When is it Safe for a Child to Use a Pillow?

Archived Q&A and Reviews


When did you start your toddlers on pillows?

August 2005

When did you start your toddlers or pre-school children with a pillow for night sleeping? Our kids are on crib mattresses still at two years three months, no pillow. The parent we bought our toddler beds from said her kids were eight and she still didn't think it was appropriate for the spine. I am just wondering what other parents have done/when and when you DO introduce it, is there a certain type of pillow that is best? anon

We began using a pillow called the Children's Health Pillow, purchased from One Step Ahead catalog - available online, too - at age 3 in our son's big kid bed. He loves it and it's totally safe for kids. Read about it at their site. I think it was $30. - Pillows for comfort!

Is a 2-year-old OK with a pillow?

January 2003

Our two year old just began asking for a pillow in his crib. He has never used one at night but naps on our bed and began using one there in the past couple of months. I am mildly concerned that his head might go under the pillow at night making him unable to breathe. Am I being irrational? When did the parents of older babies give them their first pillow? Are there special crib pillows out there? Any suggestions are appreciated. Alison

My daughter has had a pillow since the day she turned one. When you are having trouble breathing you generally wake up. I have found her under the pillow asleep a couple of times, but I have found my husband that way too! anon

We didn't use a pillow until our daughter was in a toddler bed -- we had heard too many stories about toddlers and infants suffocating in cribs. (For that matter, we didn't even use a blanket in the crib, either -- just footed sleepers, sometimes 2 layers on a cold night.) When we did get to the pillow stage, we went to a baby store and bought a decorative ''crib pillow'' -- much smaller than a regular pillow -- and made special small pillow cases for it. We used that for some time after we moved to a twin bed, too. Lauren

When he's in bed with us, there are pillows both soft and hard. He falls asleep better with his head slightly elevated. So I started putting a very flat pillow in his bed when he was about 18 months. Betsy

I've had this discussion with groups of mommy friends a few times. ;-) Consensus is that the best time to introduce a pillow is when the child moves from crib to bed. (Thus, should the child get under the pillow, the pillow is likely to just fall off the bed!) But many moms use a small pillow in the crib for 2 year olds, and it's unlikely to really be dangerous. Yes, you can buy small, flattish pillows for young kids -- One Step Ahead has one. You can also buy a ''travel pillow'' at places like Bed Bath & Beyond which are basically the same thing. Holly

I put a pillow into my daughter's crib to elevate her head due to a cold when she was probably 18 months and never took it out again. (she made it clear she wanted it to stay). I think by two your son is well able to keep himself from accidentally smothering. Give him the pillow and don't worry at all about it Julie T.

We started using a regular sized pillow on a toddler bed (not a crib)to help our 18 m.o. daughter sleep through the night. She seemed to take comfort in it and sleep better. We never used a pillow in the crib w/either child (partially due to paranoia and the fact that they could escape the crib @ 18 mo). While I haven't seen them in stores I do know two mail order sources for crib size pillows--Lands' End (www.landsend.com) and The Company Store (a bedding co). Good luck! Lisa

I don't think you need to worry about this. A two-year-old who can ask you for a pillow is not going to smother. If you're concerned, make it a thin, flat, stiff pillow, not a goose down or feather one. vm

My child had to stay overnight at Children's Hospital when he was 17 mos old. They put a small, thin pillow in his crib and told me I could take it home with me when we left. I assume they wouldn't have done this if it was dangerous. I think small children like small, flat pillows anyway because their necks are so short! Fran

OK to continue pillow for 14-month-old?

January 2001

I'm wondering when you should (?) start using pillow for little one? I have 14 month old, and doctor suggested pillow when he had a cold. It did seem to help, but not sure if we should go back to nothing or keep using it. Lise

My 2 and a half year old still does not use a pillow even when he sleeps on his side, although I have one (a pretty flat one) in his bed if he wants to use it. Sometimes he want to read a book proped up on his pillow. When he sleeps he normally nuzzels his head up to the pillow, but doesn't actually put his head on it. I was worried about a year ago, but my pediatrian said not to. So far he doesn't look deformed or anything. It seems like a preference that I cannot influence at this point.

My daughter started using a pillow when she was around one. I think I used it once to prop her up when she had a cold, then she started insisting upon it, so it never left her crib. She seemed very comfortable with it. I'd say just go with what makes your daughter most comfortable.

My guess is that when your child is old enough to roll over and is beyond that back to sleep stage, pillows are ok. But if you'd rather not use a pillow, for whatever reason, you might consider rolling up an old towel and placing it under your child's mattress on the end where he rests his head. That way his head will be elevated for better drainage and breathing during cold season, but you won't have to worry about the pillow. Just watch out that you don't elevate the mattress too high, or you'll hear stories of dreams about mountain climbing in the morning!