Breastfeeding isn’t all sunshine and roses while your baby is first learning to latch on. Learning to breastfeed can leave your nipples so cracked and dry you may worry they’re going to slice through your shirt.
Breastfeeding can hurt like a mother, but if you’re determined to soldier through and continue breastfeeding your baby anyway, you’re going to need some help.
The best way to soothe both sore nipples and frayed nerves is a nipple cream made especially for breastfeeding moms. We’ve reviewed the best nipple creams currently on the market, so you’ll know exactly which one you can count on for some sweet, sweet relief.
- Smooth & slick texture for easy application
- Doubles up as diaper rash ointment
- Organic ingredients safe for ingestion
- Reasonable price for parents on a budget
- Can be used on lips
- Unscented, natural & hypoallergenic
- All-natural ingredients
- Hypoallergenic ingredients to limit irritation
- Smooth formula doesn't tug tender nipples
- No sticky feeling after application
- Can be used on other areas with dry skin
- Lanolin and gluten-free
- Easy to wipe off
- Multi-purpose uses
- Food-grade ingredients that are safe for baby
- 100% organic with soothing extracts
- Doesn’t need to be washed off before feeding
- Petroleum and lanolin-free
- Quickly absorbed
- Relieves friction discomfort
- 100% safe when ingested
- Refreshing jojoba scent
- All-natural ingredients
- In a stick form for easy application
- Actively reduces inflammation
- 60-day money back guarantee
- Pleasing buttery texture
- A little goes a long way
- No strong smell
- Multi-purpose, use a lip balm or foot lotion
What Does Nipple Cream Do?
If you’re reading this article, you’ve already experienced nipple pain from breastfeeding, or you’ve heard the horror stories from other moms. Nipple cream can stop, or prevent, the dry, itchy, cracked and bleeding nipples that are caused by breastfeeding.
Taking care of your nipples with good nipple cream or ointment at the start of breastfeeding can prevent all this from happening.
It may only be needed for a week or two as your nipples adjust to the rigors of breastfeeding. You might be tempted to tough it out, but you would be suffering needlessly.
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 those wonderful benefits breastfeeding offers your baby.
Does Nipple Cream Affect Baby?
Sadly, some products out there have been known to contain ingredients that are potentially harmful to babies (1). But don’t let that put you off: there are plenty of safe, doctor-recommended alternatives, too.
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 concocted in a laboratory, you might want to pass on that cream. I always like to choose all-natural products, especially when it comes to something the baby is going to put in its mouth. With any product, it’s probably safest to wipe your nipple off just before nursing your baby.
You’ll also want to be on the lookout for possible allergens. If you’re allergic to something, you should avoid it for your own sake but also because your baby might have the same latent allergy. Many women find great relief from a lanolin-based nipple cream, for example, whereas some women and babies are allergic to it (2).
Be especially wary of products that provide a numbing effect. I know how tempting it can be to numb a sore nipple, but this kind of cream isn’t actually healing anything – it’s just dulling the pain for a little while. Instead, use ice or cool washcloths, because if your nipple is numb, there’s a chance some could still be lingering there when your baby starts feeding – and you don’t want to give your baby a numb mouth accidentally!
How to Choose a Nipple Cream
It’s just cream for your nipples. It can’t be that hard to choose one, right? Wrong.
It’s a big business. Almost four million babies are born each year in the United States (3), and that translates to a whole lot of sore nipples.
Companies have responded to women’s needs, and as a result, women thankfully have dozens of choices to stop them from feeling like their nipples have been dipped in molten lava.
Some factors you should consider include price, smell, ingredients, 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 products can be found for under $10 a tube. But don’t pick your nipple cream on price alone. Since most are pretty affordable and one tube might be more than enough, you could buy one that meets all your needs without breaking the bank.
Some brands are scented and some aren’t, but I tend to choose the unscented creams because I don’t want any extra, unnecessary ingredients. Babies are very sensitive to smells because everything is new, and choosing a scented product may put your baby off nursing since they are bothered by the scent.
Simple might be best. Good brands may contain coconut oil, aloe vera, shea butter, or lanolin, all of which are safe and natural. On the other hand, avoid alcohol, vague-sounding “parfum” or ingredient names so long they wrap around the bottle.
