Motherhood Personal Posts

My 4-Year Old Still Sleeps in a Crib and I Don’t Care What You Think

My 4-Year Old Sleeps in a Crib via @chgdiapers

Ok that’s not really true. It bothers me a lot what people think of me since my son still sleeps in a crib at 4 years old. When my mother in law watched the kids overnight for the first time in January (so we could go to a wedding), it was embarrassing. I know people probably think that I’m trying to “keep him a baby,” but that couldn’t be further from the truth. So, here’s why I’m trying not to care what you think about it.

We only transitioned to the crib less than two years ago and it’s all he’s ever known aside from co-sleeping. It’s familiar to him and it’s comfortable to him. How would you feel if someone tried to take away your bed and force you to sleep in something totally different and new?

We bought him his “big boy bed” and involved him in choosing the sheets and comforter. We’ve encouraged him to just try sleeping in it, telling him he’s a “big boy” now. We’ve tried suggesting that we at least take the front of his crib off so he can use it as a toddler bed and get in and out himself. No go. He’s not interested.

He said “how would I listen to my music?” I told him we’d move his soother (aff link) to the other side or his nightstand. What about my blanket? We’ll move that too. Nope, he said he was going to sleep in his crib forever, even when he’s a grownup.

He knows that he could get hurt if he climbed in or out of it and that if he did, we’d take the front off, no questions asked. So what is it really hurting to let him continue to sleep in it until he is ready? I’m sure one day he’ll wake up and decide he wants to sleep in his big boy bed and I will miss hearing him calling “Mommy” in the morning.

At every turn it seems like we’re pushing our kids to grow up. We’re still working on him dressing himself, cleaning up after himself and writing his name. For now he can keep this one thing that gives him comfort, even if people think I’m trying to keep him a baby by letting him.

I find myself internalizing the judgement of others (whether spoken or unspoken, real or imagined) and allowing that to flavor my parenting. I worry if I am hovering too much or not enough at the park. Not because I think anything will happen to them but because I don’t care for judgmental looks from moms at either end of the spectrum.

I worry about allowing my kids to play in the backyard while I watch from the kitchen window. Not because I think they will get hurt or wander from the fenced yard while I do dishes, but because I worry some nosy person will call the police. It’s the same reason I don’t like to let my 6 year-old wear his favorite gray pants with a hole in the knee and why it bugs me that my daughter wants to wear the same sweatshirt over and over. I don’t want people to think they don’t have clothing. Not for their sake, but my own. I don’t want anyone to think I’m a terrible mother. I shouldn’t be parenting based on what others think, I should be parenting based on what my children need.

So, my 4-year old still sleeps in a crib, and I do care what you think, but I’m trying not to. For his sake.

June 12th 2016 – he’s still 4, not 35. Yay!


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Maria is an aspiring "fit mom" of 3 children, writing about cloth diapers, going green, and her life as a single mom. Maria works with many companies within the cloth diaper industry and beyond, providing social media management, product development, and other services.
  • June 14, 2023 at 8:47 am

    He was still 4 (see the photo at the very bottom). He’s now 11 and sleeps in his own bed every night. You’ll get there!

  • Cristina A
    June 14, 2023 at 7:58 am

    So I am going through the same thing with my almost 4 year old. When did your son make the change?

  • August 18, 2022 at 10:22 am

    my 6 years old girl wears diapers sleep in a crib

  • Thomas
    June 11, 2021 at 3:11 am

    Don’t take it away from him I may not be as parent you see I got tooking away from my parents at the age of 8 I had to grow up fast learn responsibility now my passed haunts me I have unfinished childhood to do so I let that side of me come out at night because of not being with my parents due to neglected now I’m 28 20 years older I’m trying to relive what I lost idk why but find out it helps me control myself better than anything I have done I’m a man and do what I have to but after done I just want my alone time I’m not ashamed to say my life but whatever helps is good I may do things differently but do we all do that I am a child inside one thing that helps me is that I wear goodnites diapers for comfort of myself helps me not to hated myself I don’t know why but I had thoughts since I was 10 I fight it off it comes back it came back this year I’m to the point where I accepted myself so we all have our difference but we are normal in our own ways no one should be judged

  • Mikal
    June 22, 2020 at 11:14 am

    My daughter is still her her crib. She will be 4 in two months. She never climbs out and she loves her crib. I do not even know where to begin to transfer her to a real bed. She never wets the bed and sweetly calls for me in the mornings. She has always been a tough child when it comes to sleeping. She started refusing naps at 18 months. I would spend 2 hours trying to get her to nap until I just gave up. She does sleep through the night (12-13 hours). I hate to admit it but I still rock her to sleep every single night. It gives her closeness and comfort. I just go with whatever works for her. Maybe it’s out of laziness on my part but I will do anything to keep her happy and comfortable. So I’m hoping before she turns 5 the rocking and crib sleeping will faze out. Only time will tell…. I am dreading the nights she can get out of bed and bang at her door and cry for me all night….this child is determined! I am a SAHM so she is very attached to me.

