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The childhood joy of a sleepover is unmatched.
Who doesn’t remember the excitement of a late-night kitchen raid with your best friend?
Or a slumber party where at least one kid vomits and has to go home early?
Is your child ready for this? When do you know?
What Age is the Right Age for Sleepovers?
Some children are ready for a sleepover as young as five or six. Others need to be tweens before they feel comfortable away from home. Consider the maturity of your child and where they will be sleeping over before you decide.
Your Child’s First Sleepover
Sleepovers are common in childhood.
They offer a way for two or more kids to spend more time together while also giving tired parents a short respite.
In many cases, a child that is invited to a sleepover will later return the favor so each kid can experience a new environment, and each household can play host.
The age of your child’s first sleepover mostly depends on their maturity.
Polling shows that most kids start sleeping over at friends’ houses around age eight, but there is no hard and fast rule.
My recommendation is that your child’s first sleepover should not be at a friend’s house but with a relative or close neighbor.
They should feel very comfortable with the entire family before they consider sleeping over.
How Do I Know My Child is Ready For Sleepovers?
There are some signs that a child may be successful at a sleepover.
1. Interest in Sleepovers
The first sign is showing interest in sleepovers.
Your child might see a sleepover on a video or hear friends talking about them.
When they bring up the subject with excitement rather than fear, they will soon be ready.
2. Lack of Separation Anxiety
Kids become more independent from their parents when they start school full-time.
Some feel the need to cling to moms and dads at the end of each day.
Others are satisfied to spend even longer away from home.
Those who don’t display anxiety over being away from their parents can consider a sleepover.
3. Close Friendships
You should only allow your child to spend the night at a friend’s house if they are very close to that friend.
Kids who have become bonded to friends are apt to have a good time while they are gone.
4. Strong Communication
Your child should have the ability to communicate their needs to you and to others.
Any child going to a sleepover should have easy access to a cell phone and be old enough to know your phone number and how to reach you.
5. Healthy Environment
The sleepover must take place in a home that is able to accommodate any of your child’s healthcare needs.
For example, my daughter has a friend who is allergic to cats.
Because our cat is the boss in my house and rules us all, my daughter’s friend cannot spend the night in our home.
If your child has allergies or special needs, they must only sleep in homes where they will be comfortable.
Questions to Ask Prior to a Sleepover
Once you have established that your child is mature enough for a sleepover, your work isn’t complete.
You should get to know the family whose home your child will be visiting.
Have dinner with them or invite them over for coffee.
Ask questions that ensure your child will be safe and cared for. Some of these questions include:
1. Who will be in the home during the sleepover?
You need to know if parents will be in the home to supervise the children and if older children will also have friends over.
2. Are there firearms in the home, and if so, how are they stored?
Firearms must be kept safe and secure at all times. Almost half of all homes in the United States have a firearm.
If your child is entering one of these homes, be sure the guns are locked in a secure location that is separate from ammunition.
Both should be inaccessible to children.
3. Will you be staying home or going out?
Many families wish to take kids out to eat or for entertainment when their kids have friends over.
It is wise to know these plans in advance. That will help you properly prepare your child.
4. Do you have a pool or hot tub?
If they do, is the pool secured when not in use? Are children supervised while they are using the pool or hot tub?
Children should be supervised in water until they are around 11 years old.
5. What type of food will you be serving?
This is important if your child has any dietary concerns.
For instance, my daughter has three friends with whom she spends the majority of her time.
Two of them are vegetarian, and the third has a dairy allergy. Our house goes vegan during those sleepovers.
6. Do you have pets?
Aside from any allergies, your child needs to be prepared for pets in the home.
I love dogs, but I’m also aware they can be dangerous.
Your child might have a fear of a certain animal, which could cause sleepovers to be difficult.
What if My Child Wants to Come Home?
It took three tries before my son was able to spend the night at his best friend’s house.
The first two ended around midnight when I received a call begging for a ride home and a warm bed.
I gladly picked him up, gave him a hug, and told him he could try again another time.
There is no shame in wanting to sleep in your own space with parents nearby.
Is Hosting a the Sleepover a Good Alternative?
A good alternative to sending your child to a sleepover is to host one yourself. You may not feel like your child is ready.
Maybe you’re not entirely comfortable with the home of the host.
Instead of having them spend the night elsewhere, ask them to invite the kid(s) to your place.
When Should Sleepovers Stop?
You might not be worried about this yet, but there will soon be a time when you wonder if your child is too old for a sleepover.
Parents sometimes worry that older teens will get into trouble if they are allowed to spend an entire evening together.
I continued having sleepovers well into adulthood. Indeed, my last true sleepover happened after I was married.
My husband was on a week-long trip, so I invited a friend to spend the night. We went out to eat, watched movies, and giggled like we were 12.
It was great fun.
Sleepovers are fun for your children and their friends.
When your kids are ready to try going to a sleepover, let them.
Just remember to prepare yourself if they don’t make it through the night the first time.
Do you have any fun sleepover stories? Share them in the comments!