Whether it Must Be Removed
Depending on the ingredients used, your nipple cream may be creamy, very light, or coat your nipples in an almost waxy film. A thicker cream may be extra soothing but require wiping off when it’s time to feed. Also, read the label carefully to determine whether you have to wash your nipple or whether the cream is non-toxic enough to go into baby’s mouth.
The Best Nipple Creams of 2021
Here are the top eleven nipple creams on the market.
1. Motherlove Nipple Cream
This salve uses only certified organic ingredients: extra virgin olive oil, beeswax, shea butter, marshmallow root, and calendula flower. Almost sounds edible, doesn’t it?
The ingredients used in this cream are safe for ingestion, so you don’t need to wash your nipples before nursing. With the consistency of a light ointment, Motherlove doesn’t have the stickiness of some other brands.
You can find this salve for relatively cheap, and a little goes a long way. People who don’t like plastic containers will like that this cream comes in a sturdy glass jar.
- The cream has a smooth and slick application that doesn’t tug on sore nipples.
- Parents like that they can use the leftover cream as a diaper rash ointment for their babies.
- You don’t need to wash it off before nursing.
- Some babies may not like the olive oil smell of this product.
- People who worry about tampering may be disappointed this cream comes in a jar with no safety seal.
- Because this is more an ointment than a lotion, some women may not feel this product soaks in as lanolin does.
2. Lansinoh Breastfeeding Salve – HPA Lanolin
This cream is billed as being safe for both mother and baby. It’s an all-natural, single-ingredient product made of medicinal quality, 100 percent pure lanolin which comes from oils from a sheep’s wool.
This brand is the only cream endorsed by La Leche League International. It’s hypoallergenic, preservative-free and doesn’t have to be removed before breastfeeding. It has the texture of a very thick lotion or gel – not solid like some other nipple ointments are – and one small tube should get you through two to three months of breastfeeding.
- Very reasonable price.
- The versatility of the product may appeal to moms.
- It can also be used for soothing chapped lips.
- This product is unscented.
- Some women might not like the thicker, stickier texture.
- It’s thick enough to make it hard to squeeze out the tube.
- It sometimes leaves greasy spots on clothing.
3. Medela Tender Care Lanolin Nipple Cream
This product contains all-natural ingredients and doesn’t need to be removed before breastfeeding. It’s hypoallergenic, making it unlikely to cause an allergic reaction for you or baby. The ingredient list is lanolin, caprylic/capric triglycerides, and oat beta glucan.
It goes on smoothly and doesn’t tug on tender nipples. It’s also not as thick as some other brands – its thinner texture glides on without a lot of rubbing. Plus, this isn’t as hard to wash off your hands as some other brands are.
- Can also be used for baby’s chapped, dry skin.
- This is almost twice as much product as 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.
4. Earth Mama Angel Baby Nipple Butter
This cream is lanolin-free, which is good news for those with lanolin allergies, and there’s no need to wash it off before your baby nurses. It’s gluten-free, contains all-natural ingredients like calendula flower extract and olive oil, and comes packaged in a cute jar.
This product isn’t only aimed at nursing mothers but anyone else who has dry, irritated skin. It’s a nipple butter with impressive versatility, and many purposes besides soothing boobs that feel like they’re on fire. Dry heels, cradle cap and chapped lips are all a little smoother with a daub of this cream.
- Women who aren’t happy with the texture of lanolin may like that this does not have a sticky feel.
- It’s non-GMO, which is good for women who worry about this.
- 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.
5. The Honest Company Nipple Balm
This nipple balm is billed as organic and cruelty-free. It comes in a 1.8-ounce jar and is made from food-grade ingredients, such as sunflower, coconut, olive, tamanu and calendula oils. It doesn’t have to be washed off before a feed.
The balm also contains food-grade beeswax, shea, and aloe vera. This lotion is a little runnier than the other options out there, but rest assured it won’t feel like you’re spreading a glob of Crisco on your nipples. Because this product comes in a jar, 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 that it’s easier to wipe off if you overdo it.
