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When to Give a Baby a Pillow

Safe and Sound: When to Give a Baby a Pillow

When your baby was a newborn, you were advised to remove pillows, bumpers and stuffed animals from the crib to eliminate suffocation hazards. What about now? You want your baby to sleep soundly and safely; how do you know when it's okay to introduce a pillow?

For infants under the age of 12 months, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises not to use pillows and other soft bedding (including soft mattresses and stuffed toys) in order to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

However, as many Circle of Moms members have shared, if respiratory health issues develop, parents are sometimes advised by a pediatrician to allow their baby to sleep with a pillow before 12 months. As Crystal D. shares: "When my son was around 4 months he ended up getting a little head cold and couldn't breathe out of his nose. So to help him the doctor told us to put a pillow under his head so it could help him breathe better." Similarly, Aly T. relays: "My youngest (15 months now) had [a pillow] around 8-9 months old as he had a bad cold and needed propping up to breathe." 

But what if health issues aren't at stake and your child reaches age one. Can you introduce a pillow then? Maybe not.

As Cherie F. relays, suffocation may still be a risk with a pillow beyond age one: "The doctor said no pillow till 3 or 4 years old and even then it has to be very flat. They can become trapped under it or wedged against it, unable to breathe." 

Jenni J. agrees: "My plan with my son is to wait until about 3 years. Kids don't know the difference and are perfectly content without one. I believe it is the safest choice to make. Kids that young can still put their face in the pillow and not wake themselves when not getting enough oxygen."

Other Circle of Moms members say a good rule of thumb is to introduce a pillow when you switch your child to a toddler bed, somewhere around age two. As Casey G. shares: "I gave my kids a pillow when they were big enough to go into a toddler bed instead of a crib."

When you do introduce a pillow, the safest bet is a flat one. Susan H. recalls: "We gave [our son] one that is more flat than fluffy." And Jessica W. agrees: "We gave [our daughter] a really thin one that her head didn't sink into."

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