What age is too young to spend the night away from home?

At some point your child will get invited over to her friend's house for a sleepover, or perhaps you're considering an overnight summer camp. At what age is it appropriate for your child to spend the night away from home?

40  Answers

8 77

My kids aren't allowed to spend the night at friends houses. They have late overs and stay at their friends house until 10 or 11 then I pick them up. They can go back and play in the morning but they don't need to spend the night. They do stay the night with cousins or grandma. Family is different. I know the trouble I got into when I was a teenager and staying the night at friends houses, so my husband and I decided when they were young they couldn't have sleepovers. That's just my preference.

160 30

I like that idea of a "late over". :)

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18 29

NEVER too young! My kids have been spending the night with grandmas and aunts since they were pretty much a few weeks old. Not over the top of course, but for a night away with hubby. And as they got older (18 months and older), they ASK to go to grandmas or aunties. I have never had a problem leaving them (them or us - of course we miss each other but it's not a horrible experience). And I believe that it's b/c I started young.
As far as staying with friends, I only let them stay with close friends whom parents I know and trust. But that didn't start until probably 5ish. But again, no issues.

5 18

WEll I don't think I will let them stay with friends till they know what is right and wrong at all, even with a family at few wks I find it a bit too much. Do not you breast feed ur kids?

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2 12

Not until they are old and confident to call you at anytime if something is wrong. They must be old enough to memorise your phone numbers, address and smart enough to know how to get home. Remember children can be very tempremental about who they like from day to day. Apart from your family members you can trust with your lives, be very careful to let your under ten with friends because you must neve judge a book by it's cover. People can show you a good side of themselves, and if your kids are not confident or can't express themselves you could end up with more thn just a sleep over. We've all heard the horrid stories and it turned out to be women and men we would Never have thought could, but Did. I wish you all d best of luck with the decisions you make about your kids, but know your kids inside out before trying to know their friends and the family.

4 0

Very True!

0 15

I think it depends on the particular child and also how well you know the family. My daughter spent the night over at a close family friend's house when she was 5 and it was a positive experience for all.

3 25

Everyone keep mentionting family. My son, now 4, has been sleeping over his Aunts and Grandma's since he was a year or two old. But I think spending the night with family, such as a Grandparent is MUCH different than spending the night at a friends house. I never had a problem with him sleeping over my Mom or sister's house because we are a close nit family and I know nothing will happen to him while there but as far as someone else's house goes I would never allow him to go so young, not even to my best friend's house who has a boy a year older than mine and they love to play. To spend the night over to someone other than family it's not about age but know how. My son would need to know my phone number and understand that I would come get him any time day or night if he wanted to come home. He would also need to know our home address in case an outing caused him to get separated from everyone. Be understanding of certain emergency proceedures, like when to call 911, because you never know what could happen. Once I know that he know's all of this information and understands them then I would be comfortable for him to spend the night at a friends house. Being that said I assume the age would be about 6 or so cause they start teaching kids this kind of info in Elementary school. I myself would test the other kids parents as well by setting up play dates where I go to their home and watch the kids interact together and see how the other family interacts together. I would def not allow my son to stay the night with a kids parents who fight constantly and such.
These are just some of my own opinions and I'm sure other Mom differ in theirs and I respect that.

4 0

I agree with you!

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14 5

I have four children, ages 4, 7, 9 and 12. They are each very different from each other. I feel that what you are willing to do depends on three things: 1- the child's comfort level of being at another person's house (or away from home); 2- the parent's level of comfort of having their child not at home; and 3- the comfort that the parents have with each other. A lot of people may not agree, but I am not going restrict my child from experiencing another family's routine because one of the parents drinks or smokes or (God forbid!) has sex in their bedroom. Think about your own lifestyle and the many things that you do that you could be judged negatively for! However, I feel that I have a great sense of people, and you can tell a lot from the children themselves... If you pay attention to what your child's friends are saying, then you will get an idea of how they are being raised. It is important to meet the parents and make sure that you have each others contact information. I know that it's a scary world out there, but we can't shelter our children to the point that they are never going to have any experiences of their own! That being said, my 4 year old has never had a sleepover other than with family; my 7 year old has had many, many sleepovers since she started kindergarten when she was 5; my 9 year old has been having sleepovers since he was in kindergarten, as has my 12 year old. Kindergarten (at least for me) was a great time to meet other parents, because the kids only went for 1/2 day and we had to wait with them until it was time for class-- no dropping off. So for 3 out of 4 kids, I've gotten to know the parents from school and had a very good sense of what type of people they were. Good luck to you all. Remember, you and only you will ultimately make the decision-- and that decision has to be right for YOU and YOUR child!

