In this guide we’ll look at the best toddler pillows.
We’ve compared comfort, support, hypoallergenic properties and cost
to give you our top recommendations.
What is The Best Toddler Pillow?
More Detailed Toddler Pillow Reviews
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Little Sleepy Head Toddler Pillow Review
The Little Sleepy Head Toddler Pillow is designed to be exactly the right size and shape for your child. It measures in at 13 inches long by 8 inches wide. That’s a bit on the small side, but it’s actually the perfect size for a very first pillow for a young toddler.
It’s about 4 inches tall at its fluffiest. The fluff that is in this pillow is made of a polyester fiberfill that adds really good support and durability. This company also offers a “love your fluff” guarantee. What that means is that if you don’t like the amount of fluff in the pillow, whether it’s too much for you or not enough for you, you can send the pillow back to the company and they will custom make you one with the amount of fluff that you need.
This pillow is made in the USA from hypoallergenic materials. There’s no chemicals or flame retardants used in this pillow, so it’s non-toxic and more friendly to your child’s health. The cover is a hypoallergenic 100% natural cotton cover. It comes in at a 200 thread count, which is a good softness for a pillow ticking, while being thick enough to keep all that polyester fiber inside.
As if all that weren’t enough, you can machine wash this. And re-fluff it again before using.
This pillow is seriously amazing! You can look on Amazon and see that it has almost a perfect review from over 5000 different happy customers. This company guarantees that your toddler will absolutely love this pillow, or you’ll get your money back.
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Little One’s Toddler Pillow Review
The Little Ones Toddler Pillow is another fantastic choice for your baby’s first pillow. It measures in at 13 by 18 inches, so it is a good size for a toddler.
The loft of this pillow is about 3 inches. And that’s been very specifically chosen. The loft of this pillow is designed to be low because this company conducted a lot of research and consulted with chiropractors and pediatricians. They then found that having a pillow with a lower amount of filling is good because it helps your kiddo from getting neck problems and restlessness in the night. So while this pillow might seem not as fluffy to us as adults, it’s actually great for your little one.
The filling itself is a poly cluster fiber filling that has been specifically designed by this company. It uses tiny fiber balls instead of a continuous fiber filament, to allow you to rearrange the pillow to get the right fluff every single night. It also means that this pillow holds up well after washing and will re-fluff easily.
Speaking of which, you can machine wash this pillow and dry it, which is fantastic. This pillow has been made in the USA with quality cotton. This 100% premium organic cotton has been specially woven with a high thread count to make a great ticking. This high thread count and a tight weave make it mite resistant and also incredibly soft, so that you don’t have to use a pillowcase, or so the company says.
Perhaps the best selling point of this pillow is that it’s completely free from any chemical or substance that could irritate your kid. It’s free from latex, phthalates, formaldehyde, BPA, lead, and flame retardants. And although this poly fiber filling is not organic, the rest of the pillow is completely organic.
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A Little Pillow Company Toddler Pillow Review
The A Little Pillow Company Toddler Pillow is just the right size, at 13 by 18 inches. It’s also only 4 inches tall, which helps keep your kid’s neck in proper alignment.
The cover of this pillow is both soft and cute. You can get the pillow ticking in either plain white or your choice of 10 different adorable patterns. The cute covers are made from a 200 thread count 100% cotton percale fabric. This fabric hasn’t been treated with any flame retardant or other chemicals, even antimicrobials.
The fabric itself has been double-stitched for extra durability, which is reassuring to a mom of a wild boy who will no doubt use this pillow as a weapon at some point.
The inside of the pillow is a hypoallergenic deluxe cluster fiber. This poly fiber is the highest grade available on the market, which means that it’s really soft, but it’s also going to offer a really good level of support. This special filling has been hand-stuffed into the pillows so that it can be quality checked for just the right amount of filling.
This entire pillow is hypoallergenic, from the cotton to the filling. That means that it can be machine washed and dried. However, since it hasn’t been treated with any chemicals, it could be prone to mildew, so make sure to dry it extremely thoroughly. This made in the USA pillow retains its shape well after washing.
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Dreamtown Kids Toddler Pillow Review
The wonderful Dreamtown Kids Toddler Pillow is one of the cheaper ones on the market, but that doesn’t mean that it’s any less fantastic. This pillow measures in at about 16 by 12 inches. It’s originally cut to be 14 by 19 inches like other pillows, but once it’s filled, the size shrinks because it pops out, so the final measurement is about 16 by 12 inches.
It’s 4 inches tall and is filled with a 100% hypoallergenic synthetic pillow filling. There’s about 8 oz of filling in the pillow, which offers a good level of support for your toddler.
The included pillowcase has a special weave that has a recycled cotton poly blend with zero chemicals. This unique blend is hypoallergenic as well as mold and mildew resistant. It also means that you can machine wash and dry this pilowl without worrying about it shrinking or leaching chemicals.
