Just over half of children (52%) still believe in Father Christmas at the age of 8, according to a MadeForMums parent survey.¹


We talked to over 1,000 parents and discovered that the average age at which children grow out of the Santa story is 8.5 years.

By the age of 9, 62% of children no longer believe and by 10, when they're in the last year of primary school, more than 4 in 5 children know the truth.

This is later than you'd expect, given their thinking abilities. Studies² have shown that children understand the difference between reality and fantasy from around the age of 7 – so it would be logical to conclude that, from about 7 years old, children would be questioning the idea of a portly man climbing up and down chimneys all over the world.

Perhaps they are but are wisely keeping their questioning thoughts to themselves while there are presents up for grabs...

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How can you keep children believing in Santa for longer?

A study for the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry³ by Manosevitz and Hubbs (1978) found that children who believe in Father Christmas for longer have parents who actively encourage the Santa myth.

So, if you want to preserve the Santa belief, you'd best be making magical reindeer food, creating snowy footprints, and leaving drinks and biscuits for Santa and his reindeer. For more tips like these, see our 10 magical ways to bring Santa to your house.

How do children usually find out about Santa?

Our survey revealed just over 40% of children simply grew out of believing in the Father Christmas story, while a third (32%) were told by friends.

Only 8% of parents take the plunge and burst the Father Christmas bubble ourselves.

Heartwarmingly, our survey found that, once they find out, 83% of older siblings kindly play along with the myth and don't reveal what they know about Santa to their younger siblings.

Pic: Getty Images


1. Survey of over 1000 parents, conducted by MadeForMums in 2011
2 Revisiting the Fantasy-Reality Distinction: Children as Naïve Skeptics. Woolley et al. Child Dev. 2013 Sep; 84(5): 1496–1510. Published online 2013 Mar 15
3. Imaginary figures of early childhood: Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. Prentice at al. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. 1978. 48(4), 618–628


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Helen Brown
Helen BrownHead of Content Delivery

Helen is author of the classic advice book Parenting for Dummies and a mum of 3. Before joining MadeForMums, she was Head of Community at Mumsnet and also the Consumer Editor of Mother & Baby.