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When to Introduce a Pillow to Your Toddler

by Rikke Randrup Skåning

Blissful nights of good, quality sleep is something we all want for our child and ourselves, right? To get there, your little one needs to feel safe and comfortable in bed. When you introduce a pillow, and choosing the right one, can be essential for your toddler’s comfort and safety. Want to know why? Scroll down to find out.


  • Never introduce a pillow before your child’s first birthday because it isn’t safe.
  • Your baby doesn’t need a pillow for neck support or to feel comfortable in the crib. 
  • For your toddler, pick a pillow that’s suitable for your child’s still-developing neck and spine. 
  • Start with a small, thin but supportive pillow.

When is it Safe for Your Child to Sleep with a Pillow? 

Your child shouldn’t sleep with a pillow until at least one year of age, and if your toddler is quite happily sleeping through the night without one, there is no need to introduce one yet. Physiotherapist, Rikke Randrup Skaaning, explains: 

"Your child must be able to move freely before a pillow is added to the bed. The Danish National Board of Health recommends not using a pillow before your child is at least one year old due to the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). If your child is delayed in the development of gross motor skills, I would not recommend using a pillow until your child is somewhat older. Their little bodies don’t need the same neck support that adults do. However, when children start sleeping on the side, probably around the age of 2 or 3, they might enjoy sleeping with a pillow.”  

So, exactly when your child is ready for a pillow can be quite a difficult question to answer since all children develop at different rates, and your child might even prefer sleeping without one. However, if your child is asking for a pillow, or you believe your child might need one, make sure you select an age-appropriate pillow. There are a few things to keep in mind to pick a suitable first pillow for your child. 

What Kind of Pillow Should You Pick for Your Toddler? 

A fluffy adult-sized pillow isn’t an appropriate starter choice for your toddler, here’s what to go for according to Rikke Randrup Skaaning: 

"At some point, many children will like a pillow that they can cuddle into. I would start by picking a flat pillow – a soft but reasonably firm pillow that offers some comfort and support for your child's neck and spine. It's also a good idea to make sure your child is not resting on the pillow with the shoulders, so the pillow should not be too big for your little child’s head and neck. The pillow should stop by the neck. When you tuck your child in, you can make it a habit to ensure that the pillow is in place." 

So, one thing you can do to keep your child happy and safe in bed is not offering a pillow until your toddler is at least one year old. At some point, you might notice that your child starts cuddling with your pillow and enjoys the support and comfort a pillow provides. And even then, only offer a pillow if you think your child needs one to feel comfortable in bed.  

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