Without clear guidelines from the CPS or AAP, however, many parents are just winging it. After doing some online research, Suzanne Smith, a mom of two in Burlington, Ont., gave toddler pillows to her two kids when they were two years old and still sleeping in their cribs. “I thought having a toddler pillow in their crib first would help with their eventual transition to a big-kid bed,” says Smith. While her two-and-a-half-year-old son is just beginning to transition into a “big-boy bed,” she thinks it really helped with her eldest child, who’s almost five. “Bringing a comfort item from her crib seemed to make the move less scary for her.”
Once you’ve decided your toddler is ready to start sleeping with a toddler pillow, don’t just give them an extra toddler pillow from your guest bed. A fluffy adult-sized pillow isn’t an appropriate starter choice. Look instead for one that’s small, thin and reasonably firm. There are many toddler-specific pillows on the market that are suitably sized for still-developing necks and spines.
If your little one has sensitive skin, a hypoallergenic toddler pillow is an ideal choice. Don’t forget to throw the pillow into the wash occasionally to keep it clean and to rinse out allergens—a small toddler pillow should fit easily into your washing machine.
If your kid doesn’t like using a toddler pillow right away, don’t worry. Smith’s son pitched his pillow out of the crib on a nightly basis for the first while, and some baby prefer to sleep with a robot-print throw pillow rather than the toddler-specific pillow you bought especially for him. It’s small, thin and reasonably firm—and your baby will sleep well with it, so maybe you should just let sleeping toddlers lie.