As parents, we are constantly making choices for the wellbeing of our children, and it can be overwhelming! Something as basic as a pillow presents a dilemma. For one thing, little babies shouldn’t use a pillow at all, so deciding when to provide your child with one requires some thought. For another, you are still learning how your child responds to various environmental factors as they reach toddler-hood, so choosing the right material is also crucial. Fear not – we have done the research and found five great pillows that are safe for a two year old child to grow with. One of them is sure to be the best toddler pillow for your sweet kiddo.
How to Know When Your Child is Ready for a Pillow?
There are a few signs that indicate it is safe to introduce a pillow into your child’s bed.
1. Her shoulders are wider than her head
By the time your baby has grown such that her shoulders are wider than her head, her body will be strong enough to push away the pillow if it encroaches on her breathing in any way. The fact that newborns are not able to hold their heads independently is the reason that experts recommend skipping pillows, blankets, and toys in the crib.
2. He mimics you by laying on your pillow
Babies learn by watching and imitating their caregivers, and it doesn’t take much experimenting to discover that it feels great to lay your head on a pillow. If your baby is mobile and takes the initiative to crawl over to your pillow and use it, he is probably ready for his own.
3. She uses her stuffed animals as pillows
Once a child discovers that using a pillow is more comfortable than not, she will probably start using anything she has access to for that purpose. If you find your baby resting with her head on a stuffed animal or a bunched up blanket, she is ready for a real pillow.
What to Look for in a Toddler Pillow?
Before you buy, be sure to think carefully about the following factors before choosing the best toddler pillow for your unique child.
A strong seam is critical for any pillow that belongs to a toddler because he or she is going to use it hard. Curious fingers will poke at the seam and any loose threads will be pulled. Fabric that is thin can also be ripped easily. Once a hole is created, the filling will start to come out and this poses a choking hazard.
The right material for your toddler’s pillow depends very much on the child himself. Youngsters are more susceptible to allergens than adults, so a hypoallergenic pillow could be ideal. These pillows are often made of synthetic materials, which are naturally resistant to mold and mildew.
However, synthetic products can give off traces of chemicals used in manufacturing. If your child has no environmental allergies, a pillow constructed with and filled by natural materials could be appropriate. Just remember that these materials are more prone to mold and bug activity.
Finally, avoid pillows that use latex coatings. Though this can help spills and stains roll off, it also tends to cause sweating during use.
It’s best to start a toddler off with a relatively firm pillow. A super fluffy pillow is too easy to sink down into. Even though she should be strong enough to move if the pillow obstructs her breathing in any way, you don’t want her to have to do this regularly.
Soft pillows are okay for older children who can communicate their preferences. But for baby’s first pillow, test the firmness by pressing your hand onto its surface. If the material springs back into shape quickly when you let go, you’ve found a good one.
Toddlers are messy and they don’t do their own laundry yet, so make your life a little easier by choosing a pillow that is machine washable. You don’t want to have to replace it every time he gets a stomach bug, drags his pillow along the floor, or spills juice on it.
Make sure that your pillow dries thoroughly after each wash to discourage the growth of mold.
Like so many other things, size matters when it comes to your child’s first pillow. Just as you wouldn’t want her to get tangled up in clothes that are too big, you also don’t want to risk her getting caught in a pillow that is too large. The recommended size for a toddler pillow is 13 x 18 inches and most brands conform to this. However, there are even smaller versions available that make for a great travel pillow.
Interestingly, beyond supporting a smaller head and neck properly, experts suggest that using a smaller pillow for your toddler will also help them move around less as they sleep. This can improve sleep quality.
Most experts advise against using any kind of pillow in your child’s crib. It’s okay to wait until you transition your toddler to a regular bed to incorporate a pillow, even if he or she is a three year old by then.
If your toddler isn’t ready for a bigger bed by the time his shoulders are wider than his head, feel free to talk to your pediatrician about whether or not it would be safe to place a toddler pillow in his crib.
Never use any pillow with your child’s car seat unless it came with the seat upon purchase. Any “aftermarket” accessory could interfere with the seat’s function in a crash because it was never tested with that product.
Best Toddler Pillow on the Market Reviews
The following five pillows have been rigorously tested for safety and are recommended by happy parents.
1 Zack & Ali Toddler Pillow, Soft 100% Organic Cotton, 13 x 18, Made in USA
This pillow by Zack & Ali is constructed of a 100% organic cotton shell and a soft filling of Premium Hypoallergenic Poly Micro Gel Fiber that contains no chemicals or funny smells. The filling mimics the feel of down but contains no real feathers.
The Zack & Ali Toddler Pillow is designed to be just right for kids who are transitioning to a pillow. It is the standard 13” x 18” size, for starters. The filling is also more malleable than other commonly used fills so that it more effectively supports your toddler’s spinal alignment and sets her up for better sleep.
Like most of the toddler pillows on our list, this one is fully machine washable. Pillows naturally flatten out with use, but you can rejuvenate your Zack & Ali product with a wash, dry, and fluff.
