It may seem like you are depriving your baby of a better sleep by not giving them a pillow. So at what age is it alright for them to sleep with a pillow in their crib, and what sort of pillow is best to give them at first.
The baby product industry is enormous, and they will always come out with new things for you to buy for baby. Some of them are truly helpful, lifesavers even, and some of them are excessive, unnecessary, and occasionally dangerous. If you really think about a baby pillow, you will see that it falls into this second category.
Babies don’t really need a pillow, and are usually just fine without one. The reason that we think a baby might want a pillow is because it is the norm for everyone to sleep with a pillow, and a bed just doesn’t look complete without one. It’s hard not to transfer our own wants and needs onto the baby, but you have to remember that they don’t need most of the stuff that we do. Also, there are dangers in even the simplest things, so you have to be vigilant in your protection of your baby, and always scrutinize new additions for safety.
When Can I Give My Baby a Pillow? Answer: After 2 Years
You may think that because you enjoy sleeping with a pillow, your baby will too. But there is a suffocation hazard to giving them a pillow, and it’s actually not very naturally for them to have their head held up like that while they sleep. Babies can roll around a lot when they sleep, and if the pillow ends up on top of their head, they may not have the motor skills to knock it off. That’s why it’s best to leave things empty in their crib.
Is It Comfortable?
You may be wondering if your baby is comfortable without a pillow, after all some of us can’t sleep without one or several pillow propping our heads up. Some of us even use a pillow to snuggle with, or to support our lower backs by placing between the knees. Seeing your baby lie in their crib pillowless can make you feel like you are depriving them of true comfort.
But rest assured that your baby is very comfortable, especially if the mattress in the crib is soft and supportive. It’s only because you’ve slept with a pillow for so long that you associate it with a proper night’s rest. But in reality, your baby is actually sleeping more in tune with nature, with a properly aligned spinal column, and a properly supported head. Most conventional pillows put the neck in a rather unnatural position, so these are not recommended.
What About Special Infant Pillows
Of course, no one is saying you should put an adult-sized pillow into a baby’s crib, so what about the smaller-sized, specially made for baby pillows that are sold in the infant and baby section of stores, or online. These may claim to be able to address the suffocation hazards, and to explain why they think they are suitable for use by children under 2, but why risk it. Since there isn’t a health hazard to your child sleeping sans pillow, why change it up?
Alternatives to Pillows
If your child is fussy and doesn’t seem to want to go to sleep while lying flat, you can give them the same sort of elevation they’d get from a pillow by placing a pillow or a towel underneath the mattress of their crib. That will perhaps make them more comfortable, but won’t be something they could roll over onto, or pull onto their head.
After 2 Years
From two years your child will have developed enough to be able to avoid the possibility of suffocation, and will also be bugging you for a pillow because they’ll be entering the terrible twos. They’ll see that everyone else in the household is sleeping with a pillow and they’ll probably throw a tantrum if they don’t get their own.
It can be a nice bonding moment to give them their first pillow, and if you can work it out so that they associate their pillow with nap time, you’ll feel like SuperMom. This is a nice side effect of holding off on giving your baby a pillow until they’re 2 or older.