The prospect of spending the night at a friend's house may delight your child, but giving the go-ahead may not be the best decision. We tell you how to decide if your youngster is ready for a sleepover.

Q: What is a good age for my child to go on a sleepover? My son has been invited to one, but I'm afraid he's too young.

A: When it comes to sleepovers, your child's age is less important than his overall maturity, according to Gerald Deskin, Ph.D., an Encino, CA-based psychologist and coauthor of The Parent's Answer Book. Here are signs that indicate that he's ready:

  • He asks to sleep over at a friend's.
  • He can spend four hours with a friend without fighting or missing you.
  • He gets ready for bed on his own.
  • He's had successful sleepovers at a grandparent's or relative's house.

If you answered yes to all four checkpoints, then you also can say yes to a sleepover. Still, be sure to stay close to the phone, in case there's a late-night request to come home. "This step often causes some anxiety," Dr. Deskin explains. "As disrupting as it may be to have to pick up your child in the middle of the night, doing so will increase his trust in you and help him try again at a later date."

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.