The 5 Best Nipple Creams For Breastfeeding In 2017
Last Updated August 22, 2017
Breastfeeding is a bonding time that benefits both mothers and babies. But it isn’t all sunshine and roses while your baby is first learning to latch on – it can leave your nipples so cracked and dry they resemble the soil in the Gobi Desert.
It hurts like a mother, but you’re determined to soldier through and continue breastfeeding your baby.
The solution to your painful problem may be finding the best nipple cream for breastfeeding. To help you, we've reviewed the top 5 brands currently on the market, so you'll know exactly which one you should buy.
Quick Comparison: Our Top 5 Nipple Creams for Breastfeeding
*All links above will take you to the latest prices on Amazon.com or you can read our in-depth nipple cream reviews below.
What Does Nipple Cream Do?
If you’re reading this article, you’ve either already experienced nipple pain from breastfeeding or you’ve heard the horror stories from other moms. Nipple cream can stop, or prevent, the dry, cracked and sometimes bleeding nipples that are caused by breastfeeding.
Nipple cream may only be needed for a week or two as your nipples begin to adjust to the rigors of breastfeeding. It might not seem too difficult to tough it out without nipple cream for that length of time, but don’t be a hero. If you had a splitting headache, you would take ibuprofen, right? There’s no sense suffering through pain that can be alleviated.
Besides, if breastfeeding starts feeling like torture, you aren’t going to want to do it. If you skip it, you miss out on all the wonderful benefits breastfeeding offers your baby.
Can’t Nipple Cream Be Harmful to My Baby?
There have been brands of nipple creams that had ingredients which had the potential to hurt babies (source).
But there are safe, doctor-recommended alternatives are out there (source).
You’ll want to avoid petroleum-based creams or alcohol-based creams. Alcohol is a disinfectant that tends to dry skin out, which is something you’ll want to avoid if your skin is cracked. Causing more dryness will just add fuel to the fire.
You should also pay close attention to both the active and inactive ingredients in the cream.
If you read the ingredient list and everything in it sounds like it was named in a laboratory, you might want to pass on that cream. I know I would. I always like to choose all-natural products, especially when it comes to something the baby is going to put in its mouth.
You’ll also want to be on the lookout for possible allergens. If you are allergic to something, you should avoid that for your sake and also in case the baby has any latent allergies. Many women, for instance, find great relief from a lanolin-based nipple cream. Some women and babies though are allergic to lanolin (source).
Be especially wary of creams that provide a numbing effect. While it might be tempting to numb a sore nipple, that kind of cream isn’t actually healing anything – it’s just dulling the pain for a little while.
If your nipple is numb from the cream, there’s a chance some residual cream could still be there when your baby starts feeding, even if you wipe it off beforehand. You don’t want to accidentally give your baby a numb mouth from feeding.
How Do You Choose the Right Cream for Your Nipples?
It’s just cream for your nipples. How many choices can there be, right? Wrong. Nipple cream is big business. Almost four million babies are born each year in the United States (source). That translates into a lot of sore nipples. Companies have responded to women’s needs, and, as a result, women have many nipple cream choices that will stop them from feeling like their nipples have been dipped in molten lava.
Picking out a nipple cream that is best for you comes down to a number of factors, including price, the smell of the product, what ingredients you are comfortable using, and whether it must be washed off before your baby can breastfeed.
Price will vary depending upon how high-end you want to go, but quality nipple creams can be found for under $10 per tube. But you shouldn’t pick your nipple cream on price alone. Since they are all affordable and one tube might be more than enough, you should buy one that meets all the criteria you’ve decided is important, whether that’s all-natural ingredients or a kind that doesn’t have to be washed off before your baby feeds.
Some nipple creams are scented and some aren’t. I tend to gravitate toward the unscented creams because I don’t want any extra, unnecessary ingredients. This isn’t perfume – it’s nipple cream, and the focus should be on lessening the pain and discomfort. Plus, babies can be picky enough when it comes to breastfeeding -- you don’t want to use a scented product that makes them even more finicky.
How Do I Use Nipple Cream?
Nipple cream should be used right after your baby is finished feeding. That gives the cream time to soothe the soreness and prepare your breasts for the next feeding.
When it’s time to feed your baby again, many nipple creams don’t have to be washed off. If you tend to get super paranoid about safety like I do, you might still feel the need to wash off your nipples with a little water and a washcloth before feeding your baby.
That’s understandable, but it’s also counterproductive.
Try to resist the urge to wash your nipples if you are using a nipple cream that doesn’t have to be washed off before feeding, and here’s why: Nipple cream is meant to soothe the nipples from the strain of breastfeeding. Washing them with a washcloth only aggravates them further, which is exactly what you don’t want to do.
Even if your nipples can stand up to the extra washing, I still won’t buy nipple cream that has to be removed before feeding. I don’t like to rely on my memory when it comes to something that will affect my child’s health. Moms have a million things running through their heads every day. We don’t need anything else, like washing our nipples, added to that list.
Also, babies are impatient. If I get sidetracked and lose track of time while attacking my Mount Everest-sized laundry pile, I don’t want to be stuck furiously scrubbing my nipples while my baby is crying and starving. Moms feel enough pressure throughout the day and night without adding to it by using the wrong nipple cream.
When you are putting on nipple cream, just remember a little dab will do it. You don’t want to turn your nipple into a slip and slide that your baby can’t latch on to. It might be tempting to keep piling it on in the hopes that you’ll find one millimeter of skin that wasn’t previously covered by it. I get it.