This pillow comes from a company in the US that has a Child Product Certificate because they tested clear of heavy metals, mold, and other microbes in a CPSC approved lab.
The majority of their materials, especially cottons, are grown in the USA. These materials are from organic textile mills that meet the Global Organic Textile certification standard. They’re also printed with low impact dies, so you don’t have to worry about anything in this pillow irritating your sweet baby’s face or allergies.
The company claims that this pillow is truly chiropractor recommended to be a perfect first pillow for your kid, since it uses just the right amount of filling to provide the best in neck support. All this comes at a very reasonable price.
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My Little North Star Toddler Pillow Review
The Little Toddler Pillow by My Little North Star is about the same size as all the other pillows on this list. It’s 18 by 13 inches.
This pillow is 3.5 inches high, so it’s not as high as some of the other pillows. This was specially designed to be safe and comfortable on your toddler’s neck, head, and spine. The company consulted with chiropractors while designing this pillow.
The stuffing is a polyester cluster fiber, just like a lot of the other pillows on the market. This means that it’s 100% hypoallergenic. The particular fiber filling for this pillow is 100% chemical-free – that means no mold and mildew resistant chemicals, no flame retardant, no dust mite repellents, and no other chemicals of any kind.
The cover for this pillow is in 100% organic cotton cover. The materials used in this cotton cover are sourced and made 100% in the US. The cover is extremely soft and sewn by hand. It’s machine washable and dryable to make it really convenient for parents to keep this pillow clean and healthy.
If you don’t love this pillow, My Little North Star will replace or return it with no questions asked.
The Toddler Pillow Buying Guide
What could be more important than a toddler’s sleep? It’s when their little brains soak up all they’ve learned during the day. It’s when they form the new memories and connections in their brains. Considering that the most rapid brain development occurs in a child’s first 3 years of life, quality sleep is a top priority. Plus, it’s when parents can get some much needed me-time and rest, too!
I’m telling you, the toddler pillow is a great piece of baby gear that you never knew that you needed. What I once thought of as a frivolous item designed to suck dry parents’ already-empty wallets, I now know is a great training tool and something special for your toddler.
But before you run out and buy just any toddler pillow, check out this buying guide for some sound advice regarding the things you need to know about toddler pillows.
When to Introduce a Toddler Pillow
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ “Safe to Sleep” campaign, a pillow should not be used any time during the first year, as it increases the risk of both SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) and suffocation.
The recommendation by the Consumer Products Safety Commission is that pillows can be safely used by a child who is 1 ½ or older, since this is the same age that it’s considered safe to move baby into their own bed.
After that, there is different opinions on when it’s acceptable to introduce your child to a pillow. Some experts say that a blanket and a firm pillow is fine starting at 1, says Parents magazine. Others say that waiting until 2 is best.
The whole idea behind waiting so long to allow your child to use a pillow is the idea that they aren’t old enough and don’t have the correct motor skills needed to move themselves if they fall into a dangerous or uncomfortable position. Older kids and adults can move around and adjust blankets and pillows if they cover the face or make them too hot. Most toddlers between the ages of 1 and 3 are still working on these skills.
Another reason for waiting might be that your child has other factors that would affect their ability to use a pillow. Some issues could be things like pediatric sleep apnea, allergies, or other medical conditions. Also, if your child is small for their age, it might be wise to wait until 2 or older to purchase a toddler pillow.
A good test to see if your toddler could get out of a bad bedding situation is to see if they can undress themselves. Can they take off their socks, shirt, and pants? If so, it means that they’ve most likely got the gross motor skills they need.
Also, you can watch them during naps to see how they act in their sleep. Do they move around a lot? Do they wake up if they get too cold or too hot? Do they hold onto a blanket or stuffed animal while they sleep? These are signs that they’d be developmentally ready for a toddler pillow.
Beyond that, your child will let you know that they are ready for a pillow based on how well they sleep. If you toddler tosses and turns a lot or complains of discomfort, they are probably ready for a pillow.
Once a toddler’s shoulders become much broader than their head, it’s uncomfortable for them to lie down. You’ll probably see them try to get comfortable in strange positions or even use a blanket or stuffed animal to cradle their head. That’s when you know they’re ready.
You as the parent know your child best. You’ll know that right time for your child. If you feel that they could turn their head or move the pillow if it came in contact with their face, then it’s probably okay to go ahead and introduce a toddler pillow, as long as they are over age 1. Especially if they are showing signs that they are ready for one.
How to Introduce a Toddler Pillow
Like anything you do with a toddler, you have to make it as fun and as easy as possible for them. If you try to force them to take the pillow and use it, you’ll likely be met with a lot of resistance.
