A bed just doesn’t look complete without a pillow, does it? But your baby has probably been doing without a pillow for most, if not all, of her life! Many families decide to introduce pillows to the mix when it’s time to make the switch from crib to toddler bed, while others may make the change because their child uses a pillow when they’re traveling, or when she’s in her parents’ bed, or during a cough when recommended by a doctor, or even just when she asks for one.
Once she’s old enough for Back To Sleep guidelines to no longer apply to her (at around a year old), then there are as many different times when your toddler can start using a pillow as there are nights you tuck her into bed. But just because she can do something, that doesn’t mean she should - just look at all the climbing she can do these days.
If your little one has been having trouble falling asleep, introducing a pillow can be one way to try to address that problem - she may be having trouble getting comfy and may appreciate a little extra support. If she doesn’t want one, however, and she is sleeping well without one and isn’t having any neck pain, there’s no reason to introduce a pillow. And if she is interested or has started using stuffed animals or other soft toys to prop her head up, then, by all means, let her try pillows out.
Since toddlers’ proportions are different from adults’ and older children’s proportions, there’s no real need for a full-sized, adult pillow, and a sudden switch to that kind of neck elevation at night might not end up being very comfy at all. Pillows that are specially designed with toddlers in mind can be a great choice for a first pillow, but they’re not the only option.
Travel pillows are also a great size for toddlers and young children, and very thin, flat adult pillows can work, too, especially for children who are already sleeping in twin-sized beds.