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My six-year-old younger daughter still sleeps with us from time to time at the early morning hours.

She gets to sleep in her own bed each and every evening (with the exception of some rare cases, like when I am on a business trip away from home for a few nights). She sleeps very well through most of the nights and wakes up happy in her very own bed.

But from time to time (I'd say once per a month or once per 2-3 weeks) she gets up some time between 3 AM till 5 AM, grabs her pillow, "checks in" to our bed and immediately falls asleep as if it was as normal a situation as can be in the world. No arguing, no asking questions, no nothing. Sometimes she does this as silently as possible and I simply wake up in the morning, finding her next to me, to my extreme surprise.

(I'm a bit worried about her security due to my oversized body and high weight, so most of the time, when I'm aware that she came to us, I'm packing myself and I'm going to the living room to sleep.)

Her older sister (now 9) is not doing such things at all (again, except for my business trips, when both my daughters sleep with my wife for an entire night) and was not doing so when she was at her younger sister's age (5-6 years). I don't quite recall this now, but I think that she stopped coming to our bed around being 4 years old.

Shall I be worried with this situation, by any means? Is there any "scientifically proven" age when such behavior should stop? Or when it should become a concern for parents?

I recall a book that I read some time ago (around eight years ago, when her older sister was around 1 and younger one was not with us yet) which possibly claimed that an over 2 years old baby, still sleeping with their parents, shall be a concert. But, I must underline that since it was around 8 years ago, I might have forgotton or messed up things that I read.

My wife claims that this not only isn't a problem, but it is in fact a good blessing for us. That I should stop worrying or even thinking about this and cherish each of such nights, because it might not last for long (giving our older daughter as an example).

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I don’t know of any studies on this, but it’s fairly common. My six year old does exactly what you describe. He explains that he has bad dreams sometimes and comes in to get reassurance from us that he’s safe.

Some kids are just less self assured than others I think; my five year old is much less likely to come in for example. My older child is a bit more clingy than our younger child, and that’s fine; he’s not unhealthily so.

If your daughter is otherwise normally independent I don’t see anything wrong with occasional nighttime visits unless it is causing some other problem. If you aren’t comfortable with it because it disturbs your sleep excessively, you could try talking to her about it and asking her to try and go back to her own bed; you also could try and find out more about why she comes in. Talk to your wife about it more first though - and tell her why you’re concerned (if it’s disturbing your sleep).

You also might start moving your daughter back to her own bed rather than moving yourself - that’s what we do with ours; it seems to help him some in being more used to waking up in his own bed.

Some articles on the subject:

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I'll side with your wife. This will stop soon enough, and you'll miss it. Don't worry about it! We used to worry about sleeping habits too. Now that we have 4 kids we don't sweat the small stuff any more. Sometimes they sleep in each other's beds. Sometimes they complain that someone wants to sleep in their bed. Okay, back to your own bed, mister. Sometimes -- very seldom now -- I wake up to find one of them between me and my wife, using up all the space (that's why I wake up). Usually, everyone sleeps in his or her own bed. I don't think it matters in any way, except that we're all social creatures and we like to feel warm and safe at night, and sometimes kids seem to need some company for that.

I think it's very unlikely you'll accidentally smother a six-year-old (people are mostly worried about co-sleeping with babies), but if you're really worried about this, maybe you could just tell her to sleep on the other side of mom? That way, you wouldn't have to leave your bed.

Unlike Joe (whose answer I like very much), I have no scientific references to support my answer. I've just come to the conclusion over the last 10 years that subscribing to any one specific method to raise kids is madness. Whatever works with your family, works, and you notice very quickly what works and what doesn't (if you tried to train your daughter out of the occasional nightly visits, and it caused lots of recurring misery all around, that would be filed under "doesn't work"). I'm convinced that you won't break your kids and scar them for life if you're doing some small thing "wrong", as long as you get the big stuff right (and people tend to agree on that, even if they differ in the specifics - that's why we have child protective services remove kids from homes with serious big stuff problems).

  • Thank you. I accepted the other answer, because it has scientific support and the format of this site suggest to prefer scientific-supported answers over those coming out of pure experience. Which doesn't mean (upvote) that your answer is worse. – trejder May 24 '18 at 11:04
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This doesn't usually stop unless you make it stop. Or maybe I just have too many friends with 10 year old kids moving into the parental bed 6 nights out of 7, and dads who sleep in another room because of it.

It takes a strong will, but you can educate the child, and teach them what behaviour you expect to see. If you let the child in your bed, you are teaching them over and over that this is the correct behaviour.

Having the willpower to cope with crying in the night is one of the hardest things I can ever remember doing. Your own resources are totally depleted and you just want sleep more than anything. And yet if you persist, the problem can be totally gone in a week. But it does take total willpower and you must never back down.

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