It’s amazing how kids can fall asleep anywhere. I must admit, I’m a bit jealous of how much Z time they get. In the car, on an airplane, waiting at the doctor’s….my kids 0-can nap like no other. However, they often get aches and pains from poor positioning when we are out and about, or don’t slumber as long as they should on a plane ride due to a bad angle. So, we’ve researched some of the best pillows out there to help our little guys get uninterrupted rest. We can’t just take a normal bed pillow with us wherever we go, of course, so finding something compact that supports the head and neck properly is the goal. Fortunately for you, we’ve tested out and researched the most popular travel pillows for children on the market. Below are the top 7 choices, and why they might be great for your family. For as much sleep as those kiddos get when you’re en route somewhere, they can be getting even better sleep with the right pillow by their sides.
The Best Travel Pillows for Kids
(Most variety of colors — $$$)
Why it’s great: The cute colors will draw you in initially when you’re perusing travel pillow options. Plus, if choose a bright color that comes with a matching carrying case, it will be hard to leave it behind by mistake. The BCOZZY isn’t just adorable, it’s very functional, too. The curved design molds to your child’s neck for the best fit, and works perfectly to keep the their head in a comfortable position when traveling. Unlike a lot of adult travel pillows you may have seen in airports, this one has a chin support that cradles the head/neck and prevents the child from slumping forward. It also helps that there is a flat back to the pillow for that additional head support. And after a long day of travel, I can throw the BCOZZY into the washer or give it a good rinse in the hotel sink, as it’s easy to launder. Finally, there is a snap-strap so that you can attach it to a backpack or suitcase handle for easy portability. This colorful pillow will be your child’s new travel buddy and give them the rest they deserve during a long trip.
Keep in mind: There are two sizes to choose from, and the sizing runs small. You may want to bump up to ‘kid’s medium’ instead of ‘child small’ if you’re child is on the edge of the sizing guidelines.
Good for: Families that are on-the-go, and are looking for a pillow with extra neck support.
(Most breathable/cooling — $)
Why it’s great: This whimsical pillow by COOLBEBE has the classic U-shape, but has more support in the front where it is needed the most. The back is thin by design, so that your child’s head will not fall forward. What I love about this one is the breathable design. The honeycomb style cloth keeps the pillow dry and your child cool. There are three designs to choose from: monkey, giraffe, and ladybug. Also, the snap button not only can be used to attach the pillow to a suitcase handle or backpack, but is meant to be snapped while in use, to hold the child’s head in place comfortably. No more neck pain! Whether you and your little one are traveling via car, plane, train, or bus, this pillow will hold up to the task of helping your little one journey to slumberland.
Keep in mind: Even though it says this travel pillow is good for ages 1-12, it runs slightly large, so children 3 and older will have an easier time fitting this the way it’s intended.
Good for: Kids ages 3-12 who need chin support for long rides.
(Best cushion — $$)
Why it’s great: They had me at memory foam! But would my child like it? The answer is, yes! Of course, the cute koala design and matching carrying case and eye mask certainly reeled my kiddo in. But it was the sound sleep he got on the 3 hour red-eye that assured me that this pillow is a keeper. With a squeeze of your hand, you can see why this material is top notch—the company boasts 5-second bounce back technology to alleviate pressure on unwanted areas. There are several kid-friendly designs to choose from. I suggest having your child help pick out a design, and then he/she will be that much more excited to use it on the next family outing.
Keep in mind: Since this is memory foam, it will be a little more firm and form fitting than its cotton counterparts.
Good for: Kids who may already be used to the feel of memory foam, and who want a whimsical design.
(Most compact — $)
Why it’s great: A simple trip to the grocery store or an across-town visit to Grandma’s….it’s always the same. My child will fall asleep on the ride. In the booster seat (and previously, car seat), I attach the SSAWcasa pillow to give my kiddo some neck and head support. The soft padding provides for a comfortable rest. Because it attaches to the seat belt, it doesn’t fall out of place like other pillows sometimes can. It’s easy to clean (you know how kids can be!) and not at all bulky. This is an especially good option for car rides. Actually, I keep this tucked into the back seat pocket, as we end up using it frequently. It’s even a good idea to get one for both cars so that you never go without it unexpectedly. Your child will sleep much more peacefully with a travel pillow like SSAWcasa by his side.
Keep in mind: This is designed for seatbelts that include a shoulder strap, so it’s not ideal for airplanes.
Good for: Car rides and car seats.
