Best Toddler Pillows for a Comfy Night of Sleep

Check out these cozy, safe and supportive little pillows for your precious little one.
save article
profile picture of Danielle Halibey
Published February 7, 2023
toddler sleeping in bed
Image: Bekker24 | Shutterstock
We have included third party products to help you navigate and enjoy life’s biggest moments. Purchases made through links on this page may earn us a commission.

As an adult, a good pillow can change your life. But for little ones, the pleasure of a pillow isn’t necessary until they’ve started sleeping in a bed (no pillows allowed in baby’s crib—more on that below) and they’ve started asking for it. “Toddlers don’t need to sleep with /[pillows], so they should only be introduced when you know or assume they have an interest in sleeping with a pillow as an added source of comfort,” says Aubrie DeBear, PsyD, a pediatric sleep consultant and doctor of clinical and forensic psychology.

When the time comes, you’ll want to match this milestone with a toddler pillow that’s specifically suitable for your child—not just an extra pillow you have laying around. “Adult pillows are made for adult bodies, but they can put strain on little bodies, particularly their neck, shoulders and spine,” DeBear says. So once you’re ready to start shopping, you’ll want to narrow your search to pillows designed specifically for toddlers. “There are a lot of great toddler pillows out there which are small, firm and made to help toddlers transition toward sleeping with a traditional pillow,” says DeBear.

Read on to learn when your little one can start sleeping with a pillow and what to look for, then browse our picks for the best toddler pillows that are cute, cozy, safe and supportive.

When Can a Toddler Have a Pillow?

The AAP strongly recommends that babies sleep in an empty crib (meaning it’s furnished with nothing other than the mattress and fitted sheet) for at least their first 12 months of life. But even then, many experts agree that you should wait to add a toddler pillow until your toddler graduates from their crib to a toddler or big kid bed. “It’s not recommended to use pillows in a crib, because they can get wedged between the mattress and railing and pose a suffocation risk,” says Mona Amin, MD, a pediatrician and parenting coach. “There’s no age that’s risk-free with pillow use, but the risk for suffocation or injury does greatly reduce around 18 months to 2 years, so most experts agree it’s safe to introduce one around that time.”

Related Video

Even if you’ve started allowing your toddler to sleep with a stuffed animal, lovey or blanket shortly after their first birthday, you’ll want to hold off on the pillow for a bit longer.

Signs Your Toddler Needs a Pillow

Once your kiddo is approaching the 18-month or 2-year mark, they don’t have to sleep with a pillow—it really comes down to preference. While your toddler might not be able to articulate their desire for a pillow, since their language skills are still maturing, they may start acting in a way (i.e., feeling restless in their bed) that suggests their comfort could be improved with a pillow.

Not sure if your little one wants or needs a comfy place to rest their head? Keep an eye out for the following signs they may be ready to use a toddler pillow:
They move around often throughout the night due to discomfort. They start laying their heads on a stuffed animal or a bunched-up blanket. Lay their head on a pillow when sitting on a couch or another bed.

What to Look for in a Toddler Pillow

Toddler pillows are specifically designed for children 1 to 3 years old. “A standard-size pillow carries a higher risk of suffocation, because of all the extra material and a thickness that’s too much for the proper alignment of a toddler’s head and neck,” Amin says. “A smaller, thin, firm pillow is ideal for ultimate toddler comfort and safety.”

Here are a few additional features to consider as you shop:

  • Size. Arguably the biggest difference between an adult and toddler pillow is the size—tinier people need tinier places to rest their heads, and they don’t need to have their pillow take up most of their sleeping space. For reference, a standard adult pillow’s dimensions are 20 x 26 inches, whereas a standard toddler pillow typically measures 13 x 18 inches. DeBear also likes smaller pillows because they’re a lot easier to tote around. “A small size makes for a pillow that’s easy to take to daycare or school for naps, or even when you’re traveling,” she says.
  • Firmness. Toddlers end up developing a fondness for flat, firm surfaces, since it’s the safest sleep environment for them as a baby. While their pillow doesn’t need to be hard and uncomfortable, the assumption that “toddlers need a soft pillow for comfort ultimately isn’t true,” DeBear says. Moreover, smaller, firmer pillows are preferable to large, fluffy pillows because they reduce the risk of suffocation. “A firm pillow is also better to provide proper support for their head and neck,” notes Amin.
  • Easy to clean. As any parent is well aware, toddlers are messy, and they’ll put their pillow through a lot in its lifetime. Beyond looking for a pillow that’s durable and made to last a long while, you’ll also want to scout out options that can be laundered, as well as ones that are mold- and mildew-resistant. “Whether it’s drool or mucus from a recent cold, you’ll be grateful you can throw your pillow in the wash to keep it clean,” Amin says. “It’s also nice if it comes with an extra pillowcase or cover so you can always keep a clean one on hand.”

Best Toddler Pillows

Ready to start your search for the best toddler pillows? These ergonomic and thoughtfully made picks may be game-changing for your little ones.

