A little bit of relief on the arms and shoulders is all we want. A long breastfeeding session will lead to that dull ache that creeps into your muscles, as you hold your little one just above what would be considered a natural position.
The nursing pillow provides breastfeeding support as a simple prop that takes the weight of your baby, and allows you to achieve a good nursing position close to your breast without that lingering physical strain.
Simple in theory, but they come in all shapes and sizes that are suited to different people.
Our comprehensive guide will allow you to choose the best pillow that aligns with your intended use, body shape, and baby’s size.
In This Post:
In this article we will be reviewing the following pillows for nursing:
- Boppy Nursing Pillow
- My Brest Friend Original Nursing Pillow
- Infantino Elevate
- Leachco Cuddle U
- Nursit Basic
- Lanisoh Nursie
- Twin Z
- One Z
- Luna Lullaby Lil’ Something
- Ergobaby Natural Curve
What Is A Nursing Pillow
While you don’t necessarily need a nursing pillow, it can definitely be a lifesaver for many new moms.
Nursing pillows are typically firmer than regular bed pillows which gives baby more support and positions them at just the right height for feeding (right at the breast).
With the pillow holding the baby up, it can take the strain off the mother’s back, neck, and shoulders when breastfeeding.
Ideally, nursing pillows should be made with non-toxic and hypoallergenic materials. Babies’ skin is highly sensitive, and subpar materials could result in irritation or allergic reactions.
Most pillows come with either a cotton or polyester cover that is easy to clean, but you can sometimes find covers made with bamboo fibers, which are even better for sensitive skin.
The pillows themselves, as previously mentioned, are typically firmer than most bed pillows. They are usually made with some sort of foam or are overly stuffed with polyester batting to help the pillows keep their shape.
Nursing pillows are known for their unique shape and their ability to wrap around your waist for maximum comfort. There is a design to help everybody type get into a comfortable position.
Here are the most common nursing pillow shapes you will come across:
- O-Shaped: this type typically has a belt that buckles around your waist, creating that complete “O” shape and offering lower back support.
- C-Shaped: this is the most common type you will come across. They fit most waist sizes and can usually double as a floor support pillow for baby.
- Crescent-Shaped: you can also call this an L-shaped nursing pillow if you like. Rather than wrapping around the mother’s entire front, this pillow is smaller and usually covers one side at a time. Oftentimes they are better for portability.
- Other Unique Shapes: you may come across a few other styles that don’t fall into the above categories, and I will even go through some of these in the list that follows.
Best Nursing Pillow of 2021
Perhaps one of the things Boppy is best known for is their variety in adorable covers for their famous pillow. Each has a soft polyester and cotton cover which usually features a super cute design.
The covers and the pillow itself are machine washable, so there is little need for you to worry about the accidental leak or spit up.
Versatility is the other thing the Boppy pillow is best known for. The firmness of the polyester/cotton blend filled pillow as well as it’s “C” shaped design make this pillow great for propping your baby up on the floor.
You can lay them on their back so they are slightly inclined, preventing reflux after eating, as well as on their tummy to strengthen their neck. As your baby grows, you can even use this pillow as an additional support as your baby is learning to sit up on their own.
The biggest downside to this pillow is its size. It is rather bulky, making it not the most ideal choice for smaller framed mothers and preventing it from being travel-friendly.
The lack of a waist strap makes it easy to take on and off, but it also means that the pillow may slip away from your body easily, creating a gap that your baby may slip into.
- Pillow and cover are machine-washable
- Several covers to choose from, including water-resistant
- Versatile: can be used for propping, tummy time, or sitting
- Too big for smaller framed women
- Not travel-friendly
- No waist belt to keep it in place
This O-shaped pillow will wrap around your entire body, fastening with a small belt and buckle around the waist. This keeps it in place while you are feeding your baby, preventing slipping and separation from your body.
The O-shape also provides a small pad at the back that provides additional cushion and support.
The belt is not without its disadvantages. This pillow may not work for larger women since he belt supports up to a 40-inch waist, and the usage of the strap makes it somewhat inconvenient to put on and take off when you are feeding.
There are 18 patterned covers to choose from (made from 100% cotton), which are removable and machine-washable in when the inevitable mess happens. The pillow itself is made from a comfortable and flexible foam pillow that can be spot cleaned when spills happen.
In addition, you can purchase a My Brest Friend Deluxe slipcover separately. It is wise to keep two on hand for when the inevitable spills and mess happen when feeding.
This pillow supports just about every breastfeeding hold, ensuring that you can find something comfortable for you and your baby.
However, the pillow itself is a bit thin; many mothers find that they still need to lean over to meet their babies’ mouths. The pillow itself and the zipper on the cover are lacking in quality and may require replacement sooner rather than later.
