How to Choose the Best Toddler Pillow for Your Child

Published by 
Jess Miller
Last updated: 
December 21, 2021

Choosing the best toddler pillow

As your toddler continues to grow there will come a time when your little one will need a pillow to remain comfortable throughout the night.

Toddler pillows, also known as infant pillows were designed for the sole purpose of providing your baby with a comfortable night's sleep.

This buyers guide will provide you with everything you need to know about toddler pillows.

Use the links below to jump to the appropriate section or read the guide through from start to finish, it's all great information!

Why you shouldn't give your toddler a regular pillow

If you have not heard of toddler pillows before then you may be wondering why a toddler can’t simply sleep on a regular pillow.

A regular pillow is designed to provide support to the adult's head and neck. A toddler does not have the same proportions as an adult and resting on a regular pillow will place unnecessary strain on the neck and shoulders.

The continuous strain may lead to discomfort and sleepless nights or worse, poor posture.

Toddler pillows are designed around your baby’s proportions, allowing for a comfortable sleep while providing your little one's developing body with appropriate support.

When to introduce your toddler to a pillow

There is much debate as to when a toddler should start using a pillow. Many “experts” agree that the right time to give your toddler a pillow is when you transition your little one from the crib to a bed, around the age of 18 – 24 months.

The answer you will get from parents, however, will differ vastly. Many parents report that they introduced pillows well before this age without problems.

As every baby develops and behaves differently, there doesn’t appear to be a universal “right” time to introduce your baby to a pillow.

Ultimately as the parent, it is your decision as to when your little one is ready to use a pillow.

If you watch your toddler closely then you may notice him giving you clues that he is ready to make the jump to sleeping with a pillow.

Clues you can give your toddler a pillow include:

  • Failure to sleep without the head being propped up.
  • Restless at night due to being uncomfortable.
  • Resting the head on a blanket or stuffed animal.
  • Laying head on a pillow on the couch or in your bed.

Another indicator is to look at your baby’s shoulders. Once they are wider than his head then your little one will usually be more comfortable sleeping on a pillow than a flat mattress.

The purpose of giving your toddler a pillow to sleep on is to make him more comfortable.

If your toddler is sleeping just fine without a pillow then simply lookout for the above clues and continue your little ones sleeping routine as normal.

Choosing the best pillow for your toddler

If you are trying to find the best pillow for your toddler then you will need to take the following points into consideration.

Know your toddler's allergies

Let’s say that your child is allergic to wool. It goes without saying that you would not buy your toddler a wool pillow, which would only aggravate his allergy.

By being aware of what your little one is and isn’t allergic to will help you narrow down the perfect toddler pillow.

Satisfaction guarantee

Many toddler pillows offer a satisfaction guarantee. Some are as low as 90 days while others offer a guarantee period of three years.

A guarantee will vary from brand to brand but it will generally cover poor workmanship, torn seams or loss of shape.

A longer guarantee may indicate a better quality toddler as the company is willing to stand behind it’s product.

The top three toddler pillows in our review below all have a guarantee of varying length.

Firm vs soft

You will need to strike up a delicate balance between comfort and support. If you press down on a pillow and it does not regain its shape then the pillow is too soft and is unsafe for your toddler to use as it poses a suffocation risk.

On the flip side if you press down on the pillow and it doesn’t move at all then the pillow may be too hard to provide comfort.

While the majority of toddler pillows have been designed to provide optimal support, it is still something to take into consideration.

Pillow cover material

The outer part of the toddler pillow is generally made from cotton. Be mindful that when choosing a pillow that cotton can be regular or organic.

Organic cotton lacks the harmful toxins, bleaches, and dyes that ordinarily go along with the cotton manufacturing process.

Needless to say, you don’t want your baby breathing in these industrial materials while sleeping.

Organic toddler pillows will always be clearly marked. If you cannot figure out if a toddler pillow is organic or not then it is better to use caution and assume that the pillow isn’t.

Common toddler pillow cover materials include:

  • Cotton
  • Cotton polyester blend
  • Synthetic fiber

Thread count

If you have ever purchased new bedding then you may have come across the term “thread count”. Thread count refers to the number of threads per square inch of fabric.

The higher the thread count, the silkier and more durable the pillow will feel. Toddler pillows with a high thread count are less scratchy and more comfortable than those with a lower thread count.

Pillow fill material

Beneath the pillowcase hides the material that keeps your child’s head supported and comfortable.

There are many different materials that can be used to fill toddler pillows. From foam to buckwheat there is a huge variety to choose from.

