Sleepover safety guidelines

Oct 31, 2011 at 1:00 p.m. ET

Whether it's your child's first sleepover or your teen's 100th slumber party, child safety should be the most important factor when giving your kiddo the go-ahead to sleep at another family's home. From knowing when your child is old enough to creating a code word to come home, check out these five sleepover safety guidelines.


1Assess your child's age

There's no magic age where kids stop being homesick. However, the personality and needs of your child should help you determine at what age kids are ready for a slumber party away from home. The most important thing to consider is your child's safety, so it's up to you to judge whether he or she is capable of making safe decisions under someone else's supervision.

Candice Shuld of Sweet Cookie Cutouts and Jennifer Laddaga of California report their kids were 7 years old at their first successful sleepover at a friend's house. "Some of them were seven-ish," agrees Tracy Bruns of North Carolina. "Some of them never actually stayed. They would fake illness and I'd go get them."

2Invite the friend over first

Daytime play dates will give you a chance to meet the kid your child wants to have a sleepover with before you send her off to spend the night. Watch and see how the children interact with one another prior to agreeing to any slumber party plans.

Learn how to host a playdate that is easy and fun >>

3Meet the parents

Either during drop off, at the sports field during little league games or at a daytime play date, schedule some face time with the adults who are hosting the sleepover prior to the get together. This will give you a chance to catch any red flags or give you peace of mind about your child's nocturnal adventure.

4Lay out the ground rules

Don't be shy -- let the hosting parents know your child safety rules and supervision requirements for your child. Remember to offer info on anything about your youngster that will pertain to the overnight plans, such as any fears of the dark or food allergies. Also remind your child of your family's rules before he or she heads off to have fun.

5Create a code word

Develop a word that your kiddo can use as code if he or she becomes uncomfortable at a slumber party and wants to go home. Whether it's a child safety issue like domestic violence or a social issue like drinking or a video game that violates your family's rules, a no questions asked policy when this code word is used will help keep you and your child at ease.

Discover 5 tips for stress-less parenting >>

Overall, slumber parties away from home are something that are good for children and parents alike, fostering independence for children and helping you to let go of the reigns as your child grows, as long as you are mindful of basic child safety standards. However, note that setting these sleepover safety guidelines early on will likely lead to less resistance by teens down the road, so start early and send your kiddo off for some overnight fun!

More on sleepovers

Hosting a sleepover
Party on, kids: How to plan the perfect sleepover
Have a sleepover with your kids

Age 14 Age 15 Age 16 Age 17 Age 18 Age 13 Age 12 Age 11 Age 10 Age 9 Age 8 Age 7 Age 6 Age 5 Age 4 Age 3 Age 2 Age 1 baby pregnancy