Can an 18-month-old sleep with a pillow?

As your little one approaches the 18-month mark, you might be considering whether it’s time to introduce a pillow into their sleep routine. This transition can provide added comfort, but it’s crucial to prioritize your child’s safety and well-being. This guide aims to offer insights and guidance on whether an 18-month-old can sleep with a pillow, as well as how to navigate this milestone in a way that ensures a safe and peaceful sleep environment.

A Detailed Guide to Introducing a Pillow for an 18-Month-Old

  1. Consult with the Pediatrician: Before introducing a pillow, consult your child’s pediatrician for personalized advice. They can assess your child’s developmental readiness and provide recommendations based on their individual needs.
  2. Signs of Readiness: Observe whether your child displays signs of needing a pillow. Restlessness during sleep, frequent head repositioning, and seeking a softer surface to rest their head can indicate they might benefit from a pillow’s added comfort.
  3. Choose the Right Pillow: Select a toddler pillow designed for children around 18 months old. These pillows are typically smaller, flatter, and firmer than adult pillows, reducing the risk of suffocation. Look for hypoallergenic options if allergies are a concern.
  4. Pillow Positioning: When introducing a pillow, place it beneath your child’s head and shoulders. This mild elevation can help with comfort without obstructing their breathing.
  5. Ensure a Safe Sleep Environment: Keep the sleep area free from any loose bedding, toys, or objects. A clear sleep space reduces the risk of hazards during sleep. Ensure that the pillowcase fits snugly on the pillow to avoid any potential entanglement.
  6. Supervise and Adjust: Periodically check on your child while they sleep to ensure the pillow remains in a safe and comfortable position. If you notice the pillow covering their face or any discomfort, gently adjust it as needed.
  7. Teach Safe Sleep Habits: Begin to educate your child about using the pillow safely. Encourage them to keep their head on the pillow while sleeping and discourage behaviors like covering their face with the pillow or blankets.
  8. Gradual Transition: Introduce the pillow gradually. Initially, your child might use the pillow for daytime naps while being closely supervised. Once they become accustomed to it, you can incorporate it into their nighttime sleep routine.
  9. Monitor Comfort and Sleep Quality: Pay attention to your child’s comfort and sleep quality after introducing the pillow. If you notice any adverse changes in their sleep patterns or discomfort, reconsider the use of the pillow and consult your pediatrician.
  10. Trust Your Instincts: You know your child best. If you have concerns or your child doesn’t seem ready for a pillow, it’s okay to delay the introduction until you feel confident it’s the right time.

Conclusion: Introducing a pillow for an 18-month-old can enhance their sleep comfort, but it must be approached with caution and consideration for safety. Consulting a pediatrician, choosing an appropriate pillow, maintaining a clear sleep environment, and closely monitoring your child’s adjustment are crucial steps in ensuring their well-being. Every child is unique, so trust your parental instincts and prioritize their comfort and safety as they navigate this sleep milestone.

What should my 18-month-old be sleeping with?

When considering what your 18-month-old should sleep with, safety and comfort are the primary considerations. Here’s a list of appropriate items for an 18-month-old’s sleep environment:

  1. Crib or Toddler Bed: Your child should sleep in a crib or toddler bed that meets safety standards. The sleep space should have a firm mattress that fits snugly in the crib/toddler bed frame.
  2. Fitted Sheet: Use a fitted crib sheet that securely covers the mattress. Avoid using loose or ill-fitting sheets that could pose suffocation hazards.
  3. Sleepwear: Dress your child in comfortable sleepwear appropriate for the room temperature. Avoid overdressing to prevent overheating.
  4. Blanket or Sleep Sack: An 18-month-old can use a light blanket for added warmth if necessary. Alternatively, consider using a wearable sleep sack that doesn’t pose a suffocation risk.
  5. Pillow (Optional): Introducing a pillow can be considered at this age, but it’s important to use a toddler pillow that is firm, flat, and designed for their age. Consult your pediatrician before introducing a pillow.
  6. Stuffed Animal or Lovey: Some children develop attachments to a stuffed animal or soft lovey. If your child has a favorite comfort object, ensure it is safe and small enough to prevent suffocation.
  7. Nightlight: A soft nightlight can provide a gentle glow and help reduce any fears of the dark. Make sure it’s placed away from the crib or bed to prevent overheating or access by your child.
  8. White Noise Machine (Optional): A white noise machine can help create a soothing sleep environment by masking other sounds that might disturb your child’s sleep.
  9. Safe Sleep Position: Encourage your child to sleep on their back to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  10. Empty Crib/Toddler Bed: Keep the sleep space free from pillows, stuffed animals, blankets, and other loose bedding that could pose suffocation hazards.

Remember that every child is unique, and what works for one child might not work for another. It’s important to prioritize safety by following recommended sleep guidelines and creating a comfortable sleep environment that promotes healthy sleep patterns for your 18-month-old. If you have any concerns or questions, don’t hesitate to consult your child’s pediatrician.


Is it safe for my 18-month-old to sleep with a blanket or pillow? While introducing a light blanket and a toddler pillow can be considered at this age, it’s crucial to prioritize safety. Choose a thin blanket or use a sleep sack to prevent suffocation risks. If introducing a pillow, ensure it’s a firm and flat toddler pillow, and consult your pediatrician for guidance.

Can my child sleep with a stuffed animal or lovey? Many children develop attachments to comfort objects like stuffed animals or loveys. Opt for soft, small items that don’t pose a suffocation hazard. Avoid items with small parts that could be chewed off.

Should I use a nightlight or white noise machine?

A nightlight can offer a gentle glow, and a white noise machine can provide soothing sounds for sleep. Place the nightlight away from the crib or bed, and set the white noise machine at a safe volume.


Creating a safe and comfortable sleep environment for your 18-month-old is essential for their well-being. Prioritize safety by using a firm mattress with a fitted sheet, and considering options like light blankets, toddler pillows, and sleep sacks while adhering to safety guidelines. If your child has comfort objects, ensure they’re safe and suitable for their age. While each child is unique, providing a secure sleep environment promotes healthy sleep habits and supports your child’s development and overall happiness. Always consult your pediatrician if you have any concerns or questions about your child’s sleep setup.

Leave a Comment