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7 Best Toddler Pillows for a Comfy Night of Sleep, Tested by Little Ones

Check out these cozy, safe and supportive little pillows for your precious little one.
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profile picture of Korin Miller
Updated June 10, 2024
Best toddler pillows for a comfy night of sleep-hero
Image: Target
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In a nutshell:
Based on the author’s firsthand product testing, we chose the Avocado Organic Toddler Pillow as the overall best toddler pillow. The author appreciated that this pillow was organic, well-made and supportive but soft. It also got good feedback from her toddler.

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.

I’m a mom of four with a 2-year-old who’s ready for her own pint-sized pillow. Like many toddlers, she’s picky about nearly everything and will refuse to use something that doesn’t meet her high standards. I put her to work, testing out eight of the most popular toddler pillows on the market to see what she—and I—thought about each. Overall, we found that some toddler pillows definitely shine in certain areas more than others. 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.

Related Video

How We Tested and Chose the Best Toddler Pillows

Image: Korin M.

Sleep is a vital factor in keeping your child healthy and happy, and ensuring your child sleeps well also has a direct impact on your own sleep quality. While a toddler pillow is unlikely to make or break your child’s sleep, it can influence how comfortable your little one is at night and during naps. Here’s how we selected our top picks:

I tested eight of the most popular toddler pillows on the market with my 2-year-old. Each pillow was used for two days and nights for naps and overnight sleeping. The pillows were also washed and dried according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If they didn’t come with a pillowcase, they were placed inside a standard toddler pillowcase to see how well they fit. I evaluated each pillow for comfort level, construction, loft and value for money. We consulted with two pediatric sleep experts on safe sleep practices for toddlers.

To see how these pillows worked for a range of families, we conducted extensive market research, analyzing feedback on message boards and reading user reviews to see what parents across the country found to be helpful and not so great about the top toddler pillows on the market.

Editorial integrity is at the heart of everything we publish. Read about how [The Bump develops and reviews all articles](https://www.thebump.com/a/e

The Best Toddler Pillows

Overall Best Toddler Pillow

Avocado Organic Toddler Pillow
Image: Avocado
Buying Options
Avocado| $34
What We Love
  • No zipper (for added safety)
  • 100-day trial period
  • Affordable for an organic option
Things To Consider
  • Pillowcase is sold separately

Today’s parents are more aware now than ever about the materials that go into the gear their children regularly interact with. The Avocado Organic Toddler Pillow is packed with certifications to ensure it’s OK for your child to snooze on, from the 100 percent GOTS organic certified cotton on the shell that wicks moisture and sleeps cool, to the 100 percent GOLS certified organic latex in the fill that provides structure and aids in temperature control. It’s also GREENGUARD Gold-certified, so you can be sure that your pillow meets the most scrupulous environmental and social standards on the planet. But most importantly for me: It passes the toddler test.

My 2-year-old, who is incredibly choosy, tried an arsenal of pillows, but kept coming back to this one. It even bested options with more obvious toddler-friendly features, like pillows with animal themes. The Avocado pillow is a medium-firm option that feels slightly squishy yet firm when you press down on it. It has an earthy aesthetic, with an off-white cover that's gently textured. That cover is incredibly soft, and I can see why my daughter wanted to put her face on it.

Another perk of the Avocado Organic Toddler Pillow is its height. It’s not too low or too high—it's somewhere in the middle, at the ideal spot for little ones. The only potential downside of the pillow is that it’s spot clean only. That hasn’t been an issue for us, but it would be nice if the pillowcase wasn’t sold separately. Avocado's pillow is $30, which seems like a great price given its comfortable feel and arsenal of certifications. It also has a 100-night trial, which can be especially helpful with choosy toddlers. Overall, this pillow was a clear favorite in my family.

Dimensions: 20" (L) x 12" (W) x 3.5" (H) | Material (shell): 100% organic cotton | Material (fill): Organic kapok fiber/organic latex | Washable: No

Our product tester says: “My daughter loved this pillow and gravitated toward it right away. She really enjoyed laying on it and would repeatedly put her head on it when we were in her room, even if it wasn't nap time or bedtime.”

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Best toddler pillow with included pillowcase

KeaBabies My Little Dreamy Pillow
Image: Target
What We Love
  • Includes organic cotton pillowcase
  • Available in nearly 30 prints
  • Case and pillow are machine-washable
Things To Consider
  • Not recommended beyond age 5

When it comes to toddler gear, the simpler the better. I really appreciate the KeaBabies’ My Little Dreamy Pillow for how easy it makes it for parents to get their child up and running with a toddler pillow. The pillow comes with its own pillowcase—so, no need to buy one separately—and it has a fun design. KeaBabies offers up a wide range of pillowcases to choose from, giving parents some level of customization. My daughter liked the pillow and especially loved the cover, which features different animals with each letter of the alphabet. She loved pointing to each one and asking me what the animals were, creating a bedtime game that we both had fun with. It also feels soft and fluffy, but not so much that your child’s head will get lost in it.

