With all the safety concern regarding soft bedding items in cribs, a lot of parents wonder "when is the right time to give my child a pillow to sleep with?" I also get asked this question frequently at http://www.bobbleroos.com/. There are a lot of opinions to sift through, but currently, most of the official guidelines (from organizations like The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development) are relevant for infants under 12 months of age. So does that mean a 13 or 14 month old can start using a pillow? Probably not.
In fact, we typically recommend our toddler pillows for 2 years and up and even then, it's best to check with your pediatrician. Your child's pediatrician will be up to date on changing safety recommendations and will also know your child's heath history including any issues that may impact sleeping, allergies or asthma, etc. Many leading child developmental experts agree that it's best to allow young children to sleep on a flat surface, and when you do introduce a pillow, choose one that is firm, yet flat - nothing too poofy or fluffy. Pick a pillow that is the right proportions for a child, like a 12 x 16 toddler pillow. If you think about it, giving a small child an adult sized pillow is the equivalent of giving an adult a twin or crib mattress as a pillow!
Sometimes, introducing a pillow is a great transitional item when the child is converting from the crib to a toddler bed or twin bed - but it all depends on age. With my two children, I waited as long as possible to move them out of the crib and it was usually around 3 - 3 1/2 years old. However I have friends with "climbers" who have moved their kids out of the crib before their first birthday. I also have friends with 2-3 year old children who had frequent ear infections or sinus problems and the pediatrician recommend the use of a small pillow to help elevate the child's head. I've had many customers also tell me that they knew their child was ready when he/she bundled up blankets under his/her head at night to sleep on, or slept on a stuffed animal. But PLEASE check with your child's doctor first.
If your child or baby is not yet ready for a pillow, our toddler pillows still have a ton of great uses during the daytime - your child may still enjoy cuddling up with it during playtime, or using it for a "seat" to make that wooden chair more comfy, or for playing house with dolls. It also makes a great travel pillow - even for adults. I took one to the hospital with me during labor and delivery - great to put behind your lower back or neck for extra support. I also used mine frequently during nursing. We also use ours for traveling as they squish up easily inside a suitcase, can be carried on a plane, and great for making the car seat ride more comfortable. Just make sure to keep that pillow and loose items out of the crib until they are ready.
So the bottom line is that many children are ready for a pillow around 2-3 years of age, but check with your pediatrician first and educate yourself on the current safety recommendations and pros and cons. When you do choose a pillow, choose one that is in proportion to your child (12x16 is perfect!) and pick out some fun printed pillowcases that will allow your child to get attached to the pillow and make sleeping time fun! I can't tell you how may parents have told me that our Mr. Bobbles' Blankets toddler pillows have helped restless sleepers (which is great for the child and the parents!!) Feel free to post your ideas and opinions about using a pillow with children.