The Best Pillows for Kids to Keep Them Asleep All Night

Getting the right pillow for your child is critical for how well they sleep.

By Sheryl Grassie

From that first toddler pillow to a full-sized adult version, children depend on their pillow to make them comfortable and help stay relaxed and asleep. But, children aren’t adults, and their proportions are different. You might just assume they can transition from a crib with no pillow to a bed with an adult pillow, but there are cautions about doing that. The biggest concern is misalignment of the shoulders, neck, and head that can result in poor sleep and poor posture as they are still growing.

Ideally, pillows help keep our spines aligned while we sleep and thus our blood flow even, our breathing regulated, and our spinal nerves free from pinching. For this to be the case with little ones, the pillow needs to be proportionate.

Our Top Pick for the Best Pillows for Kids

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John N Tree cotton baby pillow

Best for Infants: John N Tree – Cloud Lamb, Organic Cotton Baby Protective Pillow 

Most parents won’t be buying a pillow for their infant, but some will need it to prevent flat head syndrome. A great organic option for your infant is the Cloud Lamb, a stuffed animal that is also a pillow. Perfect for sleep and also for baby to cuddle, this sweet lamb carries the GOTS – Global Organic Textile Standard certification, a world-wide recognition of organic standards in textiles. Safe for next to baby’s skin, there are no harmful fumes to inhale while they sleep. It also comes in other animal types including a dog, an elephant, and a horse. Machine wash to clean.

  • Price: $18.95 (price varies for other animal types)
  • Size: 15” x 8”
  • Rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars, 1,139 reviews

Best Organic: Beans72 Organic Buckwheat Pillow – Child Size

At a slightly higher price point from other pillow materials, buckwheat hulls are a unique fill with an individual feel. Many people love this ancient Japanese pillow that is organic and natural. Keep your child healthy with 100% organic buckwheat hulls and a 100% natural unbleached cotton cover. This protective cover is removable for washing, buckwheat hulls can be dried in the sun to refresh.

Buckwheat hull pillows can relieve headaches, neck pain, stress and tension. They support in a unique way and can improve sleep. They hold their shape and you can add or subtract hulls for a custom fit. Imagine your little one cuddled on this organic pillow with its naturally good airflow and its cool, sleep aiding temperature.

  • Price: $34.99
  • Size: 15” x 8”
  • Rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars, 1,139 reviews
My Little North Organic toddler pillow

Best for Toddlers: My Little North Star Toddler Pillow

The My First Organic Toddler Pillow, has a 100% organic cotton cover. The filling is made from shredded polyester, but it is hypoallergenic and free of all toxic chemicals including flame retardants, mold and mildew chemicals, herbicides, pesticides, or fungicides. If there is ever a time to get a non-toxic pillow, it is when your child is young to help keep them healthy. This pillow does a wonderful job of eliminating all the chemicals commonly used in pillows.

The My Little North Star is recommended for 2 to 5-year-olds, is very soft and supportive, and recommended by chiropractors. It is easy to take for overnights or on extended travel. Machine wash and dry.

  • Price: $18.99
  • Size: 18” x 13”
  • Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars, 749 reviews
RestCloud toddler pillow

Best Memory Foam: RestCloud Toddler Pillow – Memory Foam

The perfect size memory foam pillow for your 2 -to 7-year-old. This pillow is certified by both ROHS and Reach 100% safe for kids to be free of harmful chemicals. Both these regulatory entities were founded in Europe and have strict guidelines on chemical safety.

This convenient travel size pillow comes in two colors, blue and pink, has a travel case, and a removable cotton blend cover for easy washing. The cover is antimicrobial and hypoallergenic.  It retains its shape for optimal spinal support and a great night’s sleep.

  • Price: $22.99
  • Size: 15.4” x 10.3”
  • Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars, 133 reviews

When Should Kids Start Sleeping with a Pillow? 

Just like moving out of the crib or toilet training, you can plan the timing of changes in your child’s life or wait and take your cues from them. There is no exact time to introduce a pillow; however, the average age is around 18 months. Babies should not use a pillow; toddlers can go either way, but by the age of 2 or 3 they need one for good sleep. There are circumstances and preferences that might push your timeline in one direction or another, like needing to prevent flat head syndrome, which could necessitate a crib pillow or noticing your child always bunches something and puts in under their head for sleep. If you have a particularly verbal child, they may tell you directly that they want or don’t want a pillow for sleep.

At whatever age you introduce a pillow, it is good to start thinking about what material is best for your child. Do they want a fluffy down pillow, a cradling memory foam pillow, or a structured cotton pillow? Pillows are generally made from only a few different materials that have their pros and cons. Below is a list of common pillow fillings and things to consider.

Pillow Materials Pros Cons
Feathers & Down
  • Soft and pliable
  • Organic and natural
  • Easy to wash
  • Can be an allergy trigger
  • Too soft for some and not enough support
  • Can be expensive
Buckwheat Hulls
  • Crunchy texture kids really like
  • Good sensory input
  • Holds shape and won’t flatten
  • Natural and organic
  • Good airflow and sleeps cool
  • Can be a choking hazard if pillow breaks open
  • More expensive
  • Not washer friendly
Memory Foam
  • Molds to the shape of your child’s head for great support
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Won’t flatten
  • Long lasting
  • Can be hot
  • Heavy
  • Doesn’t bend easily
  • Toxic off gassing
  • Only spot cleaning
Latex
  • Natural and organic
  • Sustainable crop – rubber trees
  • Long lasting
  • Naturally fire retardant
  • Mold and offers firm support
  • More expensive
Synthetic Fill
  • Lightweight
  • Inexpensive
  • Durable
  • Easy care washing
  • Can get lumpy
  • Short lifespan
  • Not very malleable or supportive
  • Can contain toxic chemicals
Cotton
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Natural and organic
  • Washable
  • Low profile and firm
  • More expensive
  • Can become hard
  • Holds moisture and needs an extended dry time
Wool 
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Cool in summer, warm in winter
  • Organic and natural
  • Good airflow for moisture
  • Flattens over time
  • No natural buoyancy

Summary

Pillows are an important part of getting a good night’s sleep. Kids don’t generally start using one until around 18 months and sometimes later. There are numerous materials that pillows are made from, so let your little one help decide what is most comfortable for them. Also consider something with a non-toxic certification to insure a healthy sleep environment for your child.


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