Infant Pillow

Infant Pillow – Baby Pillow – Is It Necessary?

We must get one thing straight, a baby does not need a neck pillow. If you are talking about an infant pillow, you can use these in various ways as long as it does not pose a risk. An infant or baby is up to 12 months, a toddler is a child 12 to 36 months old, and a pre-school is 4-6 years.

A neck pillow can start to be used at the 4-6 year range and it relates to the width of the shoulders. We have kids pillows for this age range, but an infant does not have the shoulder width or head to shoulder ratio to require a specific neck pillow. There are head shaping pillows for babies and that is fine because they are minimal and conform to standard to prevent SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.


Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the unexplained, unexpected sudden death of a child younger than one year during sleep. The most important risk factors relate to the sleeping environment. Sleeping on the stomach and side sleeping are significantly more dangerous than the back (face up) position. Bed sharing with a parent increases the risk, especially in infants younger than 12 weeks. Other ways to reduce the risk are using a firm crib mattress, avoiding overheating from overbundling and soft bedding.[1] Use good baby clothes instead of blankets.

Side sleeping can be worse because the baby will most likely roll over on their stomach, so this should not give you a false sense of security. Placing an infant on their side or when unaccustomed to that position, places them at extremely high risk of SIDS.[2] So, ALL childcare providers, caregivers, friends, and family should place the baby in the back position for every sleep.

A result of educational efforts and back sleeping, there has been a decrease in SIDS, however; this has lead to an increase in occipital or head flattening, and that is where a good head shaping pillow for infants can help. If your baby develops a flat spot they should be placed with the head facing alternating directions each time they are put to bed, but on the back. You can allow stomach positioning only when supervised and the infant is awake.

A baby neck pillow can be used for traveling to stabilize the head. But the main use of pillow for infants should be to stabilize the positioning on the back. These are sometimes called a baby support pillow or infant sleep positioner. These can be used with a firm mattress or on the floor and are easy to carry. This way you can avoid risks like sleeping on too soft or over-cushioned surfaces like couches, sofas, and armchairs.


Using an infant pillow can help enhance proper sleeping positioning. The best advice is to keep the baby safe and remember the ABC’s of safe infant sleeping: Alone, Back, Crib. All babies under 12 months should be alone in a crib and placed on the back to sleep. Toys, diapers, medical equipment not in use, and extra blankets removed from the crib.[3]

infant pillow


1. Am Fam Physician. 2015 Jun 1;91(11):778-83
2. Am J Epidemiol. 2003 Mar 1;157(5):446-55.
3. Inj Epidemiol. 2019 May 29;6(Suppl 1):26

Author Bio

Stephen Ornstein, D.C. has treated thousands of neck, shoulder and back conditions since graduating Sherman Chiropractic College in 1987 and during his involvement in Martial Arts. He holds certifications as a Peer Review Consultant from New York Chiropractic College, Physiological Therapeutics from National Chiropractic College, Modic Antibiotic Spinal Therapy from Dr. Hanne Albert, PT., MPH., Ph.D., Myofascial Release Techniques from Logan Chiropractic College, and learned Active Release Technique from the founder, P. Michael Leahy, DC, ART, CCSP.