Yummy Mummy Karie of Bradford, ON asks:
When is it safe for a child to start using a pillow?
Pediatrician Dr. Paul Dempsey answers:
Hi Karie, That’s a great question and one that parents often struggle with, especially in their baby’s first couple of years.
In the name of safety, we generally recommend that parents hold off on introducing pillows until their child is 2 years of age. For babies 12 months and under, the primary concern with pillow use is an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). In fact, in order to reduce the risk of SIDS, the Canadian Paediatric Society recommends that an infant’s sleeping area consist of a firm mattress in a safety-regulated crib that is not only be free of pillows but quilts, comforters and bumper-pads as well. For children in the 12 to 24 month age range, the concern shifts to the potential for suffocation.
Two years might seem like an awfully long time but the truth is that with kids, a pillow just isn’t necessary for a comfortable sleep. Babies and toddlers sleep just fine without them and so if removing them from the equation can help reduce the risk of harm, the best advice is just to wait.
Remember that the safest sleeping environment for an infant is to always be on his or her back in a safety-regulated crib. If you’re still unsure about when your toddler might be ready for a pillow, consider introducing them to one when they make the transition to their first big-kid bed. When you do give your child his or her first pillow, choose one that is small, flat and firm to reduce the risk of accidental suffocation.