0 0

I completely agree with this statement... give the kids a little trust and we know our kids and a little common sense goes a long way...

631 96

...with family - it depends on the security of those things.

With peers - never. I found out twice (BOTH TIMES!) what went on in others' homes when the parents were in bed - conversation-wise as well a activity-wise.

I THOUGHT I knew the parents as they were from our church,etc., but each family has its own set of values. My daughter had nightmares for years when I finally figured out that her fears were from a video she was allowed to watch at a friend' home -

Kids can spend oodles of time with their friends during the safety of daylight hours ...

0 22

My kids are 4 1/2 and 7 months and both had their first sleepover at 4 months with my parents who are 4 miles away. My 4 year old just thinks that this is part of her life, nana and bops on the weekend. We going to keep this up with our baby as well. It allows my parents and children a lot of bonding time and us, the parents, a chance to hang together and sleep in once a week, :)

7 1

this is just like me, my son sleeps over at my parents whenever he chooses, my parents love to have him and this is part of his life, I also know that if anything was to happen to me and my partner that my little boy would be able to cope with life without us. i could not bear the thought of my son not handling life because he has never been anywhere else or built up special bonds with other important people in his life, i dont think for one minute it would be easy without his parents around but i know he would cope and that always makes me feel a bit better.

38 7

I've never spent a night away from my 2.5 yr old daughter. I'll have to in a few weeks to deliver my son but my mom will hopefully be in town to watch her at our home. If not, she'll go with us. If not for delivering another child, I don't know when or if I'd let her stay overnight somewhere as most people we know, including family, do not have the same standards we do. For instance, I would never allow her to stay with a family that drinks, smokes or cusses. If we were ever to allow it, she'd certainly have her own cell phone so that she could call us anytime if she needed us for any reason.

6 7

I have 2 son's 7 & 3. My 7 year old spent his first nite away from me at age 5, was camping for a dad's & kids weekend. Needless to say I cried for an hour when they left, & my son called me 2 times before bed. That has been the only time he has been away from me over night. My 3 year old never. I keep my kids very close, they do get babysat by grandparents, here & there (not as much as I hear some people doing), but even with Grandparents I am not comfortable having them away from home over night. My 7 year old has never asked to sleep anywhere else either. So maybe around 8 or 9 for my 7 year old. For those of you who are wondering - since I said I keep them close, no we don't co-sleep, in fact our kids have never come into our room at night - they call us from their beds if they need us - I am just a bit over protective..

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5 13

My husband and i get a lot of flack from my Stepmom & sister in law because we haven't let our daughter spend the night with either of them yet and she's 3. We have issues with how each of the takes care of our daughter and the complete disrespect of our wishes makes us not trust them to have her overnight. However, when I had my son she spent the night at the sitter's house who we trust implicitly. It's not a matter of age but of trusting the person who they are overnighting with.

32 21

Yeah, I'm having a bit of an issue with this myself. My kid's 7 & wants to sleep over at a friend's house. I'm 100% confident she knows my number, how to get home, etc. These two have been friends for over a year now. But I don't know the parents very well. I hear good things about them, but I'm still wary.
A long-time friend of ours used to babysit for me when I was going to school. A couple years after that, we started to suspect something was wrong. To make a long story short, turns out this person was a sociopath; a couple scary incidences later, I freaked out that I had trusted this person to be alone with my baby. And I think I've been just this side of paranoid ever since.
I'm okay with her spending time with relatives--them I know and trust. But other people...? I don't want to be over-protective, though. Difficult dilemma.