- Waist belt keeps pillow securely in place
- Removable cover is machine-washable
- Several colors to choose from
- Additional back support
- My Brest Friend Deluxe covers can be purchased separately
- Poor pillow and zipper quality
- Doesn’t support floor time for baby
- Only fits up to 40-inch waist
- Pillow is absorbent and spot clean only
Infantino is known for its affordable yet effective baby products, and this nursing pillow doesn’t fail to deliver just that.
This nursing pillow has quite a unique shape. Three foldable layers on either side of the central cylinder allow you to adjust the pillow’s height to your specific needs.
The ability to breastfeed your baby in an elevated position also helps to prevent reflux.
The pillow does not have a removable cover, but the whole thing can be machine-washed and is even dryer-safe.
It folds up nicely which makes it travel-friendly, and it has raised edges, which keep your baby from sliding and rolling off the side.
It is a bit awkward to use, however. The central cylinder part of the pillow sticks out a little far preventing you from being able to get it right up next to your body. The shape of the pillow may also make it difficult to use in any hold other than football.
- Folds down to make it travel-friendly
- Adjustable height caters to women of varying heights
- Breastfeeding elevated helps prevent reflux
- Pillow is machine-washable and dryer-safe
- Cannot be used for anything other than nursing
- Pillow shape doesn’t allow it to sit flush against the body
- Awkward and cumbersome to use on the lap for some women
The Leachco Cuddle U is similar to the Boppy in shape and firmness. It is just as versatile, allowing it to be used to support or baby while lying or sitting on the floor.
There are a few differences, however, some of which make this nursing pillow superior and others that fall short of Boppy’s design.
A Velcro-fastened strap ensures the pillow stays in place, whereas the Boppy has been known to slide away. The strap can also be used as a harness for your baby when they are propped on their back to prevent them from sliding off the pillow.
Your baby can hang out on this pillow on their own which also makes it suitable for bottle feeding when you want to have a rest.
It is slightly larger than the Boppy and doesn’t have a removable cover, which means that you can’t even use a Boppy cover as a substitute to keep it clean. The pillow also cannot be machine-washed and is recommended to spot clean only.
The Cuddle U is also on the more expensive end of the scale for a simple nursing pillow like this.
- Can be used to support baby’s floor playtime
- Velcro strap to keep the pillow from sliding away while feeding
- Strap can double as a harness to keep baby from falling over
- Slightly larger than the Boppy
- No removable cover and must be spot cleaned only
- A little more expensive than other similar nursing pillows
5. NurSit Basic
The NurSit meets Boppy’s standards where the Leachco Cuddle U falls short.
It is similar in size, and even though the NurSit doesn’t have a removable cover, the Boppy covers will fit if you need some extra protection. The pillow itself is also machine-washable like the Boppy.
It is very firm with loads of stuffing made from 100% hypoallergenic polyester batting. There is also a small zippered opening that allows you to adjust the firmness if need be.
The NurSit’s shape is also similar, which makes it versatile and able to use with your baby for floor playtime, and also to prop them up when bottle feeding.
You do get what you pay for with the low price point. Several users have claimed that the pillow’s stitching comes unraveled after a short period of use.
- Can be used to prop up baby for playtime
- Made with hypoallergenic materials
- Machine-washable and easy to clean
- Stitching comes unraveled rather quickly
- No removable cover
- Too bulky to travel with
Alternative Nursing Pillow Designs
Sometimes you just need to find a pillow that fits a certain purpose rather than one that is made for all-around use.
This pillow is quite different from other nursing pillows. Rather than a large pillow that sits on your lap it’s almost like a small muffler that goes over your arm.
It creates a bit of cushion between the baby’s head and your arm., and the pillow can help prop your baby up to a suitable height in all kinds of situations.
It is machine-washable and the lining and filling are made from 100% polyester.
Its compact size allows it to easily fit in the car or a suitcase for traveling, but it is still a little big to fit into a diaper bag or purse.
The small size also means that you will likely still be hunching over to feed your baby since it doesn’t raise them up very high.
You may not be able to use this pillow to prop up your baby like you would a Boppy, but it can double as a travel pillow for you or your little one if needed.
- Great for traveling
- Can double as a travel pillow for Mom or child
- Doesn’t raise baby’s head up very high
- Light-colored outer layer stains easily
- Still too big to fit in most diaper bags
Two babies at the same time…. Yep!!
One of the biggest problems with most nursing pillows is that they don’t support tandem breastfeeding for twins.
This isn’t always a necessity, but there will be times that both babies are hungry at the same time and you need to be prepared.
