When I first started breastfeeding, I naively thought that things would more or less “come naturally” and that I’d just wing it until my baby latched and that was that. Experienced moms out there, you know how that little fantasy turned out, right?
While my baby latched OK in the end, my real challenge was finding a way to position myself and Her Highness so that she was happy and I wind up with pins-and-needles in both arms and a sore back.
Finding a comfortable position when breastfeeding is a lot harder than it looks! It took me a lot of trial and error to get us both comfy during feeds, and I wish I had caved and bought a nursing pillow sooner.
If it feels like you’ve tried every position short of standing on your head and you still can’t find one you can live with, let us help you find the best nursing pillow that suits your needs.
- Addresses many areas of pain
- Baby stays at right height
- Stops baby from rolling out
- Affordable and versatile
- Soft fabric
- Provides head and neck support
- Won't irritate incision area
- Support variety of body types
- Decorative than a nursing pillow
- Easy to use
- Fits in a diaper bag
- Easy to clean
- Specifically designed for twins
- Plenty of back support
- Works well for larger women
- Contoured design
- High quality foam
- Used for baby’s tummy time
- Soft yet firm
- Washes easily and dries fast
- Great for allergy sufferers
Do You Need a Nursing Pillow?
Nursing pillows are used for a range of reasons, both before and after your baby is born.
The best nursing pillows can provide a lot of relief for your aching back both during pregnancy and once your baby arrives. They can also be used to facilitate baby tummy time, to keep you sitting comfortably, and more.
A Worthwhile Purchase
A good, supportive pillow can help you find a cozy position that works for both you and your baby as you nurse, and work just as well for breastfeeding or bottle feeding.
Types of Nursing Pillows
There are several different shapes and sizes of the best nursing pillows to help moms with their aches, pains and feeding issues.
Boppy Style Pillows
The boppy style nursing pillow is one of the most common types that look like the letter C, or like those travel pillows you see in airport stores.
Many women call these “boppy pillows” whether they’re made by that brand or not.
They’re perfectly shaped to help your baby when they are almost ready to sit up on its own. These nursing pillows are multipurpose and flexible, these are popular for a reason!
Flat/Shelf Style Pillows
These are stiffer ledges that you attach around yourself and fasten, like the “My Brest Friend” pillow.
Shelf nursing pillows are large, stable, and have a backrest, unlike Boppy style breastfeeding pillow.
This kind of pillow won’t go flat or shift around as you feed. It really stays put!
Some nursing pillows are shaped like the number 3 especially for feeding twins.
Some are simply large, soft rectangles for maximum reshaping depending on your needs.
There are also extra-large size nursing pillows or those with a boomerang shape, which are ideal for plus size moms or those who’ve had a C-section and want to keep pressure off their bellies.
How to Choose a Nursing Pillow
The main things to consider when searching for the perfect nursing pillow are:
You want the pillow to fit you comfortably, particularly if it’s a wrap-around pillow. You don’t want it pressing uncomfortably against your back and causing more discomfort than it relieves.
The Height of the Pillow
If you’re using it for breastfeeding, it needs to be the perfect height for your baby to find a proper latch. If it goes up too high or too low on your midsection, it won’t work. You need to find that just-right Goldilocks zone.
How Easy It Is to Clean
If you’re using it for nursing, at some point, it’s going to get a bit nasty and will need a good washing. If it doesn’t have a cover you can take off and throw in the washing machine, keeping it clean is going to be tricky.
The Best Nursing Pillows of 2021
Here are 7 great nursing pillows to consider.
1. My Brest Friend Deluxe Nursing Pillow
The My Brest Friend nursing pillow has a super soft slipcover that moms love, and the best part is that it stays soft after multiple rounds through the washing machine.
The pillow also has room for your arm and elbow to rest, which alleviates fatigued shoulder muscles if you’re holding your baby for extended periods.
Since the My Brest Friend pillow wraps around you, it stays put, thanks to its fastening strap and latch. Women may especially appreciate the backrest that gives them added support when they need it most.