That burning nipple feeling can be intense, but try to resist the urge to use the whole bottle of nipple cream per application. Put a dab on, take a deep breath, and try to find some sort of distraction to focus on. In a few minutes, you should feel some relief.
Here’s a roundup of five great nipple creams you might want to consider.
The Best Organic Nipple Cream For Breastfeeding
This salve uses only certified organic ingredients – extra virgin olive oil, beeswax, shea butter, marshmallow root and calendula flower.
The ingredients used in Motherlove Nipple Cream are safe for ingestion, so your nipples won’t need to be washed off before nursing. With the consistency of a light ointment, Motherlove doesn’t have the stickiness of some nipple creams. You can find this salve for less than $10 for 1 ounce, and a little goes a long way. People who don’t like plastic containers will like that this cream comes in a glass jar.
- The cream has a smooth and slick application that doesn’t tug on sore nipples.
- Parents might like that they can use the leftover cream as a diaper rash ointment for their babies.
- Some babies may not like the smell of this product – it smells like olive oil.
- People who worry about tampering may be disappointed this cream comes in a jar with no safety seal.
- Because this is more of an ointment than a lotion, some women may not feel this product soaks into the nipples like lanolin does.
The Best Nipple Cream For Breastfeeding With Lanolin
This cream is billed as being safe for both the baby and the mother. It is all natural and a single-ingredient product. It uses medicinal quality, 100 percent pure lanolin which comes from sheep’s fleece.
This brand is the only cream endorsed by La Leche League International. Lansinoh is hypoallergenic and preservative free and does not have to be removed before breastfeeding your baby. It has the texture of a very thick lotion or gel – it’s not solid like some other nipple ointments are. One small tube should get you through two to three months of breastfeeding.
- Women might find the price appealing.
- The versatility of the product may appeal to women.
- It can also be used for chapped, cracked lips.
- This product is unscented.
- Some women might not like the thick, stickier texture of Lansinoh.
- Squeezing Lansinoh out of the tube may be difficult sometimes because of its thick texture.
- Women may not like the greasy spots that are sometimes left on clothing after using this.
The Best Natural Nipple Cream For Breastfeeding
This product contains all-natural ingredients, and doesn’t need to be removed before breastfeeding. It is hypoallergenic, which means it is unlikely to cause an allergic reaction. The ingredient list is lanolin, caprylic/capric triglycerides, and oat beta glucan.
Medela goes on smoothly and doesn’t tug on your tender nipples. It is also not as thick as some other brands -- it’s a thinner texture that seems to glide on and doesn’t require a lot of rubbing. This brand isn’t as hard to wash off your hands after using as some other brands are. Medela comes in a tube instead of a jar.
- Parents might like that this cream can also be used for their baby’s chapped, dry skin.
- Moms who are watching their bottom line may like that this tube offers almost twice as much product as the other creams on the list for the same price.
- Moms, and possibly babies, might not like the smell of this cream.
- This product can leave an oily residue on clothes.
The Best Nipple Cream Without Lanolin
This nipple balm is billed as organic and cruelty-free. It comes in a 1.8-ounce jar. Made from food-grade ingredients, such as sunflower, coconut, olive, tamanu and calendula oils, this product doesn’t have to be washed off before you have to breastfeed your baby.
The balm also contains food-grade beeswax, shea and aloe vera. This lotion is a little runnier than the other options out there, but it won’t feel like you are spreading a glob of Crisco on your nipples. It doesn’t feel greasy after applying it. Because this product comes in a jar and is runnier, you need to make sure the lid is screwed on firmly, so it doesn’t leak out in your diaper bag.
- This product is so thin it is easier to wipe off if you overdo it.
- Moms who like multi-purpose products will be happy they can use any other balm as chapstick, for dry skin or to fight cradle cap.
- Since this product does contain coconut oil, mothers may want to watch their babies carefully since coconut is a known allergen.
- Moms who are particular about the smell of nipple cream should be aware that this cream does have an odor.
The Best Vegan Nipple Cream For Breastfeeding
This cream is lanolin free, which is good news for the small subset who have lanolin allergies. This product is not only aimed at nursing mothers but anyone else who has dry, irritated skin.
There’s no need to wash this nipple butter off before your baby nurses. This has the versatility of duct tape – it has so many purposes besides soothing your nipples. It can be used for dry heels, cradle cap and chapped lips.
It is also gluten free and contains all-natural ingredients like calendula flower extract and olive oil, and comes packaged in a jar.
- Women who aren’t happy with the texture of lanolin may like that this does not have a sticky feel.
- It is non-GMO, which might be welcomed by women who worry about GMO products.
- This product is suitable for Vegans.
- Women may not like the grainy feel of this cream – although the grainy bits will melt with body heat.
- This container also doesn’t have a seal, which women concerned with safety might not appreciate.
My Favorite Nipple Cream
While every mom has different needs when it comes to nipple creams, for me personally, the Earth Mama Angel Baby Nipple Butter is the hands-down winner when it comes to safely restoring and protecting my nipples.
I love that Earth Mama chose to use only natural, cruelty-free, Non-GMO and gluten-free ingredients. And because it’s lanolin-free, you won’t need to worry about lanolin allergens.
Although this cream does feel a little grainy in texture, you can’t argue with the results. It quickly helps your nipples feel better. And happy nipples make for a well-fed baby and a mom who can breastfeed without worrying about excessive pain.