Is It Normal for a 7-Year-Old to Sleep With Their Parents?

Reviewed on 2/1/2022
what age should a child sleep in their own bed?
Although not recommended for any age, a 7-year-old sleeping with their parents is considered normal in many families and cultures.

Co-sleeping is not recommended, but a 7-year-old child sleeping with parents is considered normal in many families and cultures.

The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) warns against co-sleeping at any age, especially if the infant is younger than four months. The organization recommends that babies sleeping in the same room as their parents are to be placed in a cot or bassinet for at least six months, preferably a year rather than sharing the same bed.

  • Though co-sleeping may look like a wonderful idea, it impacts the psychological development of the child.
  • Recent studies showed that many children co-sleep with their parents.
  • It was noted that 45 percent of mothers co-sleep with their 8 to 12 years old children occasionally, and 13 percent of mothers do it daily.

7 steps to break the co-sleeping cycle

  1. Parents should recognize obvious behaviors, such as fear, low self-esteem, and dependent behaviors, which stop the child to sleep alone at night. Reassure the child to face their fears, which encourages them to develop strong personalities.
  2. Expect opposition and be prepared to utilize all available resources. Stick to and achieve the aim of everyone sleeping in their bed every night.
  3. Follow behavioral training strategy where parental comfort and presence at bedtime are gradually removed. Tuck them in and assure them that parents are available whenever the child needs them. Have friends or relatives to assure the same.
  4. Read a book or play soothing music to relax them and distract them from the fear of being alone. Avoid chocolates, sweet drinks, and television or screen time of any device at least one hour before bedtime because they stimulate the brain of the child and make it hard for them to sleep.
  5. Let the child know the importance of changing their lifestyle. Emphasize that it is important for the parents to sleep on their own to reduce their stress. Make them understand the importance of everyone having their own space.
  6. The sleep and wake time should be consistent, and children should be encouraged to sleep early and wake up early. The parents can even start rewarding the child to encourage maintaining the sleep cycle.
  7. If the co-sleeping cycle cannot be ended with effort, parents should seek professional treatment and psychotherapy.

3 disadvantages of co-sleeping

  1. Safety concerns
    • New mothers think co-sleeping with their child develops a deeper bond and offers an easier way to breastfeed.
    • However, many experts warn about the risks parents put on their children, especially those with a first-born child or who are facing psychological or health issues from childbirth.
      • Overlying: Lying over the baby.
      • Entrapment: The baby is trapped between the mother and other objects, such as a mattress or wall making it hard to move or breathe.
      • Suffocation: Breathing difficulty caused when the is trapped.
      • Smothering: Suffocation caused when mouth and nose are blocked.
      • Strangulation: Pressing the body in such a way that blood vessels are compressed, and circulation is reduced or stopped.
      • Sudden infant death syndrome
  2. Sleep deprivation
    • Children who can sleep alone still prefer to sleep with their parents because of the following reasons:
    • Though it looks like a good idea, it delays the development of a child, such as sleeping independently or overcoming issues with sleep.
      • A child who falls asleep in the same bed as their parents have been shown to have greater sleep issues associated with shorter and more interrupted sleep, decreasing the quality of sleep.
      • The sleep-wake cycle will be disrupted, and the child tends to sleep late and wake up late.
    • Co-sleeping impacts the sleep of the parents and increases stress. Parents who let children sleep in the same bed reduce personal time and intimacy with their partners, which is one of the leading causes of separation among couples.
  3. Personality development
    • Children co-sleeping with their parents has delayed psychological development. They do not develop strong personalities, which impacts them in the future.
    • They struggle with aspects, such as:

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References
Image Source: iStock Images

Buchanan J. Why Co-sleeping Can Do More Harm Than Good. Children's Hospital Los Angeles. https://www.chla.org/blog/rn-remedies/why-co-sleeping-can-do-more-harm-good

Children's Health. Should I be co-sleeping with my child? https://www.childrens.com/health-wellness/should-i-be-co-sleeping-with-my-child

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