Do I Need A Nursing Pillow?

Posted by Liza Savary on

You’re having a baby! Congratulations! And welcome to the sometimes confusing, often overwhelming world of shopping for baby gear. As you prepare for your baby’s arrival, you will probably find yourself asking a ton of questions about what you should — or shouldn’t — buy. Cloth or disposable diapers? Ergo carrier or Moby wrap? What exactly does a Diaper Genie do? And what is a nursing pillow for?


First introduced in the late 1980s, nursing pillows have become a staple baby shower gift and a favorite item on “must have” lists of baby gear picks. Designed to fit close to your body, they offer support to help you sit comfortably during feedings.


Do you need a nursing pillow? Technically, no, you can feed a baby without one. However, in our experience, a nursing pillow can be a really useful, and very appreciated, addition to your nursery — especially if it is versatile enough to be repurposed and used long after the baby days are over.


How Do I Use A Nursing Pillow?


You’ve probably seen a nursing pillow before, with its distinctive C-shaped silhouette. If you haven’t seen one in action, you’ll be relieved to hear that they’re pretty easy to figure out, although you will probably take some time to find the position that’s most comfortable for you.


A nursing pillow is shaped to fit around your torso and offer support during feedings. When your baby is a newborn, your nursing pillow is there to provide support for your arm. Rather than setting your baby directly on the pillow, you hold them in one arm, get them into position, wait until they are successfully latched, and then rest your arm on the cushion. As your baby gets older (and bigger!), you will probably be able to rest them right on the nursing pillow with some support from your arm. 


Can you nurse without a nursing pillow? Absolutely. You can also use other pillows or cushions to prop up your arm for comfort. But many parents find that the shape and density of a pillow purpose-built for nursing is a welcome addition to their baby gear lineup.


Do I Need A Nursing Pillow If I’m Not Breastfeeding?


What if you’re bottle feeding? Even if you will exclusively pump or use formula, you may find that a nursing pillow makes your bottle feeding sessions easier. As time goes on, feedings will become longer, and your baby will grow heavier. That’s a good thing for their development, but it can be hard on your arm! A nursing pillow can provide support and give you a free hand to easily hold that bottle.


Keep in mind, too, that while your baby’s position during a feeding is important, so is yours! Without support, you are likely to find yourself hunching over, slouching or falling into other postures that will lead to back pain and general discomfort. A nursing pillow can help you and your baby settle into a position that will be safe and comfortable for both of you.


A nursing pillow can also provide support for your baby during tummy time or a safe spot to nestle them if you need both hands free. Just remember to keep an eye on them; it’s not safe to leave a baby unattended with a nursing pillow, or any soft surface, for any amount of time.


What To Look For In A Nursing Pillow


At first glance, it’s easy to think that all nursing pillows are the same. However, we have learned from experience that not all nursing aids are created alike! Here’s what we recommend looking for when you’re picking out your nursing pillow:


  • Shape & Size
    Yes, nursing pillows are generally C- or U-shaped, but from there, they vary in thickness, exact shape, and features. Think about your body and how/where you’ll be doing most of your feedings as you look over your options.
  • Durability
    If you plan to have more than one baby, make sure your nursing pillow will be in it with you for the long haul! Look for sturdy construction, strong seams, and quality materials that are easy to clean. A good pillow is worth the investment if it’s tough enough to last through multiple children.
  • Materials
    Your baby will spend a lot of time on and around your nursing pillow, so materials matter. Buy from a reputable retailer and look for materials like organic cotton and sustainable stuffing.
  • Style
    Yes, your nursing pillow needs to be functional, but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be attractive! After all, you’re going to be looking at it many times a day, and it is likely to be a fixture in your nursery, nursing nook or living room, so pick one that fits with your home aesthetic.
  • Utility & Versatility
    More and more parents are looking for streamlined, minimalist approaches to shopping for baby gear. We like to look for items that can serve multiple purposes and/or find new life after the baby days are done. 

  • When Will My Baby Outgrow A Nursing Pillow?


    It might seem impossible right now, especially if you’re in the midst of a cluster feeding phase, but the nursing days don’t last forever! Even before you wean, you may find that you and your little one eventually become more comfortable nursing without a pillow.


    Because of their strange shape, many nursing pillows don’t have much utility once the days of midnight feedings have passed. But your nursing pillow doesn’t have to be a single-use object. Our Perch pillow is designed to convert easily from a comfortable nursing support to a stylish and durable floor cushion that can be used in the playroom, kids’ room or living room for many years to come.


    What else should you look for in a nursing pillow? Experienced parents and caregivers, let us know in the comments!

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