Guide To Choose the Best Pillows for Your Toddler
Sleep is important. Just as we want our sleeping environment to bring us comfort and relaxation, we want the same for our toddlers. A pillow can really enhance bedtime for our toddlers, but there are lots of factors and questions to address first.
What sets a toddler pillow apart from a standard pillow? Is it really necessary? What materials are safe for toddler pillows? What are some of the best toddler pillows available on the market? When we set out to create our brand new toddler pillow, we had a lot of questions. Now, we want to share what we learned! A good night’s rest is essential for everyone, but especially for our growing children.
Benefits of a toddler pillow
Many may ask: is a toddler pillow strictly necessary? The short answer is no, but pillows are also not strictly necessary for adults. We use them to be comfortable. While some children may spend most of their toddler stage completely fine without a pillow, some toddlers start craving additional comfort, especially in the transition from crib sleeping to sleeping in a big kid bed.
According to the consumer product safety commission, children under the age of 18 months old should not have a pillow. This is to help combat sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). After 18 months old, the likelihood of SIDS lessens, and many parents start thinking about introducing a pillow into their child’s sleeping environment.
There is no universally correct time to give your toddler their own pillow. Many children continue to sleep without a pillow well through their toddler years. That said, there are some major benefits to buying a toddler pillow for your kiddo.
Pillows are not essential to our sleep, however, they do add a great deal of comfort to our sleeping environment which in turn helps us get a better night’s rest. This same sentiment also applies to our toddlers. Toddlers do not require pillows but may begin to crave extra head and neck support in order to feel comfortable while sleeping.
If you notice your toddler starting to struggle to get comfortable or use stuffed animals or blankets to support their head, it may be an indication they are ready for a toddler pillow.
You may be thinking why not just buy my toddler a normal pillow? You’re not alone. Toddler pillows are created specifically for little ones and are just the right size for their smaller proportions. Not only does this provide more comfortable support for a child’s neck and head, but also takes up less space in a smaller, toddler bed.
The size of a toddler pillow not only makes it a more comfortable option but there are significant safety considerations as well.
Normal, adult-sized pillows can pose a risk to toddlers. The larger size of standard pillows poses a suffocation risk for small children and many poorly stuffed pillows include materials that can be a choking risk if kids get curious and start pulling the pillow apart. Additionally, many adult pillows are made with materials that have been processed with harsh chemicals and other harmful substances.
Toddler pillows are made specifically with little one’s in mind and are often constructed with non-toxic or natural materials to ensure kid’s can get a safe and good night’s sleep.
Differences between toddler pillows
There are many similarities between different toddler pillows on the market, but there are also many differences. What are some of the biggest differences between different types of toddler pillows?Filling Material
Pillow filling often dictates how soft, firm, breathable, and expensive a pillow is. Many filling materials that are popular for adult pillows, are not suitable for toddler pillows.
Common toddler pillow fillings include polyester, cotton, memory foam, and organic materials such as kapok fiber.Polyester Filling
Down pillows are a very popular option for adults due to how soft and luxurious they feel. That said, down alternative filling, such as polyester, is generally a much more popular option for a toddler pillow. Polyester filling tends to create a breathable and soft pillow, but it is not a naturally occuring material and can contain chemicals if the manufacturing process is not carefully monitored.Cotton Filling
Cotton is one of the most popular materials used in bedding for a reason. Cotton produces a filling that is versatile, breathable, soft, and hypoallergenic. If you prefer an organic option, you can find toddler pillows made with organic cotton. Be sure triple check that any product labelled as an organic cotton toddler pillow is properly certified. 100% organic cotton toddler pillows tend to come with a much higher price tag than traditional cotton or polyester.Memory Foam Filling
Memory foam is a popular material for adult pillows, especially those looking for additional head and neck support. A memory foam pillow is made from polyurethane in a process that typically uses a lot of harsh chemicals. Before buying a memory foam toddler pillow, be sure to do a lot of extra research to make sure the pillow is safe for children. Even so, a memory foam pillow tends to be very firm and many toddlers may find them uncomfortable. Memory foam pillows also tend to be less breathable than cotton or down alternatives.Other Organic & Natural Fibers
Many parents prefer an organic toddler pillow since organic fillings tend to be sustainably sourced and don’t use harsh chemicals. That said, some popular organic pillow materials, such as buckwheat, should be avoided due to choking hazard. Organic wool and latex are more commonly used as filling for organic toddler pillows, but also can trigger allergies. An organic toddler pillow price is likely going to be much higher than traditional cotton or polyester.Size & Shape
The average toddler pillow measures 13 x 18 inches. While this may vary slightly, most toddler pillows will be around these dimensions. Remember that the size of a toddler pillow is not just to accommodate a toddler bedsheets or crib, but also for safety and comfort.
Toddler pillows may also come in a variety of shapes. You may see options for a flat toddler pillow, animal-shaped pillows, and even c-shaped pillows specifically designed for car seats, strollers, and airplanes. Some are even designed to look like a stuffed animal!Firmness
The firmness of a toddler pillow generally depends on the filling material and how much the pillow is stuffed. Fluffy pillows made out of materials such as kapok and polyester tend to provide slightly less support.Firm pillows
Super firm pillows may prove to be uncomfortable for most toddlers. That said, each toddler is different and they will probably come to have preferences as they transition through their toddler years.
A memory foam toddler pillow is likely to be one of the firmest options available, however, it’s good to keep in mind that memory foam is a filling that is often treated with harsh chemicals.Soft pillows
Fluffy pillows tend to be lush, soft, and comfortable. That said, beware as overly fluffy pillows could pose an increased hazard for suffocation, even if they come in toddler size.