12 20

All I can say to you, is trust your gut!!! You may feel like you are "paranoid" but isn't it better to be a little paranoid and have your child or children safe?! I am a mother of 3 (two 4 yr old and a 2 yr old) and one on the way. I know that i am an over-protective mom. I am ok with that, so is my husband, and as of now, my kids don't know any different, so they are ok with it. But i would always rather my kids be safe! I always trust my gut! I know that if i didn't follow my gut just once, and something bad happened, I would never forgive myself!

10 0

The answer depends on many things-your child's maturity level, your comfort level with the family your c hild is spending the night with, etc. My son didn't want to sleep away from home, even at his grandparents house until he was about 3 yrs old. Obviously, that greatly disappointed his grandmother but I didn't want to push him if he wasn't ready. Eventually, he decided on his own and loves spending the night with his Brams. He's now 6 yrs old and recently had his first sleepover at his best friend's house. We are extremely close with the family and have known them since the boys were in preschool together. His best friend has spent the night at our house many times before. To the point many have made, it is important that they know their home phone number and address, are self sufficient, know how to react in an emergency or if they get lost and can articulate what they need/want if they're spending the night somewhere other than family. No matter what age you decide is best, everyone involved has to be comfortable with the situation.

14 6

My son might be having his first at 3.5 this week!
I personally would not leave my child overnight anywhere (without me or DH) until at least age 2, but that is a natural progression from a natural lifestyle (breast feeding, sleeping near, etc...)

3 12

My kids spend a month at grandma when they were 3.5 and 2, due to medical needs of my baby. Today the oldest is 8 and still loves to go on visits to friends and family, the middle one, now 6 prefer not to sleep out. The baby - now 4 love to sleep at grandma's but not anywhere else. I think its not about age but milestones: is he/she potty trained, can he dress himself, can he speak clear and is he will to talk to others, does he know your phone number? When I send my kids they know we will pick them up if they want to come home. All of that said, I would prefer them to be 5 before they sleep over at a friend, but then I must know the parents. My girl (8 and my oldest) loves to sleep over, but I'm not ready to let her sleep over if I don't know the parent and if she haven't had a playdate at the friend before.

17 17

My daughter had her first sleep over at around 3 years old but it was more like the parents were babysitting for us, my son on the other hand is 4 and has never slept away from home. I believe every child is different and every ones circumstances are different. I think it all depends on the child, the other family, how well do you trust them and your child. I always consider the reason for the sleep over and how comfortable i am with the family set up. For me it was no different than having someone come into my house to babysit, but that is just my opinion.

11 0

I agree. My daughter desperately wanted a sleepover with a preschool friend. Her mom and I talked about it extensively and we knew that both of our girls even at their young age were ready. Did I worry? Of course. I went over things with my daughter a million times, the other child's mom agreed to call me before bed (she did) and she texted me pictures of the girls earlier in the evening. I prayed a lot. But you know what, my daughter had a GREAT time. When it was her friend's turn to come here, again they had a great time. My daughter is in K now and can't wait to do it with another friend, but as of yet this hasn't happened. I don't know the families well and that comfort level just isn't there. My son - who is 4 1/2 now - doesn't even want to sleep at my parent's house without me. It depends on the child. And yes, it is very similar to hiring a babysitter. We screen as best we can and pray. I want to protect my children...but I also want to give them confidence and wings.

153 0

My daughter never had a sleep over until her best friend had to spend the night at our home because of serious illness. Her grandfather had a heart attach and her mom/dad were all night at the hospital. I think the girls were about 5 at the time. From that point on, she had to be at least 8, I had to personally know both parents and any siblings (usually school girl friends from her church school). Because of the sibling issue at many of her friends homes (the sibling girls share rooms a lot), we usually have the sleepovers at our home. She has had sleepovers at gramma's house since she was 4 or 5, and still likes (at 15) to spend an occasional night with her grammy. Since my daughter is an only-child, the sleepovers were important to her to cement friendships and to learn about sharing her toys, learn compromise about TV programs (parent supervised). She was always expected to call me before she went to bed if she was spending the night at a girl friends home so I could reassure myself that things were going ok.