The My Little Dreamy also comes expert-recommended—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. Personally I really appreciated that the pillow and pillowcase are machine washable. I was able to toss both in the wash with the rest of my laundry, making clean-up a breeze. The pillow is also backed by a one-year warranty and 30-day money back guarantee, but it seems unlikely that we’ll need it.

Dimensions: 18" (L) x 13" (W) x 3.5" (H) | Material (shell): 100% cotton | Material (fill): 100% cotton | Washable: Yes

Our product tester says: “This is a great option for kids who like to play with their pillow or drag it around, given how easy it is to clean.”

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Best customizable toddler pillow

Little Sleepy Head Original Toddler Pillow
Image: Little Sleepy Head
What We Love
  • Customizable fill sizes
  • Available in original or organic
  • Chemical-free
Things To Consider
  • May be extra fluffy after washing

This cute hypoallergenic down-alternative pillow (another favorite of DeBear’s) 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. My daughter loved the softness of the pillow. It can be compressed a lot and squished nearly flat before it bounces back—she had a lot of fun pressing it when it wasn't time to sleep, although she settled down nicely when it was bedtime.

Like a lot of adult pillows, Little Sleepy Head gives parents the option to choose classic, less fill, and more fill pillows, providing a level of customization you don’t see in many toddler pillows. It also comes in organic and regular versions, giving you even more options (although the organic version is about $10 more). Little Sleepy Head performed well in clean-up testing. The pillow is machine washable and came out of the dryer great, although it needed a little fluffing before it was ready to use again. At under $20, the Little Sleepy Head pillow is one of the less expensive toddler pillows out there, making it a great pick for parents on a budget, as well as those who want something that’s easy to clean.

Dimensions: 18" (L) x 13" (W) x 4" (H) | Material (shell): 100% organic cotton | Material (fill): Polyester cluster fiber | Washable: Yes

Our product tester says: “It’s a great option for kids who prefer a softer sleep surface. It's very squishy and the option to customize your fill is nice.”

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Best memory foam toddler pillow

Coop Home Goods The Original Toddler Pillow
Image: Target
What We Love
  • Great lift
  • Childproof adjustability
  • GREENGUARD Gold certified
Things To Consider
  • Too hot for some kids
  • Inner zipper can be hard to open

Coop’s The Original Toddler Pillow is packed with shredded memory foam that you can adjust as needed. The pillow has a squishy but responsive feel, and my daughter was excited to use it. The pillow arrived overstuffed and was too high for her at first, but it's not too hard to adjust. You simply undo an exterior zipper and then pull out stuffing from an interior pouch. Coop smartly created the pillow with a “child-safe design” that requires a paper clip to unzip the pillow (so kids won’t play with it in the middle of the night), but that added layer of protection means you need to have a paper clip or similar tool handy.

The pillow can go in the wash, although it needs to be fastened with a safety pin first to make sure the fill doesn’t end up everywhere. The pillow is made from the same materials as the adult version of Coop's Original pillow—it’s basically a mini version of that one—and it’s GREENGUARD Gold and CertiPUR-US certified, which I appreciate. The seams are tight, too, and the overall construction is high quality. At $35, this is not a cheap toddler pillow. But it's clearly made with care and seems like it will hold up well for years.
Dimensions: 19" (L) x 13" (W) x 4" (H) | Material (shell): Polyester/rayon | Material (fill): Memory foam/microfiber | Washable: Yes

Our product tester says: “This is clearly a high quality pillow. The outside cover is soft to the touch and the stitching around the outside is tight. I have zero concerns that this will fray or break over time.”

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Best wool toddler pillow

Woolino Premium Wool Toddler Pillow
Image: Amazon
Buying Options
Amazon|$45
What We Love
  • Naturally hypoallergenic
  • Free from toxins
  • Sustainable and environmentally friendly
Things To Consider
  • Air dry only
  • Pillowcases are sold separately

If you’re looking for a wool pillow that’s both eco-friendly and free of harmful substances, the Woolino wool toddler pillow—filled with high-quality, 100 percent natural Australian wool—is an excellent choice. It’s not 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. And the 300-thread count soft sateen cotton shell delivers the coziest, most cuddle-worthy level of comfort you can hope to find in a toddler pillow.

