When can a Baby have a Pillow?
Pillows and mattresses are things we consider basic comfort necessities as adults. Without good bedding, it can be very difficult to get restful sleep. We obviously want our children to be as comfortable as possible when they sleep, too, so our first instinct after welcoming them to the world might be to get them pillows and soft bedding. However, the needs of babies are, in many categories, significantly different from the needs of grown adults or even those of older children, and sleep is one area where this is the case.
Babies don’t need pillows, and they don’t get the same benefits from sleeping with a pillow that their parents get. In fact, unnecessary bedding and accessories like pillows can actually be dangerous things to put in a baby’s crib. But don’t worry; we’re about to explain how to help your baby sleep comfortably and safely, as well as the appropriate age to give them their first pillow.
When Can A Baby Sleep with A Pillow?
The simple answer is that babies can’t sleep with pillows. Your baby can sleep with a pillow when he or she is no longer a baby and has become a toddler. Experts strongly recommend that pillows and other soft bedding not be put into a child’s crib until they are at least 18 months old. During the first year to the first year and a half of your baby’s life, they should have only a fitted sheet as their bedding, and nothing else. Sometime between 18 months and 3 ½ years, you can transition from a crib or bassinet to a toddler bed, and add pillows as part of that transition.
This transition may include:
- A new, toddler-appropriate bed.
- A small, firm pillow.
- A flat sheet.
- A light blanket.
Exactly when to make that transition is up to you, but there’s no need to rush. Most children are perfectly content to sleep in their crib, without a pillow, until you are ready to switch.
Why Can’t Babies Use Pillows?
Pillows, pillowcases, blankets, and other bedding present a hazard in a baby’s bed. They increase the risk of:
- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
- Other injury
It’s easy for an infant to become trapped or tangled in the bedding, and bedding can also cause them to overheat. We know it can be scary to think about these things, but the fact is, the best way to keep your baby safe is to know what the risks are and how to prevent dangerous situations. When you have created a safe sleeping situation for your baby, then both of you can rest easy (relatively speaking, of course).
In addition to the risk that excessive bedding presents to a baby’s breathing, pillows can also give older babies and young toddlers a tool with which to climb out of their crib. This both defeats the purpose of the crib and can lead to injury, and although they may try to climb out even without pillows, there’s no need to make it any easier for them. Remember, a baby has never slept with a pillow and has no idea what they’re missing out on. They’re perfectly happy to sleep with just a fitted sheet for as long as you want them to do so.
Even though pillows seem like a necessity to older children and adults, they are unnecessary and potentially dangerous for babies and even young toddlers. Wait until your child is old enough to transition to a bed before buying them a pillow or any bedding other than a fitted sheet. This will reduce their risk of SIDS and prevent them from injuring themselves in their sleep. Your baby can sleep safe and sound without a pillow until at least 18 months, and waiting until as close to 3 years as possible is best if you have the option to do so.
When can a toddler start using a pillow?
A toddler can start using a pillow between 1 ½ years and 3 ⅓ years of age. It is best to make the transition around their third birthday, if that is a practical option for you. Add a pillow to their bedding at the same time as moving them to a toddler bed.
What is the best pillow for toddlers?
Toddlers shouldn't use the same pillows that adults use. Pick a toddler-sized model, as these will be a more appropriate size. You should also look for a flat, firm pillow for a safe first bedding accessory.
Do babies need pillows?
Babies do not need pillows. They don’t care about having one, they are comfortable sleeping without one, and pillows pose an unnecessary risk to their health when present in their crib.
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