The category with the most weight in our scoring was nursing comfort. Here, we took into the support each pillow offered both baby and mom. For instance, having a lot of arm and elbow support is something we found to be very important. Pillows with less support for mom, often meant more difficult feeding for baby. Additionally, we measured how much a pillow went down in the middle when baby was present. Having a pillow with a supportive fill helps to keep younger babies straighter for feeding while helping older babies always at the "just right" level.
Ease of Use
When testing ease of use we first looked for pillows that had nice and functional attachments and straps, and included handy accessories like storage pockets. Next, having a cover that was easy to remove was analyzed. Last we considered the size of each pillow and how easily it could be moved from room to room, often while holding baby in the other hand, as well as how the size impacted the pillow's fit on different women.
Materials was broken into three subcategories in order to delve into the quality in a more clear way.
The first sub-category we rated was eco-health. To score this category we considered both the interior and exterior materials giving natural materials a higher score compared to synthetic. Extra points were given to the pillows that used organic material, such as the Blessed Nest.
The second subcategory was material quality. Here our testers compared the texture and feel of the pillows in terms of plushness, and softness versus rough or stiff. The quality of the seams, stitching and accessories was also compared, especially after each wash and reconstruction.
The last subcategory of materials was shape retention. A nursing pillow should last at least through the six months of nursing a baby before they can fully support themselves and hopefully be used with additional children too. The pillows were used for nearly four months straight and were washed a minimum of four times each and shape retention was considered each time a cover was put back on or a pillow was starting use with a new tester. Some pillows look brand new after four months, while others became lumpy, flatter, or misshapen.
Ease of Cleaning
It was very important to us that our top nursing pillows be very easy to clean. With a pillow being used over time, it will be exposed to many spills, drips, and dribbles and should be spot cleaned and washed very easily. To test and score this category we dropped a teaspoon of water on each cover to see how the fabric treated the liquid. The highest scoring pillows had covers that beaded up the liquid so it could be easily wiped clean. Additionally, the higher scores in this category belong to the pillows that could have both the cover and pillow be washed and dried in a machine. Last, we timed how long it took to put each cover back on and get the pillow back to its original shape. This way, our tests considered the day to day cleaning and the longer, more weekly or bi-weekly cleaning a pillow would go through.