The most common pillow fill materials include:

  • Down
  • Feathers
  • Synthetic fill
  • Foam or memory foam

The above materials are the most common because they allow for the pillow itself to be easily cleaned. Be mindful when selecting a pillow that the fill doesn’t make too much noise as it moves around inside the pillow.

Materials like buckwheat and certain synthetic fills can make a loud, crinkling noise when the weight of your toddler's head is shifted.

The crinkling noise may result in your toddler being awoken from his slumber, not the desired outcome for any parent.

Hypoallergenic

Is your toddler sensitive to microbes, dust, dust mites, mold and more? Hypoallergenic pillows are made from materials that will help reduce allergic reactions.

Many organic toddler pillows are naturally hypoallergenic. If your pillow is not organic then it will be clearly marked as to whether it is hypoallergenic or not.

Washing instructions

If there is one thing toddlers excel at it’s making a mess. Whether the pillow gets dirty from sticky fingers or the drool monster that your toddler turns into at night, one thing is certain, you are eventually going to need to wash that pillow.

Toddler pillows will deal with your young ones grime in one of two ways.

  • Machine washable - Simply throw the pillow in your washing machine for a full cycle. Your toddler pillow will emerge clean the day you bought it.
  • Pillowcase - The toddler pillow will have a removable cover that protects the pillow inside. The cover itself is machine washable while the pillow generally is not.

The best toddler pillows

Let's review the top toddler pillows available to buy and what makes them so great. There are a couple of different types of toddler pillows to choose from.

Best all-round toddler pillow

Best Brand: Snuggle-Pedic

  • Hypoallergenic
  • Micro-Vented for Breathability
  • Eco-friendly
  • Made in the USA

There is a reason why this toddler pillow appears at the top of my best-of list. For the cost, it is leaps and bounds ahead of the competition.

The Snuggle-pedic uses a proprietary mix of low V.O.C. Biogreen Memory foam and CertiPur-U.S. certified foam that is 100% hypo-allergenic. The hypoallergenic fill washes extremely well and is encased in a Kool-Flow luxury bamboo cover.

This self-adjustable pillow is also adaptable enough to fit a range of small toddlers and older children. This means that as your child grows, the pillow maintains the same level of comfortability.

Another great feature of this product is the breathability. If your toddler gets night sweats or frequently turns over their pillow, the Snuggle-Pedic offers an amazing solution. Their trademarked Kool-Flow technology actually allows air to flow through the pillow and offers a comfortable coolness no matter what side your head rests on.

If the product itself hasn’t sold you, wait until you hear about the customer service. Snuggle-Pedic goes the extra mile to ensure you are happy with your purchase.

If the toddler pillow is not suitable for your little one, you can return it within 3 months. On top of the 90-day sleep trial, the pillow carries a 20-year warranty. With guarantees like this, it’s easy to see the appeal. Not to mention, the materials of this pillow are all sourced right here in the U.S.!

A great product with even better customer service. A definite winner in my book.

Best premium toddler pillow

Best Brand: My Little North Star

  • 10 year guarantee
  • Hypoallergenic
  • 100% organic cotton
  • Better sleep

The Rolls Royce of organic toddler pillows. While this is one of the more expensive toddler pillows on the market there is no doubt that you are getting your money's worth.

Each My Little North Star pillow is individually inspected for quality. My Little North Star stands behind its pillow offering a 10 year guarantee that it won't lose its bounce and will hold up to many years of washing.

If you are a parent who loves quality made and durable products then this is definitely the toddler pillow for you.

The surface of the pillow is cotton sateen, providing a softer more comfortable feel.

Perhaps even more important, if your toddler is easily woken by noise in the night, the surface of the pillow is quiet to the touch, even without a pillowcase.

Update: If you are looking for a similar toddler pillow without the cost then why not try this organic toddler pillow by HKH Family. I bought this pillow a week ago and am currently incredibly happy with it.

I will update as time progresses but at the moment it seems to be really good quality.

Most popular toddler pillow

Best Brand: Little Sleepy Head

  • 90 day guarantee
  • Hypoallergenic and washable
  • 200 thread count
  • Made in the USA

Little sleepy head offers a 90 day “love it or your money back” no questions asked guarantee. The polyester fill is covered by a 200 thread count cotton fabric.

Another pillow that is made on U.S. soil, this pillow has been designed to support your toddler's neck, no matter what his sleeping style.

One thing that is worth mentioning; If your toddler has sensitive skin then you may need to purchase a pillowcase for this pillow as many parents have reported that the surface of this pillow is “scratchy”.

Disadvantages: May require the purchase of a separate pillowcase.