- This pillow addresses many areas of pain a new mom feels from breastfeeding.
- It helps the baby stay at just the right height for breastfeeding.
- The flat surface stops the baby from rolling out of position.
- Wrap arround design.
- Difficult to put on with one hand.
- It doesn’t fit plus-size women well.
2. Boppy Best Nursing Pillow
Made of polyester and cotton, the Boppy Best Nursing Pillow can be used to position bottle-fed babies in a way that takes the strain off of their mother’s sore arm, shoulder and back muscles. It doesn’t just help moms – it can provide neck and head support for babies, too.
Slipcovers for the pillow can be bought separately and are machine washable. Mothers may appreciate how versatile this pillow is, since it can be used for years, and not just the short time your baby is drinking from a bottle. The Boppy pillow can even be used to prop up your newborn during those all-important picture times.
- This pillow is affordable, especially when you factor in its versatility.
- The soft fabric makes it good for soft, sensitive baby skin.
- Can help babies learn to enjoy tummy time.
- There is no back support with this pillow.
- The rounded top of the pillow can cause your baby to roll or turn inward during feeding.
- Not a good choice for plus-size women.
3. Luna Lullaby Bosom Baby Nursing Pillow
Moms who wear a larger size may want to consider this nursing pillow, which is designed in a completely different shape than many other popular nursing pillows.
Shaped more like a boomerang, this pillow doesn’t have a back end that fastens. Women who have had a C-section may also like that this pillow doesn’t sit too close to their bodies, which can irritate the sensitive incision area.
Made in the U.S., these nursing pillows use a soft fabric both mothers and babies will enjoy. Flame retardant chemicals aren’t used on these pillows, making the pillow safer and comfier for delicate baby skin.
- The slipcovers are easy to get on and off.
- Large enough to support a variety of body types.
- More decorative than a nursing pillow – visitors to your house might think it’s a regular cushion if they see it on your sofa.
- Its large size doesn’t work well for travel.
- Pricier than many other nursing pillows.
- Not organic cotton.
4. The Nursie Slip-on Arm Nursing Pillow
Just when you thought there weren’t any good options for a travel nursing pillow, this one proves you wrong.
This pillow is perfect for moms, but dads won’t feel foolish using it either. It’s a pillow designed much like those swim floaties for toddlers – it just slides over your forearm to give support to your feeding baby without you having to strain your muscles.
It also props your baby’s head up high enough to prevent acid reflux in case you find yourself in an awkward feeding position. The small, convenient travel nursing pillow is also machine washable.
- Easy to use.
- Fits in a diaper bag.
- Easy to clean.
- It doesn’t provide any back support.
- The pillow doesn’t have any other uses.
- The fleece lining might make this too warm for feeding during summer.
5. Twin Z Nursing Pillow
The Twin Z Pillow is specifically designed for twins and the unique situation they create when it comes to feeding time.
Parents of twins will appreciate how much back support this pillow provides for a nursing mother who is often struggling under the weight of holding two wriggling babies. The pillow helps you to position each baby along either side of you, under each arm, so they can both nurse comfortably.
Mothers of twins will be able to breastfeed in any position that a mother of a single would with the Twin Z Pillow. It isn’t a lightweight pillow – it weighs about 6 pounds – but it gets the job done.
The outside of the pillow is made of quality organic cotton, which feels soft, and it has a buckle to keep it securely in place.
- Babies can be positioned on the floor side by side on their backs after feeding time is over.
- Plenty of back support so you can relax.
- Works well for larger women.
- Because most chairs won’t be big enough for feeding twins, you’ll need to use this while on the floor, sofa or bed.
- Because of its size, this pillow isn’t ideal for traveling.
- It’s expensive: about twice the price of a single nursing pillow.
6. Ergobaby Natural Curve Nursing Pillow
The Ergobaby is a wrap-around nursing pillow that is carefully shaped and contoured with nursing moms and babies in mind. The clever curves position your baby tummy-to-tummy for the perfect latch, and you can feed in a range of different positions.
This pillow is well made, and the foam is a lot firmer than others on the market. You won’t be slouching over to cradle your baby, and that support means you can really lean back and relax.
