Most of us grown-ups would have a hard time dozing off without a comfy pillow under our heads. But what about kids?

When do children need to use a pillow?

Kids don’t need a pillow until well after their first birthday! In fact, babies should NOT sleep with a pillow. Having a pillow in bed can be extremely dangerous for infants.

Pillows—as well as loose blankets, comforters, stuffed toys, and cot bumpers—create a suffocation risk for infants. That’s why we experts advise that babies sleep without anything in the cot (other than a fitted sheet) until they are at least a year old. Pillows can cover a baby’s face or cause a baby to overheat—another sudden infant death risk factor

When is it safe for your child use a pillow?

The SIDS period is totally over after the first birthday, so once your baby turns 1, it’s technically safe to use pillows and blankets. However, there’s no need to rush to buy your tot a pillow as soon as they blow out that one-shaped birthday candle. The truth is that most little kids sleep fine without pillows.

Pillows could pose new risks as your baby becomes a toddler. Some enterprising tots may use pillows to boost themselves up and climb or fall out of the cot! So, I recommend only using a blanket in the cot after the first birthday and waiting to use a pillow until your child transitions from the cot to a bed...which may not be until they reach their third birthday…or even later.

What’s the best pillow for kids?

When you do decide your toddler is ready for a pillow, keep in mind that the big fluffy pillows adorning your own bed are probably not be the right fit! A thick pillow may be uncomfortable for your child’s little neck and spine, which are still developing. Instead, look for a small, flat, firm pillow that cradles and supports the head without causing your toddler to strain. 

Just as different types of pillows work better for some adults than others, there might be a little trial and error to find the perfect pillow for your child (so it’s not a bad idea to buy one with a generous return policy!). But no matter what kind of pillow you decide to introduce the first time, the most important thing is that you wait to introduce it until your child’s SIDS risk totally subsides. And then you can rest easier, too, knowing that your lovebug is sleeping safely.

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider. Breastmilk is the best source of nutrition for babies. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, mothers eat a healthy, balanced diet. Combined breast- and bottle-feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of a mother's breastmilk and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. If you do decide to use infant formula, you should follow instructions carefully.