Best Toddler Pillows for a Comfy Night of Sleep, According to Experts
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. But once they do express an interest in a pillow that suits their proud new big kid bed, 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. “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.” Of course, you want to have safety considerations in mind, too. “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,” says Mona Amin, MD, a pediatrician and parenting coach.
Read on to discover the top picks of the best toddler pillows on the market, as well as expert-backed guidance on when your little one can start sleeping with a pillow and what to look for as you shop.
The search for the best toddler pillow for your child can be overwhelming. That’s why we asked DeBear and Amin to share some of their favorite products with us—and we’ve included a few of our favorites as well. These ergonomic and thoughtfully made picks may be game-changing for your little ones.
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.
Dimensions: 18" (L) x 13" (W) x 3.5" (H) | Material (shell): 100% cotton | Material (fill): 100% cotton | Washable: Yes
- Includes organic cotton pillowcase
- Available in nearly 30 prints
- Case and pillow are machine-washable
- Not recommended beyond age 5
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.
Dimensions: 20" (L) x 12" (W) x 3.5" (H) | Material (shell): 100% organic cotton | Material (fill): Organic kapok fiber/organic latex | Washable: No
- No zipper (for added safety)
- 100-day trial period
- Affordable for an organic option
- Pillowcase is sold separately
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.
Dimensions: 12 x 18 inches | **Material (shell): 100% cotton sateen | *Material (fill):* Microfiber | Washable: Yes
- Similar to adult version
- Airy and breathable
- Machine wash on cool
- Sham is sold separately
Another favorite of DeBear’s, the Little Sleepy Head toddler pillow is super impressive. 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.
Dimensions: 18" (L) x 13" (W) x 4" (H) | Material (shell): 100% organic cotton | Material (fill): Polyester cluster fiber | Washable: Yes
- Customizable fill sizes
- Available in original or organic
- May be extra fluffy after washing
This is another expert pick—and a 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!
Dimensions: 19" (L) x 13" (W) x 4" (H) | Material (shell): Polyester/rayon | Material (fill): Memory foam/microfiber | Washable: Yes
- Great lift
- Childproof adjustability
- Greenguard Gold Certified and machine-washable
- Too hot for some kids
- Inner zipper can make holes in cover
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.
Dimensions: 19" (L) x 14" (W) | Material (shell): Sateen cotton | Material (fill): 100% wool | Washable: Yes
- Naturally hypoallergenic
- Free from toxins
- Sustainable and environmentally friendly
- Air dry only
- Pillowcases are sold separately
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.
Dimensions: 19" (L) x 14" (W) x 4.5" (H) | Material (shell): Cotton | Material (fill): Polyester | Washable: Yes
- Built-in toddler pillowcase
- Limited colors
- May be too fluffy for some
You have plenty of options for toddler pillows, but Choc Chick’s version is the cutest of them all. This pillow has an adorable bunny theme, complete with a painted-on face and floppy ears. The pillow is machine washable for easy cleanup and has a relatively small height (2.7 inches), making it a good choice for younger toddlers who will no doubt delight in the design. This pillow is made from 100 percent cotton, with a polyester fill. At just shy of $20, it’s a steal, too.
Dimensions: 20" (L) x 12" (W) x 2.7" (H) | Material (shell): 100% organic cotton | Material (fill): polyester | Washable: Yes
- Sweet design
- Machine washable
- Needs to be fluffed regularly
A toddler pillow can be an important element in supporting your child’s sleep. To choose the best toddler pillows, we consulted with two pediatric experts for their input on what to look for in this bedding. Using that advice, we considered factors like fabric quality, dimensions, comfort and, of course, safety. We also pored over reviews from real parents, noting elements that they liked and disliked about each pillow to come up with our final list. Only pillows with reviews that had an average of at least four stars were considered for the final selection. And because you’re already busy enough, we made sure that many of our choices are machine washable to make the cleaning process a little easier.
Interested in learning more about our editorial process? Read about how our team develops and reviews all articles here.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (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. Amin suggests waiting until your child asks for a pillow or until they’re at least 18 to 24 months old.
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. They lay their head on a pillow when sitting on a couch or another bed.
Toddler pillows are typically designed for children aged 1 to 3 years, although some will specify that a child should be at least 2 years old before using it. “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.”
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.
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