512 54

I think it all depends on the child, the parent(s), and whom they will be staying with. My boys are 7&10. They have only spent the night with family members and close friends to our family. WE however, has slumber parties and sleep overs a several times a year. This way, they do not miss out on the social interaction, and it is in my home :)
I was just thinking about when I would be ok for sleep away camp, being summer and all. Lucky for me, they have not asked yet. But I recall going around the 6th grade. He will be in 6th grade this year so I asked him he'd be interested for next summer. He said, as long as they have archery :)

235 30

I sent my daughter to asthma camp at age 8 and she did fine.

12 0

I am fortunate enough to have a best friend with children the same ages as mine. My son is 8, her son is 7, my daughter is 5 her son is 4 and her daughter is 3. We have been having sleepovers for as long as the kids can remember and they love it. But they have never had a sleep over at a friend from school's house or anything. As a child, I had some very traumatic experiences with sleepovers. In second grade I was so anxious about spending the night away from home that I had to have my friend's dad call my mom at midnight so I could actually get some sleep. Then there was my friend who had-unbeknownst to my mother-nudists for parents. Needless to say, THAT was uncomfortable! And at another sleepover, my friend's father came home drunk and yelling at her mom, so we had to hide in the closet until he passed out on the couch. I guess you just never know what may occur in the privacy of someone's else's home. And it is that uncertainty that makes me nervous. So for now, we stick with sleepovers with my kids very best friends and family and they are satisfied with that. Not to mention, that my son (who is 8) is a bedwetter and still wears pull-ups to bed. It would be so embarrassing for his friends at school to find out and I am afraid he may be bullied for it as well. So that is another reason why I personally choose to wait untill he is older to send him on a sleepover.

47 21

I have been fortunate enough that I have had good friends who have had the same aged children as myself - one in particular was pregnant at the same time as me so our 13 years olds have grown up together and now our 6 year olds have grown up together.

I can't remember when they may have had their first sleep overs, but it was basically as soon as they were able to ask if they could sleep over at each other's homes.

54 26

The earlier the better. It helps them build self-confidence and be more independent. I see the difference clearly between my child that has been sleeping out with family since before he was one (friends since he has been 3, 1 night at a time) and kids that now at 6 years have not slept out. Those kids are more reliant on their parents to do and think for them.

10 1

I'm not sure there's a specific age that automatically means they can spend the night away. My son stayed the night with his cousins when he turned two other than that nope. He's only three and no where near mature enough to stay the night, not to mention I'm over protective and I will never know anyone enough to entrust them with my son. When he gets older, knows right from wrong, understands inappropriate touching and can communicate correctly what happens at so and so's house then maybe. Depends on how long I know the family. Personally I still won't allow him to attend play dates alone either. My sister tells me I hover, oh well as long as my children are safe I'm fine with that.

1 14

It depends on the situation and the kid. Going to the grandparents house can start when they are a couple months old. But for going to a friends house, I'd say they at least have to be old enough to be able to tell you if something is going wrong. Like if my kid has asthma I don't want them sleeping over at a place where the parents smoke inside the house, ya know?

0 20

My daughters 5 and 3 had their first sleep over at their aunts place. They adjusted well with them and knew they could return home earlier if they felt like. As long as the kids are free in the house they sleep over and are potty trained, it is fine.


We started sleep training 3 days ago.. when should I wait to let her stay at grandmas so that it wont mess her up with sleeping? Shes 8 months old

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21 0

Whenever your child is ready and wants to!

1 0

If You Are 123456 Or78910 Years Old Babies Can Not Come Over And Sleepovers Will Be Worse With Babies Around So I Seegest 5678910111213141516171819 Year Olds To Come To A Sleepover :)

35 0

18 never allow before becomes a habit you'll regret it

56 0

all children are different,, I have a friend now that her little one has a hard time sleeping at a friends house, she never got use to it at a young age and has problems now.. i feel for her.. but all children and parent are different .. allways will be like that.. I like my kids to exsperience things so i let them.. do things at a younger age..

