When your baby seems so grown-up compared to her early days, you start wondering if she is ready to sleep with a pillow? You would want to add some soft, fluffy accessories to her crib to make her more comfortable. But the truth is, she doesn’t know what she’s missing, and for now it’s for her own best interest. Pillows, blankets, and other soft bedding accessories can cause your baby to suffocate or strangle and increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) [Source].

In short, there is no reason good enough that would require you to add extra bedding to your baby’s crib. It’s a good idea to wait and figure out when is the right time your baby might be ready for pillows, blankets, and stuffed animals.

1. When is it safe to use a pillow?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends for babies to sleep on a flat surface that is free of pillows and other bedding accessories until they are at least one year old [Source]. Babies are sensitive to various allergens, such as dust mites, feathers, etc. Sleeping pillows can sometimes lead to allergic reactions. This is the reason pediatricians recommend for babies to sleep on flat surfaces with nothing but fitted sheets.

It is better to wait until your child moves from a crib to the bed before you start adding bedding accessories. Even then, start with accessories that are small and lightweight. Give your baby a small, firm, baby pillow without a pillowcase when the time is right.  If your baby is happy without a pillow, then there is no need for it at all.

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2. How to use breastfeeding back support pillow?

Using a pillow while nursing can be so helpful. It offers support for the mother’s arms and makes everything more convenient during those early days. As your baby gets older, a nursing pillow will support his head completely while keeping your hands free.

3. How to choose the right pillow?

Pillows can be a choking hazard for babies and sometimes lead to SIDS. Therefore, pillows should be avoided at all costs unless they are recommended by your baby’s doctor due to some illness or your baby has reached a certain age where she can no longer sleep comfortably without a pillow. Some mothers want their babies to use pillows because everyone else in the family uses one, and it just feels right. Make sure that your baby is old enough when you start making her use bedding accessories like pillows, blankets, and stuffed toys.

Here are some things that you should keep in mind before choosing a pillow for your little one:

  • Go for a flat and firm toddler pillow for your baby. If your child is old enough, you can give her an adult pillow.
  • If your baby sleeps in a crib, then a smaller compact pillow that fits her crib perfectly would be a good idea.
  • Pillowcases made of pure cotton are recommended for a comfortable and soft feel.
  • Go for simple, basic pillows instead of pillows with scented stuffing. Babies are prone to allergies, and it can be harmful to them.
  • Don’t choose pillows with microbead fillings, because if the pillow rips the beads may spill out and can be a choking hazard for your baby.
  • Don’t use feather pillows for your baby. Feather pillows are very soft and comfortable, but they can cause an allergic reaction to your baby.

When you have found a suitable pillow for your little one, you can use it for as long as your baby wants. Some babies don’t like sleeping on pillows, and their behavior shows their dislike for the pillows, so there is no need to force them for it. Some doctors recommend the use of pillows for babies due to several illnesses that your baby might be suffering from, such as chronic cold, ear infection, reflux, and other health conditions.

4. How to use a baby pillow to prevent flat head syndrome?

All safety concerns aside, there is no scientific evidence that proves that the use of pillows can somehow prevent flat head syndrome. Research says that if a baby’s face ends up pressed up against a pillow or quilt, she won’t be able to lift her head up, which will increase the risk of SIDS. It is said that placing your baby on a flat surface can leave an indentation on the skull, so the question remains that how can we prevent this from happening?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies should always sleep on their backs on flat surfaces, but other than that they should be given time on their tummies. This change will help relieve the pressure on the back of your baby’s head, preventing flat head syndrome and reducing the risk of SIDS. Supervised tummy time will help your baby strengthen her back, hips, and neck muscles.

A doughnut-shaped pillow can be used when the baby is awake, and an attentive adult is present to supervise.

Doctors recommend repositioning when you begin to notice flattening on your baby’s head. You should immediately start repositioning in ways like feeding your baby from alternating sides, moving objects of interests from one side of the crib to the other, and carrying your baby in your arms or wearing your baby in a baby wrap when going out instead of using a buggy or stroller.

5. How to use Boppy pillow for your baby?

You can use a boppy pillow while breastfeeding your baby. Position the boppy pillow on your lap, around your waist. Now, put your baby on the pillow in a way that she is facing your body and resting on her side. Make sure that your baby’s mouth is on an even level with your body. If this doesn’t work, you can add another boppy pillow for both your and your baby’s comfort.

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Boppy pillows are used during bottle feeding time. Put the pillow on your lap, around your waist just like you would do during breastfeeding time. Position your child on top of the pillow on her back. Now, you can bottle-feed your baby in a comfortable way. You can put your arm on the pillow and use it to cradle your baby’s upper torso and head.

During supervised tummy time, boppy pillows can be used to provide support to your baby’s upper body, whereas her legs would rest upon the curve of the pillow. You can let your baby have a supervised tummy time for 15 to 20 minutes. Stop if it makes her uncomfortable or she starts crying.  Make sure that your baby’s arms and shoulders don’t fall from the top of the pillow; if they do, immediately reposition them.

Babies are sensitive and need to be treated with care. Pillows are a dangerous, unnecessary luxury unless your pediatrician recommends their use due to some illness.

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