When is it safe to use a baby sleep pillow?

The health and safety around the use baby pillows is a debate with mixed views. While many parents are none the wiser about these soft products, many choose to use them when their child experiences the syndrome Plagiocephaly.

When is it safe to use a baby pillow?

A baby pillow is a cushion which similar to adult pillows, sits behind and supports your baby’s head. These are marketed as a tool to help prevent ‘flat head’ syndrome. 

When can I use a baby pillow? 

The NHS and experts from the Lullaby Trust recommend that pillows should not be used under the age of one. This is for safety reasons as babies under this age are too small to push away the pillow if their face gets smothered, leading to suffocation. 

Kate Holmes, Support and Information Manager at The Lullaby Trust told us: “We advise parents against the use of pillows for babies under one year. Babies should not have anything soft around their heads when sleeping as this can lead to overheating. The chance of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is higher in babies who get too hot. Pillows also carry a risk of suffocation if they block baby’s mouth and nose.” 

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So what should I use instead of a baby pillow?  

At such a young age, your baby doesn’t actually require much to be able to sleep soundly. “The safest place for a baby to sleep is on a firm, flat, waterproof mattress in a good condition and with firmly tucked-in sheets or a baby sleep bag,” The Trust explained. 

Can a baby pillow help ‘flat head’ syndrome? 

Plagiocephaly, more commonly known as ‘flat head syndrome’ is where a baby’s head is molded into a slightly different shape when he or she is born. Many parents are interested in baby pillows as these are quite often marketed as a way to prevent flat head syndrome. 

“Some parents worry about flat head syndrome. This usually resolves itself within a year and there are techniques that can help such as giving baby plenty of tummy time when they are awake to reduce time spent on their back,” reassures Kate. “Also avoid letting babies sleep in harder contained sleep environments such as car seats and other travel systems. Alternating the position your baby sleeps in (the direction of their head whilst asleep on their back or alternating the end of the cot) is also beneficial.”

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Having worked for Mother&Baby magazine for four years where she wrote news and product pages, features and  interviewed celebrities such as Paloma Faith, Fearne Cotton and Alex Jones, Emily now works as Digital Writer for Mother&Baby online.

A fondness for travel, chocolate and her sausage dog Luna, in her spare time. Emily also runs the lifestyle blog, Musings & More.


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