Toddlers and sleep. They go so well hand in hand and yet they can barely stand each other. What it is exactly that disgusts babies and toddlers so much about a full night’s sleep is beyond me.
Whether we like it or not (totally the latter), toddlers have countless sleep issues. They, apparently, follow the second law of thermodynamics: you cannot create more sleep issues or lose any as they simply transform into different nightmares. Pun totally intended.
Of the hundreds of things that may prevent your little one from getting a full night’s sleep, discomfort may be in the top ten. That’s why choosing an appropriate headrest may (or may not) put an end to your sleepless parenthood-toddlerhood fiasco.
Here are 4 reasons your child needs a toddler pillow:
The crib to bed transition is in full swing
When your little one is moved from his baby crib to a toddler bed, he is probably ready for his first pillow as well. This usually happens between 18 and 24 months (note that to reduce the risk of SIDS, you should not introduce your little one to a pillow before 18 months.
They are suffering more than a few restless nights a week
Sometimes, a small children may find it difficult to stay asleep when they feel uncomfortable. When they find it hard to reposition while sleeping, the reason is usually insufficient body support – a problem that can easily be solved if an infant pillow is used for head and neck support.
They are sleeping on your pillow
OK, I can almost hear you say, “What’s wrong with that? Can I just leave the child to sleep on my pillow and call it a day?” No, you can’t. This is wrong on so many levels! First, your grown-up pillow is designed to provide support and comfort for, you guessed it right, your grown-up body.
Why would you buy toddler clothes when you can put on your toddler the clothes you are wearing? Second, your pillow is, well, a used one. And that means it may already be housing a handful of germs and dust mites. Do I need to say more?
Heaped blankets and stuffed animals are used as headrests
Although your little one may look beyond cute cuddled up on a heap of blankets or with his head on his favorite stuffed teddy, he certainly doesn’t feel the same way. Inadequate head and neck support (as the one that is provided by an inappropriate headrest) may lead to neck pain, discomfort, low-quality sleep, and, eventually, poor posture.
8 Features to look for in your child’s pillow
Size is very important when it comes to providing that comfort for your little one’s head and neck. But proper pillow size also means extra safety as a king-sized pillow can easily turn into a suffocation hazard! There are numerous options on the market, but usually, 13 by 18 inches or 14 by 19 inches pillows should be your first choice. They provide the necessary support without being too big for your tot’s small head and shoulders.
Wait, what? Does this mean you should get more than one pillow for your kid? Quite the opposite! While we, grown-ups, may take delight in snuggling between some extra pillows, a small child should be allowed to use one (and only one) pillow in his bed. Safety reasons, period.
The thickness of the pillow your toddler will feel most comfortable with is determined by many factors and is definitely not a constant. The right thickness will allow gentle support of your child’s neck and head, keeping their body in a neutral position. In other words, it should be neither too thin nor too thick.
It is hard to find the golden mean between safety and comfort when it comes to a children’s pillow. If it is too soft (regaining its shape too quickly when you press it), it may not be safe for your little one as he may suffocate in his sleep when he can’t control his air flow with a face deeply sunk in the pillow.
Besides, it won’t offer the support he needs. If it is too hard (taking forever to regain its shape after you press it), then it will hardly offer any comfort to your child, turning his sleeping experience into a real nightmare. Just like with thickness, something in the middle will give you the optimal balance between comfort and support.
- Filling material
The filling material of your infant’s pillow is perhaps its most important feature. There are numerous options on the market and each one has its advantages and disadvantages. The most commonly used filling materials are natural (feathers, down, and a mixture of both) and synthetic (memory foam, different synthetic fibers, hypoallergenic foam, etc.). It is up to you to decide what’s best for your little sleeper but have in mind that natural fillings are not the best option for kids with allergies and/or asthma.
- Case material
The most common pillowcase material is cotton. But then there’s cotton and there’s… organic cotton. What is the difference? While both kinds of cotton may be equally soft and delicate when you touch them, the one that’s marked “organic” lacks toxic materials, harmful bleach, or unsafe dyes that may put your child at risk. Except for cotton, there are also other materials used for pillow covers (cotton/polyester blends, cotton/bamboo blends, entirely synthetic fibers, etc.).
