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Instagram will have you believe that feeding a newborn comes easy. Picture a mellow babe sweetly cooperating while Mom wears a floral smock dress, not a hair out of place. The reality is a bit more…messy. There’s spit-up involved—a lot of spit-up. There’s pain in places you didn’t know could ache (talking about you, de Quervain’s tendonitis). Nursing moms become part-time contortionists in figuring the best positions for their baby to latch, and caregivers learn that even bottle-feeding takes a toll if you’re doing it eight-plus times a day.
Instead of stressing about optimized feeding sessions, get back to soaking up cuddles with the best nursing pillows, designed to “better position the baby for a good latch while feeding and offer comfort to the parent during the duration of the feed,” according to Jessica Diggs, education lead at LOOM, a platform dedicated to helping women optimize their sexual and reproductive health. Breastfeeding moms can benefit from using a nursing pillow, she adds, because “they support any feeding position by propping the baby up to help maintain optimal positioning for a proper latch.” Nursing pillows also help non-nursing caregivers by reducing slouching and providing an armrest. There’s a nursing pillow for everyone’s unique situation and preferences, so before you add one to your baby registry, read on to find the best one for you.
- Best overall: My Brest Friend Super Deluxe Nursing Pillow
- Best value: Boppy Nursing Pillow
- Best eco-friendly splurge: Holy Lamb Bo Peep Organic Nursing Pillow
- Best for extended use: Snuggle Me Organic Feeding + Support Pillow
- Best nontraditional: Monte Lumbar Pillow
Best Overall: My Brest Friend Super Deluxe Nursing Pillow
Filling: Polyurethane foam | Shape: Wraparound design | Removable cover: Polyester cover included
What we like:
- Silent release buckle
- High lumbar support for moms
- Raised “feeding risers” to elevate baby’s head
- Can’t be used as a lounger like our other picks
Why we chose it: A well-thought-out design that identifies and solves all the tricky nuances of breastfeeding.
This nursing pillow might look like a UFO placed around your midsection, but don’t knock it—it really might just become your new “brest friend.” Alice Sigh, a content creator and mom to 6-year-old Alina and 3-year-old Amelia, used it exclusively to breastfeed her daughters to 14 months and 3 years, respectively. “I felt it was the most convenient and supportive to use when they were in their most crucial early-breastfeeding weeks, and I think it helped set us up for our success,” she confides. The pillow’s large frame comes from two key features: the ultra-high-rise back panel (to enhance lumbar support) and the wide front cushion (to support baby from head to toe). A Velcro strap allows you to adjust the pillow higher on your body if you need to clear the arms of a sofa, or lower if you’re in bed. But you won’t need to worry about waking up your baby with that distinctive Velcro sound; a silent-release buckle ensures that they’ll stay sleeping if you need to set them down after feeding. Just be sure to assess where you’re going to feed and adjust accordingly before starting.
Heather Summers of the blog Summers in the City used a My Brest Friend nursing pillow for all three of her daughters and particularly loved being able to move around while nursing, especially during those late-night feeds. “I would even nurse standing up with this one, since I could cinch it tight enough around my waist that it wouldn’t fall down,” she explains. “This way I could pace while nursing to keep myself awake, while also not having to bear all of my baby’s weight myself!” The pillow’s wraparound design is sturdy enough to stay in position while you move around or while you move your baby around.
Other key features include the “feeding risers” on the left and right sides to help elevate your baby’s head instead of it sinking into the cushion; a pouch pocket to store your nipple balm and phone for late-night scrolling; and an interior waterproof foam cover.
Best Value: Boppy Nursing Pillow
Filling: Polyester fiber | Shape: U-shape | Removable cover: Polyester-cotton blend cover included
What we like:
- Intuitive design
- Slipcovers widely available to match your style
- Doesn’t connect from end to end
- Boppy makes multiple nursing pillows; this is the original
Why we chose it: This is a budget-friendly crowd favorite, with an intuitive design and wide range of aesthetically pleasing slipcovers.