- Moms who like multi-purpose products will be happy they can use this on lips, dry skin or cradle cap.
- Since this product does contain coconut oil, mothers may want to observe their babies since coconut is a known allergen.
- Moms who are particular about the smell should be aware that this cream does have an odor.
6. Bamboobies Organic Lanolin-Free Nursing Balm
Mothers deserve relief when they struggle with cracked or bleeding nipples, but protecting your baby from harmful chemicals or allergens always remains at the forefront. That’s why it’s important to find a nipple cream safe for both you and your baby.
All the ingredients in this nipple cream are 100 percent organic. Better yet, they’re non-toxic, so they can be safely ingested by your baby during breastfeeding. You don’t have to worry about washing yourself off before a feeding, conserving precious time and energy.
The formula contains five healing extracts and oils for maximum relief, including beeswax, shea butter, and marshmallow root. It’s also free of fillers, petroleum and lanolin. Combined, these ingredients moisturize, soothe, and protect.
Each jar comes with one ounce of nipple cream which can be applied liberally as needed, including before and after feedings. They also have Bamboobies pumping ointment for moms that pump a lot.
- 100 percent organic and enriched with soothing extracts.
- It doesn’t need to be washed off before feedings.
- Free of petroleum and lanolin.
- Has a natural, earthy smell that may be off-putting to sensitive noses.
7. Mommyz Love Organic Nipple Cream
There are so many different products on the market, that it can seem overwhelming, especially when considering the safety of each product. But this cream has been pediatrician tested.
This ensures the quality, safety and purity of the product. There are no toxins or chemicals, so your skin will thank you. It’s also USDA Certified Organic. That means no lanolin, dyes, petroleum, gluten, GMO or synthetic fragrances. Plus, it’s cruelty-free!
As for its effectiveness, this cream soothes, protects, heals and moisturizes. It makes breastfeeding a much more enjoyable experience. You can even use this on your baby’s dry skin, your lips, your baby’s diaper rash as well as anywhere else on your skin. It’s very versatile.
- It quickly absorbed into your skin without you having to rub too much.
- It relieves friction discomfort while you pump your milk.
- 100 percent safe when ingested by babies.
- Certified organic without nasty toxic ingredients.
- Your baby may not like the taste and resist breastfeeding.
- Some moms said it didn’t relieve pain.
8. Camille Beckman All-in-One Balm
This cream is all-natural, uses only six organic ingredients, and has not been tested on animals. It’s made with a cocoa butter base that’s safe for you both you and baby. It also comes in a handy TSA-approved stick that allows for easy application without any mess. You can also easily apply it to other areas since it’s multi-purpose.
The balm itself can be used by both mom and baby and is multipurpose. It’s safe for breastfeeding, soothing itchy or dry skin during pregnancy, dry lips, or even baby’s dry skin spots.
The formula contains coconut oil and organic cocoa butter, which are two of the most beneficial ingredients when trying to reduce the appearance of stretch marks after labor. It is also gluten-free and contains all-natural ingredients like calendula flower extract and olive oil.
- Has a soft and refreshing scent.
- All-natural ingredients and gluten-free.
- Cruelty-free, so it’s not tested on animals.
- The stick form makes it super easy to apply.
- Only comes in a 2-ounce container.
9. e. ra Organics Nipple Cream
This product really ticks all the boxes. It’s non-GMO, cruelty-free, and organic. It doesn’t contain any petroleum, drying alcohol or mineral oils, perfume, parabens or lanolin – all the nasty things that could aggravate already inflamed skin.
It contains an impressive list of ingredients known to have anti-inflammatory properties, like apricot seed oil, evening primrose oil, and rosemary extract. This means you don’t just soothe sore nipples; you actually heal the damage that’s there.
There’s a 60-day money-back guarantee, which means the makers are pretty confident that this cream will do what it promises.
- Actively reduces inflammation on nipples.
- Doesn’t need to be washed off before feeding.
- Has a pleasing, buttery texture that really melts in.
- The texture can be a little too stiff and waxy.
- Some moms noticed the cream upset their baby’s stomachs.
- Not completely odorless.
