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At what age can children safely sleep with a pillow?
Q: My 19-month-old grandson sleeps in a toddler "car" bed. When is it considered safe to give him a pillow to use?
A: Eileen, you’ve probably seen the recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to avoid putting babies to bed with soft bedding such as pillows and down comforters. The purpose of this recommendation is to help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS. This recommendation is for babies up to 1 year of age, since they are less able to lift up their heads and roll over, and more likely to suffocate in a pillow or comforter.

But by 19 months of age, if your grandson is typically developing, he should have the head, neck and body strength to protect himself from suffocating in a pillow. So, now that he’s a big boy in his car bed, he can also have a pillow if he’d like. It might be a nice opportunity for you to buy him a special pillowcase or embroider one so he’ll remember grandma every night when he goes to sleep.
Karen Sokal-Gutierrez M.D., M.P.H. Pediatrician