If a nursing pillow could win a Miss Congeniality contest, it would be the Boppy. It’s easy to see why moms (including the three that we consulted) love this pick. Its intuitive design makes it easy to get on straightaway if you don’t want to fuss with buckles and straps. There are videos online you can reference, but the design is pretty simple. “It’s not rocket science,” says Dinah Eke of Dee Diary and mom of two little boys. “And it’s easy to get covers to match your furniture.” If you’re a designer like Amanda Jane Jones, color, fabric, and patterns matter! Jones searched Etsy for sellers who could make custom-made ones that matched her simple style. The Boppy’s light weight also makes it extremely portable. “I literally took it everywhere with me—church, car, park. I got the worst back pain while nursing, so it helped immensely,” notes Jones.
While Vanessa Wade, founder of Wiley Body and mom of two little girls, also liked the widely available slipcovers (“I love the cute neutral covers, so it blends in with my home”), she was especially thrilled about its versatility. She remembers, “It made for a great lounger for my baby when I needed to set her down so I could make myself a snack or even lay her on her tummy so she could practice lifting her head.”
It’s worth mentioning if ergonomics are important to you: The Boppy doesn’t connect from end to end, so you won’t get back support while nursing or feeding your baby.
Best Eco-Friendly Splurge: Holy Lamb Bo Peep Organic Nursing Pillow
Filling: Wool | Shape: U-shape | Removable cover: Organic cotton cover sold separately
What we like:
- Natural materials without chemicals
- Can be used for tummy time or sitting support
- Spot-clean only
- Washable slipcover available separately
Why we chose it: An eco-friendly, splurge-worthy pillow that’s perfect for sensitive newborn skin.
Once they’ve made their grand entrance, newborns are very sensitive to the world. After spending months cozying up in their mom’s womb, they have to adjust to the dry air, and there tends to be a period of skin shedding. While this isn’t alarming or painful to babies, it doesn’t hurt to make sure that the fabric they rest on isn’t made with harsh chemicals. Mom-of-three and founder of EEMA Studio, Hannah Soboroff Shargal, felt it was worth the splurge to invest in the Holy Lamb Bo Peep pillow, which is made with organic cotton and wool. “I’ve tested many nursing pillows, and this one (by far!) offers the most support and comfort during a nursing session,” Shargal shares.
Like the Boppy, the Bo Peep’s U-shape design can support babies in sitting up and playing. For those with sensitive noses, you might notice a distinct scent that comes from the naturally occurring lanolin oil in the wool; it will dissipate within a few days.
Best for Extended Use: Snuggle Me Organic Feeding + Support Pillow
Fill: Polyester | Shape: Crescent | Removable Cover: Organic cotton cover sold separately
What we like:
- Multipurpose use
- Machine washable
- Made with GOTS-certified organic fabric
- Slipcovers sold separately
- Firmer than other picks
Why we chose it: A machine washable pillow that doubles as room decor.
You might recognize this pick from our best pregnancy pillows roundup. Nursing pillows usually only tick off two purposes (giving your baby support during feeding and support during tummy time), but you’ll be hard-pressed to find one that looks chic enough to pass as room decor. While the Snuggle Me isn’t the lowest in price on this list, its multifunctional design (which skews more crescent versus U-shape) and GOTS-certified organic fabric make it well worth the extra dollars. If you prefer a plusher pillow, though, this might not satisfy your needs. “It’s a firmer option, so I found it difficult to get super-comfortable when my daughter was a gooey newborn,” notes Kate Kipley, content marketing manager at Avaline and mama to 3-month-old Iona Henrí. “It’s perfect for tummy time and additional support now that she’s a little older.”
Best Nontraditional: Monte Lumbar Pillow
Fill: Polyester | Shape: rectangular | Removable Cover: Included and customizable
What we like:
- Lower height for shorter torsos
- Extended use for parents
- Not specifically designed as a nursing pillow
Why we chose it: This unexpected choice was preferred over an actual nursing pillow.
Sometimes the best pillow is the one that you don’t expect. Amanda Luu, florist extraordinaire and cofounder of Studio Mondine, was surprised that this lumbar pillow made for her glider actually worked better than the nursing pillow she was gifted. “I can wedge this lumbar pillow under Ami’s body to get him to boob height for better latching in a cradle or cross-cradle hold,” she says. “The cute nursing pillow from my registry is too dense/tall for this!” While the Monte doesn’t wrap around your body like our other picks, its firm but compact height might be a deciding factor if you have a shorter torso or smaller frame.
