What Age to Let Child Spend the Night @ Friend's House?

Updated on January 18, 2011
K.B. asks from West Jordan, UT
27 answers

My daughter is almost 8 and got invited to spend the night at a friend's house on Sat. I wasn't home at the time and my husband said "Yes" without really consulting me about it. I had a friend coming into town and I was more wrapped up in that and making sure she got here alright and so I "gave in" a bit and said, Well Ok. I've had second thoughts about it since. Needless to say, I picked her up on Sunday around noon and I could tell in an instant she was very tired and has been having a hard time. I also thought it was kind of odd that the Mom didn't offer to drop her off. We took here there. I do believe she is young and our kids grow up so fast these days anyway. We did have some neighbor friends stay the night over the Summer but it was more because their Mom just needed a break and she doesn't really have family in town..I offered. I've also had my daughter spend the night at my Moms or a good friends house if my husband and I went on a date night or trip where we didn't take the kids. However, I think that is totally different than having them spend the [email protected]____.com have you done Mamas?

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So What Happened?

Wow-I appreciate all the advice. So many different points of view...well, interestingly enough-my daughter had decided she doesn't want to go over to this friend's house anymore to play or for a sleep over. She talked w/me about how they do things so much differently than we do and we talked openly about it. It isn't a matter of respect just differences that my daughter doesn't feel comfortable with and I don't either. She can play at school but not going over to her house anymore. We also don't know the family all that well-like our neighbors or good friends. I think it is a bit crazy how you hear about kids spending the night when they are way younger and we live in a scarier world than we used to.

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answers from Salt Lake City on

I personally, don't like sleepovers. Every once in a while it is fine, for some of the reasons that you suggested. But if it is just for play...well.. i remember the mischief I got into on over-nighters. SO....my kids get to have "Stay Lates" They stay til 11 or 12 or whatever, then they get to come home. I don't like sleepovers. :)

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answers from Salt Lake City on

I'm kind of a killjoy when it comes to sleepovers. We don't do them at all. There's the occasional stay with grandparents or cousins, but for the most part I insist that everyone be home for sleeping.
I never have to be worried about whether I know other parents well enough. I never have to wonder if my kids are getting enough sleep. I never have to deal with the frustrations and worries that come with sleepovers. It's very freeing.
I also know that this is an unpopular way of going about things but I thought I'd toss these two cents out for another option to consider. That's how we do it and it's working out very well.

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answers from Colorado Springs on

Do you know this family well? We don't do sleep overs unless it is a whole family affair or extremely close friends (entire family close, not just the kids). It is too dangerous. We would never, ever put a child in the situation to be at the mercy of near-strangers as far as the family goes. You just never know, you know?

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answers from Appleton on

We just started letting our son start sleepovers, but they are with people we are very very familiar with. (almost family like) I always plan on them being very tired and cranky the next day. I actually encourage a nap/rest in the afternoon.

Good Luck! (they grow up way too fast)

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answers from Orlando on

my daughter isn't allowed to spend the night at friends houses unless i am good friends with the parents. she has only spent the night away at 1 friends house (i've known her mom for 15 years) and my moms house. i'm not sure when i will allow the random sleepovers from school friends. not for a while! she has friends spend the night at our house often though. and i will tell you they never want to go to sleep! lol - i have had to tell them many times around 2am no more talking. i think it's normal she was tired. they probably stayed up all night!

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answers from Boston on

I think it all depends on your kid, the other kid and their family. I don't really think there is an age for every kid. My oldest is 10 and it depends on who he wants to stay with for me to let him go. I never expect them to come home well rested. I am always prepared for an overtired child.
As far as the other mom not offering to drop your daughter off, I don't find that odd at all. I don't think I would offer to drop off a child staying at my house unless we were already going out and I wouldn't expect another mom to drive my kid around unless they were already out. I would always offer to drive my kid myself. But thats just me.

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answers from San Francisco on

My daughter and one of her friends have stayed overnight at each others houses since they were six. They are now 8. As far as pickup drop off, just depends on who it is most convenient for. We are good friends and live near each other. My daughter tends to stay awake and her friend goes to sleep earlier. My daughter is expected to act gracious and polite while at other's homes and my friend is honest about any issues that come up. Maybe we have an ideal unusual situation but it works well for everyone and is lots of fun.

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answers from Chattanooga on

I think it's ok... I started spending the night at my friends' houses when I was close to that age... as long as my dad knew the family well.

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answers from Jacksonville on

We've done it with our kids for several years now (they are 12 and 9). But only with kids that we are very close with the families or ARE family. And then when my son was in 4th grade (he was 9) he made a really good friend, and we met the family and we let them sleep over with each other quite a lot of the next few years. Son even went out of town for overnight with them once to go to an amusement park 3 hours away. That was during the summer and he was like 10 or 11 though.

