One of the greatest worries of parents during the first months of a baby’s life is sudden infant death syndrome, in other words, the death of the baby while sleeping suddenly and without apparent cause. This problem has greatly decreased in recent years because certain measures have been discovered that prevent this syndrome, such as sleeping with the baby on his back and not upside down, as was done before he could turn on his own; do not wrap him; use a firm mattress and if possible an anti-suffocating and breathable mattress; do not cover the baby with blankets or sheets, nor place soft toys or pillows.
This syndrome is more common between 2 and 6 months of life, after this age the percentage is greatly reduced. Also, after 6 months, the baby already knows how to turn by himself and can remove something from his head if it stops him breathing, so don’t be obsessed with sleeping on his back as he will only turn.
But, apart from this reason, it is not recommended that babies use a pillow before the age of 2, because until this age their head is proportionally bigger than their body, and sleeping with a pillow could force them into problems with their natural position causing respiratory or muscular problems. The pillow could prevent a natural alignment of your back, forces the natural curvature of your neck, which can cause respiratory problems to not get oxygen in your lungs properly and not reach your brain. And as we said, it can cause the sore throat to adopt a natural and forced to be a much larger head than the posture of the body, something very dangerous when the small spine is still growing and developing.
And it is when it is born, the baby’s lap is very small and has little strength, so it cannot lift its head and hold it upright by itself. On the contrary, his head is very big and his shoulders are not wider than his head. Therefore, it is not advisable to put a pillow on him until he is 2 years old or less, but what to look out for is that his shoulders are wider than his head or that he begs to sleep because he cannot find a comfortable position.
When the baby is cold and congested, it is advisable to keep the head torso slightly elevated to breathe better, what you have to do is put a pillow under the body, but put pillows or cushions under the mattress to elevate this, not only the body of the little one.
Why shouldn’t babies use a pillow?
One of the main things we should know as a mother is that the baby should not use a pillow to sleep. But… why? Many people think that it is okay for babies or newborns to use pillows. However, it is recommended that they should not. Experts recommend avoiding the use of pillows, cuddly toys, and blankets at bedtime during the first two years of a baby’s life.
This is because a baby’s body proportions are different from those of an adult. At birth, proportionally baby’s neck is still very small and his head is much larger compared to the rest of the body.
The most important thing is to avoid using pillows until the baby has developed enough to use them. If he sleeps with a pillow before the appropriate time, he may present some difficulties in the formation of his body, or even run the risk of drowning. Below are some of the reasons why your baby should not use a pillow at bedtime.
- The pillow can cause sudden infant death syndrome. If you put a pillow on your baby and he turns over on his tummy while sleeping, he won’t be able to turn over again causing suffocation. Similarly, this can also happen with stuffed animals or pillows. Therefore, you should avoid these objects in the place where your baby sleeps, whether it’s in bed or in the cot.
- Pillows can disturb the natural alignment of the baby’s back. The natural curvature of the neck is forced because the baby has a smaller neck and the head is proportionally larger than the rest of the body.
- It is not comfortable for a baby to sleep on a pillow. Although it may seem that baby is doing very well sleeping with pillows or cushions, he is actually not comfortable. If he has a bad sleep he will wake up irritable the next day. Also, sleeping with a pillow can make it harder to get to sleep and cause problems getting to sleep.
- The baby may develop allergies. This is also an important factor to consider. When we wash the pillow or pillows, we usually use soap and softener with different smells. This is not recommended for babies because at this time they are still developing their sense of smell.
When can babies use a pillow?
The Spanish Association of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that children start using pillows only after the age of two. When that time comes, you must choose a pillow that is suitable for the size of the child, preferably a thin, small, and firm one.
Children over two years of age should use a pillow because their shoulders are already wider than their head, forcing their neck when they sleep on their sides.
The pillow should be made of a material that lets the body breathe properly, such as cotton. It is better to avoid materials such as polyester because it can hinder oxygenation and make the head and neck area too warm.
Advice to prevent sudden infant death syndrome
Apart from avoiding putting a pillow for the baby to sleep on, there are also other ways to prevent sudden infant death syndrome at bedtime:
- Put the baby to sleep with its stomach facing upwards. The baby should always sleep on his back. It is very important to avoid having the baby sleep on his stomach.
- The mattress should be exactly the same size as the cot so that there are no gaps where the baby can fall or trap an arm or leg. The mattress shouldn’t be too soft either.
- The baby should sleep with his feet touching the bottom of the cot and the sheets should be tucked under the mattress.
- It is not recommended to use blankets made of elastic or plasticized fabrics.
- Ideally, the room temperature should be kept between 18 and 20 degrees.
- It is advisable not to put on very warm clothes or blankets at bedtime.
- It is not recommended that the baby sleeps with his parents before 13 weeks of age.
- In the first months, it is recommended that the cot be close to the parents’ bed.
Most importantly, baby should not use a pillow until he or she is old enough. This practice can be harmful to the child’s health and development. When it’s time to rest, the simpler the baby’s cot is, the better.
Which cushion to choose?
Once you decide that it is time to put a pillow for your child to sleep, as we said, from 2 years old, you should choose a thin and small pillow, adapted to the child’s constitution. However, it is not necessary to buy a pillow just because you are 2 years old, make sure you need to sleep, because there are babies who move a lot and turn over in bed, sometimes sleeping on their head and sometimes on their headboard. feet, so the pillow will barely stay on their head for more than two hours. When your dream is calmer and stops moving so much, it is convenient to buy one, but adapted to your size.
In addition, it is important that it is made of a breathable material like cotton. Polyester is not recommended, as it hinders the entry and exit of oxygen and can cause overheating in the head and neck area.
And depending on the position you sleep in, you can choose one type of pillow or another. For example, if you sleep on your stomach, you should choose a very soft and thin one that is no more than 10 centimetres high. If you sleep on your back, a thin pillow that fits on the back of your neck is best so that your neck is not too flexed and does not cause pain (it can even be a butterfly pillow). And if you sleep on your side, it’s best to choose a thicker pillow to keep your head and spine aligned and avoid neck and back pain. If you change your posture a lot, a pillow of firmness and thickness is recommended.
Finally, the head area is one of the most sweaty and stained areas because of sweat and saliva, so you should always put on a washable cover made of soft and breathable fabric, such as cotton, and change it regularly.