Talking to your toddler’s doctor could be a good place to start if you’re unsure of which level of firmness is right for them.Safety
Most toddler pillows are made with toddlers in mind. They are designed to be a safe size and non-toxic materials are used.
The shell of the pillow and the way the pillow is stuffed is also important for safety. Some pillows may include zippers to remove stuffing which can be helpful for adjusting pillow firmness, but unhelpful in the case that a curious toddler may find a way to open the pillow up.Price
Toddler pillows, like adult pillows, sheets, and other types of bedding, come in a variety of price ranges.
Several factors contribute to this wide range. What type of filling is used, the quality of the materials, whether the pillow comes with a properly sized pillowcase, a company's return policy, etc. all come into play when it comes to pillow price.
Organic fillings tend to be on the more expensive side.
Polyester is usually much more affordable, but look out for care instructions and the overall quality of the pillow.Care
Let’s face it, toddlers are messy. Being able to wash your toddler pillow is essential for good hygiene, comfort, and keeping away pesky dust mites.
Some toddler pillows have removable shells that can be washed, some are machine washable, while others may require handwashing.Pillowcases
Toddler pillows need toddler pillowcases. Some toddler pillows come with a pillowcase included in addition to the shell which holds the filling material inside the pillow.
The material of a toddler pillowcase is as important as the filling. Cotton and cotton blends are a popular toddler pillowcase material due to their breathability and softness. Thankfully, most pillowcases are machine washable.
Tips for shopping for toddler pillows:
A safe toddler pillow is high on the priority list. After that, determining the best toddler pillow may also come down to personal preference.
Safety First. Look for pillows with high-quality materials, including the stuffing and case. Avoid toxic materials and/or those treated with harsh chemicals. There are no “correct” dimensions for a toddler pillow, but choose those close to the average size of 13 by 18 inches to easily find pillowcases and ensure that they fit in a toddler bed.
Perfect Firmness. While toddlers may not be privy to all of the different pillow options out there, many of us have experienced firsthand how opinionated they can be. They may come to prefer softer/firmer pillows with time. A pillow that is soft, yet supportive is a good place to start. Avoid super fluffy pillows as these have a higher suffocation risk. Super firm pillows are likely to be way too uncomfortable for them.
Care. Toddler pillows should also be made with parents in mind. For busy parents, machine washable options are usually key. Keeping a pillow clean is important for hygiene, but also to keep away dust mites and other allergens and spot cleaning usually does not do the trick. Take note of washing and drying instructions to ensure your toddler pillow lasts as long as possible. If it says gentle cycle, use gentle cycle!
Hypoallergenic materials. Especially if your toddler has sensitive skin or allergies, choosing a hypoallergenic pillow and pillow case is usually a good bet. If you go with an organic option, be sure it adheres to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) as many pillows claiming to be organic may not be up to code.
Price. While you want a durable toddler pillow, keep in mind that you’ll also need to replace it every few years. Finding a high-quality product is very important, but they don’t need to break the bank.
With or without a pillowcase. Using a pillowcase is a good idea, even if the pillow is machine washable. While it’s not impossible to find a toddler-sized pillowcase, they aren’t as easy to come by. If possible, try to purchase a toddler pillow with an included pillowcase, like Mellanni's toddler pillow.
Popular Toddler Pillows
In manufacturing our own toddler pillow, we looked at some of the top options currently available on the market.KeaBabies Toddler Pillow
This toddler pillow is made with a synthetic ball filling and comes with a cotton pillowcase. It is ergonomically designed for children, but due to being a very fluffy pillow, may not be suitable for all kids. The KeaBabies toddler pillow is machine washable.Little Sleepy Head's Toddler Pillow
The Little Sleepy Head’s toddler pillow is filled with polyester. The shell casing is made with cotton, but it does not come with a pillowcase, which requires a separate purchase. This pillow is machine washable.My Little North Star Organics Sweet Dream Toddler Pillow
This My Little North Star toddler pillow is a popular organic toddler pillow on the market, although it should be noted that the pillow itself is filled with synthetic fiber which is not technically organic. It does, however, come with an organic pillow case.
Mellanni’s Brand New Toddler Pillow
We’ve done our research. We know the importance of a durable, breathable, and uber-safe toddler pillow for your little sleepy head. That’s why we’re very excited to talk about our brand new toddler pillow.
Advantages of our toddler pillow:Made with high-quality materials
Our pillow is made with premium cotton, which is safe, soft, and breathable to help your toddler sleep soundly through the night. Soft, yet firm, it’s designed for optimal comfort.Multipurpose use
Measuring 13x18”, our toddler pillow is perfect for sleeping and fits effortlessly in a toddler bed, cot, or crib. It can also be used as a travel pillow in the car, on the plane, or on a train. Crafted with durability in mind, our toddler pillow is versatile and great for any need. Even bring it to grandma’s house!Easy to care for
Throw it in the washing machine with cold water whenever it gets dirty or needs a wash. Our machine-washable toddler pillow is made with parents in mind and is easy to care for to keep your toddler healthy, happy, and safe. Our pillow can be dried in the sun or tumble dried on low.Bonus pillowcase
For added protection and easy cleaning, our toddler pillow comes with a bonus pillowcase, which is perfectly fitted to wrap snugly around the entire pillow and is very gentle for a little one’s sensitive skin. The envelope closure design prevents any shifting while our toddlers sleep.
Like we said, sometimes the best toddler pillow comes down to personal preference. We love our toddler pillow cases and think you will too, but with Mellanni’s Lifetime Promise you can return your purchase if you’re not 100% satisfied.
The Bottom Line
As we see our toddlers transition to being more independent, opinionated, and mobile, we begin to understand that they are turning into little people. Just as we want them to be safe and happy, we also want them to get a great night’s sleep. While some toddlers are happy to go without a pillow, some may sleep better with one.