New nursing pillows are used for breastfeeding at least 2.5 million times every day. That’s 919 million times a year, according to recent market research. What is even more remarkable is that this estimate does not account for nursing pillows used for subsequent births or passed on to friends, family or donated.

The research conducted by a member of our Alliance in June 2022 sought to quantify how “nursing pillows” are used for breastfeeding, the frequency of such use, and potential alternative products consumers use to support mom and baby during breastfeeding.

When asked how many times a mother breastfed per day, 77% of new moms shared they breastfeed 4 or more times a day, with 37% between 4-7 times and 38% nursing 8 or more times a day.

Digging deeper, 79% of the respondents use a nursing pillow for more than 50% of all breastfeeding sessions. Among those respondents, 27% use it every time and 32% use it most of the time.

Coupling these results with consumer sales data provided by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) we know that the 1.34 million new nursing pillows sold each year are used for breastfeeding at least 2.5 million times a day. In addition to this not accounting for products already in the marketplace, these numbers also fail to account for usage by fathers and caregivers who are not actively breastfeeding.

Unfortunately, this data also points to more alarming insights on the unintended consequences of limiting availability of these important and high beneficial products.

When moms were asked what they would use for breastfeeding support if they didn’t have a nursing pillow, 75% stated they would use a regular pillow. One-third of respondents said they would turn to throw pillows and blankets for the support they need. Only 10% said that, without a support product designed for breastfeeding, they would not seek an alternative tool to support feeding. A similar number of respondents said they would use clothing or toys during breastfeeding.

This is a scary reality, considering it is known and accepted that pillows and blankets are not safer alternatives to nursing pillows, as evidenced in the CPSC’s Nursery-Products-Annual-Report-2020.

About the market research

A targeted sample of 735 U.S. consumers were contacted between June 11 and June 22, 2022, representing mothers across the U.S. between 24-36 years of age, who had a child within the past year and who own a “nursing pillow”. The blind market testing was completed via the vendor’s proprietary sample sources using consumer panels who participate in online surveys.