Your Toddler Is Probably Ready for a Pillow — Here Are the Ones We’d Buy

published Jun 28, 2023
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Overhead shot of young girl laying in bed watching tv
Credit: Getty Images / Cavan Images

In the beginning, you’re not supposed to put anything in the crib with the baby while they sleep, and I internalized that rule so strongly that it was super odd to start thinking about blankets and pillows for her. I’m a little embarrassed about how long I waited, but she doesn’t seem any the worse for wear. 

When your little one has graduated from the crib to a toddler bed and is ready for all the toddler bed extras — a toddler bed mattress, mattress protector, toddler bed rails, and cute toddler bedding — of course it’s time for a toddler pillow as well. Kids need support for their growing necks, and as they become more bodily aware it’s possible to add more comfort. 

Toddler Pillow Age

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children don’t sleep with a pillow until age 2, to reduce the risk of suffocation. Let’s just say I took my time after 2 getting my daughter a pillow with no issues I can see. After all, babies and toddlers can’t miss something they haven’t had. 

Signs Your Toddler Needs a Pillow

Once your child is 2, you can start looking for signs that they might need a little something extra to rest their head on for nighttime or naps. Here are a few things to notice.

  • Your child is waking often or seems restless during the night or naps.
  • They want to share your pillow or rest their head on something soft, like a stuffed animal.

Even if they aren’t ready right away, you can choose your favorite and keep it on hand so that when it’s time, you have it and everyone can get some sleep. 

We’ve rounded up some favorite toddler pillows to help send your little one off to dreamland in comfort. 

The Best Toddler Pillows

1 / 9

Best organic toddler pillow

You may be familiar with Avocado’s mattresses, and it makes sense they’d make great pillows to match. I love this child-size version for the natural look, backed up with high- quality materials (it’s filled with organic latex and kapok fiber and covered with organic cotton). It’s intended to be cooling and is nice and breathable for safety. It’s also a nice price point. My only quibble is that you have to spot-clean it, but it makes sense with the natural fibers.

2 / 9
was $35.96

This Keababies toddler pillow is small and not overly puffy; it's ergonomically designed for toddlers. Both pillow and pillowcase are machine-washable, which is a huge plus for me. We have one of these in the rainbow pattern, but they come in a truly dizzying array of patterns and solids to match your decor. My daughter and I both love how soft the pillowcase is.

3 / 9

This children’s pillow from Nook offers the same technology and sustainable materials as their adult pillows, with the same fun pebbled look. It’s designed to be cooling, for a comfortable night, and comes in lots of fun colors. Best yet? It’s fully machine-washable.

4 / 9
Coop Sleep Goods

Another one of our favorite toddler pillows, the Coop toddler pillow is hypoallergenic with a washable cover and is GREENGUARD Gold certified. (We wrote all about this pillow right here.) Also, like other Coop pillows, you can adjust the memory foam filling to get the right fluffiness or flatness for your little one. Pair it with a cute pillowcase of your choice.

5 / 9

Naturepedic has long been a trusted name in sleep, so it makes sense that they have crafted a luxurious, safe toddler pillow (although it is on the high side, price-wise). They do have a year warranty, which should give you lots of time to test it out, and with an organic cotton cover filled with sugar cane, you don’t have to worry about toxins. The cover is machine-washable as well for easy care.

6 / 9
was $79.00

Another pillow from a mattress company, Purple’s kids' pillow uses their GelFlex Grid (which looks kind of like a squishy honeycomb) to support your little one as they sleep, just as their adult pillows do for you. There’s a one-year warranty and a 100-night trial, and it comes in four different cover colors. You can machine-wash and dry this one with cold water and a low dryer setting.

7 / 9

Parachute’s toddler pillow is filled with a down alternative, which is great for anyone with allergies or preferences in that direction. It’s machine-washable and dryable and comes with a soft cotton sateen cover for extra comfort. Although there is no down to be found, the hypoallergenic interior filling is meant to mimic that soft fluffiness.

8 / 9
Pottery Barn Kids

If the Parachute toddler pillow above is sold out (as it often is!), this OEKO-TEX STANDARD-certified pillow from Pottery Barn Kids is a solid alternative.

9 / 9

I’ve long been a fan of the heirloom-quality, European-made designs from Gooselings, and their toddler pillows are no exception. Choose from a vast array of designs — I love this blue one for starry nights. It’s filled with down and meets European safety standards, comes with its own tote bag, and can be monogrammed. This is a big splurge, but has the potential to be a keepsake — especially when paired with matching bedding.