It depends on how your child does/feels about it, and how close and comfortable with the other family you are. Our daughter is going this weekend on her bazillionth sleep over at our Pastor's house. One of their daughters is having 2 girls sleep over for her birthday again this year. :)

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answers from Minneapolis on

My son was probably 6 during his first sleepover. My daughter was 5. I am a super protective mom. They have only spent the night at neighbors houses, who I know well.
I did have a friend watch them just a few weeks ago, who isnt in the neighborhood. It went ok, they were tired. We went out and I almost drove by the house on our way home, just to check up. I didnt though. It is hard letting your kids grow up.

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answers from Atlanta on

8 is certainly old enough for a sleep over! I was going on sleep overs and having my own in first grade at age 6. My 4 year old is going on his first sleep over at a friend's house on Friday! We know the family well and he's slept at grandparent's houses without us plenty of times, but this will be his first "friend" spend the night. I had probably been to 5 spend-the-night parties and had friends over or spent the night at friends' houses 15 or 20 times by age 8. How had your daughter been having a hard time? It's very normal for kids to be really tired the day after sleep overs, because very often they stay up half the night! Just ask her if everything is okay. As far as the mom dropping her off or not -it would have been nice, but she had her over, so she may have felt you could bring her and pick her up.

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answers from Missoula on

I agree with the other advice you got. It really depends on your child. My daughter has been doing sleep overs with friends and family since she was 2 and enjoys them, my son who is 4 has not done even one. He just likes to be home. As for the sleepy part, what does it really matter in the big scheme of things if she is not well slept for one night of her life? Of course you wouldn't want to have her up all night every night, but once in a while is not going to ruin her life. My daughter's one friend is a night owl and is always up way later than her, but when she is at her house and is tired, she just goes to bed close to her regular time and lets her friend do what she wants. Kids have a way of working things out.

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answers from Denver on

I think 8 is fine for sleepovers - my kids went to 2 weeks of sleepaway camp the summer after they turned 8 - just 2 months earlier. They had already been having sleepovers with close friends for a year. My daughter has sleep and sensory issues, and I just talked to the mom in advance and things have been fine. Staying up too late is part of the sleepover experience, I think! BTW, I have always driven my kids to and from their sleepovers - I would never expect the other mom to drive mine home, and I wouldn't want to drive their kid home.

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answers from Austin on

* is a great age. Also I always dropped off and picked up, unless the family for some reason wanted to pick up or drop off.. They did the same with us..

Yes, I always expect our daughter to be tired after a sleep over and slumber parties.. As they got older, many of them learned they liked a time to be told to go to sleep, so I would encourage them to go to sleep at 11 or 12..

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answers from Redding on

By 8, both of my kids were champions at sleep overs. We knew the families and the parents knew they could call if the kids weren't ready. We had all kinds of back up plans in place and never needed them. It made us feel better, though!
Kids don't always sleep well at sleep overs. Sometimes they stay up giggling or telling stories. Coming home tired is not always a bad sign.
That's why we did it on a day when they had recovery time for school the next week.
It all depends on the kid.
Some I know want to go home when it's time for lights out and their parents were happy to come and get them because they weren't ready.
It takes practice sometimes.


answers from Detroit on

my son is four and i let him send the night over his classmates house. i pick him up and drop him off. they are doing me a favor by letting him spend the night. i also let his little friend spend the night! i trust his parents and feel comfortable letting him spend the night over there. when his freind spends the night i make sure it;s on a weekend because i know they are going to stay up late playing it;s no big deal. if you don't trust the parents i would say no but if you do then why not? you have to let them spread their wings sometimes! I want my son to be able to have fun at his friends houses and for him to be able to have fun at home as well. of she wanted to go don't spoil her fun because you don't want to let go!



answers from Seattle on

In our area the norm is apx 5yo-6yo. Parents who are NOT hosting drop off and pick up.



answers from Los Angeles on

Did you ask her how she felt it went? If she said it went really good she had fun & didn't miss home too much & didn't feel sad to be away at all then maby she was ready.
It depends on each of my kids, I have 6 kids with 6 VERY different personalitys! I'll give you 3 of my kids examples; My 2 year old started spending the night @ my sisters house @ 9 months old & LOVES it the whole time. My best friend who has a 4 year old took him for me for the first time @ 12 months & did awesome there too. When I go & pick him up he's like oh your hear already? LoL So he gets asked to spend the night @ one of those 2 houses al the time & yeah I let him go cause he loves it, but I only let him go about every other month, just cause I miss him too much. :)

My 6 year old has never been away from me for more than 4 hours, when she goes to a play date & she's done she asks may I please call my mommy to come get me? I'm done playing now. LoL Each time they ask if she can spned the inght I say sure if she wants to. Each time I get a phone call so sweetly asking to come home, LoL.

My 9 year old daughter would live at my 4 siblings houses with all their kids if I let her. She's went on 2 weekend trips with them before & did great. She's only stayed at her friends houses 3 times. The first time she was iffy & when I picked her up the next day she said she had fun but really missed me & home. The second time she went there she wanted to be brought home after dinner, & the 3d time was a new friends house & she had a blast & said she didn't get sad or really want to come home at all, but when asked she'd still MUCH rather have that & any other friend spend the night here! They are tired the next day too like yo usaid w/ your daughter, but it's cause mine stayed up late giggling & playing dress up & watching movies but it's the weekend I let her veg the next day, no biggie.

