Is it Safe for a Toddler to Use a Pillow?


The safety of toddlers using pillows is a common concern for parents and caregivers. This requires careful consideration of factors like the child's age, development, and potential risks.

Toddler safety is paramount, as this is a stage of curiosity and exploration with little understanding of dangers. Creating a safe and comfortable sleep environment, which may involve the use of pillows, requires understanding potential risks like suffocation and SIDS.

The Debate: Pillows for Toddlers

Common Beliefs About Toddlers Using Pillows

Parents' beliefs about toddlers using pillows vary, influenced by personal experiences, cultural practices, and advice from professionals.

Pros and Cons of Introducing a Pillow

Introducing a pillow has potential benefits and drawbacks:



  • Safety Risks: Pillows pose a potential suffocation hazard for younger children.
  • Disrupted Sleep: A pillow could be a distraction that disrupts a toddler's sleep.

The decision to introduce a pillow should consider the individual toddler's age, development, and the potential risks and benefits.

Two Potential Risks of Pillows for Toddlers

1. Explanation of Potential Hazards Such as Suffocation

One of the primary concerns with introducing a pillow to a toddler’s sleep environment is the risk of suffocation. Toddlers, especially those under the age of two, may not have the motor skills or strength to move a pillow away if it obstructs their breathing. A pillow can potentially cover a toddler’s nose and mouth, leading to suffocation. This risk is particularly high if the pillow is too soft or too large, or if the toddler sleeps on their stomach or side.

2. Discussion on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the unexplained death of a healthy baby under a year old. Pillows in a toddler's sleep environment increase SIDS risk. Health professionals advise waiting until the child is at least two years old before introducing a pillow.

When is it Safe for a Toddler to Use a Pillow?

Recommended Age for Introducing a Pillow

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting until a child is at least 2 years old to introduce a pillow due to SIDS risk. Consider individual development and needs.

3 Signs That Your Toddler May Be Ready for a Pillow

While age is a significant factor, there are other signs that your toddler may be ready for a pillow. These include:

  • Sleeping in a bed: If your toddler has transitioned from a crib to a bed, they may be ready for a pillow.
  • Restless sleep: If your toddler is having trouble sleeping or frequently wakes up during the night, a pillow might provide additional comfort.
  • Showing interest in a pillow: If your toddler shows interest in using a pillow during playtime or tries to use a stuffed animal as a pillow, it might be a sign they are ready.

Remember, these are just guidelines. As a parent or caregiver, you know your child best. Always prioritize their safety and comfort when making this decision.

Choosing the Right Pillow for Your Toddler

Factors to Consider (Size, Firmness, Hypoallergenic Materials, etc.)

When choosing a pillow for your toddler, there are several factors to consider to ensure safety and comfort:

  • Size: The pillow should be small and not too thick. A large or overly thick pillow can pose a suffocation risk.
  • Firmness: Choose a firm pillow over a soft one. Soft pillows can mold to the shape of the child’s head and potentially obstruct their breathing.
  • Material: Opt for hypoallergenic materials to avoid any allergic reactions. Also, the material should be breathable to prevent overheating.
  • Removable and Washable Cover: Toddlers can be messy. Having a removable and washable cover makes it easy to keep the pillow clean and hygienic.

Recommended Pillows for Toddlers

While specific product recommendations can vary over time and from region to region, here are some general guidelines:

  • Look for pillows specifically designed for toddlers. These are typically smaller, firmer, and made with safe, hypoallergenic materials.
  • Read product reviews and check safety certifications.
  • Consult with a pediatrician or a child sleep expert for personalized advice based on your child’s specific needs.

Tips for a Safe and Comfortable Sleep Environment

Toddlers need a safe sleep environment for their well-being. Essential steps include keeping the crib free of items, positioning the toddler on their back to sleep, maintaining a comfortable room temperature, and considering a baby monitor.

These precautions help minimize suffocation risks, reduce the risk of SIDS, and promote restful sleep. Additional factors for sleep comfort include a consistent bedtime routine, comfortable sleepwear, a quiet environment, and a dark room with a nightlight if needed.


The discussion centered on the safety of pillows for toddlers. It emphasized the importance of sleep for toddlers, addressed common beliefs about pillow use, and highlighted potential risks such as suffocation and SIDS. The recommended age for introducing a pillow and signs of toddler readiness were discussed. Additionally, tips for choosing the right pillow and creating a safe sleep environment were provided. Parents were reminded that they are the best judges of what's best for their toddler and should always consult a healthcare professional if they have concerns.


  1. Q: At what age can my toddler start using a pillow?
    A: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting until your child is at least 2 years old before introducing a pillow.

  2. Q: What are the risks of introducing a pillow too early?
    A: Introducing a pillow too early can pose a risk of suffocation and increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

  3. Q: What type of pillow is best for a toddler?
    A: Choose a small, firm pillow that’s made with hypoallergenic materials. Also, it’s beneficial if the pillow has a removable and washable cover.

  4. Q: How can I tell if my toddler is ready for a pillow?
    A: Signs may include your toddler showing interest in a pillow, having trouble sleeping, or if they’ve transitioned from a crib to a bed.

  5. Q: What else can I do to ensure a safe sleep environment for my toddler?
    A: Keep the crib or bed clear of items, place your toddler on their back to sleep, maintain a comfortable room temperature, and consider using a baby monitor.