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 didn’t die of pins-and-needles in both arms.
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.
Quick ComparisonOur Top Nursing Pillow Picks of 2019 Read Full Reviews
Why Buy a Nursing Pillow?
Nursing pillows are used for a range of reasons, both before and after your baby is born.
After you bring your baby home, you may find that your back pain is even worse than it was in late pregnancy. This discomfort can last for up to six weeks, so you may find yourself wanting some extra support in that area whether you’re sitting or sleeping.
Most obviously, nursing pillows are a godsend during feeding time. 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.
Different Kinds of Nursing Pillows
There are several different shapes and sizes of nursing pillows to help moms with their aches, pains and feeding issues.
“Boppy” Style Pillows
- One of the most common are the pillows 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 it’s almost ready to sit up on its own.
- 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.
- These are large, stable, and have a backrest, unlike Boppy style pillows.
- This kind of pillow won’t go flat or shift around as you feed. It really stays put!
- Some 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 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.
What Should I Look For?
The main things to consider when searching for the perfect nursing pillow are:
- The fit: 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 2019
Every baby is unique, and every nursing mama is unique too. It would be nice if breastfeeding were a simple “plug and play” kind of thing, but the truth is that you both may take some time to adjust to one another.
The first time I successfully breastfed, I was so engrossed in what was going on in my lap I didn’t notice the impossible angle I was craning my neck. After 20 minutes I sat upright and discovered that my poor posture had given me a nasty backache!
The proportions of your torso, the weight, and length of your baby and the size of your breasts all play a role in how easy it is to latch and how comfortable you both are once you do. You wouldn’t be happy if you had to eat your dinner twisted or hunched over, and neither would your baby.
So when you’re buying a pillow, consider all those places you need support during feeds, and try to get a good idea of the relative size and shape of a pillow that would serve you best.
1. My Brest Friend Deluxe Nursing Pillow
This 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 this 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 every area of pain a new mom feels from breastfeeding.
- Helps the baby stay at just the right height for breastfeeding.
- The flat surface stops the baby from rolling out of position.
- Difficult to put on with one hand.
- It doesn’t fit plus-size women well.
2. Boppy Nursing Pillow
Made of polyester and cotton, this 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 invest in this 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 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 skins.
- 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.
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 size 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
This 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 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 single pillows.
6. Ergobaby Natural Curve Nursing Pillow
The Ergobaby nursing pillow 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 feeding, and the pillow makes a great prop for tummy time.
- Contoured design really works for supporting you during feeding.
- Foam is high quality and won’t distort.
- 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 arm rests.
- 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 bottle feeding. 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.
- 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.
Are Nursing Pillows Necessary?
A new mom can definitely get by without a nursing pillow – women have managed to raise children without them for hundreds of years, after all. But just because you can get by without one, it doesn’t mean you should.
A Worthwhile Investment
Even though babies don’t weigh much, you have to keep in mind that you hold them for a long time every single day. I hated whenever my babies were out of my arms and I fit in as much cuddle time as I could. But that led to a lot of sore muscles.
With a nursing pillow, your baby can be elevated up some so you aren’t the only one doing the heavy lifting. That can ease some of the tension you put on your muscles.
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 he is positioned on your side and you’re holding him under your arm like a football, pillows 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, nursing pillows 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
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 (source).
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.
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 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.
When you are considering the best pillow solely for nursing, My Brest Friend takes the cake because of its outstanding back support and its fastener which helps it stay put.
The flat surface is a great feature so your baby will stay exactly where you want her with no rolling or shifting during feeding, which could cause her to break her latch on your breast.
Even though this pillow isn’t as versatile as the Boppy, it offers the best features for nursing purposes. If you are considering the long-term use and don’t mind that the Boppy isn’t quite as good for nursing as My Brest Friend is, the Boppy is still an outstanding choice.