While some wool pillows can have a distinct sheep-y smell, this one had no noticeable odor. This is a medium-soft pillow—it feels kind of like a cloud but with a little firmness in the middle. It feels different from all of the others when you hold it, and that's likely due to the wool fill. It's not as structured as its memory foam counterparts, but that's not a bad thing—it's just different. My daughter enjoyed resting her head on the pillow and the loft seemed just right for someone of her size.

The washing directions for this are highly specific, and I kept checking the care instructions while cleaning the pillow to make sure I didn't mess anything up. But the pillow washed up nicely. The pillow is OEKO-Tex 100 tested and certified for quality ingredients, which I appreciate as a parent. At $45, this is one of the most expensive toddler pillows on the market, but it has the certification and quality ingredients to back that up. Overall, this is comfortable and just fluffy enough to make a range of kids happy.

Dimensions: 19" (L) x 14" (W) | Material (shell): Sateen cotton | Material (fill): 100% wool | Washable: Yes

Our product tester says: “For parents that want to invest in a wool pillow, it's a good, high quality option. It also has good certification that you can feel comfortable with your child laying on this, night after night.”

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Best easy-to-clean toddler pillow

PharMeDoc Little Garoo Toddler Pillow
Image: Amazon
What We Love
  • Built-in toddler pillowcase
  • Affordable
Things To Consider
  • Limited colors
  • May be too fluffy for some

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. But even better, the whole thing is machine washable, which is great for busy parents. I just tossed it in with the rest of the wash and went about my day. When it came out of the dryer, the fill had moved a little, but I was able to shift it back with a little fluffing. It does seem like the fill will shift with time, but it was nothing that a little fluffing couldn't fix. The brand promises it’ll stay soft and firm up to 400 washes later, and while I haven’t had it long enough to vouch for that claim, I can say that even after washing, the pillow was of sturdy construction with no loose threads or obvious issues.

This pillow comes in your choice of five colors in what PharMeDoc calls a "built-in cover." The cover is soft and made of organic cotton, which I appreciated. In the world of toddler pillows, the loft is a little higher than some others, but my daughter slept just fine on it. For parents who want a simple option that makes life easy for under $20, this may be the way to go.

Dimensions: 19" (L) x 14" (W) x 4.5" (H) | Material (shell): Cotton | Material (fill): Polyester | Washable: Yes

Our product tester says: “It's a solid pillow that's comfortable to use and easy to wash. You can also squash it easily to fit it into a suitcase when you hit the road.”

Buy Now

Cutest toddler pillow

Choc Chick Toddler Pillow
Image: Amazon
Buying Options
Amazon| $19.99
What We Love
  • Affordable
  • Sweet design
  • Machine washable
Things To Consider
  • Needs to be fluffed regularly

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.

Just keep in mind that all that adorableness can be distracting. My daughter had fun sleeping on it, although she needed some reminders that it was time for bed at first because she kept playing with the bunny ears. But once she got used to the fact that she had a bunny pillow—a very exciting thing in her world—this wasn't an issue. The design is subtle and not cheesy, which I appreciated. There is a seam across the center, probably to prevent fill from bunching, but my daughter didn't seem to mind.

This pillow doesn't have any special certifications, but it's well constructed. There are no obvious seams or issues, and it looks like it would hold up for a while. I can see some toddlers pulling on the bunny ears a lot, but I gave them a few good tugs and they stayed put. The pillow needs regular fluffing since the fill can shift around, but it's not difficult. All in all the pillow is well-priced, especially if you have a toddler who loves animals.

Dimensions: 20" (L) x 12" (W) x 2.7" (H) | Material (shell): 100% organic cotton | Material (fill): polyester | Washable: Yes

Our product tester says: “The pillow is adorable and fun, and my daughter loved sleeping with it. If your toddler tends to have trouble settling down for bed, I would suggest letting them play with the pillow before it's time to sleep. Otherwise, it can be distracting when it's time to go to bed—at least at first."

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When Can a Toddler Have a Pillow?

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. Mona Amin, MD, a pediatrician and parenting coach, suggests waiting until your child asks for a pillow or until they’re at least 18 to 24 months old.

“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,” Amin says.

Signs Your Toddler Needs a Pillow

Even 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.

What to Look for in a Toddler Pillow

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.

Ease of cleaning. 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.”

About the writer Korin Miller is a journalist with experience writing dozens of health and shopping features for The Bump. Korin specializes in commerce, wellness and lifestyle trends, with work appearing in Women’s Health, Forbes, WSJ, SELF, Prevention and more. Korin is a mom to four kids, ranging in age from 2 to 10 years old. She has a master’s degree from American University and lives by the beach.

Sources

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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