Thanks to ABC’s Shark Tank you now have the Twin Z pillow available to you, the ultimate nursing pillow for twins.
Not only does it provide great back support and allow for tandem breastfeeding, but it can also be used as a prenatal pillow to cradle your pregnant belly and can be shared by twins well into their early childhood years as a hangout spot.
There are a few downsides to this pillow, however. It is one of the most expensive nursing pillows I have come across, making it unsuitable for some bargain hunters.
In addition, due to its unique shape, this pillow is really only good for a football hold even when you are only nursing one child.
The pillow is easy to clean thanks to its removable machine-washable cover, and it is very soft and comfortable for you and your baby. This also makes latching difficult since your baby’s weight will cause the pillow to squish down, away from your breast.
- Supports tandem breastfeeding – feed two babies at once!
- Great back support
- Removable washable cover
- Can be used for prenatal comfort and support
- Too soft to keep baby elevated at breast height
- Only comfortable for football hold
From the same creators of the Twin Z pillow you also have the 4 in 1 Z pillow, which is the perfect pillow for those who need a little extra back support.
Just like the Twin Z pillow, there is a waist belt that keeps the pillow close to you, preventing slippage that can create gaps for your baby to fall into. The waist belt also fits some larger women, fitting up to a 52” waist maximum.
There is also a removable soft polyester cover that can be machine washed and dried when leaks and spills happen. The pillow itself, however, can only be spot cleaned.
The back support cushion is one of the largest and cushiest I have seen on a nursing pillow. It is sure to give proper support to women who have chronic back pain, especially when breastfeeding.
With as thick and cushy as this pillow is, it can be bulky to wear, making it difficult to maneuver as you try to put it on and position the baby on your own.
It also makes it nearly impossible to wear in a chair or rocker that has arms as the pillow is too wide.
- Lots of cushion to provide comfort to Mom and baby
- Large back support pad
- Removable cover can be machine washed and dried
- Waist belt prevents pillow from slipping
- Very bulky
- Difficult to wear and position baby alone
- Too wide to use in a chair with arms
Sometimes you just need a pillow that is easy to move from room to room in your home without all the bulk that pillows like the My Brest Friend and Boppy have.
Of course, it’s an added bonus if you can easily take it outside the house with you too.
The Luna Lullaby Lil’ Something is a great pillow if you are looking for something slightly more portable than the typical nursing pillow.
This pillow is basically a mini version of the original Luna Lullaby. It is crescent-shaped, so there isn’t as much bulk as there is in a full wraparound pillow.
It is only 20 inches wide and can easily fit into a diaper bag or under the stroller for use on the go. Its small size doesn’t prevent it from being used for tummy time, though.
It is a bit too small to use on your lap, however. You will get the best support and height if you use it as a cushion between your arm and your baby’s head.
The quality may not live up to some of the other higher end pillows you’ve seen.
It is similar to a travel pillow, both in quality and size, but you can also use it as a travel pillow between feedings thanks to the shape that will support your neck.
- Small enough to fit in diaper bag or under stroller
- Can be used for baby’s tummy time
- Double as a neck pillow between feedings when traveling
- Too small and thin to use on your lap
- Same quality as the average travel pillow
Unfortunately, there are no good pillows that can give you support while breastfeeding in bed lying down, but you still need a good pillow to help you breastfeed while sitting up.
Depending on how soft your mattress is, some nursing pillows don’t give enough support.
The Ergobaby Natural Curve is a great pillow to use when sitting in bed.
It is extremely firm, which may not seem comfortable at first thought, but you can be sure that your baby will be supported no matter how soft your mattress is.
There is a handle on the outside for easy carrying, and the pillow itself is very lightweight. It is still a little big to really be considered portable, but it easy enough to move from room to room in your home.
The shape and angle of this pillow can make a bit difficult to use for some.
It is not a complete “C” shape, so it doesn’t stay right up against the body when breastfeeding, and the way the pillow angles into your chest will have your baby rolling toward you if they’re not positioned correctly.
This is a problem you would not expect to run into when using a nursing pillow and may not suit everyone.
The firmness of this pillow also makes it ideal for mothers recovering from a C-section. You don’t need to worry about the pressure of your baby pushing the pillow into your incision site.
- Firm enough to keep its shape no matter how soft your mattress is
- Can be used for tummy time
- Comfortable for C-section mothers
- Lightweight with handle to make it easy to carry around the house
- Baby rolls into chest due to the pillow’s angle
- Doesn’t stay close to Mom very well
Tips For Using a Breastfeeding Pillow
No nursing pillow is one-size-fits-all. What works for your friend, sister, or cousin may not work for you. Every woman’s body and breasts are shaped and sized differently.
