Signs your toddler needs a pillow


As parents, we’re constantly navigating the ever-changing landscape of our children’s needs. One question that often arises as our little ones grow is: “When should I introduce a pillow to my toddler’s sleep routine?” While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, there are several signs you can look out for that might indicate your toddler is ready for this next step in their bedtime setup. Let’s dive into this topic and explore the various factors to consider.

Age Considerations

While age alone shouldn’t be the sole determining factor, it’s a good starting point. According to the discussion in the Kidzoot Parenting Meeting, parents introduced pillows at various ages:

Age RangePercentage of Parents
12-18 months30%
18-24 months40%
24-30 months20%
30+ months10%

It’s important to note that many pediatricians recommend waiting until at least 18 months before introducing a pillow. However, as we can see from the data, parental practices vary widely.

Physical Signs of Readiness

(a) Using Objects as Makeshift Pillows: One of the most common signs mentioned by parents in the discussion is when toddlers start using other objects as pillows. You might notice your little one:

  • Bunching up their blanket under their head
  • Positioning stuffed animals to rest on
  • Using their arm as a pillow

This behavior shows they’re instinctively looking for that extra support and comfort during sleep.

b) Sleeping Position Changes As toddlers grow, their sleep positions often evolve. If you notice your child transitioning from sleeping flat on their back to regularly sleeping on their side or stomach, it might be time to consider a pillow. Here’s a breakdown of common toddler sleep positions and their potential need for pillow support:   



Sleep PositionPotential Need for Pillow
MixedMedium to High

Remember, if you do introduce a pillow, choose one that’s not too thick or fluffy for their small frame.

Behavioral Signs

a) Showing Interest in Your Pillow: Toddlers are naturally curious and love to imitate their parents. If your little one is suddenly very interested in your pillow when you’re lounging together or they try to use it during naptime, it could be a sign they’re ready for their own.

b) Verbal Requests: As toddlers develop their language skills, some might actually ask for a pillow or complain about discomfort when sleeping. While this is less common, it’s a clear sign that your child might benefit from pillow support.

Transitional Periods

a) Moving to a “Big Kid” Bed: Many parents in the discussion mentioned introducing a pillow when moving their toddler from a crib to a toddler bed. This transition typically occurs between 18 months to 3 years old and can be a natural time to update sleep accessories.

b) Discontinuing Sleep Sacks: If your toddler has been using a sleep sack, the transition away from it might coincide with introducing a pillow. This often happens around the 18-24 month mark.

Health Considerations

While less common, some parents in the discussion mentioned introducing pillows for health reasons:

  • To help with congestion or colds
  • To alleviate reflux symptoms
  • On recommendation from a pediatrician for specific health concerns

Always consult with your pediatrician before introducing a pillow for health reasons.

Types of Pillows for Toddlers

When you decide it’s time for a pillow, choosing the right type is crucial. Based on the discussion, here are some popular options:

Pillow TypeDescriptionPopularity
Toddler-specificSmall, firm, often hypoallergenicHigh
Memory foamConforms to head shape, temperature-regulatingMedium
OrganicMade from natural materials, often flatMedium
Travel/AirplaneSmall, portableLow

Safety Considerations

Regardless of when you introduce a pillow, safety should always be your top priority. Here are some key safety tips:

  • Choose a pillow specifically designed for toddlers
  • Ensure the pillow is firm and not too thick
  • Avoid pillows with small beads or pellets that could pose a choking hazard
  • Regularly wash the pillow to maintain hygiene

Individual Differences

It’s crucial to remember that every child develops at their own pace. Some toddlers may show interest in pillows early on, while others might be perfectly content without one well into their preschool years. The key is to follow your child’s cues and prioritize their comfort and safety above all else.

Here’s a chart showing the distribution of ages when parents in the discussion introduced pillows:

					Age of Pillow Introduction
40%|       ****
35%|       ****
30%| ****  ****
25%| ****  ****
20%| ****  ****  ****
15%| ****  ****  ****
10%| ****  ****  ****  ****
5%| ****  ****  ****  ****
   12-18 18-24 24-30  30+  Age (months)

In conclusion, introducing a pillow to your toddler’s sleep routine is a personal decision that depends on various factors. By paying attention to your child’s cues, considering safety guidelines, and consulting with your pediatrician when needed, you can make an informed decision about when the time is right for your little one to start using a pillow. Remember, there’s no rush – your child’s comfort and safety should always be the top priority.

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kidzoot Team

Parenting tips and tricks from experts with years of experience in child rearing. Get practical advice and fun activities to enjoy with your kids from our team of parents and educators.


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