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My 8 Year Old Still Co-sleeps And That’s Okay

He Can Sleep With Us
As Long As He Wants

 


Most nights start off with our 8 year old son falling asleep with either me or his father. He doesn’t fall asleep by himself. Either we will lie with him in his bed or he’ll crawl into our bed. 

When he was a couple of months old I remember it was so important to me that he learn to “self settle”. I put so much time, effort, and pain into trying to “teach” him to fall asleep on his own. Trying to not let him fall asleep on my breast. Or not resort to rocking him to sleep. But in the end I’d do whatever it took to get him to fall asleep.

And I’d feel guilty. I felt like I’d failed him. Because I was being told by my friends, family, the maternal health nurse, the hideous book my mum bought me to help me teach my son to sleep, that it was essential to his wellbeing that he learns to fall asleep on his own.

But secretly I loved that he fell asleep in my arms. And the older he got the more special it was. Because as he got bigger he got busier.

Unlike what I was being told about creating bad habits and making him overly dependent on me, when he was awake he was off running around, playing, climbing, and causing chaos. He didn’t need me to hold him during the day. It was only when he was tired that he’d curl up in my arms and fall asleep with his head on my chest.

It was my favourite part of every day.

What’s The Problem?

When he was 2 years old our doctor warned us if he doesn’t stop sleeping in our bed we’ll never get him out. He’ll stay there until he’s 21. Of course he was exaggerating, but even then – so what? I slept in my mums bed whenever I needed extra comfort until I left home at 19.

If you think about it most people prefer to share a bed with someone they love. Adults generally prefer to sleep together. So many of my friends have said they have trouble sleeping when their partner or husband is away, or if he stays up longer than them. It’s considered perfectly normal for adults to struggle to sleep alone, but it’s a problem when it’s a child.

I get that it can be uncomfortable. I’ve been kicked and whacked more time than I can count. And I’ve wound up curled into a ball at the foot of my own bed while my children star fish freely. And often after they’ve fall asleep in our bed we’ll move them back to their own beds just so my partner and I can have some time to ourselves.

But there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a child who wants to share a sleep space with their parent. It’s not a failure to develop. It’s normal. So very normal.

It Doesn’t Last Forever

Since our son started school he stopped letting me give him a hug goodbye. He’s way too cool for that. He just runs off with his friends, because he’s so grown up. So that time at the end of the day snuggling in bed is when we reconnect, read stories, and chat quietly in the dark. Then he curls up in my arms with his head on my chest and falls asleep. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Because I know one day, hopefully many years from now, he won’t need me like he does now. He’ll want to sleep alone and that will be okay too. But I know that I’ll miss this time.

So I’m not going to waste it feeling stressed and guilty that I failed to teach him to self settle.

 

About Rachel Stewart

Rachel is the founder of Parenting Central Australia. She is raising two children, boy and girl, with her partner.She has a background in early childhood education, but right now is content to be a stay at home mum.She is passionate about birthing rights, breastfeeding and mental health. She enjoys crafting, drinking coffee (sometimes wine) and spending a little too much time on Facebook.

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16 comments

  1. Amanda Nicholls

    Oh wow – mine don’t need me to lay with them but I’m sure they’d like me to! Mine need darkness though and there’s been lots of requests for extra water, visits to the toilet, more kisses before I can leave the room.

  2. Dawn Rieniets

    My kid would think it’s playtime if I laid with her at night but to each their own! I think getting the kid to sleep is the number one priority. Do it however you have to. <3

  3. Kylie Purtell

    We lie down with the girls for 5 minutes after lights out. We have bedtime music that plays for 2, 5 or 10 minute intervals and we lie down for the first 5. They don’t fall asleep while we are there, but it gives them a chance to talk about anything that’s on their minds and that certainly helps set the stage for sleep (most nights!).

  4. Sami Micallef

    I agree 100% i stressed hardcore with my daughter but have lightened up heaps when it comes to my son

  5. Jacq Paraguya

    My 2 year old is still co-sleeping and I don’t know until when we’ll do this. 😁

  6. Tory Warren

    My 2.5 year old falls asleep in my room and then gets carried to bed. He sleeps through the night so I don’t care :p

  7. Mim Jenkinson

    You know I’ve never done except when they’re ill but only because they won’t lie still with me! If I’m there, they’re going to jump on me 🙂 x

  8. Aleney de Winter

    I still lay down every night with my six year old and think of it as special time. I’m in no hurry to stop.

  9. Amy Ahearn

    He’ll stop when he’s ready 🙂

  10. Lauren Elise Threadgate

    Love this! I lie with my son every night too. After having to breastfeed him to sleep for such a long time, lying together doesn’t seem like such a big tax on my time 💜

  11. Andi Dyson

    Each to there own I always say. Whatever works and keeps everyone happy

  12. Jennifer Robinson

    Do whatever works for you has always been my motto

  13. Elle Ski

    I actually love laying down for an afternoon nap with them! 😴

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