Last updated: August 29, 2021

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Nursing pillows are new age cushions, designed specifically to support mothers while they breastfeed. They are available in all different sizes, shapes and textures. The one thing they all have in common however, is making breastfeeding significantly easier and more comfortable. The ingenuity behind nursing pillows comes from the overall goal of providing optimal upper body support for both the mother and the baby.

Most seasoned mothers are well aware that each breastfeeding session can turn into a long, drawn out process. Because of this, it’s crucial for mothers to find a position that can be sustained for long periods of time without compromising their posture, which often leads to aches and pains. This is where nursing pillows come into play, offering life changing assistance. In this guide you will find some tips that will help you find the design best suited for you and your baby.


  • Pillows used for nursing are usually highly ergonomic, adapting to both the mother and the baby's physiognomy.
  • Because their use is usually so intimate, they are usually lined with very pleasant and soft materials that are easy to clean.
  • These versatile pillows can be used during pregnancy as a pillow all the way until the baby transitions towards drinking formula from the bottle.

The Best Nursing Pillows: Our Picks

If you are thinking about buying a nursing pillow, take a look at the following list of brands and models that come highly recommended by users. These items are designed to make breastfeeding a relaxed and peaceful time for both mom and baby. This guide will help you assess what your specific needs are so that you can select the best model for yourself.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about nursing pillows

Nursing pillows were created to make the process of breastfeeding as easy as possible for both mothers and their babies, especially during their first few months of life. Because newborns need to eat so frequently, it’s important for them to feel supported while mitigating any potential strains or cause of pain for the mother, which can result on both the mother and child being stressed. Here are some of the key considerations to keep in mind when seeking out a nursing pillow.

Young mother with baby in bed

One of the first things to keep in mind, is the materials of the nursing pillow.
(Source: Trendsetter Images: 68751944/

What is a nursing pillow exactly?

Nursing pillows are a type of cushion specifically designed to make the breastfeeding process more comfortable for both the mother and the baby. They work by elevating the baby's body while breastfeeding, so that the mother's neck, back and arms do not have to support their full weight for an extended period of time.

You will find there are many colours, shapes and designs available in markets. Many of them are reminiscent of classic travel cushions for the head and neck. For this reason, they can often be used as pillows outside of breastfeeding scenarios as well. Other designs are larger in size, making them ideal for use as a pillow during all stages of pregnancy and post birth.

Breastfeeding pillows are usually soft, flexible and lightweight.

What are the advantages of using a nursing pillow?

Especially during the first few weeks of their life, the baby will need to be fed several times a day. Mothers, during feeding, must be patient and calm to allow the proper time for the baby to eat. Positioning themselves incorrectly with bad posture over a prolonged period of time can lead to imbalance and discomfort in the musculature; turning each feeding session into a painful and un-enjoyable experience.

Nursing pillows support good posture and make the lactation process much more bearable. By propping the baby up, both parties will exert much less effort during feeding sessions. When this happens, the efficiency of digestion increases, which will result in a healthier, happier baby.

Mother with newborn baby

Nursing pillows are soft and very flexible items, designed to make you and your baby as comfortable as possible. (Source: Trendsetter Images: 70940325/

What are nursing pillows stuffed with?

Nursing pillows are usually items of very supple and soft textures. They are designed to adapt to different postures and individual anatomy, whether you’re feeding the baby via breast or a bottle. The versatility within these products comes from the different fillings. One of the most common fillings is made from polyester fibres.

The advantage of this material is that it doesn’t loose its shape, while also giving firmness to the cushion itself, without neglecting comfort. There are other types of pillows that have fillings made of feathers or cotton on the inside. These can be beneficial during cold winters since they provide extra warmth. Finally, there are cushions filled with polystyrene pearls, which are very malleable and comfortable but also less durable.

Types of fillings Advantages Disadvantages
Cotton Natural fibres

Very soft


Cannot be subjected to high temperatures.
Feathers Warm
Natural fibre
More expensive.
Polyester fibres Holds its shape
Easy to wash
Slow deterioration
Synthetic fibre.
Polystyrene beads Adaptable shape
More affordable
Easily deformed
Shorter lifespan
Foam Resistant
Widely used
May be a harder material.

What different types of maternity pillows are out there?

Broadly speaking, we could say that there are two distinct types of breastfeeding cushions, judging by their shape and size. The first type of design are the pillows made into the form of a horseshoe or 'U' shape. This model is designed to wrap around the mother's waist, allowing the baby to lean or rest on top of it while breastfeeding. Ideally, the mother is seated.

Churro-shaped pillows are the second category of nursing pillows on the market. These are considerably longer than the previous ones, reaching up to 2 meters in length. By design, they can be very practical in the last stages of a woman's pregnancy and also for support during breastfeeding once the baby has arrived.

Are nursing pillows suitable for machine washing?

To find out whether a maternity pillow is machine washable or not, you'll need to take a look at its manufacturing materials. You’ll also need to consider the makeup of both the interior and exterior parts. Some models have a removable cover, allowing you not only to wash the cover separate of the cushion, but it enables you to use your pillow at all times, even when one cover gets dirty.

