Lying flat on a mattress for hours on end would certainly leave you with a stiff, creaky neck in the morning. Which might make you wonder: Would your baby sleep more comfortably with a pillow — and is it okay to give her one?
It might seem like a plush, fluffy headrest might feel nice for your little one. But the truth is, your baby doesn’t know what she’s missing. And she’s better off that way, at least until well into toddlerhood.
Though it’s scary to think about, pillows and other soft bedding items can create the potential for suffocation or strangling and increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS.
In short, there’s no real reason to put a pillow in your baby’s crib — and plenty of good reasons to wait until she’s older. Here’s more on why a pillow shouldn’t have a place in your baby’s sleeping spot, and how to tell when she’s ready for one later on.
When can my baby sleep with a pillow?
Your baby can’t sleep with a pillow until she’s a toddler. Babies should sleep on a firm, flat surface free of pillows, blankets, and other soft bedding until at least age 1 and preferably age 18 months or later, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ safe sleep guidelines. During her first year, the only thing your little one’s crib or bassinet needs is a simple fitted sheet.
As for when to introduce a pillow? Research hasn’t shown exactly when it’s 100 percent safe to put a pillow or other soft object in the crib, but the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) notes that pillows become much less risky past the 18-month mark.
To play it safe, you’re better off waiting until she transitions to a toddler bed, which can happen between 18 months and 3 1/2 years (and the closer to 3 years old you can wait, the better). Not only does waiting longer further reduce suffocation risk, but keeping a pillow out of your toddler’s crib means she won’t be able to use the pillow as a step to try to climb out.
Remember, your baby doesn’t know what a pillow is and is perfectly content to sleep without one. So you can simply hold out until she shows an active interest in having one.
When the time for a pillow does come, keep it small and simple. Opt for a firm baby or toddler-sized pillow instead of a full-sized adult one, and keep extra fabric out of the mix by skipping the pillowcase.