Best medically supported toddler pillow

Best Brand: Dreamtown Kids

  • Prevents neck kinks
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Pillowcase included
  • Made in the USA

The only toddler pillow on the list that is not only made in the USA but also recommended by chiropractors.

The Dreamtown Kids toddler pillow contains less filling than most other varieties in an effort to prevent neck kinks and, by association, visits to the chiropractor later in life.

A lovely feature of this particular toddler pillow is that it includes a free pillowcase.

The addition of a pillowcase not only means that it fits the pillow perfectly but as a bonus, you will not have to pay an additional cost to purchase one separately.

This pillow comes with a six month satisfaction guarantee. If the toddler pillow is defective or does not meet your needs, Dreamtown kids will either refund or replace your pillow at no extra cost.

Disadvantages: A low thread count means that this is not the softest toddler pillow available.

Do toddler pillows need a pillowcase?

I am now going to elaborate on pillowcases that were very briefly touched on in an earlier section. Despite many toddler pillows being machine washable, many parents choose to use a pillowcase, also known as a nursery pillowcase.

Advantages of a Pillowcase on a toddler pillow

  • Pillowcases dry faster than pillows.
  • If you have a spare pillowcase your toddler can sleep on the pillow immediately rather than waiting for the pillow or pillowcase to be washed.
  • The extra layer can prevent odors from penetrating the inside of the pillow.
  • If the pillow's surface is an uncomfortable texture, you can use a soft pillowcase to prevent irritation to your toddler.

So you have decided that you will be using a pillowcase? When looking to buy a pillowcase for your toddler pillow you will want one with as many of the following features as possible:

These features include:

  • Organic cotton
  • High thread count
  • Machine washable
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Nicely fits pillow

If the majority of that list looked familiar to you then that is because they are similar qualities that you are looking for in the toddler pillow itself.

As toddler pillows come in a variety of shapes and sizes it is important that you choose a pillowcase size that is similar to that of the pillow.

A pillowcase that is too small won't fit over the pillow while one that is too large will flap around and irritate your toddler.

Toddler Pillowcase

Best Brand: MakeMake Organics

  • Organic cotton
  • Safe 8" Deep Closure
  • Easy to clean
  • Sateen Weave

Pillow maintenance

A toddler pillow requires some maintenance to ensure it remains comfortable and hygienic for your toddler. Let's take a look at how you can clean and alter your toddler pillow.

What to do if your toddler pillow is too thick

There is nothing worse than buying a toddler pillow only to discover it is too thick for your child to comfortably rest upon. Continual use of a toddler pillow that is too thick can lead to neck pain in toddlers.

Fortunately, you do not need to throw the toddler pillow in the trash and buy a new one. Simply use the following simple trick to make your bulky toddler pillow the perfect size for your child.

  • Using small scissors, carefully undo the stitching along the vertical side of the
  • Remove small amounts of stuffing until the perfect thickness has been reached.
  • Resew the pillow up and present your toddler with his new super comfortable pillow.

Pretty simple stuff, right? If you are no good with sewing then you can simply take the pillow to your local tailor. They will be happy to sew the toddler pillow back up for a small fee.

Washing your toddler pillow

When purchasing a new toddler pillow pay particular attention to the care label. By following these instructions you will ensure that your pillow lasts as long as possible.

General pillow washing guidelines involve using a mild, liquid detergent as the powder can leave a residue on your toddler's pillow (You don’t want your child breathing in soap powder while he sleeps).

Be sure to run the pillows twice through the rinse cycle, without detergent, to ensure any remaining traces of cleaning products have been removed.

If using a dryer, be sure to use air or low heat until the pillow is completely dry. Steer clear from using high heat as this can cause the inside of the pillowcase to clump together.

When to replace your toddler pillow

If your toddler pillow does not come with a guarantee then the it may need to be replaced before your toddler has outgrown it.

Signs you need to replace your toddler's pillow:

  • The filling clumps together.
  • The pillow constantly needs to be fluffed for support.
  • If you fold the pillow in half it does not return to its original shape.

Parents can use toddler pillows too

Once your child has outgrown his pillow there is no need to throw it out. While a toddler pillow will never suffice as a pregnancy pillow they are the perfect size to use as a travel pillow for a full-grown adult.

Keep this in mind next time you have that long car ride ahead of you and are looking to get comfortable.

best pregnancy pillow for a comfortable nights sleep

Best Pregnancy Pillows

An Expert Buyers Guide to Maternity Pillows

The wrap-up

As you can see, there are a lot of different things you will need to take into consideration when you choose to buy your child a toddler pillow. What does your toddler child use for head support while sleeping? Let me know below.

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