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For most parents, the first year or so with baby means a crib that’s devoid of anything during bedtime. That means no blankets, no pillows, no bumpers, and no toys — at least until your baby can safely roll over.

But as your child transitions into their toddler stage, and especially as you think about transitioning them from a crib to a toddler bed, it seems only natural that your little human’s little bed should have a little pillow, too.

So, do you need a toddler pillow? And, if so, what are the best options?

Do they need them? Probably not. But then again, even as an adult you technically don’t need a pillow to fall asleep!

But toddlers can use a pillow and you won’t be a bad parent whether you decide to introduce one or not — we promise.

If you do decide to purchase a toddler pillow, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends that pillows shouldn’t be introduced before a child is 18 months old.

After 18 months, the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) is dramatically reduced. Before 18 months, there’s a risk that a pillow can block your baby’s airway, leading to suffocation.

After 18 months is when parents may begin transitioning their child out of a crib and into a toddler bed if the child is ready.

Readiness to move to a bed varies from child to child — some parents start just after 18 months, while others wait until around the 30–36 month mark (2 1/2 to 3 years old).

Definitely don’t feel like you’re behind if your little one stays in their crib longer.

While it’s safe to give a toddler a pillow, there are some things you should keep in mind:

Size matters

One of the biggest concerns with giving your toddler a pillow is using one that’s far too big for them.

Even if it seems frivolous, it’s best not to use a standard (adult) size pillow and to instead opt for a smaller pillow specifically designed for toddlers.

Nix the allergens

Just like with adults, children can be allergic to things like down feathers. So it’s always best to err on the side of caution and pick a toddler pillow with a down alternative filling, like cotton or polyester.

Pick the right firmness

Even if you love the softest pillows on Earth, first-time pillows for toddlers shouldn’t be overly plush. Instead, pick something that’s soft but still firm enough to provide proper support.

Look for fiber-filled options that retain their shape, especially immediately after pressing down on them.

So now that you know what to avoid, it’s time to discuss what you actually want in a toddler pillow.

Size

Pick a pillow designed with toddlers in mind. Smaller pillows are best since a full-sized pillow runs the risk of not properly supporting your toddler and being too large for their bed.

Filling

Look for low-allergen options but also be sure that it’s firm enough to provide proper support and won’t go flat after a month of use.

You can find great options that feature memory foam — but whichever you choose, be sure that the toddler pillow can retain its shape and isn’t too soft.

Maintenance

Unless you have all the free time in the world (who are we kidding, you have a toddler!), look for toddler pillows that are machine washable and don’t require special cleaning instructions. In the case of a memory foam pillow, look for zippered cases that can be easily cleaned.

Durability

Pillows should be swapped out every 18 to 36 months (depending on the material) for new, clean options.

You’ll want to make sure that your toddler pillow can not only stand up to being slept on regularly, but the typical antics of toddlers as well (pillow fight, anyone?!).

Picking a toddler pillow is a lot like picking a pillow for yourself, but with a few more safety considerations required.

To create our recommendations, we looked at the filling material, how easily a pillow could be cleaned, the size, cost, and of course reviews from real parents like you!

Price guide

  • $ = under $15
  • $$ = $16–$25
  • $$$ = over $26

Best toddler pillow for allergies

KeaBabies Toddler Pillow with Pillowcase

Price: $$

Send your little one off to dreamland with this pillow from KeaBabies that comes with an adorable unicorn pillowcase. The filling is made from high-quality ball fiber that’s designed to stay fluffy after you wash it, and the natural cotton pillowcase is a great option for minimizing the risk of allergies.

Parents like that this pillow is machine washable and can be put in the dryer on low. And the manufacturer claims you can simply give it a fluff after washing without the filling getting lumpy or shrinking.

Buy the KeaBabies Toddler Pillow with Pillowcase online.

Best rated toddler pillow

Little Sleepy Head Toddler Pillow

Price: $$

If your little one is a lot like Goldilocks and needs a pillow that’s not too soft but not too firm, then this pick from Little Sleepy Head is perfect. With rave reviews on Amazon, most parents say it’s just the right size and firmness for their toddlers.

This pillow has a 100 percent cotton shell and a polyester fiber filling that’s designed to hold its shape over time. Keeping this pillow clean is a breeze since this is another machine washable and dryer-friendly option. One negative, however, is that it doesn’t come with a pillowcase.

Buy the Little Sleepy Head Toddler Pillow online.

Best memory foam toddler pillow

Coop Home Goods Toddler Pillow

Price: $$

If you’re a fan of memory foam pillows, then you’re going to like this toddler-friendly version from Coop Home Goods. Instead of a solid block of memory foam, this pick is made from cross-cut foam that’s certified by CertiPUR-US and GreenGuard Gold that it’s free of toxins and has low VOCs.