- Durability and quality (a.k.a. “thread count”)
Thread count is to sheets what horsepower is to cars. The bigger the number on the thread count tag, the better (and most durable) the quality of the fabric material. This means a higher thread count will last longer but it will also cost more. Once again, the choice is entirely up to you.
Well, you are certainly not buying a car, so the last thing you need is the pillow to “roar to life” in the middle of the night when your toddler is turning from side to side in his sleep. I genuinely have no idea why I am making a parallel between toddler pillows and cars for the second time, but bear with me.
While there are no noiseless pillows, there are fillings that make more crinkling sounds than others so you should have this in mind when making your decision. Just keep in mind that a “noisy” pillow may cause an extra waking and you certainly don’t need that.
The best toddler pillows on the market:
Best top of the line headrest – Calla Toddler Pillow Soft Organic Cotton
Calla Toddler Pillow is hands down, the best top-of-the-line headrest you can provide your child with. Here’s why we love it:
- Calla Filling – this is a special blend of cluster poly fiber filling that is not only hypoallergenic but it is also referred to as the world’s best down alternative filling. And it’s washable!
- Premium Quality Organic Cotton Sateen Weave Casing – produced with organic cotton grown on certified US farms, the casing is out-of-this-world soft and can even be used without a pillow case! Besides, it resists allergens and mildew.
- Made in the USA (start to finish) – when you buy the Calla Toddler Pillow, you get a product made in the USA by a parent-owned company.
- Not too firm, not too soft – offering the perfect balance between safety and comfort, this premium top-of-the-line pillow will contribute to your child’s comfortable nights.
- 3-Year “Out-Grow-It” Guarantee – referring to casing, filling, stitching, shape, and durability.
- Free of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and flame retardant chemicals.
2. Best advanced design Toddler Pillow with Plush Un-Dyed Organic Cotton Fluffy Pillow Case
Luvdbaby toddler pillows win our “best advanced design” award because they’ve come up with the brilliant idea to design an otherwise boring sleeping accessory as kids’ most favorite thing in the world – stuffed animals! Here’s why we love it:
- Super cute pet design – the only pillow on our list that is designed to look like a stuffed animal, this pillow comes in two different per designs (a cat and a dog). This can easily turn into your biggest weapon when luring your little one to sleep – now they have their own lovey that they can snuggle with and even name!
- Top quality polyester filling – the premium fluffy polyester filling adds the extra comfort your tot needs for a good night’s rest. It is also machine washable.
- Premium organic pillowcase – the luxurious 100% organic cotton pillowcase lacks any harmful dyes or chemicals, offering total protection and a caressing feel on the delicate skin of your little sleeping angel.
- Optimum neck support – about 3.5 inches tall, this infant pillow guarantees the perfect height for your child’s neck and head comfort.
- Cotton carry bag – perfect for storing and when traveling!
Best chiropractor recommended – Kinder Fluff Toddler / Travel Pillow – 240 Thread Count Cotton Collection
Kinder Fluff Toddler Pillow is perfect for parents who don’t want to spend a small fortune on headrests but still insist on high quality and durability. Here’s why we love it:
- Chiropractor Recommended – specially designed for children who are constantly tossing around in their bed and find it difficult to maintain a particular position throughout the night.
- 100% premium synthetic polyester cluster fiber filling – lump-free and dust-mite resistant, this top-quality filling is also bacteria resistant and hypo-allergenic.
- 100% cotton cover with 240 thread count – the high-quality cover guarantees your little one comfort and a silky soft touch even without a pillowcase!
- Love it – machine-wash it – love it again: Caring for this little sleep fella is easier than you can imagine – just throw it in the machine, wash it, and put it back in your toddler’s bed. Voila, that’s it!
Best value for money – Coop Home Goods Shredded Memory Foam Toddler Pillow
The Coop Memory Foam Toddler Pillow is the best memory foam option in the moderate price range. Here’s why we love it:
- 100% Made in the USA (both filling and fabric);
- Hypoallergenic and dust mite resistant – perfect for children with allergies and intolerance to dust and dust mite. A huge plus is that it is also machine washable!
- A special cooling feature – thanks to the exceptional bamboo/polyester blend the cover is made of, this child’s pillow guarantees your little sleeper won’t feel extra heat white sleeping.