A really good practice is to introduce the toddler pillow at the same time that you introduce them to their own bed, whether that’s a full sized bed or a toddler bed. Personalization of this whole process makes them feel like they are involved and have some sense of control, and will help the overall transition process go smoother.
You can do things like letting them pick out pillowcases and blankets for their new bed. Make the whole process exciting for them. Say things like, “Look, you’ve got a pillow on your bed just like mommy has on her bed!”
Also, when introducing a toddler pillow, let them explore it. Let them perhaps use it on the couch to watch a movie. Let them snuggle up to it and find out how comfortable it is. And they are ready to use it, try it during naptime to start. This can be a test run to see how much your child likes or dislikes using the pillow.
Show them how to properly use the pillow. This is essential, since your goal is to support their head and get proper alignment in their neck. If the pillow is too far under their shoulders, it compresses the airway and spine and also adds stress to the muscles and joints of the neck and shoulders.
If they don’t like the pillow, talk to them and find out why. It might just be that they aren’t used to using one. Or maybe it is the wrong size or shape and it makes them uncomfortable. Try to encourage them to try it again after making adjustments.
Let them place it in the bed where they want it to be. Maybe they like it at the top of their bed, or towards the middle. Remember here that many children prefer to cuddle things at this young age, so if your child wants to lay next to the pillow and hug it for starters, that’s completely normal and may be a good way to get them used to having a pillow in their bed. Many children may even want one pillow for their head and another to cuddle as well.
What to Look For in the Best Toddler Pillows
Just like adult pillows, you can find toddler pillows in a variety of shapes, sizes, and fillings. You might become overwhelmed when shopping through choices, so here’s a list of a few things that you should look for when purchasing your toddler pillow.
- Safe and hypoallergenic filling. Even if your toddler doesn’t have any allergies, you want to look for a filling that’s safe and hypoallergenic. You’ll definitely want a filler that’s free from chemicals and common allergens, like wool or feathers. Beyond the type of filler, consider the shape. Pellet-shaped fillers, like foam beads or even natural buckwheat, can become a choking hazard if the pillow breaks open.
- Organic vs. regular fillings. You can purchase a pillow filled with anything from recycled garbage to all-natural and organic cotton. Your budget and your lifestyle will probably be the best determinants for whether or not you choose to go organic. But just remember, going organic won’t have any health consequences for your child, whereas going cheap and buying a synthetic and chemical-filled option just might.
- Firm support. Pediatricians recommend that you should get a really firm pillow for your toddler. It’s safest this way. You want a pillow that offers solid support while still being comfortable. The way that you gauge the pillow is similar to the way you judge a crib mattress. Press your hand down in the middle of the pillow, leave it for a 5 count, and then remove your hand. If the pillow doesn’t regain its original shape, it’s too soft for your toddler. If it doesn’t move at all or regains its shape very slowly, it too firm and probably won’t offer much comfort. Look for a pillow that supports your hand and refills it’s shape within a few seconds for the optimal balance of soft and supportive.
- Machine washable. Toddlers are messy. You just can’t argue that! So having a piece of gear that a toddler will use every single day and night that has to be hand-washed is just a pain. Look for a pillow that can be machine washed and machine dried. Line drying is okay too, but the dryer is what kills all the germs.
- Nice ticking. Ticking is what you call the liner on the outside of the actual pillow (thanks, Martha Stewart!). You should look for a ticking with a thread count that is high enough to contain whatever the filler is. The recommendation is 200 thread count or higher for most fillings. You want a good, non-irritating fabric that will be comfortable and won’t stain. For toddlers, stay away from dense and heavy fabrics like flannel, since they aren’t breathable and can pose a safety risk for your child.
- Quality guarantee. It might seems silly to look at a warranty on a pillow, but consider it! If nothing more, it’s a good marker for the overall quality of the pillow. A company who is willing to stand by their product for the year or two that you are going to use it will probably make a great product to begin with.
Safety Concerns for Toddler Pillows
Maybe the biggest thing that you should be considering when buying your toddler pillow is the size. Having a pillow that the wrong size can provide the biggest safety hazard.
If the pillow is either too large, too tall, or both, it can make it too easy for your child to suffocate. A big, fluffy pillow is downright dangerous for your child. When a toddler uses a big pillow that is meant for an adult, it just doesn’t do what a pillow should do, since the proportions are completely skewed.
Beyond the risks to their life, a pillow that’s the wrong size can make sleep uncomfortable for your child. Their neck could be at a poor angle for proper alignment if the pillow is too tall or flat. This can result in poor sleep and muscle strain.
A regular, adult standard pillow is sized at roughly 20 inches by 26 inches. The right toddler pillow should measure in at about 12 by 17 inches, give or take an inch or two. Size the pillow correctly by seeing if it is only a few inches wider than their shoulders.
