It makes sense that us parents would want to make our babies' cribs as comfortable as possible. After all, we love our littles and want them to be all cozy. Knowing what to place in your baby's crib, though, can be a conundrum, especially with the frequency in which guidelines can change. So if you're perusing your favorite online shopping site while wondering, "Does my baby need to sleep with a pillow?" there a few things you should know before you click that "add to cart" button.
Official recommendations from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) state that babies under 12 months of age should not have anything in their crib at all, including a pillow or blanket.
Don’t use pillows, blankets, quilts, sheepskins, or pillow-like crib bumpers in your baby’s sleep area
These recommendations, along with the suggestions that all parents should place their child on their back to sleep, have been credited with a 50 percent decrease in the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), according to the NICHD. According to Healthychildren.org, an estimated 3,500 babies die suddenly and expectedly every year in the United States, so anything a parent can do to decrease that risk is worth noting.
It's common for any new parent to place their precious baby in a crib without any loose bedding, pillows, or blankets, then look around and suddenly feel guilty. A flat, firm surface definitely doesn't look all that appealing. This truly is, however, the safest way for babies to sleep. The NICHD goes on to suggest dressing your baby in light sleep clothing, and keeping the room at a temperature that is comfortable for an adult.
The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees, and has produced a video where Dr. Rachel Moon presents the official sleep recommendations for babies.
Since pillows are not safe for babies to sleep on, numerous sleep experts suggest parents wait until their child is old enough to transition out of a crib and into a toddler, or "big kid bed," before adding a pillow to their sleep space. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), parents can safely start using pillows for children who are over 1.5 years of age, or about the same time they can safely move a child out of a crib and into their own bed.
So, while us parents are hard-wired to want to make any space our baby is in as comfortable as possible, when it comes to safety your baby shouldn't be sleeping with any blankets, pillows, or stuffed animals. All that fun stuff comes after that "big kid bed" transition, which is a whole other story for an entirely different day.