How We Chose These Products
A nursing pillow can set you up for success if you decide to exclusively breastfeed, or just be a supportive friend if you decide not to breastfeed at all. You might even choose to do a combination of breastfeeding and bottle-feeding. Whichever method you choose, the best nursing pillow needs to fit your preferences, whether you like your pillows firm versus a bit more plush or tall versus compact. We scouted for ones that pull double duty as an infant lounger so that your dollars go further. We also asked moms who can vouch for their favorite picks after using it with multiple babies.
Our Shopping Checklist
If you plan on having multiple caregivers help feed your baby so you can get a well-deserved break, consider a nursing pillow that’s more intuitive to use, like U-shape designs. You’ll also want to assess the different spaces you might find yourself in nursing or feeding the baby (like a sunken-in couch, a narrow rocking chair, or a spacious bed) so that you can make sure the pillow can fit and clear any obstacles, like a protruding arm or close-by side table.
Your baby’s newborn skin will be very soft and delicate, making them all the more cuddly and irresistible. In those first few weeks, they’ll be shedding their top layer of skin as they adjust to their new environment, so you might feel better about splurging on materials that will be coming in close, hourly contact with your baby’s skin. Fabrics with Oeko-Tex certification ensure that they have been tested for toxic substances, while a GOTS stamp certifies organic textiles.
You’ll want to check if your pillow is machine washable or needs to be used with a slipcover. Spit-up and blowouts are always a possibility, so having multiple covers will be handy so you’re not left scrambling for a clean one. If aesthetics are important to you as they are to us, you can check Etsy for colors and fabrics that match your home. Just be sure to double check the dimensions. In the case of the My Brest Friend pillow, there are three styles: Original, Deluxe, and Super Deluxe; one cover doesn’t fit all three.
It’s a small detail that should carry weight in your decision-making. Nursing pillows without buckles are easier to slip into, but may not stay on at the precise height you need them to be. The ones with a more secure fastener will allow you to multitask if you need to, but you might not get them on as quickly when you have a wailing baby waiting to be fed.
Q: Can my baby or I sleep on a nursing pillow?
We can see why something called a pillow would lead you to believe you or your baby can catch a few z’s during feeds. However, Diggs warns “they are not designed for sleep and should only be used when the baby is supervised.” You might want to keep it near your bed, though, as she recommends easy access during nighttime feedings. Plus you want to minimize disrupting your baby’s developing circadian rhythm at night, so the quicker you can get a feed in and put the baby back to sleep, the better.
Q: Can caregivers who aren’t nursing use a nursing pillow?
Yes! Consider your toddler who wants to feed their baby brother or sister, or a grandparent who isn’t as able-bodied to hold an 8-pound baby. Nursing pillows can provide support for anyone who needs it, whether it’s to bottle-feed or simply hold the baby.
Q: How many nursing pillows do I need?
You really only need one. If you live in a double-story home, you might find it convenient to have one upstairs and one downstairs (especially if you’re recovering from a C-section). Where you might want to get doubles is pillow covers so that you can have one on your pillow while the other is in the wash. Burp cloths are also handy to have and come in multiples; we recommend a soft muslin cloth for newborn skin, which will be sensitive (even indoors!).
Q: Can I use a nursing pillow for tummy time?
Modern-day designs pull double duty as a support for tummy time or even as nursery decor. Not all nursing pillows have this feature, though, as some are too firm and angular to comfortably support your baby’s midsection.
The Last Word
Breastfeeding can be hard enough without conducting trial and error on multiple nursing pillows. If you’re looking for a pillow that’s extremely well-thought-out for the complexities of breastfeeding, the My Brest Friend pillow is repeatedly recommended. If your feeding needs are a little more specific, our other best picks (like the Monte for short torsos and the Boppy for traveling) can make your experience more comfortable. Now get back to enjoying those milk-scented snuggles!
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