  • boo
    May 27, 2019 at 10:41 pm

    so many people babying their kids to death. And then they wonder why they can’t cope as adults and never grow up…..

  • Shelby
    April 21, 2019 at 9:10 pm

    I think everyone is terrified of being called in, reported, etc. We live in assurveillance state and I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon. It makes parenting “correctly” even more stressful for us. We all need to take a deep breath and remind ourselves we are all ok.

    I’ve noticed my kids (who cosleep until they’re 5 with us) are much better adjusted than my sister’s kids, who have to heed and follow all the “rules” like cry-it-out, own bedroom, daycare, etc. Those kids are STRESSED! I feel bad for them.

  • Dr. Bruce Marden
    December 23, 2018 at 12:39 pm

    I say let your kids be little as long as they can. If the child wants to sleep in their crib, let them.
    They are hurting no one and it those memories. Especially when they get older and share those with their girlfriends or boyfriends.

  • December 29, 2017 at 8:36 pm

    Your 4 year old son make decision and later his life I think makes you better Mom

  • vave
    February 24, 2017 at 2:37 am

    I know this is an older post but I just wanted to say how much I appreciate hearing from other Mum’s to just let these things take their natural course. My son is 5 and half, he still sleeps in his crib, he loves it. He co slept with us until 6 months, he’s been a great sleeper since then and love his bed. In fact we have TWO cribs…that must just drive some Mumma’s nuts, lol. We have one in our room as well because he was a premmie ( born 7 and half weeks early) and had some serious breathing and reflux problems that persisted even at 6 months, so while I was comfortable with him moving to his own bed…NO WAY was my teeny tiny little boy going to be so far away from me, monitor or not! So, two cribs 🙂 I bought a second for our room ( thankfully we could squeeze one in, right beside his Mumma!) and there it has remained. We moved when he was just turning 3, up until then he still slept in his own bed, but in our room. I had an operation 6 mos after we moved and I knew he was going to have to go to his own room as mummy would be bed ridden for 12 weeks. He took to his new crib in his own room like a champ. He has never crawled out even once. He did fall out of bed when sleeping with me one night when he was not quite 3, he had been sick and I brought him in bed with me…ONE time, and he fell out and broke his clavical. No more of that! He has never slept with me again, and he has never ever attempted to climb out of his crib. We have the peices to make it into a toddler bed but I think to myself why? He’s perfectly happy in the crib, he sleeps well, he’s safe, he’s content, and really that’s all that matters to me. And oh yeah, he has one bottle of milk a day at night, he uses a drinking can with a straw during the day and can drink from a regular cup no issue. We brush his teeth after the bottle, his dentist says his teeth are “perfect” he doesn’t care a bit that he has a bottle a day. I personally think we are rushing our children to grow up way to fast. But, I also respect each parents approach and opinions, as long as they don’t hurt a child. So glad I found this post.

    • February 24, 2017 at 5:41 am

      *hugs* You’re not alone!

      • Coolaunt7
        August 11, 2018 at 3:07 pm

        I’m not a parent, although I do have nephews that are toddlers. I don’t think sleeping in a crib a four is odd at all for many reasons. An is it just me or do they make cribs a lot bigger than they used to? All that space for a baby that’s only a few months old. Cribs nowadays can accommodate small children who are a few years old just fine. Best to get some use out of a crib. That may have not been a reason you were expecting but it’s just one that popped into my head.

    • Scotty D
      February 1, 2019 at 10:32 am

      Just curious…what about if he has to use the bathroom during the night? Is he still in diapers at night?

    June 13, 2016 at 6:08 am

    Do what works for you and your family. If he still fits in the crib, there’s no harm in letting him sleep there until ready for a big boy bed. I’m sure many would judge me for the way we still allow our 4 year old to co sleep on an as needed basis. He has been in a big boy bed since he was a little over a year old, but has preferred to sleep in our bed a lot of that time. He feels secure when next to us, so why break that? He will when HE is ready. Plus, he was a formula fed baby, we baby wore and used the stroller equally, we did not rear face him until a minimum of 2 (lack of car seat safety knowledge at the time and I definitely would do different now), we let him have a sippy at night, the list goes on. No matter HOW we choose to parent our children, we will always face judgement from other people. Just do what works for your family and ignore the haters. We are all in this race together trying to do the best we can.

