Parents often wonder when to introduce new items to young toddlers. Your baby’s first experiences are milestones in his development. While some things, such as sippy cups and big boy pants, are reasons for celebrating, introducing other items too early can lead to health risks. For instance, giving your baby a pillow before he is ready for one can pose a hazard.
For older children and adults, a good pillow can make the difference between a good night’s sleep and a restless one. However, babies and young toddlers don’t require pillows to sleep soundly. If your toddler already sleeps comfortably, a pillow is not necessary.
Proper bedding can serve the purpose of helping your child sleep comfortably through the night. As he gets older, a pillow may provide the necessary head and neck support that allows him to get a good night’s sleep.
The Babycenter website advises waiting to give your child a pillow until after he turns 2 years old and moves into a toddler bed. Although he may sleep soundly in his crib, a pillow may be part of the big and significant move from his crib to a toddler bed. Tossing and turning, as well as piling a blanket beneath his head, may signal his readiness for a pillow. However, if the pillow you introduce frequently ends up pushed aside or on the floor, your toddler probably doesn’t need head and neck support for restful slumber.
The National Sudden and Unexpected Infant/Child Death and Pregnancy Loss warns that soft bedding, such as pillows and pillow-like stuffed toys, may increase your baby’s risk of suffocation. These soft products can keep your baby from breathing easily, especially when he is too young to push them away from his face.
Avoid feather pillows, which contain allergens that may bother children with asthma or respiratory allergies. A small, firm pillow, such as the size of those used on airlines, can provide support, while thick, soft pillows may cause your child’s head to sink down while sleeping.