Becoming a new parent is full of worry. It’s a lot of pressure keeping your new baby safe! A common concern for parents is making their baby comfortable so they will sleep through the night. Does your baby need a blanket or a pillow? When can baby have a pillow for the crib? This post will answer some common questions about babies and pillows as well as share our top 5 favorite baby pillows.
Does Your Baby Need a Pillow?
First, does your baby even need a pillow? Not usually. Babies generally can sleep without a pillow for the first 1-2 years, at least, because their necks don’t need the support as adults do. We help babies sleep through the night without a pillow every day! My son didn’t start using one until 2 1/2 years old.
When Can Baby Have a Pillow?
The NICHHD recommends that you avoid pillows completely until your baby is over a year old. They also recommend never placing a baby on a pillow to sleep and never add pillows to the crib, either. Pillows are unsafe in the crib until your baby is over a year old, can be a suffocation hazard, and increase the chance of SIDS. Remember, there isn’t a single cause of SIDS but they know the risk factors that increase the chance of SIDS. One other caution about giving your baby a pillow is that there are a few clever toddlers who can use a pillow to step on and climb out of the crib! Be sure to follow all the safe sleep tips to keep your baby safe.
Should You Use an Anti-Roll Pillow?
As you probably know, it’s considered safest for your baby to sleep on their back. But, what if they are rolling onto their stomachs to sleep? Should you use an anti-roll pillow or other sleep positioner?
The safe thing to do is to NOT have anything in the crib with your baby, and that would include an anti-roll pillow and any sleep positioner in the crib. Be sure to talk to your doctor about the best way to handle your baby rolling onto their stomach to sleep. The answer is NOT to put devices in the crib to prevent it. And, remember, if your baby is swaddled, it’s time to stop swaddling immediately once they start rolling!
Should You Use a Pillow for a Flat Head?
Because it’s safest for baby to sleep on their back to sleep, they can develop a condition called Plagiocephaly when a portion or the entire back of your baby’s head is flat. This is caused by your baby sleeping in one position the majority of the time.
There are breathable head shaping pillows available to try to help with this but, again, check with your doctor if this is what they recommend. Until then, maximize tummy time during the day and avoid too much of the same position during the day such as in the swing, car seat, or bouncer. That way, they have less time laying on their back besides sleeping.
Top 3 Baby Pillows
Again, we recommend you wait until after your baby is a year old to give them a pillow. If/when you are ready to give your baby or toddler a pillow to sleep on, make sure it’s small and flat so it will be better for neck support. Babies and toddlers should not sleep on a tall pillow. Here are our top 3 favorite pillows for older babies, toddlers, and preschoolers:
This toddler pillow is 13×18 and ergonomically designed. It has been made and tested for a child’s head so the pillow is not too high or too low that it doesn’t properly support your child’s neck. In addition, it’s durable and washable.
This toddler pillow is a bit larger at 14×19 and is made of memory foam. Who doesn’t love memory foam these days? This pillow is hypoallergenic and made from a fabric that is meant to naturally thermoregulate. That means your toddler won’t get too hot while sleeping on it, ideally! It has a unique adjustable design so you can use this pillow as your child grows and gets bigger. Even better, it comes with a 100-night guarantee trial period and 5-year warranty!
This highly-rated WeeSprout Toddler Pillow is 18×13 designed specifically for 18+ month old toddlers with a low profile. This is important for comfort and we want our toddlers sleeping through the night, don’t we?! The other nice thing about this pillow is it comes with an organic cotton pillow case and both are machine washable and dryer safe. You know how children are, they spill, drool, and have accidents. It will be super easy to throw this in with some laundry first thing in the morning and have it dry by their nap time!
And, here’s one bonus pillow that you should consider:
The Mamaway 3-in-1 baby to toddler pillow is a clever design that grows with your child. It comes with two pillows, one very flat but very soft, for 12+ month olds. But, as your child grows, there’s a second size with neck support. As your toddler grows into a preschooler, you can stack the two pillows together. The pillow comes with two pillow cases to fit the different ways you can use these pillows.
In addition, this pillow is hypoallergenic and the pillowcases are made from Crabyarn® fiber which has technology that makes it naturally antibacterial. Although the pillow is not washable (spot-clean only please!), the antibacterial foam inhibits the growth of microorganisms which keeps the pillows smelling fresh! See our full pillow review here.
Baby Nursing / Feeding Pillows
A baby nursing or feeding pillow is pillows made for parents! Using a pillow while nursing (or even just while holding baby) is a life-saver! It saves your wrist with support and makes it so much easier in those early days. When baby is older and can support their own head, it helps to allow more freedom of your hands too. When mine were little, I used to read to one and nurse the other while using a nursing pillow.
I used a Boppy with both of my children though consider the Boppy Lounger has been recalled. Please keep in mind that the idea is NOT that your baby sleeps on this pillow! My second son did become very comfortable on the Boppy so I did use as as “baby step” in our gentle sleep coaching journey but he was never unattended and I moved him to the crib after he fell asleep. He was on my lap and I was fading out rocking (his sleep association).
The My Brest Friend Pillow is also a highly-rated nursing pillow. It’s nice because it has a wrap-around style that supports your back, you can secure it with velcro but release it with one hand, and you can have supplies such as a water bottle nearby.
Hopefully, this post has helped you figure out if your baby is ready for a pillow. And, we hope your baby and toddler will love their new pillow and sleep through the night. If not, you know where to turn!