207 5

My kids (12 years apart) have stayed the night away at grandma and grandpa's house since they were little but only far and between. Mostly I just feel like I am burdening other people if my kids stay. My kids only have one aunt and no uncles. I wouldn't let them stay at their aunts house pretty much because she's just barely around anyway.

As for friends, I have very few friends anyway (same with hubby). I didn't have any friends I would let my son stay with when he was young. School age is when he started staying away, but he was never really into it so we've had maybe 10 sleep overs EVER and he's almost 16. My daughter, 3, has stayed with the only friend that I feel is closer than most of my family. This friend has a daughter who is three weeks older than my own daughter so they play a lot. She has stayed there a few times for the night, mostly when they have sleep-overs for the girls. But other than this one friend - no way is my daughter staying away with her friends or mine. She is too young for me to trust people with her. I suppose when school age comes and she meets friends, we will probably allow it IF we get to know the parents.

37 0

I din't let my girls until they were 8 years old. When they were 6 and 7 they could go over and play but not spend the night. But if they were with family members i was toally ok with them spending the night. But the rule was they had to be 8 to spend the night, i must know the parents or meet them, they need to be with the friend for while just in case if they decied later they din't like them or there was something odd about them, and i must have the parents number just in case of anything happen and i gave them my number too.

41 0

my daughter did not stay at ANYONES house until she could talk - full stop, I love my extended family and have never had any reason to doubt their quality as people but for crying out loud isn't something like 90% of sexual abuse victims are molested by a family/close friend of the family member? Also I know in NZ the stats are 1 in 5 girls will be abused/raped at some point in their life. Sorry but although I can't protect my child from everything I can wait until she is of an age to tell me if something is wrong.
Otherwise I think 7 is fine for brownie/school camps and sleepovers so long as I know the parent - and yes checked the sex offender registry

3 0

My sons grandfather has today commented that he doesnt think my son should stay over at anyone elses house (including my mothers (owens nanna) and my sisters (owens aunty) because he is unsettled the next day and he think he should always come over to ours to babysit. surely this is none of his business.

235 30

For sure!

40 0

I have let my daughter, who is 6, stay at my parents' home, my husband's parents' home, and his sister's home. We truse all of those relatives and also trust that they don't keep bad company that will possibly harm our daughter. I do not let her stay with friends. We have friends with kids her age, but I have never dreamed of letting her stay with them. It takes a lot for me to trust people with her, since I was harmed as a child. Because of that, I don't even feel comfortable with her going to friends' homes without me. I'll probably let up on that when she's in middle school or so.

1 11

My girls, 7 and 4, love to stay all night places. I let my 7 year old stay all night at a select few places. I usually come up with an excuse of why not or ask the child to come to our house instead. They will both stay all night with aunts and uncles but the 4 year old has never stayed anywhere without her big sister there to help her feel more comfortable. Every child is different though.

235 30

As small children, my kids only stayed overnight with relatives. Around school age I let them have sleepovers only with friends whose parents we knew really well. At age 8 I let a couple of my girls go to Asthma Camp for a 5 days.

0 5

I breastfed both of my kids (now 5 and 14 months) until they were one. Unless my husband and I are going to be out really late (which is rare), I think infants and toddler's don't need to spend the night away. When my 5 year old spends the night away it is more hassle than it's worth! He comes home whiny and cranky. It is more work for me. For me, it's really not worth it!

0 25

My kids only spend the night at their grandmother and aunt's homes. I don't put my trust in too many people. Nowadays anyone can harm children whether that person is young or grown and it can be physically or sexually. I would rather for mine to be where I know for sure nothing will happen to them.

0 24

My son has been going to my mothers and my grandmothers ( his grandma and great grandma) since birth for a night here and there. There is nothing wrong with a child going to family. As for friends depends on i know the parents or not. At 3 my son had his first sleepover at his friends but it was a good friend of mine.

0 31

My son stayed the night at his grandparents at about 6 months old, but is now 4 & hasn't stayed the night at a friend's house. I'm thinking it probably won't happen until he's atleast 7.

0 26

I think my son is on the verge of being ready. He is 8 yrs, old and my teeth are still chattering when the topic comes up for discussion!!


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