Overall Best Toddler Pillow

KeaBabies My Little Dreamy Pillow

The KeaBabies My Little Dream Pillow tops our list as the overall best toddler pillow. DeBear’s own children have used and loved this pillow for years (yes, years—she says they’ve “stood the test of time”), and Amin applauds “how well the pillow retains its shape” given its fill of flexible fiber balls. The small size fits into little toddler beds perfectly, but it can just as easily stow away into a diaper or overnight bag for sleepovers at Grandma’s house. Plus, the ergonomics are off the charts—due, in large part, to its rigorous testing and trialing with children of many different ages. This pick boasts an incredible balance of softness, comfort and support.
Specs at a glance:

  • Measures 13 x 18 x 3.5 inches
  • Made of OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certified cotton (pillow) and GOTS organic cotton (pillowcase)
What We Love
  • Comes with a breathable, soft organic cotton pillowcase
  • Available in nearly 30 sweet and colorful prints
  • Stays plush and fluffy after every wash (both the case and pillow are machine-washable)
Things To Consider
  • Recommended for ages 2-5, so it doesn’t have much use beyond the toddler years

Best Organic Toddler Pillow

Avocado Organic Toddler Pillow
Organic Toddler Pillow
Image: Avocado Green Mattress

An organic toddler pillow is also a great choice since it’s made from all natural, non-toxic materials entirely safe for the smallest heads to rest on. Avocado’s Organic Toddler Pillow is just as amazing as the brand’s beloved adult version, just shrunken down to a toddler-friendly size that’s perfectly snuggable. It features 100 percent GOTS organic certified cotton that wicks moisture and sleeps cool, 100 percent GOLS certified organic latex that provides structure and aids in temperature control and kapok fiber, a softer, lighter and hypoallergenic alternative to down feathers. Altogether it’s a super soft, comfortable and breathable pillow with all the support that a toddler’s neck and spine deserves. And with Avocado’s GREENGUARD Gold Certification, you can be sure that your pillow meets the most scrupulous environmental and social standards on the planet.
Specs at a glance:

  • Measures 20 x 12 x 3.5 inches
  • Made of GOTS certified organic cotton and GOLS certified organic latex
What We Love
  • Pillow is sewn shut, with no zipper (for added safety)
  • 100-day trial period; if your child doesn’t love it, you can return it for a full refund and the pillow will be donated to a local charity
  • Affordable for an organic option
Things To Consider
  • Pillowcase is sold separately
  • Not machine-washable, can only be spot cleaned

Best Hypoallergenic Toddler Pillow

Parachute Toddler Pillow
Toddler Pillow
Image: Parachute
Buying Options
Parachute | $29

We love Parachute (their Organic Cloud Cotton is unreal, seriously), so when the brand launched its baby essentials a few years back, we were smitten. We’re happy to report that their toddler pillow is not only chic, modern and compact, but it’s also hypoallergenic, thanks to a 100 percent hypoallergenic microfiber fill that mimics the warmth and fluffiness of natural down. If your little one hasn’t transitioned from their crib to a toddler bed yet, use this pillow as a decorative touch in their nursery—paired with Parachute’s beautiful toddler sham—or to support your back while you’re feeding or nursing them. Once they’re ready to start sleeping sans-crib, remove the cover and build the toddler pillow into their bedtime routine.
Specs at a glance:

  • Measures 12 x 18 inches
  • Made with a down alternative (pillow) and cambric cotton (shell)
What We Love
  • Parents say it’s just as good as the adult version
  • Airy and breathable
  • Affordable
Things To Consider

Best Cotton Toddler Pillow

Little Sleepy Head Original Toddler Pillow
Toddler Pillow by Little Sleepy Head
Image: Walmart

Another favorite of DeBear’s, the Little Sleepy Head toddler pillow is super impressive, boasting a nearly perfect 5-star Amazon rating with thousands of positive reviews. This cute hypoallergenic down-alternative pillow is made with a soft and breathable 100 percent organic cotton shell and filled with cloud-like cluster fiber filling. It’s not too thick or too flat, which is important for proper toddler neck and spine alignment. After all, you won’t want your little one waking up after a full night’s sleep with a sore neck—something DeBear says her children always complain about if they’ve slept on pillows that are too big or too soft. This toddler pillow is machine-washable and easy to toss into a backpack for daycare or preschool.
Specs at a glance:

  • Measures 13 x 18 x 4 inches
  • Made of a down alternative (pillow) and organic cotton (shell)
What We Love
  • Customizable fill sizes
  • Available in original or organic, both of which are very affordable
Things To Consider
  • Some parents complain that after washing, the pillow fluffed up too much (making it hard for a toddler to rest their head)

Best Memory Foam Toddler Pillow

Coop Home Goods Memory Foam Toddler Pillow

This is another standout among the best toddler pillows, according to Amin. “I love that you can remove the filling, which is a mix of memory foam and a microfiber blend, to adjust the firmness for your child,” she says. This unique blend provides ideal head and neck support for your toddler, without any harmful irritants. The pillowcase is made of hypoallergenic, tightly woven bamboo, which is naturally antimicrobial, dust mite- and allergen-repellant. Yes please!
Specs at a glance:

  • Measures 13 x 19 inches
  • Made of memory foam (pillow) and a polyester and rayon blend (shell)
What We Love
  • Great lift for a toddler who might be sick (and needs to sleep slightly elevated)
  • Childproof adjustability (the interlocking dual-case system is hard for toddlers to crack)
  • Greenguard Gold Certified and machine-washable
Things To Consider
  • Some parents say it’s not cooling enough for toddlers who sleep hot
  • Sharp zipper on the inner cover can create holes in the outer cover

Best Wool Toddler Pillow

Woolino Premium Wool Toddler Pillow
Woolino Premium Wool Toddler Pillow
Image: Amazon
Buying Options
Amazon | $35.99

If you’re looking for the best toddler pillow that’s both eco-friendly and free of harmful substances (aside from our organic toddler pillow pick), the Woolino wool toddler pillow—filled with high-quality, 100 percent natural Australian wool—is a top pick (and just the right choice for sustainability-minded parents). Woolino’s toddler rendition isn’t underfilled or overfilled, so it provides the best support for a toddler’s spine, neck and head. You also don’t have to worry about the wool being too warm; in fact, given its breathable, moisture-wicking features, your toddler can use this pillow year-round. Oh, and that 300-thread count soft sateen cotton shell? It delivers the coziest, most cuddle-worthy level of comfort you can hope to find in a toddler pillow.
Specs at a glance:

  • Measures 14 x 19 inches
  • Made of OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certified wool (pillow) and sateen cotton (shell)
What We Love
  • Naturally hypoallergenic
  • Free from toxins thanks to the 100 percent cotton exterior and 100 percent OEKO-TEX-certified wool interior
  • Sustainable and environmentally friendly (Woolmark Company-certified)
Things To Consider
  • Machine-washable, but air dry only
  • Pillowcases are sold separately

Best Travel Toddler Pillow

PharMeDoc Little Garoo Toddler Pillow

This pillow is bound to get a thumbs-up from your toddler—especially when you’re on the go. Providing the perfect balance of firmness and softness, the Little Garoo gives great neck support for your growing child, while still being comfortable and cozy. Sure, it’ll work just fine in their bed on the daily, but if you’ll be traveling in an airplane or train and staying in a hotel (where they’ll be sleeping in a bed that’s not their own), it’ll be just the right piece of home they need for a restful, undisturbed night of sleep. Plus, the brand promises it’ll stay soft and firm up to 400 washes later, which is precisely what you want in a travel toddler pillow that goes everywhere (daycare and preschool included) with your itty-bitty adventurer.
Specs at a glance:

  • Measures 14 x 19 x 4.5 inches
  • Made of polyester (pillow) and cotton (cover)
What We Love
  • Built-in toddler pillowcase is safer since it poses less risk for suffocation
  • Affordable
Things To Consider
  • Not a ton of colorways to choose from
  • 4.5 inch height might be too fluffy for some toddlers

Cutest Toddler Pillow

Gooselings Into The Woodlands Toddler Pillow

For the last of the best toddler pillows on our list, we’re loving this adorable option from Gooselings. Not only is the European-crafted design totally precious, but it’s also safe for little ones as young as 18 months (the youngest age our experts say is safe for using a pillow) thanks to superbly soft, sateen-weave cotton and “the world’s fluffiest down,” which the brand boasts as lightweight and breathable. Beyond the obvious high-quality craftsmanship, we’re obsessed with the rich color and charming, fairytale-esque prints (yes, they have a couple of them, including whimsical hot air balloons and delicate florals). And our favorite part? They can be personalized! Certain styles come with the option for custom monogramming (your toddler’s name or a sweet bedtime quote, perhaps?) up to 21 characters.
Specs at a glance:

  • Measures 12 x 18 inches
  • Made of goose down (pillow) and sateen cotton (shell)
What We Love
  • Packaged in two printed, reusable cotton canvas bags
  • Discreet zipper closure is hidden from curious hands
Things To Consider
  • Most expensive option on our list

About the experts:

Aubrie DeBear, PsyD, is a pediatric sleep consultant, doctor of clinical and forensic psychology and a mom of two little ones. As a sleep consultant, she loves working with families to encourage health and wellness that provide the most successful foundation for children. For DeBear, sleep is the key to well-being, and a parent and child’s well-being is important to her.

Mona Amin, MD, is a board-certified general pediatrician, parenting coach and mother. Through her brand PedsDocTalk, her goal is to provide relatable and easy-to-digest education for the modern parent regarding the health, safety and wellness of their child. She launched “The New Mom’s Survival Guide,” the first online digital e-course created by a pediatrician and mom to guide mothers and their baby through their first year.

save article

Next on Your Reading List

Article removed.
Name added. View Your List