learning to talk, potty training, eating by themselves. However, there’s one aspect of their development that we still need to overcome – teaching them to sleep in their own room.
Like most middle-class Filipino families who are just starting out, we are living in my parents’ home and my husband and I share one big room with our three kids.
There’s actually an option for us to dedicate another room for the kids, but we just couldn’t bring ourselves to do it yet. We had just gotten used to sleeping together so that we’ll be there just in case our child would “need” us in the middle of the night.
Image taken from Freepik
Reasons for co-sleeping or room-sharing
And it seems like we’re not the only ones having a problem with extending the room-sharing situation. In a recent study done in the United States, a surprising 45% of moms let their 8- to 12-year-olds sleep with them from time to time, and 13% permit it every night.
The reasons for letting their child sleep in their room vary. In the US and some third-world countries (like ours), bed-sharing may be an economic necessity rather than a choice.
Other times, the reasons are purely psychological. Parents may find it more convenient and safe to have the child in the same room with them, where they can watch and protect the child (ie, from aggressive siblings, vermin, fires) during sleep.
But lately, we’ve been thinking, our kids too old to still be sleeping with us?
While co-sleeping or more specifically, room sharing (while in a crib or a sleeper), has a lot of benefits for babies including the decreased risk for SIDS and a better quality of sleep, several studies have shown that there are also negative effects if this setup is extended to the toddler years and over.
The negative impact of sharing a room with mom and dad
While it’s true that sharing a room or a bed with your child does make you closer as a family (and who can resist snuggling with those tiny warm bodies?), there are also long-term negative effects of letting your child sleep in your room.
According to Dr. Kate Roberts, a psychologist, family therapist, and professor of psychiatry at Brown University, there has been an increase in cases of anxiety among children. When she tried to dig deeper into the reason for their anxiety, here’s what she found out:
“Often when I probe deeper I learn that for many of these children, more nights than not, they are sleeping in their parents’ bed and into their double digits years.”
She added that most parents reported thinking that,
“While co-sleeping may have seemed like a good idea at one point, they recognize once entrenched in the never-ending pattern that the opposite of a restful night sleep occurs and in fact, co-sleeping creates additional stress for the entire family.”
Aside from increased anxiety, prolonged co-sleeping or room sharing can also contribute to a child’s lack of independence.
“Children need to learn how to fall asleep without a parent nearby,” says Dr. Lynelle Schneeberg, director of the behavioral sleep program of Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.
Teaching your kids to sleep in a different room away from you, her security blanket (almost literally) promotes independence. By waiting “a few more years” to train your child to sleep in her own room, you are delaying the process of helping her become fine and get used to sleeping on her own.
Chronic co-sleeping can also contribute to poor quality of sleep, not just for one person but for the whole family.
For our children to grow up healthy, they need to have adequate sleep and rest.
According to the Canadian Pediatric Society, “behavioral insomnia” is a medical diagnosis that describes 20-30 percent of kids who have trouble falling or staying asleep, and who end up in their parents’ bed at one point during the night.
This condition can lead to sleep deprivation, which also results in memory loss, fatigue, having low energy, depression, and even obesity.
For the parents, some of the negative effects include having less time for themselves and decreased intimacy between the couple.
Successfully sleep-training 2 kids under 6
When is a child too old to sleep with his parents?
For Mommy Jam, an entrepreneur, the cue was when her second-born has successfully potty-trained. He was 2-years old and his older sister was 5 when Mommy Jam decided to start teaching the kids to sleep in their room. Also, she was pregnant with her third child so she felt that the two boarders needed to “move out.”
“Ang catalyst talaga niyan is noong nabuntis ako with our bunso. But at the same time, I felt my second-born was ready na by then. He just finished his potty training so I knew na may level of control na siya,” she shared.
It was a long-winded process for Mommy Jam. She did the usual routine of sleeping in her kids’ room and then stepping out when they’ve fallen asleep and then trying to get them to sleep before she goes out, for six months but it failed.
Interestingly though, when it was her husband’s turn to try training the kids, he succeeded in making them sleep in their room within a week!
“I think by that time the kids knew what to expect na? And, I’m sorry to say this, mas clingy sila sa akin so easier to let go siguro si daddy kaysa kay mommy. Plus two pa sila na magkasama sa room. So I guess less scary overall,” said Mommy Jam.
While they have successfully trained her two older children to sleep in their own room, she shared that they still do the routinary tucking the kids in bed every night, as hubby’s alone time with the kids.
“My husband tucks them in. Mga 5 to 10 minutes. ‘Yan ang kanyang time with the kids.”
Image taken from Freepik
Tips on how to get your child out of your bedroom
Like Mommy Jam, you can start training your kid to sleep in her own room. Transition gradually, or you’ll end up traumatizing them in the process. Here are some things you can try:
For the first few days, you can try staying with them in their room and stepping out when they have fallen asleep (just make sure they fall asleep before you do).
Let them know where they can find you in case they wake up in the middle of the night. Feel free to walk them back to their room when this happens. Reassure them that they can always find you when they need you.
Make bedtime fun and positive experience. Read them a story, sing a calming song, or snuggle up for a few minutes. Then tuck them in and say good night.
While co-sleeping is definitely your choice as a family, you can also try easing your child to sleep in her own room to encourage independence. Just remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Just keep at it, and have lots of patience as you go along.
We can do this, moms!
Image taken from Freepik