Which nursing pillows are the best for you and your baby? To find out, we tested eight of the top options with babies ranging from six weeks to six months, 7 to 14 lbs, and squirmy to peaceful. We used each product during everyday use to determine quality, stability, and functionality to determine which products optimize comfort for mom and baby while nursing. We at BabyGearLab work diligently to provide new and seasoned nursing mothers with comparative product information to help you find the right nursing aids for your lifestyle and needs.
The Best Nursing Pillows Review
Analysis and Award Winners
Best Overall Nursing Pillow
Blessed Nest Organic Nesting
This pillow is twice the price of its competitors, making it one that parents on a budget may think twice about, but we feel it is an excellent value with the highest quality materials made in the USA. If you want an organic pillow that is comfortable and plan to use it for multiple children or other uses, then it could be exactly what you are looking for with a price you can easily justify.
Read review: Blessed Nest Organic Nesting
Best Bang for the Buck
Boppy Two-Sided Nursing
This Boppy doesn't use organic materials which we don't consider a deal breaker but could sway some parents to the more expensive Editors' Choice winner. However, it is one of our favorite pillows, comfortable for both mom and baby, with a list price that is pleasantly affordable.
Read review: Boppy Two-sided Nursing
Analysis and Test Results
With nearly 75% of mothers nursing their baby, the number of breastfeeding products including nursing pillows, breast pads, nipple salve, breast pumps are ever increasing. Nursing a new baby can be beautiful and challenging, so a nursing pillow can make it somewhat easier by providing additional support and requiring less effort on your part so that you can focus more on your little one and nursing. While it seems like a simple pillow every mother registers for, it can be a bit more complicated once you realize the variety of potential options. In this review, we break down the major differences between popular products to help you choose the best pillow for you and your baby.
When it comes to finding a great pillow for nursing, we encourage you to think about how often you'll use it. With multiple times a day use, it is easy to see how the price over time will be pennies per use no matter which product you choose. Also, most pillows last through multiple babies making it a product that lasts for years. After little ones finish nursing, it also makes a good snuggle pillow or body positioning tool for comfy sleeping. Dads can also use the pillow for cradling little ones and bottle feeding, and as your baby grows and can hold the bottle themselves, it is also good for propping them up to feed themselves. The Bobby Two-Sided Nursing pillow is our Best Value winner with a list price of $45 and a second place ranking. Even budget-conscious parents will agree that is nothing considering how often you'll be using it (about $3.75 a month if you only use it for a year). The Blessed Nest Organic Nesting is also a good value despite the higher list price of $94 because it is the highest ranked option with a versatile shape. Even if you only use it for the first year, it will cost less than $8 a month. We think the price is well worth the advantages of having a pillow specifically designed for holding and feeding your new family member.
A woman's body will go through a dramatic metamorphosis through pregnancy and postpartum. The various shapes of pillows for nursing each suit different body types. We evaluated the following shapes in this review:
- Crescent Roll — sitting in front of the body with little to no wrapping. Examples of this style are the Blessed Nest Organic Nesting (above left), Luna Lullaby Bosom Baby (above center), and the Dr Brown's Gia (above right).
- O-Shaped — wraps around the entire body like the letter "O." This style includes the My Brest Friend Original (below left), and My Brest Friend Deluxe (below right). The My Brest Friend O-design has the advantage of wrapping around the entire waist with cushioned back support and an adjustable waist-belt for a snug fit.
- C-Shaped — the Boppy Original and the Leachco Cuddle-U Original are the traditional, wrap-around C-shaped nursing pillows. Boppy has debuted its newest gem, the Boppy Two-Sided (below center) specifically for nursing with a plush, firm side for newborns and a cushy side for older babies. It includes an adjustable belt but does not have lower back support.
A few nursing pillows offer either a buckle like the My Brest Friend Original (below left) or Velcro strap system like the My Brest Friend Deluxe (below center) to help achieve a secure fit around the waist. Others pillows offer a no-frills, simplistic approach designed to wrap around the front and either one or both sides of the body. The Leachco Cuddle-U (below right) offers support to both sides for dual arm support.
Cover and Pillow Materials
The materials for both the pillow itself and the cover can make a big difference in its overall quality, feel, and your experience. The pillows in our review include 100% synthetic, 100% cotton, synthetic-cotton blend, foam, and natural materials like buckwheat hulls and organic cotton. Each material has pros and cons, and it often comes down to personal preference and lifestyle to determine which is better.For example, the Editors' Choice Blessed Nest Organic Nesting is an all-natural pillow featuring an organic cotton slipcover and pillow fabric with an internal filling of organic, pesticide-free buckwheat hulls. Although this pillow costs double the price of the other pillows in our review, some may feel the additional expense is worth it for the added peace of mind offered by all natural materials. However, the Blessed Nest cover doesn't compare to the snuggly softness that polyester synthetic covers have like the Luna Lullaby. Also, many nursing pillows utilize internal foam for firm support which is necessary for early infancy like the My Brest Friend Original (below right). Fortunately, My Brest Friend no longer uses flame retardants in their foam, and according to the Boppy website, Boppy has never used flame retardants (woohoo!).
Criteria for Evaluation
During testing of the eight popular pillows for nursing, we focused on Nursing Support and Comfort, Ease of Use, Materials, and Ease of Cleaning. We put these pillows through day-to-day, hands-on, comparative use during feeding, spit-ups, spills, cleaning, stuffing and reconstructing after cleaning. Throughout the entire process, we focused on materials and construction quality and ultimately determined which pillows stand out from the rest.
