Are Baby Pillows Safe for Sleep?

baby pillows safe for sleep
Are baby pillows safe? Will your baby have a flat head if you don't use one? This and more on our baby pillow safety guide.

There is a lot of controversy in the industry as to whether baby pillows for sleeping are a good choice or not. You will find mixed reviews and a lot of cautionary information but then you will also find that some say it’s not a big deal. So what’s the right answer? If you use a pillow will your baby have a bad back or perhaps a flat head? Will your baby be safe or exposed to a higher risk of SIDS or other potential issues? 

We’ve got you covered with this complete guide on are baby pillows safe for sleep? 

See more on creating a safe sleep environment.

What are the Types of Baby Pillows?

First things first, there are different types of baby pillows out there and they serve different purposes. Baby pillows for sleeping can range from things like a baby anti-roll pillow to a simple sleeping pillow and more. 

Here are some of the different types you might see. 

  • Baby flat head pillow
  • Anti-Roll pillow
  • Baby reflux pillow

Here is a brief description of each of these.

Anti-Flat Head Pillow

One popular pillow is the baby flat head pillow designed to help prevent your baby from developing a flat head. What happens is the pressure on your baby’s head when they constantly lie in the same way can lead to a flat head. 

On the same note, flat head syndrome usually resolves itself as your baby grows older. These pillows are designed to alleviate or combat flat head. 

Anti-Roll Pillow

An anti-roll pillow is sometimes also doubled as a support or positioning pillow. A baby anti-roll pillow is designed so that you can position your child on one side or the other and keep them in place so that they don’t roll or get tangled with pillows and blankets while they sleep. 

The pillow offers support and comfort but also keeps them in place. They are designed for side sleeping. 

Baby Reflux Pillow

Baby pillows for sleeping also include reflux pillows. These pillows are designed to help fight reflux for babies. They typically provide a means for inclining your baby so that they are lying at a slight incline. 

Where it is recommended that adults who suffer from reflux sleep on their stomach, this isn’t a great option for babies so a baby reflux pillow was designed to provide another solution. 

should i use a newborn pillow

Should I Use a Newborn Pillow? 

A newborn pillow will be advertised as pillows for babies under 12 months. These pillows are typically among the same design as those pillows meant to prevent flat heads but are advertised as safe for cribs and babies ages newborn to 12 months. 

You have probably been told by any number of people not to use a newborn pillow or to have blankets or anything like that in the crib. It is true that your baby will be safest with a firm mattress and no pillows. 

The likelihood of death caused by pillows is most likely to occur between the ages of four months and twelve months. This is the time where they are becoming mobile and are more likely to roll or turn or tumble in their sleep, which could lead to death in some cases. 

From the ages of newborn infant to four months, it’s a safer time to use a newborn pillow but it is not fail proof. The thought is that during these ages, the child is most likely not moving around much while sleeping. As soon as they begin rolling or becoming mobile, the pillow should be removed if you used one. 

We do not recommend using a pillow for a newborn but if you feel it is necessary be sure to follow these safety protocols to reduce the likelihood of SIDS and other potential problems related to using a pillow in an infant’s crib. 

When is It Safe to Give a Baby a Pillow? 

Pillows for babies under 12 months are not recommended. When it comes to the question of are baby pillows safe, the ages of 4 months to 12 months is the most dangerous time to get them a pillow. 

If you are going to give your baby a pillow, use one as a newborn when they are not mobile and use them safely. Once they start to roll or move around, you should plan to have no pillow with your sleeping baby until they are over 12 months of age. 

Many experts recommend no pillows in the crib or bed until they are about 2 years old. By this age, children are more independent in mobility. They might even be in a toddler bed or something besides a crib at this point. 

The idea is that by 2 years old, your child will most likely be able to roll over and move around and even get out of bed on their own. They have full movement and don’t need as much help. As a parent, you might feel that your child is ready for this even before the age of 2. This recommendation is made based on the average so individual situations can certainly vary. 

If you want the safest time to provide your child with a pillow, the best time to add one is when they transition out of a crib. Again, this is typically around the age of 2. Avoid pillows from the ages of 4-12 months for safety purposes. 

Keeping Your Baby Safe in Their Crib Takeaways

Our babies are our pride and joy. Some of us wait years to have a baby of our own. Most parents would do anything they can to protect their babies and children from harm. While there are instances where you might be able to use a pillow safely, overall pillows for babies in the crib is not a good idea. 

If you do decide to use a pillow, exercise extreme caution and follow all of the safety tips. Avoid pillows when your child starts moving and rolling and don’t return them while they stay in the crib. Be very careful and mindful of pillow used for babies at all times.  

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Ximena is the Content Marketing Strategist at Cubo Ai. She follows plants, dogs, and babies on Instagram and almost no one else.