Bonus: The entire pillow is machine washable — not just the cover. And you’ll like that the cover has a hidden zipper to keep little hands from playing with it.

Buy the Coop Home Goods Toddler Pillow online.

Best cooling toddler pillow

wavveUziz Toddler Pillow for Kids

Price: $$

If your little one sweats while they sleep, you’ll appreciate this memory foam pillow from wavveUziz because it features a gel pad to help them stay cool.

And while this pillow conforms to the shape of your child’s head (as is common with memory foam), parents say it’s still firm enough for their kiddos to be supported as they snooze. Worth noting: With this option, only the external cover can be put in a washing machine.

Buy the wavveUziz Toddler Pillow online.

Best organic toddler pillowcase

My Little North Star Organics Sweet Dreams Toddler Pillow and Pillowcase

Price: $$

These days, a bunch of companies slap the word “organic” onto their packaging. But we had a really tough time finding organic toddler pillows that were actually certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS).

This option from My Little North Star Organics gets a skeptical glance from us for it’s somewhat misleading use of the term “organic,” as the pillow itself is filled with polyester fiber. However, the accompanying pillowcase is GOTS-certified organic, so if you’re looking for a semi-organic, pillow and pillowcase option that doesn’t break the bank, this might be a good fit for you.

Buy My Little North Star Organics Sweet Dreams Toddler Pillow and Pillowcase online.

Best organic toddler pillow

Mother Sheep Organics Wool Toddler Pillow

Price: $$$ (+)

As we mentioned above, finding a truly organic toddler pillow was a struggle. Perhaps that’s because few people are willing to pay a premium for such a small pillow — this one from Mother Sheep Organics is the only completely GOTS-certified pillow we could find… and it rings in at over $50.

If you’re unphased by the price tag, this is a great organic option. With 100 percent organic wool filling and a 100 percent organic cotton pillowcase, you can rest assured that your toddler is sleeping comfortably on nontoxic materials.

While the pillow itself isn’t washable, the pillowcase is safe to wash cold and hang dry.

Buy the Mother Sheep Organics Toddler Pillow online.

Best wool toddler pillow

Woolino Wool Toddler Pillow

Price: $$$

Speaking of wool, this pick is worth mentioning as it has a 100 percent cotton exterior and Oeko-TEX 100 certified, 100 percent wool interior. Wool has natural thermoregulatory and moisture-wicking properties and is naturally antimicrobial and fire resistant.

Fans of this toddler pillow say that it’s just the right thickness for their kiddo and that they found comfort in knowing the materials inside. It’s also machine washable, and a few folks who reviewed it post-wash say it held up well (the manufacturer recommends a washable cover to reduce the amount of overall wash cycles).

Buy the Woolino Wool Toddler Pillow online.

Best travel toddler pillow

Biloban Baby Toddler Pillow

Price: $$

Technically speaking, any toddler pillow makes for a sensible travel pillow because of its small size. But this option from Biloban is great because it’s also a little flatter than many of the others we’ve featured.

This pillow measures 13 by 18 inches with a thickness that ranges from 1.9 to 2.5 inches. It features an Oeko-TEX certified cotton shell and poly-cluster fiber filling that’s also ideal if you’re concerned about allergies.

Buy the Biloban Baby Toddler Pillow online.

Best kid-friendly toddler pillow

Sesame Street Cookie Monster Super Soft Sherpa Toddler Pillow

Price: $

We have all kinds of feels for this fun little pillow. If your child is obsessed with Sesame Street, this Cookie Monster themed Sherpa pillow is going to be a great addition to their bedding.

This square-shaped pillow is made from polyester both for the case and the fill and measures 15 by 15 inches. While it requires spot cleaning only, reviewers say that the joy it brings their little one is worth it.

It also comes in an Elmo design which is equally adorable — we can’t promise they won’t sing “Elmo’s Song” all through the night, though.

Buy the Sesame Street Cookie Monster Super Soft Sherpa Toddler Pillow online.

Best flat toddler pillow

ClevaMama ClevaFoam Toddler Pillow

Price: $$$

For parents that are concerned about a pillow that’s too thick, this flatter pillow from ClevaMama is a good option. It has a slightly larger overall footprint as it measures 20 inches wide and 12 inches deep, but it only measures 2 inches tall.

This breathable memory foam pillow has a lot of great reviews, but a handful of reviewers warn that while the pillow cover is machine washable, the pillow itself is not. Seriously, based on the complaints from those who did, do not wash it — opt for a waterproof cover instead.

Buy the ClevaMama ClevaFoam Toddler Pillow online.

While toddler pillows aren’t a necessity, we totally get why parents might want to introduce one to their child’s bedroom.

As long as you aim for a nonallergenic option that’s easy to clean and appropriately sized for your toddler, there’s no reason not to let your child (18 months and older) get cozy with pillows.