How old should children be before they have sleepovers?

Belle wants a sleepover.


She’s never had a friend from school sleep over before, or been invited come to that. I don’t know if it’s just that at eight, she is a bit young, or if all the other kids are doing it but just not inviting her. I hope it’s the former, otherwise that would be a bit sad.

She’s never really been a ‘sleeper’. She relegated her dad to a mattress on the bedroom floor for several months when she was a toddler, sleeping in bed with me, waking every hour or so, and it wasn’t until she started school that she began to properly sleep through the night.

Although now she will normally sleep through, unless she has a dream about lions and has to crawl into bed with me, she still struggles with getting to sleep in the first place. I’ll often find her at 9.30pm, sat up in bed, doing sums or building homes out of Lego for her Ocean In My Pocket baby crabs.

A sleepover then is a rather daunting prospect, as I’m led to believe that normal children her age actually quite like to go to sleep. We did recently have some friends spend the night, not from school, but friends she has known since she was a baby, and by 9pm, when Belle was still wide awake, they were on the verge of collapse, sobbing with exhaustion.

It’s not the effort on my part that I really mind – I’d happily take advantage of my local pizza delivery service and stick them in front of a selection of age inappropriate Friends DVDs – I’m more worried about what they might go home and tell their parents, or what might happen if, heaven forbid, Belle got invited back.

I can picture it now, the phone ringing at 11pm – “I’m really sorry, Belle won’t go to sleep, she is babbling something about lions, can you come and get her?” The problem would be of course that I would have taken advantage of being child free for the night and would be in the midst of some kind of drunken debauchery.

So what do you think? Is eight too young for sleepovers or should I just brace myself for a late night and go for it?



  1. Lucy
    6 October, 2010 / 7:43 pm

    I suvived last weekend, where I had six children aged 8 sleep over. Mine fell asleep at 9.30. The others were awake for two further hours. Mainly I barked at them to be quiet, gave them torches and books, which they mainly used to display their genitals to each other (apparently I am less worried about this than they are at school), and told them to SIT IN THE HALL IF YOU ARE GOING TO BE SO NOISY. I thought I hissed quite a lot. Having said that, I also spent quite a lot of time stroking their hair and telling them all how lovely they were and thinking how fond I was of all of them.

    In the morning they all ran around naked. Some of them are the same height as me. I had to bark a lot about putting their knickers on.

    It was fine, though. They went back and told their parents that they had the best time EVER, even though I thought I mainly shouted at them all night.

    Oh, and I put the clock forward three hours, so they all thought that they went to bed at 2 a.m. and woke at 6 a.m. Sweet.

    I suspect your awake-at-11 child is quite normal and if you just pretend to be EVIL MOTHER who wants them to be quiet and sleep, but actually don’t mind that they are up eating sweets until 11pm, then there is nothing to worry about and they will have the BEST TIME EVER.

    • 8 October, 2010 / 1:48 pm

      Hang on – wasn’t this a mixed sleepover??

  2. 6 October, 2010 / 8:03 pm

    Flea has her first sleepover next week at the age of five, but she’s been sleeping over with her grandparents since she was small, and once a month with her Dad for the past six months or so. Some of her friends seem to be having sleepovers now.

    My niece had her first sleepover last year, at 7.

    • 8 October, 2010 / 1:48 pm

      That’s a point – Belle does lseep at her dad’s once a week, but that seems different somehow.

  3. 6 October, 2010 / 8:23 pm

    Chick has been sleeping over at a couple of friends houses with no problem and she is almost 8. I think if you are happy to have a friend come to you then go for it :-)

  4. maryfclark
    6 October, 2010 / 9:05 pm

    We are having the same dilemma. The boys keep insisting that they want to go on sleepovers (at ages 6 and 8, respectively), but they can’t actually fall asleep without the other one in the room. I don’t think that they are ready. And the 8 year old would have to bring a big supply of stuffed toys, and a fuzzy blue blanket, because being cozy is “the totally best thing ever”. It would look like he was moving in.

    • 8 October, 2010 / 1:51 pm

      Ahh! That’s sweet! Agree about being cosy :-)

  5. 6 October, 2010 / 9:36 pm

    E had her first sleepover at 8 and indeed we were called up to come and get her at about midnight as she just couldn’t get to sleep. Then there was the first return sleepover where I was faced with a large for her age girl of 9 who promptly pooed her knickers while she was wearing E’s Cinderella outfit and it turned out had not packed any spares.