- Premium mix of shredded memory foam – the memory foam filling adjusts to your child’s personal needs and offers extra comfort and support.
- Free from: ozone depleters, PBDEs, TDCPP, TCEP flame retardants, mercury, lead, heavy metals, formaldehyde, phthalates regulated by the CPSC, and CFCs.
- 30 Day Satisfaction Guarantee – a “no questions asked” 30-day guarantee makes sure you can return your item if you are not completely satisfied with it.
Best against Flat Head Syndrome – Clevamama ClevaFoam Toddler Pillow
The Clevamama ClevaFoam Toddler Pillow is specially designed to offer optimum protection to your toddler’s head, preventing Flat Head Syndrome. Here’s why we love it:
- ClevaFoam® filling – this scientifically proven material (researched and developed with the University at Trinity College in Dublin) reduces the pressure on the back of the soft baby head by up to 50% and increases head support by 80%. As a result, it reduces the risk of Flat Head Syndrome. Extremely lightweight and breathable, this filling is designed with safety in mind.
- AirFlow™ cover fabric – drawing away moisture and increasing airflow, the specially designed cover fabric is hypoallergenic, PH balanced, and toxin-free. It increases the airflow (preventing overheating of the head) and draws moisture away for a restful and comfortable night’s sleep.
- Suitable from 12 months + (certified for use with babies).
Best memory foam – Snuggle-Pedic Toddler and Kids Pillow
Snuggle-Pedic offer the best memory foam kids pillows on the market. Fully machine washable and regaining its shape throughout the night, this is the Ferrari of memory foam kids’ pillows (and that’s the last reference to cars I am making, I promise). Here’s why we love it:
- Top quality shredded memory foam – it easily self-adjusts to meet your child’s needs and features premium eco-friendly Biogreen® & Certipur-US certified foam.
- Luxurious breathable micro-vented cover – using a blend of bamboo, polyester, and lycra, this pillow cover will keep your toddler cool through the night, and all they will feel will be the velvety soft touch of the top-quality fabric.
- Great orthopedic support – perfect for any sleeping position (side, stomach, or back).
- Without: ozone depleters, PBDE flame retardants, mercury, lead and other heavy metals, formaldehyde, and phthalates regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission; low in VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) emissions for indoor air quality (less than 0.5 parts).
- Made in the USA
- Hypoallergenic and dust mite resistant
- 90-day No-Hassle Refund Guarantee – the manufacturer offers a 90-night sleep trial and also has a free personal customization policy. How cool is that?
What if my child has allergies?
Naturally, if your child is allergic to something, your pillow choice will inevitably be determined by some extra factors. For example, if your kid has asthma, a feather fill will be the worst choice for pillow filling. Or, if your child doesn’t tolerate dust, mould, and germs in general, then a hypoallergenic toddler pillow is the best option for him. Hint: most organic infant pillows are naturally hypoallergenic.
How often should I replace my toddler’s pillow?
The life span of your little one’s headrest depends on many factors like filling material, cleaning options, proper care, quality, usage, etc. As a rule of thumb, you should replace both the pillow and pillow cases to go with it every 6 months to two years (depending on the model and wear).
What does a satisfaction guarantee cover?
There are satisfaction guarantees of different lengths, varying from a few months to a few years. What guarantee you will receive depends on the pillow you choose and the manufacturer who produces it. Some brands cover torn seams, shape loss, and general manufacturing problems with a casing, filling, stitching, etc. Other brands have a “no questions asked” satisfaction guarantee that allows you to return your pillow to the manufacturer if you are not completely satisfied with the quality or performance of their product.
How to take care of my toddler’s pillow?
Every pillow (and case) has different care instructions based on the material that’s used for its manufacturing. If you’ve bought a pillow that can be washed as a single unit, you can simply throw it in the machine and run a full cycle. There’s a downside to this, though, as you may need an extra one for the time when the “original” is not completely dry and ready to be used again. If only the case is washable, just follow the instructions on the care label and you should be fine.
Either way, a good shake and fluff before every use should help your infant’s pillow get back in shape (both literally and figuratively). A regular airing out in the sun will kill dust mites, providing a better quality sleep comfort and headrest to your child.