How we test products
Our mission is to take the guesswork out of finding the perfect sleep products.
We've dedicated hundreds of hours to testing mattresses and sleep accessories, and rely on a team of testers of differing weights, temperature preferences, and sleeping positions to evaluate each product.
Tested products are granted the Sleep Hero tested stamp of approval, a mark of our review's reliability.
If we haven't personally tested a product, please be assured that we invest significant time and energy into scouring the UK market and researching the best recommendations, and we work with a team of sleep experts who review our articles, ensuring that the insights we provide are not only relatable but also reliable.
When should your toddler start using a pillow?
The NHS website states that children under 1 year old should not use soft bedding, including pillows and duvets.
Studies suggest that pillows and duvets may pose a choking hazard linked to higher chances of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) for children under 1.
Many experts suggest waiting until around 18 months to 2 years old to introduce a pillow or duvet. 🧑⚕️
Of course, the age children can and want to start using bedding varies.
But most experts agree that your decision should be based on your own child.
Your child may place teddies or blankets under their head when they're ready for a pillow.
Alternatively, it is often easier to add a toddler pillow when your little one is transitioning from their cot to a toddler bed. 🛌
You can always chat with your doctor if you are uncertain.
Generally, a small, firm toddler pillow is best when you're looking for your child’s first pillow.
As your child grows, their pillow will need to change.
Luckily, brands like Panda offer pillows designed to provide the best support for kids of every age.
Panda London’s Baby Memory Foam Bamboo Pillow is small and flat, making it suitable for babies 12 months and older.
Our favourite Panda pillows for little ones:
Toddler pillow safety
Not all pillows are safe for toddlers to use.
Toddlers are smaller than adults and have different needs for a safe and comfortable pillow.
Let's dive into which vital safety factors you must consider. 🤔
Toddler pillow firmness and size
As we mentioned previously, toddler pillows tend to be smaller and firmer.
Most toddler pillows are around 33 x 20 cm (13 x 18 inches).
Larger pillows in cribs can bunch up and increase the risk of suffocation.
Additionally, smaller toddler pillows are more travel-friendly and easy to bring along to preschool or on trips. 🏫
Toddler pillow fill
Traditionally, feather and down pillow fillings are the most popular.
However, most parents avoid these since they can trigger allergies in young children.
We recommend checking out the Clevamamma Toddler Pillow, which is certified allergy and asthma-friendly by Allergy Standards Ltd.
Pillows with individual pellets or smaller piece fillings can pose a choking hazard and should also be avoided.
Fortunately, most toddler pillows are made with safe synthetic materials, like hollowfibre or microfibre, or natural fabrics, like cotton or bamboo. 👪
For instance, the Keababies My Little Dreamy Pillow is made with organic cotton.
Toddler pillow covers
Covers are just as important as what's inside your toddler's pillow.
Thin or poorly made covers or those treated with harsh chemicals are neither toddler-safe nor friendly. 👎
While these may be safe for adults, they aren’t for children who are more vulnerable to toxins.
The best pillow covers are tested for harmful substances and have an OEKO-TEX 100 or equivalent certificate. 😇
A toddler pillow cover should ideally have an envelope or child-safe zip closure.
These pillow closures are the safest option for toddlers and children.
Toddler pillow safety certifications
When choosing the perfect pillow for toddlers, you should look for which safety certifications it has.
Important UK safety certifications include:
- OEKO-TEX 100
- Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)
OEKO-TEX 100 is one of the most common safety certification standards for UK products.
It guarantees that the textiles have been tested for and are free from harmful substances. 👏
Since young children are particularly vulnerable to toxins, every thread of your toddler's pillow must be safe and harmless.
All of our favourite pillows are OEKO-TEX 100 certified.
The best toddler pillows in the UK:
Does your toddler need a pillow?
With all of the safety concerns surrounding very young children sleeping on pillows, you may wonder if it's actually something your toddler needs.
If your child is still sleeping happily on a flat surface, you probably don't need to give them a pillow yet.
Ultimately, pillows are designed to enhance comfort and support.
If you notice that your toddler is tossing and turning or pushing blankets or stuffed animals under their head, they're likely ready to have a pillow of their own. 🧸
If they're ready for their first pillow, why not give them something fun to enjoy?
We love the toddler-safe Keababies My Little Dreamy Pillow for its variety of cute designs.
When should you not use a toddler pillow?
Not every child needs a pillow at the same stage.
You shouldn't give your toddler a pillow in certain situations.
Let’s look at when giving your toddler a pillow might not be a good idea. 👇
It can be dangerous for children to climb out of their cot beds, especially if the bed has high sides.
Unfortunately, some toddlers are escape artists.
For those little escapees, a pillow quickly becomes a stepping stone to help them clamber out of their cot bed. 🥷
So, give a pillow a miss if you frequently catch your toddler trying to escape.
No signs of wanting one
Babies shouldn't use pillows and duvets.
As they get older, most children will naturally start wanting to use a pillow.
However, some start wanting the added comfort of a pillow later than others.
Your toddler might not want a pillow if they're still sleeping comfortably and aren't trying to place anything under their head. 💤
There's no need to worry if your toddler throws their pillow out of bed, as this is likely just because they fidget.
If you have any doubts about whether or not you're child should be using a pillow, you can always consult your doctor.
The most important thing is that your child gets a good night's sleep.
Pillows, like blankets and teddies, can provide comfort as your child drifts off to sleep. 🌟
You can simply remove the pillow if your toddler's sleep is disturbed and reintroduce it when they are ready.
How to choose a toddler pillow in the UK
Beyond the various safety concerns, how do you decide on the perfect toddler pillow?
Factors to consider when choosing a toddler pillow:
- What's your budget?
- Does your child prefer something soft or firm?
- What pillow cover or design does your toddler like?
- Is it easily washable?
- Do you need something travel-friendly?
- Does the pillow cover have a child-safe hidden zipper or envelope close?
- Is it hypoallergenic?
- Is the pillow free from harmful substances?
- Do you want something eco-friendly?
Once you've answered these questions, choosing the best toddler pillow is easy.