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(Best for super long flights — $$)
Why it’s great: Airplanes and bus rides can be uncomfortable even for us well-traveled adults. Kudos to those kids who have to put up with it, too! I try to provide simple comforts for my kiddo for such times, and when I found the Maliton Inflatable Foot Rest Pillow, I knew we had a long-distance winner. Simply fill the space between two seats, extending the seat length so that your toddler can lay flat (or at least straighten his/her legs). It’s very lightweight—less than a pound—and is easily carried in the provided drawstring bag. You don’t need an airpump for this, either. It only takes about a minute to blow it up yourself. The Maliton is surprisingly comfortable…I have to admit using it in the airport to put up my feet during a long layover. Don’t worry; my son was running off energy in the airport playland (a parenting lifesaver!). I might just have to buy an extra one for myself, though, as I’m starting to get spoiled by this awesome invention. Just one word of advice: never forget to take it on a trip, because after one time of having your little one use it, you’ll know what you’re missing!
Keep in mind: Some airlines don’t have a lot of leg space, so the pillow doesn’t always fit between the seats as intended. Checking ahead will save the hassle.
Good for: Red-eye flights, long bus rides, cross-country travel.
(Most natural ingredients — $$$)
Why it’s great: If you’ve traveled to Japan and been lucky enough to sleep on authentic buckwheat pillows, then this will really bring you back. This version is made in the USA, using organic buckwheat hulls. Unlike foam stuffing, buckwheat pillows won’t collapse during use. They also stay nice and cool because air can circulate through the pillow. My children seem to overheat when they are napping on the airplane or in the car, so the cool feel of this Beans72 pillow helps counter that. It does come with a carrying case, which can keep it clean and can be easily attached to luggage for seamless transport. This pillow is truly unique and will give your kiddo a sound nap before arriving to your destination.
Keep in mind: The pillowcase needs to be purchased separately. It’s also a bit heavier than your standard travel pillow.
Good for: Families who are looking for organic, unbleached materials that are produced in the USA.
(Best for upright positions — $)
Why it’s great: This doesn’t take up much room, as the pillow is inflatable. My older child loves this because there’s room to put a device inside for movie watching while resting. It also comes with a free eye mask and earplugs. Those can come in handy for longer trips. When it’s time to deflate the pillow, you just open the valve and gently squeeze the pillow to release the air. At less than one pound, the Sunany pillow is lightweight and easy to carry around. If you or your little one are unlucky enough to get a middle seat on an airplane or bus, this travel pillow is worth its weight in gold, because it can be used easily by leaning forward slightly (not to the side). This has been one of the best travel purchases for our family so far.
Keep in mind: If you’re traveling by plane, don’t blow this up to 100% before reaching cruising altitude, as it will slightly inflate from pressure on its own.
Good for: Children 8 years or older.
FAQs about Best Travel Pillows for Kids
1. Which material is preferable for a child’s pillow?
Pillows can be made of all sorts of materials: buckwheat, cotton, microfiber, goose down, etc. Allergies aside, each child can have a different preference. Buckwheat does have more airflow than other pillows, allowing children to stay cooler. Microfiber can mold more to the shape of his/her head. And cotton is super easy to wash. Ultimately, it’s nice to stick with a similar material to what they are used to at home. That way the act of falling asleep is more routine.
2. Can I let my child use my adult neck pillow?
Sizing is definitely a concern, so it’s best to buy a travel pillow made for a child rather than letting them borrow yours. Larger pillows can slip off of the child, interrupting sleep. They can also get in the way of good breathing. Play it safe and have one for each of you.
3. My child always feels warm when sleeping. Is there a pillow that stays cool?
Although slightly more expensive, Japanese buckwheat pillows stay cooler than the typical travel pillow. Beans72 is a good option to look into.
4. How does a travel pillow help my child sleep?
Travel pillows can provide support for the neck and head, lessening pain and discomfort from upright sleeping positions while traveling. Often children slump forward in their seats and have a kink in their necks upon waking. Support from a travel pillow is key to avoiding this. It’s also a great idea for families who travel often so that they can maintain a semi-regular sleep schedule. Everyone knows how grumpy tired kiddos can be!
5. How should the travel pillow be stored?
Many brands of travel pillows come with a carrying case. If yours doesn’t, you can buy a bag that will protect it from getting dirty, as well as be able to attach it to other luggage for easy transport. Here’s an option that is a good size for most pillows, and also has handles, and is see-through (easier for security).
6. How often should you wash a travel pillow?
Airports, train stations, and bus stops can be germy places. Especially since your child is the one watching over the pillow, it’s good practice to wash it after every family adventure. Sometimes, it will even need a touch-up before that, so I carry antibacterial cleaning cloths in my carry-on just in case. Please note that washing instructions should come with the pillow you’ve purchased, so make sure you follow the suggestions.
Long road trips and flights leave your kids aches and pains, leading to fatigue and muscle inflammation. Which can lead to parental exhaustion—we’ve all been there! Therefore, it is important to ensure your kids stay comfortable throughout their travels. One way to help is having the correct travel pillow along for good rest. We’ve outlined seven of the best travel pillows for kids, which vary in appearance, materials, and cost. They are all high-quality, long-lasting, easy-to-clean, and comfortable. Make sure you choose the one that best fits your kid’s needs. Then not only will you be sleeping peacefully on the next adventure, but hopefully you will be, too.