    Still – all her friends think we are really cool now as Es sleepovers are such fun. I wouldn’t know. We aren’t there…

    • 8 October, 2010 / 1:52 pm

      Ew! I don’t want to do it if there is going to be pooing involved :-(

  6. 6 October, 2010 / 10:51 pm

    My niece has mentioned one for her birthday she will be nine, one of her friends is having one for her birthday as well that she has been invited to. My sister is struggling with it as Brother in Law is very funny about things, what they can and can’t do at other peoples houses. And also my niece has only ever stayed with me or my mum if not at home. But she is going on a school week long trip next year so I don’t think my sis can feel she can say no! Tough one xx

    • 8 October, 2010 / 1:54 pm

      That’s a good point – Belle’s class have a three day school camping trip in June, so probably a good idea to get her prepared for that – I certianly don’t want three days of peace ruined by having to pick her up on the first night!

  7. 7 October, 2010 / 12:29 am

    It’s a tough one. My daughter (7) was invited to an 8 yr old sleep over. Most of the girls were great but one in particular was naughty and delighted in telling the others horrific horror stories (the mother of the party filled me in just in case my daughter said anything worrying). The naughty girl was separated from the others when they ‘told on her’.

    I had said please phone me at anytime in the night if my daughter wanted to come home and she did – around midnight, which was fine.

    I think maybe one or two good friends is okay, but there were 10 children at this party!!!

    How about a beading party instead?! Or decorate a box?! Movie party? Design their own t-shirts with fabric pens? Swim party? …. Good luck whatever you decide :)

    • 8 October, 2010 / 1:54 pm

      Blimey! Glad I wasn’t THAT parent, sounds horrendous!

  8. 7 October, 2010 / 1:24 am

    My daughter is going to be 9yrs old in April and has been having sleep overs since 6. I have been blessed that the kids that spent the night followed the rules of a 10pm bedtime for sleepovers which were a Friday evening thru Saturday at 3pm… because there parents had there kids on a reg 8pm bedtime almost all of them were asleep by 9pm. Sleep overs were wonderful. Except at breakfast….those lil boogars were up and at em at 7am sharp. Roaring to go….*sigh* I can’t have it all, can I. Too me sleep overs are trial and error. I look forward to reading how it go if you decide to have one.

    • 8 October, 2010 / 1:57 pm

      Wow – you keep them until 3pm the next day?? I’d be looking to get rid of them about 11am at the latest I reckon so I could recover. In my experience with my elder daughter, the next morning when they were all stroppy and tired was the worst bit.

  9. 7 October, 2010 / 3:30 am

    I’d say that 8 was an OK age hon. I think it’s pretty normal. Kids don’t go to sleep anyway at sleepovers. Well, I never did anyhow ;)

    Becca x

    • 8 October, 2010 / 1:59 pm

      See I was the opposite – always fast alseep by 9pm and missing all the fun – story of my life!

  10. 7 October, 2010 / 8:32 am

    I moved down south when I was 8, but I clearly remember sleep overs at my best friend in Scotland’s house, so I must have been on them well before then.

    My 9 year old niece loves a sleepover. 6 year old nephew hasn’t had one yet. But I do think the girls like them more.

    And no, none of them sleep. Just make sure you don’t have to have the sleep deprived lovelies for too long the following day!

  11. 7 October, 2010 / 8:44 am

    I’m sure 8 is fine. My 3 year old is already asking to stay over at her friend’s house.

  12. 7 October, 2010 / 11:05 am

    I think 18 then it gives you an opportunity to change the locks

  13. 7 October, 2010 / 4:50 pm

    Sleepovers can be tough! My daughter is 12 and started having them at about age 8 or 9. I recall one of her first sleepovers I got a call from the other parent because Gabby is used to falling asleep with the TV on and the friend did not have TV in her bedroom. She told the other mom she was too scared to fall asleep. I ended up having to pick her up on my way home from a wedding at some God awful hour! Not fun!

    That was her only bad sleepover experience. Ever since then she’s been fine. Although I must say we are the go to house for most of the sleepovers! They are fun and I think 8 is an ok age as long as the parents and kids are comfortable with it. Good luck!

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