The best way to determine how to use a nursing pillow comfortably is through trial and error.
Don’t be afraid to try out multiple pillow shapes and designs. If you have friends and relatives with different nursing pillow styles, ask if you can borrow them for a couple of days to try them out and see what works for you so you don’t end up buying multiple nurse pillows.
The C shaped, and O shape designs are the most common and are very easy to use.
You should also try multiple breastfeeding holds. Most nursing pillow shapes support every type of hold, but there may be a specific hold and pillow type that works just right for you.
How to Use a Nursing Pillow
You can use most nursing pillow designs by placing on your lap when seated, the sides of the pillow will wrap around your waist, and your baby is placed in a position where they can latch on to the nipple while Mom can maintain correct posture.
It can be a small learning curve to overcome the tendency to lean forward and hunch over. By staying upright you will avoid the potential onset of back & shoulder problems that plague nursing Moms.
Not all designs will wrap around your whole body. Some of the designs we reviewed are just placed on your arm to position your baby.
Cleaning And Hygiene
Throughout my list, I have made it a point to mention each pillow’s recommended method of cleaning. Babies are messy and so is breastfeeding.
You are bound to have milk leakage, spit-up, and diaper blowouts that will get your pillow messy.
It is important that you know how your pillow needs to be cleaned to maintain its quality and to know what is going to work for your lifestyle and schedule.
Ideally, your nursing pillow will have a removable cover that can be thrown into the washing machine for easy cleanup.
It would also be ideal if it can be machine-dried as well, but air dry is just as hassle-free even if it’s not as fast.
Some pillows even have the option of a water-resistant cover you can purchase separately for added protection. This will help to create an extra layer to keep the pillow itself dry and odor-free.
You do need to be aware of how the pillow itself should be cleaned, especially if you aren’t using a water-resistant cover.
Liquids can soak the cover and seep into the pillow leaving long-lasting stains and odors.
The best option is to find a pillow that can also be thrown into the washing machine.
Sometimes spot cleaning just isn’t enough, and depending on the pillow’s material (i.e. foam), soap and water can soak into the pillow and make it very difficult to dry.
Benefits for Breastfeeding Moms
As previously mentioned, the pillow itself holds the baby up. This takes the strain off the mother’s neck and back since she doesn’t need to bend down to meet the baby’s mouth.
This promotes better posture and makes breastfeeding much more comfortable.
In addition, it also takes the strain off the mother’s shoulders and arms. All she needs to do it support her baby’s head and neck; there is no need for her to hold her baby’s weight while feeding since the pillow is doing all the work.
Both of these things together also allow for better ergonomics at feeding time. I have heard several mothers regret their aches and posture years after they have breastfed due to the months of leaning over to breastfeed.
Nursing pillows can also be lifesavers for C-section mommies. I can personally attest to this one.
With the right pillow – one that sits on the lap rather than the belly – it can keep the incision protected and prevent discomfort.
The benefits don’t stop at breastfeeding. Most nursing pillows can double as a support for your little baby during floor time.
They can be used to prop your baby up on their back – elevating them to prevent reflux after eating – or on their tummy, and it can be used to support babies who can’t quite sit on their own yet.
It is also comforting to wrap around a breastfeeding pillow and prop up your baby when bottle feeding so they are in a familiar environment and position.
Risks for Your Baby
There are very few risks when it comes to the use of nursing pillows, but they can be deadly if they are used incorrectly.
When I was scouring through various product reviews and related articles, I was shocked to see how many people were allowing their babies to sleep on their nursing pillows in their cribs.
This is extremely dangerous for your baby. Any soft or squishy objects in a baby’s crib, such as pillows, blankets, or stuffed animals, pose a risk for suffocation.
This includes a nursing pillow, even if they seem firm.
In addition, the angle of the pillow also poses a risk. With enough squirming, the baby can fall off the pillow, rolling onto their faces on the mattress, or they can slide down the pillow, tilting their head forward and cutting off their airway.
If your baby does fall asleep while laying on their pillow on the floor, be sure you do not leave them unsupervised even for a moment.
Your baby’s safety should be the first priority.
A nursing pillow can be beneficial to any Mom no matter their baby’s age, body type, or method of delivery.
They provide additional support when breastfeeding, reducing back and neck pain, and take the pressure off the baby’s head and arms of the Mom.
If you are looking for a good all-around nursing pillow, I highly recommend the Boppy nursing pillow. It can be a bit bulky, but overall it is very easy to use.
Its firmness and shape also make it highly versatile and will remain useful as your baby grows through the support it can provide through all stages of floor playtime.
What do you think of nursing pillows? Do you have a personal recommendation you didn’t see on the list? Let us know!