  • April 9, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    I HATE how fearful we’ve all had to become of an overly “helpful” stranger. My husband lets my kiddos walk to the neighbor’s house by themselves to ask them to play (it’s a short distance, we’re on a low-traffic cul-de-sac full of wonderful neighbors who all know the kids) but I’m still always scared that someone is going to get us in trouble for it (even though by age 5 I was walked the quarter mile home from the bus stop by myself, and I know we ALL have memories of going through the neighborhood on our own!). My husband totally doesn’t understand this fear, which is good because he helps me loosen the reigns with our kiddos like I’d LIKE to do, but it’s hard to make him understand that people really DO report each other for inane things like that these days 🙁

  • April 9, 2016 at 11:20 am

    So, so true. I had someone ask about which kids shared rooms the other day (my 7 and 4 year old share, the toddler still naps regularly and baby as well, so they each have their own room currently, so if the 4 yo naps then they all have quiet)… the person just kind of went ‘oh’ and silence. WTH? Do you expect some other combo to stay together? I’m not having my rambunctious toddler sleep with my newborn?!? Even if it would be convenient :/ There was clearly judgement there, although I couldn’t figure out why. My kids home school so it’s not like the 4yo is detrimental to the 7 yo school attendance or anything… and I guess we could put the baby in with us but then I would certifiably NEVER sleep–there’s a reason we made a nursery! Every noise bothers me! I just smiled and walked away.

    Don’t get me started about wearing the same clothes (you only leave the house 1 weekday don’t wear the same shirt to your club every week!) or playing outside. I have created a subset of people I trust NOT to turn us into child services for allowing our kids to climb trees or up the side backward in my FB feed and share funny moments with them.

  • April 7, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    Omg, you’re a terrible Mom! Okay, you know I’m kidding. If there is something that works for your baby (I still think 4 is a baby) then go for it, no worries about what anyone may think. My boys have never slept in a crib. I deal with questions about how they sleep…in the crib…all the time. I just smile and nod. I think that sometimes people are just looking to be judgmental, or act superior about parenting. When, in fact, there is no one right way to do it. If it works, your family is happy…then you’re doing perfectly!!

    • April 7, 2016 at 10:12 pm

      Until 2 years ago I was like uhhh…yeah, sure…”in the crib” as we coslept, haha!

  • Amanda D
    April 7, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    Yes! Thank you for this post. On my older sons second birthday we were gifted a car designed toddler bed. It was so horribly tramatic for our son. He cried and literally clung to his crib while they tried to carry it away. Looking back I should have told them thank you but we are happy with his crib for now. We are definitely approaching things differently with our youngest who is turning two on Sunday, and like you he will stay in his crib until he wants to switch to the toddler style. I still have deep regrets on how we pushed our older son to grow up, and also feel like we (society in general) do push kids to the next phase others decide is “normal” too often. They are only young once.

    • April 7, 2016 at 1:42 pm

      <3 So glad I’m not alone in feeling this way!

  • Mary Schuh
    April 7, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    So true! Sometimes I feel like I have to justify my parenting decisions, especially to family, because they’re very different from the way I was raised. But my kids are happy and well-adjusted, and that’s all that matters.

  • Geri
    April 7, 2016 at 11:21 am

    I think this is great! I let my son drink milk from a bottle until he was ready at just past 3. I did care what people thought, but I let him because I already had a son who struggled to transition to a sippy cup (which honestly is a glorified bottle). This time I had given in and I wasn’t going to drive myself crazy buying every type of cup to try. No matter what the judge mental issue of development is, I decided I was going to do the things that worked for my child. When they are ready to advance we do it in our time. Not anyone else’s. Do other people’s comments bother me? Yes! But as i said, I will continue to do what works for my kids in their time only.

    • April 7, 2016 at 12:31 pm

      Yes! Let others do what they feel is right for THEIR child.

  • Hayley
    April 7, 2016 at 11:19 am

    This is exactly how I feel. It seems that no matter the choices we make, we will be judged by someone who thinks we are doing it completely wrong. Now that I have 2 kids, I realize how unique and individual each child is. My son would only sleep if he was being held or sleeping next to us, and has just generally always been a terrible sleeper but a great nurser. My daughter on the opposite spectrum has always slept much better on her own (but on her tummy….) and has been a terrible nurser and I’ve needed to use formula to supplement since she was just a few days old.

    I feel like it’s hard to be the best parents we can be when we feel like we are always going to be judged or called out on choices we make for our kids, even if it may be what is best for the situation. I also think social media has played a big part in why so many moms feel so alone and judged these days, since there are situations where other moms or people can be so cruel.

    Thank you for this post!!

    • April 7, 2016 at 12:32 pm

      I agree. On the one hand it’s nice to have everything at our fingertips, even medical studies. On the other hand there’s always something (or someone) in our face telling us everything we’re doing wrong!

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