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Nursing pillows are more firm than most normal pillows, and often are narrower and curved to wrap around mom's body. They are designed to provide support to babies without straining the arms and backs of tired moms. Given the number of hours a nursing mom will spend with her baby that close, they can be very helpful. They can be helpful for supporting babies as they bottle feed with all caregivers. They can also then double as pillows that support a newly-sitting baby (with the infant on the floor with the pillow around their legs, supporting their back. There are a lot of styles from which to choose.
Textiles can contain a host of chemicals of concern in dyes and finishing agents. Some nursing pillows are made with polyurethane foam interiors, some of which may still contain flame retardant chemicals. Polyester is often made with antimony as a catalyst in the manufacturing process, and residual antimony can remain.
There are basic safety considerations, such as choke hazards (small parts) but these are rarely present in nursing pillows.
Look for products made without polyurethane foam. Cotton batting (the stuffing) is best, polyester is preferable to foam. When possible, choose nursing pillows with removable covers (so they can be washed), made of natural fibers like cotton and wool. Whenever possible, choose organic textiles for items that will touch your baby's body. Products made of fabric are certified organic by GOTS (the Global Organic Textile Standard). As with all fabrics and textiles, wash with unscented detergent before using with your baby.