At what age should my child sleep in their own bed?
For many families who advocate early independence, children go from cot to bed seamlessly.
For others, getting their child to settle at night can be a difficult and drawn out transition, with lots of tears and tantrums along the way.
While there is no written rule at which age children should stop climbing into bed with Mum and Dad, a better solution needs to be found if this arrangement is causing issues. And while there is no “right” age at which a child should sleep in their own bed, both parents and child will know when they are ready to make the transition. Here’s a brief overview.
Birth – 6 months
For their first 6 months your baby should sleep in the same room as you, according to NHS guidelines. This should be in a Moses basket or cot, with the baby in the “feet to foot position” with their feet touching the foot of the crib.
As babies get older, some parents might choose to co-sleep with their children as means of helping their child settle down for the night. This is especially the case for breastfeeding mothers. Some studies even suggest that co-sleeping can help boost the bond between mother and child, as well as providing long-term emotional benefits for the child.
The main argument against co-sleeping is safety. NHS guidelines point out that although SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is rare, it is more common among babies who co-sleep as they are at risk of overheating or suffocation. Some parents also argue that co-sleeping can result in children becoming too attached and reliant on their parents.
6 months – 18 months
At 6 months, your child is old enough to sleep in a cot in a separate room. This is when a baby monitor should be introduced to bring peace of mind. With a monitor in your bedroom and one in his or her room, you’ll be able hear any crying or disturbances that may need your attention.
18 months – 3 years
There’s no set age at which you must replace your child’s crib with a bed, although most children make the switch between 18 months and 3-years-old. Make sure to base the timing of the switch on your child’s readiness. Some children adjust readily to change while others may find it more difficult – it’s preferable to have your child sleeping in a cot rather than forcing them into a bed when they are not ready.
However, if your child is strong enough to escape from a cot, they are more than likely ready to upgrade to a bed.
If this is the case, now is a good time to introduce a good sleep routine to get your child used to sleeping in a “big-kid bed”. Keep to a consistent bedtime routine – bath, story time and a kiss goodnight so your child recognises routine and finds comfort in it.
Bensons for Beds Sleep Expert, Stephanie Romiszewski commented:
“The important thing to remember is that you can’t dictate to your children when they fall asleep at night. People sleep when they are sleepy. Trying to force this could cause more stress and less sleep time than originally planned.
“Give your child the same opportunity to sleep at night – for example, at 8pm you can help them calm down by dimming the lights and reading to them, don’t force them to sleep by shutting the lights off completely. That can be pretty scary for kids and won’t magically lead to sleep.”
So, while there are no strict rules regarding the age at which your child should sleep alone, there are indicators that will guide you to make the right decision. Practising a healthy sleep routine will not only be beneficial for your child, but beneficial for you too.