Nipple shields help when breastfeeding becomes a challenge. Many new moms believe that breastfeeding will be a breeze, but that’s often not the case. Sore nipples, babies that won’t latch, and overactive let-down can all create problems.
A nipple shield or nipple cover is a flexible piece of silicone or rubber that fits over your nipple to create an easier latch for your baby. They’re especially helpful if your baby is premature or has a tongue tie. They’re also great if you have flat, inverted, or shy nipples.
Lansinoh Nipple Shields
Mama’s Choice: Best Overall
Finding the right nipple shield is a very personal decision, but with over 5000 exceptional reviews, there’s no doubt Lansinoh’s nipple shields are a high-quality option. These thin and flexible silicone covers come in a pack of two, are available in multiple sizes, and arrive with a hygienic storage case.
What I Love
- Rounded, natural shape for effective use
- Comes in a set of two, where several brands only sell one
- Carrying case allows for hygienic travel
- Maximal skin-to-skin contact thanks to cut-out design
Lansinoh nipple shields help with a broad range of breastfeeding challenges. If your baby is premature or has a tongue tie, these shields can work wonders. They’re also fantastic for moms with inverted or flat nipples and for those who experience overactive let-down.
Ideally, nipple shields aren’t for long-term use, but it can be challenging to stop using them once your baby comes to expect one. Lansinoh’s cut-out design allows your baby to smell and feel the maximum amount of your skin, making it easier to switch to a bare breast later on.
Beyond all of that, Lansinoh is a trusted brand that provides incredible value. I love that these shields come in a pack of two with a carrying case for easy travel and storage.Check Price
Medela Contact Nipple Shield
Mama’s Choice: Best for Flat or Inverted Nipples
Medela is a well-respected breastfeeding brand that many doctors and lactation consultants swear by. Their contact nipple shield has a unique half-moon shaped design that’s narrow but deep, making it our top choice for flat or inverted nipples.
What I Love
- Half-moon shape maximizes skin-to-skin contact
- Narrow but deep design especially helpful for flat nipples
- Well-known, respected, and safe brand
- Extensive range of sizes available
Many lactation consultants carry these Medela Contact Nipple Shields on them when meeting with first-time moms. That fact alone really says it all. These nipple shields help with all sorts of breastfeeding challenges, including tongue ties and premature infants.
I love these shields most, though, for inverted or flat nipples. The thin, half-moon design allows for maximum skin-to-skin contact, but they’re a little deeper and more narrow than other nipple shields. So, they pull the nipple further out from the rest of the breast.
This makes them especially effective for moms whose nipples are hard to latch onto, and the skin-to-skin emphasis makes it easier to stop using them later on.Check Price
MAM Breastfeeding Nipple Shields
Mama’s Choice: Best for Small Nipples
If you have small nipples, finding a nipple shield that fits and grips can be a challenge. That’s why the MAM nipple shields are such a great option. They come in sizes as small as 17mm, and their textured surface helps adherence, even when your baby is fussy.
What I Love
- Made of light, flexible, and thin, skin-soft silicone
- Textured surface allows for airflow and better adherence
- Unique design helps maximize skin-to-skin contact
- 17 mm size ideal for women with small nipples
- Comes with microwavable, sanitizing storage case
Some moms have a hard time with nipple shields that are too large. Or, if a brand makes a size small enough, the nipple shield simply won’t stay on. MAM changes the game with their smaller nipple shields that stay in place thanks to their textured surface.
The shields have a cut out on top and bottom to maximize skin-to-skin contact. Plus, they come with a microwavable storage case for easy sanitization. Other brands require boiling water to sanitize nipple covers. Having a microwavable storage case is lifesaving for busy mothers!Check Price
How to Choose the Best Nipple Shields
Nipple shields aren’t right for every mom and infant. It’s always best practice to speak to a lactation consultant before purchasing or using one. The best nipple shields will stay on, provide maximal skin-to-skin contact, and will create a comfortable place for your baby to latch on.
Purchasing the right size is essential when buying a nipple cover. Your lactation consultant will be able to help you measure and purchase the correct size. The shield should cover your areola, but again, it should encourage skin-to-skin contact as much as possible.
Try to remember, too, that nipple shields are usually short term solutions. Long term use can cause your milk supply to decrease, and weaning a baby off a nipple shield can be challenging.
