Having practiced chiropractic for nearly 20 years, I frequently get asked the question, “What makes a good pillow?” There are many qualities that make a pillow a good pillow, but just as importantly, we need to ask, “What type of pillow is the best for me?” Although there is not one pillow that satisfies the needs and comfort of everyone, a good pillow, for most, is one that provides the ideal amount of support, together with the correct fit/size for that individual. This makes for a pillow that is not only comfortable but will also provide the healthy benefits of good cervical support and a restful night’s sleep, which translates into many other benefits, both mental and physical.
It was really years after both my children were born – well into their pillow using days – that I noticed one night how awkward my daughter’s head and neck were positioned on her pillow and how scrunched her shoulder was while sleeping on her side on a flat ‘leftover’ pillow. I must have watched her sleeping for 30 minutes. I asked myself, ‘Why have I not investigated into a good sleeping pillow for my children?’ So, I did!
Using as my guide the same principles of support and fit I had preached to my patients, I quickly realized that these principles were only vaguely applied to pillows for children. In fact, some ‘sleeping’ pillows were more cute than appropriate for sleeping. The selling phrases of ‘proper support’ and ‘made for kids’ can be seen on many of the products, but what I found were just poorly thought-out smaller versions of adult-sized pillows, and cheaply made, I might add.
I decided that I could design a better pillow than all of these, and KidFit Pillow was born. It took a few years of designing, redesigning, and testing before we launched the first version of our pillow, but it was well received and quickly won a ‘Parent Tested Parent Approved’ Award.
When we designed KidFit Pillow, it had to meet our checklist of requirements: it needed to have the correct amount of support, it needed to be size appropriate for the growing child, and it needed to be comfortable. In addition, it had to be kid friendly, meaning that it had to be washable and hypoallergenic.
We started with a quality memory foam core for support, and designed it in a way that would account for all the unpredictable ways children often sleep on pillows. We also perforated it with different sized holes to achieve different zones of density which further allowed for the proper support of the head and neck. Then we wrapped the memory foam core with a removable, washable down-like microfiber cover for comfort. Finally, using the statistics of the average size and shoulder widths of the North American boys and girls, we developed three different sized pillows for three different age groups.
How important is it to have a good pillow? Extremely! A good pillow can not only impact the quality of sleep, but also how healthfully children rest and recharge. Aside from the benefits of correctly supporting the head and neck, proper sleep means better focus and improved learning in kids. Studies suggest that the quantity and quality of sleep have a profound impact on both learning and memory in children. In fact, a lack of adequate sleep affects their mood, emotional stability, motivation, judgment and their perception of events.
So how do we maximize our children’s physical and brain development with sleep?
Maximize both their quantity AND quality of sleep.
Children between the ages of 3-12 should be consistently getting a minimum of 10 hours of sleep every night. Studies show that children who are sleep-deprived are more likely to be depressed, to catch colds and flu, and to suffer accidents on the playground.
Just 1 hour less of sleep a night causes measurable memory and concentration problems.
Avoid watching too much TV, being on the computer, and playing video games for extended periods.
Avoid poor food choices (chips, french fries etc.), too much sugar, caffeinated soda etc.
Even just one caffeinated drink a day robs a child of half an hour of sleep each night.
Avoid overly exhausting children with too many “structured’ activities, which leads to very little down time. Participation in too many after school activities can get kids amped up and tends to push back dinnertime, homework time and ultimately bedtime.
Compared to 1981, the average kid has almost 2 hours less of unstructured time each day!
Don’t compromise their bed time with late night activities.