Thursday, February 26, 2009

Toddler Pillows - When to Use?

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 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.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Toddlers and Comfort Objects

Did You Know? About 60% of toddlers use comfort or security objects – most choose an item with silky and nubby textures to provide sensory satisfaction. Child development experts agree that a comfort object is a great asset for children and parents. Attachment to a “lovie”, usually beginning around 8-12 months, represents a big leap in intellectual and emotional development for a child - they are learning to understand symbols and to "invent" something of their own – the lovie becomes a symbol of love and comfort that is tangible. Children who have learned to use lovies can find comfort anywhere and can take control of their own comfort."A lovie has real emotional importance to a child. Like a true friend, a lovie is familiar, accepting, and faithful. It is the guarantee of safety and security; it promises a parent’s return.”

As mentioned above, toddlers enjoy the tactile stimulation of a soft, fuzzy, or nubby items like stuffed animals, blankets, or even our toddler pillows, while other toddlers may choose something like a pacifier. Whatever the choice, it is not uncommon for toddlers to give their comfort objects names and talk to them, carry them around everywhere - much like a true friend. It can help them work through problems or challenges in their everyday life and have unconditional acceptance. And as any parent with a child attached to a lovie will understand, when that lovie is lost, put in the wash, or left behind, it's like losing one's true friend and cannot be replaced.

As parents, one challenge is attempting to anticipate which animal, blanket or other object will be "the one" and we all rush out to buy duplicates just in case it is every left behind or lost. At one point, my youngest son was starting to develop an attachment to a particular green stuffed animal so I ran out and bought a handful (as well as a few in different colors - thank goodness they were inexpensive). But that phase didn't last long, and both of my boys eventually settled on blankets as lovies (which is great considering my business!). So I created the Bips - a smaller version of a favorite blanket that is easier to pack, carry, wash, etc. Plus that single satin corner to make the blanket feel special and provide that spot of interest to touch and rub. I've heard from many parents with children that are attached to our blankets, bips, or toddler pillows. I've also heard stories about special lovies getting damaged, lost, or just plain worn out. In the best cases, we still have fabric available (or can find it somewhere else) and can try to replace that item. In other cases, we have successfully helped parents replace the item with a similar theme or color fabric - yes, sometimes it does work!

Once toddlers are growing up into preschoolers and school aged children, the question becomes what level of attachment is appropriate and how do you handle it? If you have any fun stories to share about your toddler and lovies, post them here. I'm curious to hear what objects, what age, and if your child is older now, when/how did they give them up?