Also look at the vertical height, or loft, of the pillow. There’s no one right height, since each child has different proportions and requires different support. Anything over about 4 inches will probably be a bit too high. A good rule of thumb is to remember that a thinner pillow will be better for a smaller child, while a fuller pillow works well for older kids. Better yet, look for a pillow that has customizable or changeable loft.
While they do make foam toddler pillows, I personally feel like they aren’t a good idea. They are usually not as breathable and contain more chemicals overall. Plus, as the foam wears, it often creates a crater in the center of the pillow where your child may not be able to move their head if they roll onto the pillow with their face. A cotton or poly filling is less of a safety concern than memory foam.
Toddler Pillow Life and Maintenance
The life of each toddler pillow will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. However, you can expect a good, quality toddler pillow to last anywhere from 3 to 6 years.
That estimate is given for a pillow that’s used every single night for that span of time. If you’re buying this pillow for a different use, it might even last you longer.
Also, be aware that washing your toddler pillow will contribute a lot towards the wear and tear on the pillow. Now, it’s true that most toddler pillows were created to be machine washed and dried, but doing so does change the filling. Water works to break down cotton and even poly fillings over time, so each time you stick that pillow in the washer, you’re taking a tiny bit of life away from it.
Properly caring for your toddler pillow can make sure that you get the most out of it for the longest amount of time possible.
The first thing to note is that you should regularly fluff your toddler pillow. You can do this by using the “whack and fluff” method. What this means is that every few days, you take the toddler pillow and whack it a few times with your hand to fluff it. You fluff it by grabbing one end and shaking it, then grabbing the other end and shaking it, or you can just randomly grab and pinch the pillow in places and pull the two sides away from each other. This allows air to get into the filling of the pillow to help re-fluff it and it also helps rearrange the fiber inside to prevent lumps.
Using a toddler pillowcase will help you extend the life of your toddler pillow. It will also help your pillow to stay clean and healthier during that time. If you use a toddler pillowcase to protect your pillow, you’ll have to do less maintenance and care for your pillow as well. Read the section at the end about toddler pillowcases to find out more information.
So how exactly do you properly wash and maintain a toddler pillow? Well, that depends on what needs to be done.
For example, it’s probably a good idea to wash your pillow once every 10 to 14 days to give it a nice cleaning, just like you would a set of sheets for your bed. This helps to eliminate any dust and dander buildup on and inside the pillow.
When you’re doing this kind of routine washing, you’ll want to wash the pillow in cold water and with gentle detergent. Always opt for the gentle cycle. Then, dry your pillow thoroughly.
The best way to dry any pillow is to stick some rubber tennis balls in the dryer with the pillow. This will help to fluff the pillow as it dries. You can do this by purchasing brand new, clean rubber tennis balls and washing them with the pillow, then drying them with the pillow.
Or, you can take an old tennis ball and cover it with a sock to keep it from marking or dirtying your pillow in the dryer.
If you don’t use a tennis ball in the dryer with your pillow, make sure to periodically remove the pillow from the dryer during the drying process and use the “whack and fluff” method mentioned above to fluff the fibers.
If you’ve had an accident or some kind of other spill on your toddler pillow and need to clean it, try to spot clean it first. If it’s a simple matter of a food spill, like maybe a sticky smear of jam on the pillow, try using warm water and a cloth to remove the stain if at all possible.
But if something worse happens, like an accident involving bodily fluids, you’ll definitely want to wash your pillow. When you do this, make sure to wash your pillow in warm water to help rinse away more of the bacteria and liquids that come with this kind of accident. Then, dry your pillow as I mentioned above.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to dry your pillow thoroughly! If you don’t, the water and bacteria that are left over in your pillow will sit and create mold and mildew that your child will be breathing every night when they sleep. The high heat of the dryer will kill bacteria and viruses that are in the pillow, so you really can’t go wrong by over drying your pillow.
Alternative Toddler Pillow Uses
You don’t have to be stuck with just a toddler pillow if you purchase one. You might be thinking, my toddler is only going to use this pillow for a couple of years, so what do I do with such a nice, and kind of expensive pillow after they’re done with it? Well, there’s a couple of choices.
First of all, toddler pillows make fantastic travel pillows. If you’re like me and you hate those u-shaped neck travel pillows and want to find a small and comfortable travel pillow, look no further than a toddler pillow! Their small size means that they fit easily in an airplane or in a vehicle with you wherever you go. And since they’re flatter, they won’t take up as much space and can offer you customizable comfort.
Another cool use for toddler pillows to use them as a pregnancy pillow. You can’t get enough support when sleeping during pregnancy! Even if you buy lots of the best pregnancy pillows, you can always use a little bit more support here or there. These toddler pillows make fantastic pillows to go in between the legs, behind the back, or even as just a little bit of extra support under the head or belly. Their size and low fill means that you can use them without them taking up a ton of space in the bed.