Nursing Support and Comfort
Proper technique and great support at the beginning of a breastfeeding relationship can make a big difference to nursing success. A good latch is key to efficient and natural breastfeeding, and if your nipple or comfort suffer, everything can spiral quickly out of control. Using a good pillow can help you focus on what's important instead of worrying about getting comfortable or supporting your baby's body.
The primary function of a pillow for nursing is to provide mother and baby with positional support and comfort during breastfeeding, so this metric influences the overall score more than other tests. A good pillow can help maintain essential support during breastfeeding for mom and baby.
- For Mom — Dual arm support, lumbar support, and a snug fit. Baby's mouth needs to be at the same level as the mother's breast. Mom should not be bending or hunched over.
- For Baby — Head, neck, and body/back support with baby's nose and mouth positioned level to and facing the mother's nipple. The baby will need to lead with their chin and widely open their mouth to initiate a good latch.
Whether using a nursing pillow from the get-go in the hospital bed or at home on the couch, the extra support can feel like a godsend to a mama's neck, shoulders, and lower back. Most of the time you murse you won't be lounging in an expensive glider, but instead, you'll be feeding where you and baby happen to be which makes arm support essential.Pillows that provide an adequate armrest on each side and a space for mom's arms to cradle baby while feeding score higher than pillows without arm support. My Brest Friend Deluxe (lower left) earned a 9 of 10 with a wrap-around design which provides both lumbar support and armrests, an adjustable belt for a snug fit, and a nice firm surface for baby. The pillows that wrap around only part of the body tended to score lower in this category with one exception, the Blessed Nest Organic Nesting (lower center). This crescent-shaped pillow is so malleable that we found it very supportive and comfortable for both baby and mom. In contrast, one of the lowest scoring pillows, with a 3 of 10, the Luna Lullaby Bosom Baby (lower right), has a long, firm crescent shape that fails to provide mother with neither dual arm or back support nor a snug fit resulting in her neck, shoulders, back, and arms to take up the slack.
Nursing pillows can also play a helpful role early on providing small infants with a much-needed boost in height, so that baby's head and mouth are at the right position and angle for efficient and comfortable feeding. They also help maintain appropriate positioning for the baby's body during feeding. Early on, keeping baby's head and bottom horizontal to each other is essential. As the baby grows older and stronger, a pillow also needs to be sturdy enough to support more movement during feeding.
Ease of Use
A great pillow for nursing should be easy without creating something else a new mother has to worry about mastering. To score each pillow's ease of use, we test them in a variety of locations around the house and at various times of the day. Since a baby's hunger typically dictates the nursing location, mom will need to breastfeed the baby in a variety of locations. As such, it is important that a pillow is easily portable and easy to store. Extra features that make mom's job easier such as storage pockets for nursing items like burp cloths and nipple salve also bumped up scores. Ease of positioning and removing a pillow is also important when it comes to securing straps. Unfortunately, we find that buckle(s) like those on the Boppy Two-sided Nursing (below left) make a pillow more difficult and cumbersome in entry and exit, especially during nighttime feedings. Last, we consider how each pillow fit during different stages of the postpartum body and across women of different body shapes. The Boppy Original excelled in this metric with a score of 9 of 10. Despite its simple design without bells and whistles, it is very portable in both size and weight, easy to position with one hand and it fits most women well.
Taking a deep dive into materials includes eco-health, quality, and shape retention. The pillow that blew the others away regarding being friendly both ecologically and to health is the Blessed Nest Organic Nesting pillow. This pillow's fill is 100% organic, pesticide-free buckwheat fill and the cover is 100% organic cotton. What blew us away, is that it earned the top score in support and comfort as well. At the other extreme, pillows that were synthetically based with polyester fibers and foam scored toward the bottom like the Luna Lullaby and My Brest Friend Deluxe.
For quality, we focus on overall texture and feel of the materials for mom and baby, as well as the integrity of seams, stitching, and accessories like storage pockets, belts and Velcro. We also keep a keen eye on shape retention through continuous use over four months with babies of various sizes and after a total of five washing cycles (following the manufacturer's instructions). We were disappointed when the seams of the Leacho Cuddle-U began to tear. Alternatively, the cover of the My Breast Friend Deluxe is plush and the most well-made, durable option of the bunch.
Ease of Cleaning
Although ease of cleaning impact the overall score the least, we feel it is essential to focus on because the pillows will need cleaning. The top performers, with a 9 of 10, are the Boppy Original and Blessed Nest pillows with the Dr. Brown's Gia scoring a close 8.
Each pillow went through a spill test where we dropped a teaspoon of water on its cover to see if it repelled or soaked it up. A cover that readily absorbs liquid will require more frequent washing. Some pillows were a cinch to launder as both the cover and pillow could be machine-washed and machine-dried (the Boppy Original and Dr Brown's Gia). This design is a huge time-saver. We also timed how long it takes to put the cover back on to reconstruct each pillow after washing to get it back to its original supportive shape. Although this task sounds simple, it took us over ten minutes to put some pillows back together.
One of the beautiful things about motherhood is that it is an unpredictable ride full of learning and trial and error. You may end up nursing for a shorter time than you plan or you might nurse longer than you imagined possible, or maybe you never nurse where you imagined yourself bonding the most with your baby. No matter what holds true for you and your baby as you nurse, one thing remains true, you will need all the support you can get, and a pillow designed specifically for nursing can be instrumental in providing at least the physical support you need. The available options make choosing one more fun than ever and using this guide, and our buying advice can give you the inside details you need to make the right buying choice for you and your new little one.
Still not sure? Take a look at our buying advice article for more info.