When should a parent end the family bed?

by Dawn Fox
(Burton, Michigan)

The idea of having a family bed is very controversial but my question goes past whether or not it is a good idea. My question is after deciding to do so, when, if ever should a parent change the sleeping arrangement? Is there a way to push your child to their own bed without hurting the feelings of the child or the parent?

I have a six year old son. He has slept in our bed since he was about 5 days old. I have to admit I have always enjoyed him sleeping with us for the same reasons that you have probably heard from many parents before. Recently, it has become an issue for me for a couple different reasons. First, it is just not physically comfortable anymore; he is too big for the three of us to fit in the bed. Second, it is getting in the way of my time with my husband.

We have tried in a few different ways to encourage him to stay in his own bed, but every night he ends up disrupting everyone's sleep by climbing over me to sleep in between us in the middle of the night.

Am I making a mistake trying to push him out? Should I have made the transition earlier or should I wait until later? I ask because I think it makes me as sad as it seems to make him.

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Jan 21, 2009
Family Bed - Transitioning to Sleeping Apart
by: Laura Ramirez

Your question on a family bed is a good one. Let me start by saying that in my home, we had a family bed. My eldest son slept with us until he was 2 1/2 and the youngest until he was 3.

Like your experience, we had difficulty getting enough sleep when our children grew older and bigger. I'd awake in the morning with a foot in my face or would get pushed off the bed in the middle of the night by a child who was sleeping perpendicular to my husband and I and hogging most of our queen-size bed.

Although I would do it all over again if I had another child and I think our family bed is one of the many reasons I am so bonded to my children (even though they are both teens now and going through the process of individuation), you eventually need to make the transition to having everyone sleep in their own beds.

What I did in my family was buy a toddler bed which I placed at the foot of my own. I purchased the toddler bed online and let my child help me decide which one to buy which gave him a choice and some power in the situation.

The toddler bed allowed my child to sleep in the same room, but not in the same bed. After my child became accustomed to this arrangement, I moved the bed further from my own and finally into his own room. It was a slow transition, but it worked.

Hope this helps.

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