When Can Toddlers Sleep with a Pillow?

image001You probably think that your baby would sleep better with a blanket and a pillow. Even though you can’t imagine sleeping without a pillow, your baby does not know what she/he is missing since she/he has always slept on a flat surface and uncovered since birth. Do not feel bad about keeping her/him in darkness without a pillow. It is actually a good thing. The truth is, when a toddler sleeps on a pillow, she/he is at high risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or suffocation. This is most especially true when your child is younger than 4 months. Even after this risk period has passed, it is sill advisable that you do not introduce a pillow to your baby too early.

When Can Toddlers Sleep with a Pillow?

As a parent, it is quite normal that you worry your baby might be uncomfortable sleeping on a flat surface instead of on a pillow. Maybe your toddler has been asking for a pillow for some time because she/he sees you with one.

According to AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), it is still not clear on when it is safe to give a baby her/his own pillow. Even so, some experts seem to agree that the safest time is when your child is one year old. When a child is twelve months old, the risk of suffocation reduces considerably. However, if your child is still sleeping in a crib, remove all objects that may cause suffocation. The pillow should be small, firm and flat like the ones given on airplanes.

When can toddlers sleep with a pillow? Check out the video below to know more about it :

Things to Consider When Introducing Pillows to Toddlers

1. How to Choose

If your child is ready to sleep on a pillow, choose one that is fairly flat. There are many stores that stock pillows specifically designed for toddlers. These pillows are normally flat and small. Any pillow put on a child’s bed ought to be firm. Soft pillows have a higher likelihood of causing suffocation. Do not buy feather or down pillows because the toddlers head might sink inside thus increasing the risk of suffocation. What’s more, the shaft (pointed end) of the feather could poke the pillow ending up with pricking the child’s face.

2. How to Buy



See if he/she is ready

Avoid using pillows if your child sleeps in a crib because the pillows can be a suffocation hazard. Introduce a pillow when your child starts sleeping in a bed. Some signs show that your child is ready for a pillow. For example, she/he rests the head on a blanket or stuffed animal or even lays on a pillow when in your room.

Comfortable and firm support

To evaluate the firmness of the pillow, press the pillow and watch how fast it regains shape. If the pillow does not move or slightly moves, it is unsafe as it is too soft. If the pillow takes a couple of minutes for its shape to regain, it might be uncomfortable and too firm for your toddler.


A standard pillow for a toddler is 12X16 inches and the 2-3 inches thick. A small size reduces excess fabric which could lead to suffocation. If there is no pillow available for a toddler, go for a standard sized pillow of 20X26 inches. Also, don’t allow your child to sleep with more than one pillow at a go even if it’s a double bed. Also avoid euro, queen and king-sized pillows. Their large size makes them unsafe.


Go for a pillow that has been made with 100% non-allergic polyfill polyester so that you can avoid possible allergic reactions. Polyester is synthetic fiber that is made of 3D clusters, is odor and allergy free. It also holds more thus being durable as compared to natural fibers. Go for one that has 100% polyester filling. Consider buying a pillow made with hypoallergenic foam (posture pillow), which helps to align the neck and spine thereby promoting a healthy posture when sleeping.


Once all the attributes have been evaluated, do comparison-shopping. You can shop online or in retail stores. Standard pillows and toddler pillows have a price range of min $10 and max $80.

3. How to Use

The moment you have decided to introduce a pillow to your toddler’s sleeping environment, start using the pillow when the child is taking a nap. This makes it possible for you to monitor her/him so that you can ensure she/he stays on the pillow and doesn’t move around so much that her/his face is covered. If she/he moves too much, take it slowly and put it away for some weeks before trying again. When she/he has started sleeping well on the pillow, you can start using it during bedtime.