That said, as the old adage goes: if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. Some women use nipple shields long-term, and I certainly don’t judge them. Sore and tender nipples can make breastfeeding a nightmare. If a nipple shield helps you and your baby, don’t worry too much about using it!
3 Important Factors to Consider When Buying a Nipple Shield
If you’re considering buying a nipple shield, there are a few things to keep in mind:
How much of the breast does it cover?
Infants use scent and touch more than eyesight to find their way around. Having a nipple shield that provides maximum skin-to-skin contact can help them learn how to latch on. More skin-to-skin also encourages breast stimulation, which can lead to better milk supply.
Will the cover stay on when your baby is fussy?
Some covers have textured surfaces that help them adhere to your breast, which may be ideal when your baby is fussy. Having a nipple shield that falls off easily can be frustrating when your baby is hungry at, say, 3 am.
Will your nipple shield control overactive let-down?
It’s common for new moms to have a lot of milk and what’s known as an overactive let-down. When this happens, your baby can receive too much milk at once, and that causes them to choke. Many nipple shields have a pacifier tip that helps control milk flow.
Other Nipple Shields to Consider
Haakaa Nipple Shield
The Haakaa Nipple Shield creates a little space between your nipple and where your baby latches on. This space prevents painful bites and helps control milk flow.
What I Love
- Ridged edge helps this nipple shield stay in place
- Orthodontic shape encourages sucking without biting
- Shape also prevents choking by encouraging variable flow
- Shape may also cause excess gas in some infants
- Thicker plastic may be difficult for baby to suck
Every mom and every infant is different, and many find success with the Haakaa Nipple Shield. Its design is incredibly unique because it creates space between your natural nipple and the shield.
This space comes with pros and cons. An infant may swallow excess air, which leads to painful gas later on. However, the shape also discourages biting, which may be vital if your nipples are tender and sore. And, this shield allows for variable milk flow, eliminating any risk of choking on too much milk at once.Check Price
Mamivac Conical Nipple Shield
The Mamivac Conical Nipple Shield is made with super-thin material with short-term use in mind. It’s fantastic for those with larger nipples, as it comes in bigger sizes than other brands.
What I Love
- Extremely thin and flexible material
- Conical shape increases skin-to-skin contact
- Comes in large sizes, up to 28 mm
- Thin material means less protection for sore or sensitive nipples
- Doesn’t stay in place as well as other varieties
Many moms with larger nipples will love the Mamivac Conical Nipple Shield because it’s one of the few brands available at 28 mm. It’s thinner than most other brands as well, which may or may not be a good thing.
Some moms find that the thin material, when wet, tends to stick to itself instead of their breasts. This means it doesn’t stay on as well. And, more delicate material means less protection for tender nipples. That said, the thin material allows for closer contact, making getting rid of the shield easier down the line.Check Price
Yiyee Nipple Shield
The Yiyee Nipple Shield uses a triangular petal-shaped design to adhere to your breast firmly. At the same time, its spiraled pacifier helps control milk flow by mimicking the natural rhythm your baby would experience without the shield.
What I Love
- Sticks to your breast firmly and easily
- Protruding, spiralized pacifier tip makes sucking easier for your baby
- Works great for larger breasts
- Thicker silicone provides protection for sore nipples
- Larger, petal-shape means less skin-to-skin contact
- Thicker silicone means your baby has to suck harder
Moms with larger breasts seem to love the Yiyee nipple shield. The petal-shaped design allows for a stronger hold on your breast, but that also means less skin-to-skin contact for your baby.
It’s made with food-grade soft silicone, which makes it resilient and protective should your baby decide to bite, but it also means it’s harder for your baby to suck milk through than some thinner varieties.
Of course, the larger and thicker design does mean you can save every last drop of milk. By leaning over when you release the shield, you’ll catch any remaining breast milk, which you can save in a bottle for another time.Check Price
Having a newborn is life-changing. It’s joyful but also challenging, and breastfeeding is only one piece of the pie. Many moms go into motherhood thinking that breastfeeding is a given. They may feel frustrated when nursing goes awry.
Nipple shields help with all sorts of common problems, like tongue ties or flat nipples that make latching on to the breast difficult. They’re not for everyone, and which one works for you and your baby is a personal decision.
Look for one that provides comfort for you and your infant. Buy from a brand you trust and work with your lactation consultant to get the right fit. What matters most is that you’re doing your best to nourish your infant and that in itself is an accomplishment.