In the case of pillows that are made whole in one piece, make sure to review the manufacturer’s guidelines for their washing instruction. Remember, depending on the type of filling, the pillow may or may not be apt for machine washing. Fillers such as polystyrene beads are easily and permanently deformed if put through the washing machine.

Happy mother breast feeding her newborn in room, indoor

Maternity pillows free your hands allowing you to perform other tasks simultaneously.
(Source: Rimma Zaytseva: 34841895/

Purchase Criteria

There are several factors to consider before selecting the best nursing pillow for your and your baby. In your search, you'll find a variety of models that have the potential to fulfil many of the different needs of most parents and babies. To help you better understand what you should be looking for, in the section below we talk about some of the main criteria you should consider before making your purchase.


The first detail to take into account is the material of the cushion or the pillow cover. Both the exterior and the interior materials should be considered. Make sure to choose a model that is made of hypoallergenic materials — Those that are pleasant and soft to the touch are ideal. Another essential detail is whether or not the fabric encasing the pillow is breathable, this is important because it helps in dispersing heat.

As for the exterior, a machine washable cover made of natural fibres is great for busy mothers. The most popular models are made of fabrics like cotton. As far as the filling is concerned, an excellent option are cushions made with polyester fibres. These are characterised by being able to maintain their shape while remaining flexible and they easily come back to their original form.

five days old baby resting on white blanket

Nursing cushions are designed to make it as easy as possible for babies to feed during their first months of life.
(Source: Kati Finell: 13153683/

Size and weight

It’s important to consider the size and weight of your nursing pillow, especially for when it comes to storing or transporting it. Those that are horseshoe shaped are easier to store and handle, as they tend to be smaller. They will have an advantage because of their ability to fold and be manipulate easily.

Churro cushions are longer, usually between 170 and 180 cm. The best thing about this design is that they not only serve when you’re breastfeeding the baby, but they can also be used as a bed pillow during pregnancy and well after the baby is no longer nursing. However, they tend to be a little heavier and more cumbersome when it comes to storing them.


A nursing cushion is a product that you will be using quite often and up to several times a day. Because this item is involved in holding the baby during meal time, it will get dirty very easily whether from the food itself or from possible regurgitations. This being said, you’ll want to opt for a breastfeeding pillow that allows for easy cleaning and maintenance.

The ideal design is one that incorporates a removable and machine washable cover. So no matter how many times it gets dirty, it can be cleaned with ease. Keep in mind that if your pillow doesn't have an outside cover, you should consult the manufactures care instructions since its fillings may not be suitable for putting through the washing machine.

Young mother holding her newborn child. Mom nursing baby. Woman and new born boy in white bedroom with rocking chair and blue crib. Nursery interior. Mother playing with laughing kid. Family at home

Holding bad posture for long periods of time can cause pain and discomfort in the mother, making each feeding session feel like a huge inconvenience.
(Source: famveldman: 54638788/


Like any other baby articles, most parents like to opt for nice designs that are
aesthetically pleasing. The good news is that in markets breastfeeding cushions are available in a multitude of colours, patterns and shapes, depending on the brand. Some parents may prefer softer shades and pastels, while others opt for more eye-catching colours.

There are a number of other features that may not be considered crucial, but they will offer different perks to satisfy the needs of varying parents. There are pillows that incorporate some sort of strap (with a button or with a loop) to make sure the baby is secure while feeding. There are other models that come equipped with pockets or extra support for the baby's head or the mother's back, these are just a few of the possible accessories these pillows can have.

Ana MonentePharmacologist
"Nursing pillows allow you to use either one or both hands simultaneously, which is very useful when you spend hours breastfeeding your baby.”


Finally, you must assess the firmness of the pillow. Ideally, it should be a model that balances out firmness and malleability. The primary dictator if these qualities, is the filling of the cushion. For this reason, it is important to search for a soft and flexible model, but also making sure it’s firm enough to provide stability and support for the mother and the baby.

The polyester fibre filling is one of the most desired, as it maintains its firmness and shape even with the passage of time. Don’t forget that the idea behind using one of these cushions is to facilitate the breastfeeding process. They should promote a comfortable position while relieving any potential muscle tension.


Nursing pillows may not be on a parent's priority list when preparing a baby’s nursery, however, it’s clear they can play a very important role in raising a child, particularly during the very important infancy stage. In the long run, you’ll be grateful to have one, it will not only improve feeding conditions for the baby, but it will provide relief for the mother during breastfeeding sessions. Depending on the style you choose, you may be able to use it beyond just breastfeeding.

There are pillows that are of great use during the last stages of pregnancy, as well as when the baby begins to move away from breastfeeding and towards drinking out of a bottle. They can even function just as soft corners for the baby to rest and relax on while digesting. These items can be multi-functional and life-changing, so taking the time to research and invest in one of these products will no doubt be worth your while.

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(Featured image source: Oksana Kuzmina: 15644976/