I know when my kids are ready to spend the night away from me when that child doesn't call home to be picked up & the other parents say they did great, didn't act sad or quiet toward the end of the day & when I pick them up they don't act like they missed me terribly & had been couting down the min's. When I ask them how they felt it went & try to dig for info & they seemed to do good & ask to go back then I know there ready.



answers from Portland on

Kids are usually tired from sleepovers-- they often are so excited that they stay up late talking and playing, and are exhausted the next day.

What might help you find out if your daughter is ready is to ask her in a day or so 'So, how was it?" and see what she comes up with. Are her comments more positively or negatively based? Is she still dragging when it comes time for school tomorrow morning? Those are some of the things I'd think about when considering sleepovers in the immediate future.

In my opinion, not quite 8 is still a bit young, and kids could use a couple more years life experience, because visiting a different family without one's parents is sometimes like visiting a different country. Different foods, rules, etc. Some kids roll with this, and some kids are thrown off because they tend to thrive on familiarity.

For me, I didn't really do friend-overnights until I was a bit older. My son is three and while he's asking for "sleepovers" (I don't even know how he thought of this) we're likely going to wait to do any non-family slumber parties until he's 9 or 10. And we'll likely try it out in summertime, so he can sleep in later.

(PS- from my work as a nanny, it's pretty common for the parent of the visiting child to do the travel both ways. At least from what I've observed, there are no hard and fast rules.)



answers from Salt Lake City on

I think 8 is old enough to spend the night. You have to know when you were younger and spent the night at a friend's, you didn't sleep either, just sat up and chatted all night. That is what girls do. I wouldn't ever expect someone to bring your kid home just because you dropped her off. She is your responsiblity and only if you had already made arrangements with the other mom can you think she should drop your child off. Good luck.



answers from Detroit on

my daughter was not quite 5 when she had her first friend sleepover! we know the family and felt comfortable with the arrangement!



answers from Detroit on

I think I had my first sleepover at a friend's house when I was 5 - she was my best friend at the time and the families knew each other as well (same neighborhood, right up the road). My first slumber party was when I was 7, for the birthday of one of my friends, with about 4 or 5 other girls.

I would agree that it seems more likely that the guest will get picked up by their parents rather than being dropped off by the host's parents, but it seems like it would just be whatever is more convenient for everyone and what the parents agree to.

Really, I don't know any kid that does not do a sleepover at a friends at some point - to me it just seems like a rite of passage and one of those things that makes childhood as special as it is (like believing in Santa). If you have met the other family and are comfortable with how the parents handle things, I don't see why not. And it's probably par for the course that the kids will be tired the next day from not sleeping well - that's part of the fun, staying up late and giggling and joking around. If your daughter said she had fun, then I would just leave it at that - she had fun, and that's the point.



answers from Salt Lake City on

Both my 5 and 7 year old have had sleep overs. I don't feel there is a specific age that your child needs to be to have a sleep over. Just what ever you and your child are ready for. I was very nervous about my 5 year old sleeping over at a friends house the first time but she was just across the street and we are really good friends with the family. I was certain that they would be bringing her back over around 10pm because she just wouldn't sleep/calm down. Nope she did fine! I do agree that the other mom should have brought your DD back from the sleepover though.



answers from Denver on

8 is fine...it depends on whether you know and trust the sleep over house. My dd is almost 13 and still can only stay where we know the fam.

We do "almost" sleepovers more often. Stay til 9 or whatever, then go home. Works for friends when we still need a night's sleep, but also for parties where we don't know the family well enought to allow a sleepover.


answers from Washington DC on

8 is an okay age. I didn't allow sleep overs until 5th grade and then only if it was a group of girls and if I knew the parents well. Most often it was a birthday party thing. I always gave my kids the option and I have to say that 9 times out of 10, they opted to come home at 10 or 11 rather than spend the night. I was fine with that.
They are tired and out of sorts because they don't sleep. They stay up all night giggling. They come home and sleep all day...
As for the drop off - she had your kid all night. She didn't sleep either - she's pooped and you want her to bring your kid home? When we have sleep overs here - the parents all come and get their kids -- on time or they don't come back...


answers from Chicago on

I only agree to "sleepovers" when being babysat by a family member otherwise my child sleeps in my home. Too many things happen at sleep overs, kids pick up bad habits quite often. I see my nephew who sleeps over at his friend's house almost everyweekend and when he comes home he is a demanding turd b/c his friend's mom waits on them hand and foot. They also do not go to sleep or do not sleep until 3am or so. I do not agree with sleepovers.


answers from Saginaw on

My girls are used to spending the night at other peoples. They've spent numerous nights at both their grandparents and at cousins. So when my daughter was asked to spend the night at her friends house over the summer just after preschool, I was ok with it. I knew the family very well by this point. So I was ok with it.

I would have to feel very comfortable with parents to have her spend the night and no one else at her school I am comfortable with. Otherwise, I don't know 8 seems like an old enough age, if I knew at least a little bit about the parents.

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