A selection of adorable pillowcases, including patterns that feature elephants, rocket ships, and koala bears, are sold separately. The Zack & Ali company is family owned and all of its products are made in the USA. Customer service is responsive and friendly; each toddler pillow comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Dimensions: 13 x 0.5 x 18 inches
Weight: 5.1 ounces
2 My Little North Star Organics Toddler Pillow Organic Cotton - Made in USA - Washable Unisex Kids Pillow - 13X18
My Little North Star offers another standard-sized toddler pillow covered in sustainably harvested organic cotton and filled with chemical-free hypoallergenic poly cluster fiber filling. No pillowcase is required, but the company does offer one style for purchase separately. It features a nice unisex design of gray stars.
This pillow is reported to contain the best level of filling to support the head and neck of toddlers 2-5 years old. However, we suggest that the slimmer profile makes this pillow best for children who prefer a flatter pillow. It’s great for stomach sleepers, too. And even though it isn’t as thick as other toddler pillows, it is specially designed to resist getting lumpy with use.
My Little North Star's organic toddler pillow is a great choice for parents who are concerned about the possible presence of pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, flame retardants, and dust-mite repellents in their child’s bedding. It is a great choice for children with sensitive skin.
The product is fully machine washable and dries nicely in the dryer. It is made in the USA and comes with a satisfaction guarantee. Be sure to buy only from My Little North Star, the only authorized retailer of this organic pillow.
Dimensions: 18 x 13 x 3.5 inches
Weight: 7 ounces
3 A Little Pillow Company Toddler Pillow (13x18) - Handmade in USA for Over 12 Years | Double-Stitched | Hypoallergenic | Machine-Washable (White)
This toddler pillow is covered in 100% cotton percale for an unbeatable softness. As it is fully machine washable, you don’t need to use a pillowcase – your child will enjoy the feel of light and breathable percale against his skin. However, there are a variety of cute pillowcases from A Little Pillow Company available to purchase separately if desired. Patterns include sheep, butterflies and bees, flying bears, and friendly giraffes.
One of the distinguishing features of this pillow is its double stitching. That makes it sturdy enough to stand up to rough use and repeated washings without splitting a seam. The filling is a deluxe cluster polyfiber that makes the pillow about 4 inches thick.
These pillows have been handmade in the USA for over 12 years. A Little Pillow Company also offers a variety of sizes that can grow with your child, and they even have adult-sized pillows.
Dimensions: 18 x 13 x 4 inches
Weight: 7 ounces
4 Dreamtown Kids Toddler Pillow with Pillowcase 14x19 White, Made in USA
If you are looking for a toddler pillow that’s slightly larger than the standard size, look no further. Dreamtown’s pillow is 14 x 19 inches (rather than 13 x 18). Made of a cotton/poly blend, it is both hypoallergenic and resistant to mold and mildew. No chemicals are ever added to the filling, including flame retardants.
Most of the cotton used in the fabric blend are grown and woven in the US, and every one of the organic textile prints is Global Organic Textile certified and printed with low impact dyes. Dreamtown products are constructed in the USA.
The fiber is both dense and soft to provide optimal support for your little one’s head. A nice bonus is that this pillow comes packaged with a neutral white pillowcase. Additional patterned pillowcases are available to purchase separately.
This small, family-owned and operated company prides itself on friendly and responsive customer service. They guarantee your happiness and welcome feedback on their products and service.
Dimensions: 14 x 19 x 4 inches
Weight: 9.6 ounces
5 wavve Memory Foam Toddler Kids Baby Pillow with Pillowcase Cover Cool Gel Pad
If you’re thinking outside of the box when it comes to your toddler’s first pillow, take a look at this memory foam version. It is ergonomically designed in a wave-like shape to please kids who prefer a higher contour and those who like a lower contour.
Both sides adapt to the weight of your child’s head and neck, aligning them with the top of the spine and encouraging proper sleep position. This shape can also help stomach sleepers avoid a sore neck.
It’s true that memory foam is a manufactured product, but it does not contain toxic ingredients such as methane chloride, formaldehyde, or PBDE. It also provides a better protective barrier against common allergens like dust mites, mold, and bacteria than 100% natural fibers.
Another nice benefit of the wavve pillow is the Air Cell Technology Memory Foam topped with a cool gel pad. This increases comfort and prevents sweating for kids who run hot when they sleep. If your toddler insists on snuggling with a blankie even in the hottest part of summer, this pillow could be a perfect solution.
Though the pillow itself is not machine washable (spot clean only), it comes equipped with a bamboo blend pillowcase that can be tossed in the wash. Unlike pillows with a fiber-based filling, the memory foam will return to its original shape and thickness day after day for years.
Note that while there will be a slight odor to the product when it is first unpacked, the smell is not harmful and will dissipate within 20 minutes or so. Contact the company with any concerns regarding your pillow as the product comes with a satisfaction guarantee.
Dimensions: 18 x 10 x 2.5 inches
Weight: 2.35 pounds
There is a lot to think about when it comes to your toddler’s first pillow, but the good news is that there are several companies out there who have put enormous work into designing safe and comfortable products. Whether you want to go with all-natural cotton, higher tech memory foam, or something in between, there is a product on our list that can fit the bill. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to kids, but rest assured that there is a best toddler pillow to encourage sweet dreams for any little one. Now what are you going to do with your quiet time?