How Old for Sleepovers?

My first grade daughter has this friend, H, that she just absolutely adores.  They sit together at lunch, play together at recess, and get along like two silly, happy peas in a pod.  Last month while my family traveled to Walt Disney World for the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, H had her birthday party, and my daughter was devastated to have to miss it.  With a very serious look on her face, she contemplated what would be more fun: behind the scenes experience at Disney – the Happiest Place on Earth – or a couple hours at her best friend’s seventh birthday party.  Clearly, these two girls are great friends.

It was time for mom to come up with a Plan B to keep her girl happy. H’s mom and I vowed that the girls would get together post-Mickey to have a little birthday celebration of their own.  The plan?  Allow Emma to sleep over at her friend’s house for the first time. I wasn’t sure that first grade was old enough, but Emma was confident, excited, and packed the second I gave it the thumbs up.  Friday was the day, and she headed to school excited to be going home on the bus that night with her friend, but nervous at the same time.  She went over several times what she would do if she changed her mind.  She reminded me that she knew she could call any time of night if she needed to come home.  She seemed not quite herself walking out the door…

Then I got a call from her teacher that she had been complaining of a stomach ache throughout the day and was crying from the pain, but refusing to go home.  She knew that if I had to come get her, the sleepover would be cancelled. I went anyway, picking up my poor girl with tears rolling down her face.  She spent the rest of the day in her jammies, heartbroken, curled up on the couch lamenting the fun she would have had.  Was this all just a case of nerves? I was certain that it was until the fever started later that night and the vomiting followed.  We ended up spending a mellow weekend caring for a sick girl and hoping that the virus wouldn’t spread, but the second she felt better what did she ask?

When can we reschedule the sleepover?

Spring break is right around the corner so I’m certain that we’ll give it another try during that week.  But what do you think, parents?  What age is the right age to allow your child to sleep over at a friend’s house?  When did you first spend the night or attend a slumber party? I’m choosing yet another date for my daughter and crossing my fingers that this time no stomach bugs or theme parks get in the way.

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  • My now first grader slept over at 2 friend’s houses last year and had a blast. So far this year she has only been to 1 but that is because her allergies are bad and almost every one of her friends has animals. We have hosted many sleepovers here at our house. She loves having 2-4 friends come over and we do nails and have a snack and watch movies. I think your daughter is at the perfect age and I feel bad for her that she got sick 🙁

  • Shalala

    I think it depends on the kid. My middle children have been staying the night with friends since they were 3 almost 4. However my oldest is 10 and only stays over with friends every once in awhile. So ya just hafta let your gut and your kid help ya decide when is the right time.

  • I have to say that I firmly believe that any question that begins “What is the right age” has an answer that depends greatly on the maturity level and past experiences of the child involved. We have been very lucky to have a situation where once a year we rent a large house with friends for several days. This year, when our twins were in first grade, we allowed them to each have a “sleepover” in a friend’s room (with the other parents present). This was a great opportunity to get them used to the concept. The requests for “real” sleepovers has gone way down.

    Another way to give it a trial run is if you’re lucky enough to have close friends with children near to age as yours, is to do a family sleepover. The whole family sleeps over, with the children in a separate room. This gives them the chance to sample it, and gives you a chance to see how your children might do in a more independent situation.

  • My daughter who is 6 and also a First Grader had her First sleepover last Year at the age of 5 when one of her best friends was moving from Michigan to Georgia she along with a few other friends had a farewell sleepover.She did fine she knew it was a option that she could call home anytime.I don’t think there is a “Right” age for a girl to haveher first sleepover I think it Varies from Child to Child.

  • I too think it probably depends on the child, but also on the relationship they have with the other child. We have developed great friendships with the folks from our childbirth class and so the kids have known each other from day 1. We also do round robin playdates every week, so they are really comfortable in each others homes. So I would totally give it the green light for those kids at an early age.

  • Katrin

    I think that it obviously depends on your decision and your child. But I went to my first sleepover when I was 10 and I felt uncomfortable the whole time, I didn’t attend another sleepover after this until I was 12.
    My children, who are 5 and 7, have not yet been to a sleepover and although at times they ask they never follow through. I believe that a sleepover is more than just a few friends staying at each others homes its in a way a serious act of independence that in my opinion should be savoured until a riper age of perhaps 10-12.