The next thing to know about choosing the correct size pillow for a toddler is that size most definitely does matter! Pediatricians do not want toddlers on an adult size pillow. They recommend one sized for their small necks and bodies - which is why A Little Pillow Company's Toddler Pillow at 13" x 18" was made to fit the needs of the toddler first and foremost. Pillows that are too big can cause neck and back pain and sleeplessness.
The "size" we are talking about here is primarily the loft, i.e. height of the pillow. Although there are low-loft adult pillows which you may think would be better because the dimension is larger (in an attempt to counteract the nighttime tossings and turnings of your child), one, they are very hard to find and two, can be too soft, curving up around a toddler's face. So this brings us back to choosing a properly sized pillow made for toddlers.
However, by no means are all toddler pillow made alike:
For one thing, the rapid growth rate of children can cause a struggle with the loft. It depends on where the stuffing level begins. Do you size it for the smaller 2 year old only to have the loft become too low as they grow, or do you size it for the 4 year old toddler only to have it then too high for the younger ones? At A Little Pillow Company our Goldilocks Standard (i.e. not too low, not too high) is the most practical, recommended and beneficial - and after 12 years, continues to be the most trusted toddler pillow.
As a bonus, in 2016 we went one step further and actually solved the problem for good. We now have an Adjustable Loft option which allows YOU the parent to adjust the loft of the pillow specifically for your child, taking out fill to make it lower for the younger toddler and adding more as he or she grows and needs more lift. (You can read more about and purchase the Adjustable Loft Toddler Pillow here.)
In addition to the orthopedic reason behind a small profile pillow, another benefit is how it can encourage a restless child to move less during the night. Many, many parents are surprised, but pleased, at finding that their toddlers are more stationary as they learn to stay on our pillow while sleeping. Please remember though, as every child is different they will adjust at different rates to a new pillow. At 13 inches x 18 inches our pillows are the appropriate size and loft for 2 - 4 year old children.
You should also let your child tell you when they are ready to go up to a larger Youth Pillow. Some may reach this stage earlier than others, especially those children who are at the upper end of their growth rates. Having said this, we have adults who actually use our youth pillow (and some even our toddler pillow) as their complete nighttime pillow so open-mindedness here too is helpful.
For those of you who don't have a toddler just yet and are wondering when is the correct age to give your baby a pillow, check out this article.