health and care

What age can my child use a pillow?

Understanding what age is safe to let your little one have a pillow

When is it safe for little one’s to have a pillow?

It is not recommended for babies to have a pillow, so when is it safe for them to use one?

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Some of us can’t really imagine sleeping without our fluffy pillows (or even two!) so it’s hard to imagine how our little ones can be as comfy without any pillow, but the truth is, they are. Toddlers can’t use pillows the way we do when they’re sleeping as they completely shift every which way but up during the night. How many times have you gone into your toddler’s room and find their feet where their head should be? A neatly placed pillow would do nothing for them.
But there is also a very important safety aspect as to why babies shouldn’t have pillows. Safer sleep baby charity The Lullaby Trust warn that pillows (along with other sleeping products such as duvets, cot bumpers or nests) for babies under the age of 12 months do not conform to safer sleep guidelines because they can increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). They potentially can lead to overheating or obstruct a baby’s airway if they roll or their face becomes covered by loose bedding.

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The NHS also advises not to use pillows or duvets for babies under the age of 1, as there is a risk of suffocation. Under the age of 1 they won't be able to push the pillow or duvet away from their face. The NHS advice states: “Babies should always sleep on their back with their feet at the foot of their cot. Tuck the blanket in across their chest and under their arms and keep the cot free from bumpers, pillows and soft toys.”

So is my baby safe to use a pillow after the age of 1?

Just because you’re celebrating your baby’s first birthday, doesn’t mean you should rush out to buy their first pillow. It’s a good idea to wait until your baby is ready to transition to a toddler bed, which usually happens between 18 months and 3 and a half years old. When the time does come to give your little one a pillow, avoid the fluffy adult-sized models, instead go for a small, firm toddler pillow. And keep extra fabric out of the mix by skipping the pillowcase initially.  

What age can my child use a pillow?