The foam is designed not to absorb any spills, and the cover is machine washable. Both mom and dad can use it for breast- or bottle, and the pillow makes a great prop for tummy time.
- The contoured design really works for supporting you during feeding.
- The foam is high quality and won’t distort.
- It can be used for baby’s tummy time or to assist in early sitting.
- The downward slant may be too much for some, and have the baby rolling inwards.
- Too wide and stiff to fit into chairs with fixed armrests.
- Not ideal for very small babies as the foam may be too hard.
7. All American Collection Bamboo Nursing Pillow
This gorgeously soft pillow from All American Collection is allergen protected and light as a cloud, making it a cozy choice for breastfeeding or bottlefeeding. The texture is hard to describe: firm but somehow soft and lightweight. Just right for propping your baby up at the best angle!
The filling is 100% polyester which won’t aggravate your or your baby’s allergies, and the cover is made from a light bamboo-polyester blend. This also means it’s a dream to wash and dries fast so you can get right back to using it again.
The pillow is medium-sized, so you just might be able to bring it along on a road trip. Another plus is the calm, low-key design. If you’re not keen on bright kid colors or gaudy printed animals, you might like this pillow.
- Soft yet firm.
- The cover washes easily and dries fast.
- Light, breathable, and great for allergy sufferers.
- Some moms have found daily use leaves the pillow flat.
- While soft, the filling and the cover are not particularly durable.
- The plain, fluffy cover may pill or fray and need an additional cover.
How Do You Use a Nursing Pillow?
The way you use a nursing pillow depends on how you position yourself during breastfeeding.
- If you’re sitting down on a comfortable chair while breastfeeding and your child is positioned across your lap, you can use the pillow to give your baby’s head and neck support – that’s particularly important for newborns and young babies who don’t have much neck strength.
- If you feed your baby in a manner where they are positioned on your side and you’re holding them under your arm like a football, a breastfeeding pillow will help place you or your baby comfortably and correctly.
- If you opt to feed your baby while you’re lying on your back, your body will be your baby’s pillow so you don’t need to have a nursing pillow in this case, unless it makes you more comfortable.
- Even if you choose to bottle feed, a feeding pillow can help support the baby, so you don’t constantly strain your muscles to hold the baby up for feedings. That’s particularly useful if mom had a C-section delivery.
Some nights my shoulders, neck, and arms were so tight and painful from trying to hold my baby in position that I felt like I was participating in some kind of physical endurance challenge. It hurt, and I wasn’t prepared for that as a new mom.
Nursing Pillow FAQs
Can My Baby Sleep on a Nursing Pillow?
No. While sleeping on a nursing pillow may seem like a good idea; the fact is that babies can easily slip down off a nursing pillow, which can close their airways and cause them to suffocate. Babies should be put to sleep on a firm surface on their backs, and be supervised when in car seats or on pillows, bumpers or soft bedding (1).
Can I Bring a Nursing Pillow on a Plane?
This depends on how large your pillow is! If you have a smaller size and need the support on a longer flight, by all means, bring it along. Consider a pillow designed especially for travel, or experiment with soft or inflatable C-shaped neck pillows.
Can You Wash a Nursing Pillow?
Typically, you want to avoid submerging any stiff foam pillow in water; instead, wipe the surface clean or wash the removable cover only. For pillows with softer filling, choose a gentle cycle on your washing machine and air dry, fluffing it a few times to preserve the shape. When in doubt, check the laundry tag or simply spot clean with a damp cloth.
When Do I Need a Nursing Pillow?
When it comes to mothering, you’re the final authority! Some women can’t nurse comfortably without one, some need one only as their baby grows in size, and others never bother with them, or simply get by with ordinary bed pillows. It’s really about what works for you and your baby.
See how you fare without one first, and if you notice yourself needing some extra support, introduce the pillow and decide whether its truly helping your comfort levels. You can use a nursing pillow for as long as you nurse, and if you’re like me, you’re bound to find a use for it long after your baby is weaned.