How to stop co-sleeping with your five year old

May 23, 2019
  • Traditional practice
    1 / 8 Traditional practice

    Sharing the family bed – also known as “co-sleeping” or “sleep sharing” – remains popular with some families.

    Parents who adopt this practice of having their child sleep in their bed, instead of putting the child into her own bed in her own room, frequently comment on the benefits, such as better sleeping patterns for everyone and more intense parent-baby bonding.


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  • Time to move
    2 / 8 Time to move

    Despite popular belief, there is no research evidence to support the view that children who sleep in the same bed as their parents up to the age of six years go on to develop psychological problems later on. The practice appears to have no adverse developmental effects whatsoever.

    But if you do practise co-sleeping in your family, you may well decide that it’s time for your child to have her own bed now that she is five or six because, for example:

    • She’s grown tall and takes up too much space
    • She asks you if she can have a bed of her own
    • You disturb her when you go to bed for the night
    • You would like greater marital privacy in your bedroom
    • She’s a very restless sleeper who moves around a lot
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  • Your choice
    3 / 8 Your choice

    It really does come down to personal and lifestyle choices. There is no right or wrong with whatever sleeping arrangement you have. Choose what you think is the best for you, your partner and your child.

    When you finally make up your mind that it’s time for your child to have a bed in her own room, here are some suggestions:

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  • Advance planning
    4 / 8 Advance planning

    Don’t make an impulsive switch from one sleeping arrangement to another. Chat things over with your child in order to ensure that she is content with the move. If the suggestion has come solely from you, expect some resistance to the idea as she may be stunned by it. Address any concerns she has about the move.

    Related: 5 common sleep problems in children

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  • Designing the bedroom
    5 / 8 Designing the bedroom

    Get your child involved in designing and planning her new bedroom. She can help select the duvet cover and pillow cases, and also the wallpaper and curtains if you plan to redecorate her room. Making these decisions with her strengthens her emotional connection with her new bed.

    Related: 4 tips to follow when buying your child’s first bed

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  • Gradual move
    6 / 8 Gradual move

    Encourage your child to play in her bedroom before she actually sleeps there. Move her toys, games and clothes from your room into hers. She can play there during the day even though she continues to sleep in your family bed. Then pick a night where she will sleep on her own in her new bed.

    Related: 9 cool night lights for kids

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  • Settling-in phase
    7 / 8 Settling-in phase

    As she has never had her own bed, the chances are she will feel strange sleeping alone at first. Expect the patter of small feet during the night, especially at the start, as she climbs back in with you. This settling-in phase might last up to two weeks, so be patient with her.

    Related: My child refuses to sleep in his own bed: what to do

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  • Determination to succeed
    8 / 8 Determination to succeed

    Depending on your child’s personality, she may try to persuade you to rethink the whole arrangement so that she can return to the family bed. That would be a retrograde step if you have already made up your mind about her sleeping on her own. Stick to your plans. Don’t give in to her protests. Have confidence in your decision.

    Related: When your child won’t sleep alone


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