A 5 year old boy has been sleeping at night in the same bed as his single mother for basically his whole life, although he has his own bedroom and his own bed. They go to sleep together at the boy's bedtime and the mom gets up after the child is asleep (sometimes). Is a boy this age sleeping with his mom common? At what age should it stop? (Yes, this is a relative.)


There is exactly one age when this should stop:

When one of the individuals concerned is no longer happy with the sleeping arrangements.

Assuming that your real question is somewhere along the lines of "Is this going to mess with the development of the five yo., sexually or otherwise?" - No, he will be fine.

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    Own experience, friends and the fact that many cultures world wide practise co-sleeping differently than we from western cultures are used to. The proponents of co-sleeping would add to that that some children need the closeness - google, if you like, you will find sources that explain better than I can. My kids are older than the child in question and still come to our bed when they are (emotionally) stressed, slightly sick or similar. – Stephie Jan 22 '16 at 20:09
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    Why did someone edit out the reference provided by Stephie and the comment on that reference that I wrote? The reference was relevant and my comment on it focused on the details of the study. – Zayde in NY Jan 23 '16 at 23:10
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    My comment is based on experience only. My brother slept in bed with my parents, and then with my mom when they divorced. He did it until well into highschool, when his counselor finally had to to tell my mom not to allow it because it WAS messing with his development. Even into his twenties, he would sleep with her when he was ill or depressed. Believe me, there is a point where even if both are happy, it still shouldn't go on. My bro is NOT a happy, well adjusted adult, and his relationship w/my mom is a BIG part of it. – Jax Jan 31 '16 at 18:29
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    I think most of the time this behavior extinguises itself before it's an issue, but, it sometimes does not. I'm not anti-cosleeping. My own kids slept in bed with us while breastfeeding and for a while after so I do understand the benefit. I just also see the necessity to end it at some point, which is what the OP is asking for. It isnt a numerical age, IMO, it's when it crosses the line into emotional codependency. – Jax Jan 31 '16 at 18:55
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    sometimes kids suffer from separation anxiety. My paediatrician's advice was "its more common than you think, they grow out of it and I really advise you not to force the issue. You will make things much worse". – bigbadmouse Jun 10 '19 at 12:04

I can reference my own experience here:

Our 5-year sleeps on our bed. He goes to be in his own bed, and gets up and moved to our bed in the middle of the night. He is turning 5 shortly, and recently he has had nights where he doesn't go to our bed. Most nights he sleeps in our bed.

We made the decision to neither encourage nor discourage co-sleeping with our kids. We put them to bed in their own beds, but if they want to move into our bed they can. There are many reason for this, and many of them are practical.

I have noticed that among other parents of toddlers and pre-schoolers, IF you practice co-sleeping, many kids are still in their parents bed at this age.


My husband and I did a lot of research a few years ago. We now have an 8 yr old boy and 5 yr old girl. We had the hardest time with our boy because when he was at his real mother's house, he always slept with his mother or one of his older brothers, being the youngest of 5 boys there. I initially had a hard time with this being my relationship with his dad started the same time he was born. Then, when my daughter was born, I breastfed for a while and we researched more about cosleeping for fear of smothering our newborn. All the research I remember showed that, generally, there is no longer term damage to the child psychologically. In many indigenous communities in places like Malaysia, entire families sleep together, including grandparents. But the one thing that always stuck out to me was my husband saying, "Do you really think either of them are still going to want to sleep with us when they're teenagers? Enjoy it while you can." Hope this helps.

  • that's good advice. My child is almost ten and starting to talk about sleeping in her own bed. The paed said "it will come, be patient" and he's been right about absolutely everything so far. – bigbadmouse Jun 10 '19 at 12:06

I believe a lot depends on the boy, and hopefully the mother knows her son. At about the same age as this boy, and for a couple of years after I tried my best to see my mother in various states of undress, and would try to find ways to see her naked. At times I would crawl into bed with her when my dad got up early, and then would get as close to her as possible and "accidently" touch her woman parts. On the other hand, my brother never had any interest in her what so ever even though they were much closer emotionally than mom and I were. So, that's why I say it depends a lot on the son and what the mother knows about him. No one size fits all. And further, no I did not grow up weird, and I wasn't a terror to my girlfriends nor to my own daughters.

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    I'm not going to judge, but I think co-sleeping is very rarely a sexual thing. – forest May 23 '19 at 0:57
  • It sadens me that this answer attracts downvotes. I don't think it's trolling; it seems to me it makes a serious effort at answering. I agree with forest that co-sleeping is very rarely something sexual, and I do think Stephie's answer is more helpful, but this answer offers anecdotal evidence that there are cases where we're not dealing with an asexual situation, and I find that useful to know. Also, it expands a bit on the "don't worry, he'll be fine" part of Stephie's answer, not necessarily contradicting it, but offering another point of view. – Pascal says Talk To Monica May 25 '19 at 18:08
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    Extracted the following into it's own comment so it can be deleted separately from my other comment (because this one is basically a meta rant): I think the reason for the downvotes is that the answer disagrees with the stance that children are asexual beings, which seems to be the consensus on this site. I wish we would not treat minority positions as if they're toxic; they might not be applicable in most cases, but they might still offer some insights. – Pascal says Talk To Monica May 25 '19 at 18:21
  • @Pascal I downvoted it myself not because I think that children are intrinsically asexual beings (I don't), but because it doesn't answer the question as to what age to stop co-sleeping (or at least, only the first sentence does). I wouldn't have downvoted if the question was asking why co-sleeping is a thing. I can't explain why others may have downvoted, but that was at least my reason. – forest May 26 '19 at 10:05
  • @forest the question is not going to get an answer as asked. It depends entirely on the child - puberty is probably the only "firm" answer but even that is highly variable. I'm upvoting him/her as he/she gave a rational answer to an impossible question. – bigbadmouse Jun 10 '19 at 12:10

I think it really depends on the situation. If the mom and kid are by themselves (no father present) then it probably makes more sense that they would sleep in the same bed. I'm sure there will come a day fairly soon where that will no longer be the case. I really don't think its a big deal at this point in time.

As parents of two boys(6 & 4), my wife and I tuck them into bed every night. Some nights (maybe once every 2-3 weeks) one of the boys ends up in our bedroom for a variety of reasons: cold/hot, couldn't sleep, scared of some noise or the weather, etc. When that happens, we usually let them stay for a little while until they fall asleep and then tuck them back in their own bed. I will also add that when our boys do come into our bed, they almost always sleep on my wife's side of the bed.

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