10. Milkies Nipple Nurture Balm
This product is a bit pricier than the others on the list but feels a lot more luxurious. With marshmallow root, calendula, olive oil and the marvelously named medicinal herb “self-heal”, it’s like a little nurse in a jar.
There are no animal products here although the blend does contain organic beeswax. It’s thick and rich and feels almost like a mini-spa for your nipples when they’re a bit run-down.
Many like that this is scent-free and super soft on the skin, which can be a lifesaver for babies who are tongue-tied or any little one who’s having a hard time latching. Nipples should never hurt when nursing (4).
- The balm is oil-based and quite thick, so a little goes a long way.
- No strong smell.
- If you don’t finish the jar, use the rest as diaper cream, foot lotion or lip balm.
- This may be a bit too thick to rub into extra-sore nipples.
- Some women have complained of inconsistent texture.
- The jar is on the small side at 1.5 ounces.
11. Bella B Nurturing Nipple Butter
For breastfeeding mamas, this lanolin-free nipple butter is a favorite amongst many. It uses food-grade ingredients such as cocoa, shea, and mango butter so it’s totally safe for you and your baby.
Since 1999, this product has been trusted by moms everywhere! It comes out of the bottle in a thick consistency so where you apply it, that’s where it stays.
Simply use this before and after feeding when needed. No need to wipe it off before feeding as it’s totally safe. But if your baby is struggling to latch on, you might want to use a breast wipe to clean up the surrounding area.
If you have cracked and painful nipples, this might be just the thing to save the day.
- Made with food-grade ingredients.
- Thick consistency, so it stays where you apply it.
- No need to wipe off before feeding.
- It also works on other dry skin such as lips and cuticles.
- It’s hard to squeeze out the tube.
- It doesn’t have a cooling effect like other nipple creams.
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 brands don’t have to be washed off. If you worry 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 also counterproductive.
Try to resist the urge to wash your nipples if you’re using a nipple cream that doesn’t have to be washed off before feeding. It’s meant to soothe the nipples from the strain of breastfeeding. Washing them with a washcloth only aggravates them further, trapping you in a vicious cycle.
Even if your nipples can stand the extra washing, try to avoid cream that you have to remove 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 to add “wash nipples” to that list!
Also, babies are impatient. If I 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.
That burning nipple feeling can be intense, but try to resist the urge to use the whole bottle of cream in one go. Put a dab on, take a deep breath, and try to find some sort of distraction to focus on. In a few minutes, it’ll sink in and start working.
You may be wondering: if simple, natural nipple creams are so great, what’s stopping you from making your own at home? Well, nothing!
If you’re crafty and like the idea of making your own cream, there are plenty of DIY recipes out there that call for all the same ingredients you’d find in products off the shelves. This is great since you can make a fresh batch yourself and know exactly what’s in it. One downside is that it may be more expensive in the end to buy all those ingredients if you only ever end up using a small jar.
There is another alternative though.
As a mom, you already know of some of the astonishing things your body is capable of, but did you know that your own breast milk is a cure for chapped nipples? Simply dab a bit onto sore nipples for relief, or you can express a drop after feeding and let it dry. Even the flow of breastfeeding itself can bring some comfort – one more reason to push on!
Alternatively, try a few of these simple remedies to get your nipples fighting fit again:
- Apply a little pure cocoa butter, coconut oil, or shea butter to your nipples.
- Use warm compresses, perhaps after a shower.
- A tiny dab of honey can act to stave off an infection on small cuts since it’s antibacterial.
- Air dry your breasts instead of using a towel.
- Wear loose, flowing tops or nothing at all if you can get away with it!
Nipple Cream FAQs
How Often Should I Use Nipple Cream?
A good rule of thumb is to dab some on after every feed; this gives the cream time to soak in, so you’re ready for the next one. More than this is unnecessary and may irritate your skin further. Stop using the cream once your nipples have healed and adjusted to their new job.
Can Nipple Cream Cause Mastitis?
Mastitis, or inflammation and blockage of the breast, occurs when milk ducts become engorged or possibly infected. While cracked nipples may increase the chance of developing mastitis (5), this has nothing to do with using nipple cream or not. If you develop mastitis, the right cream can actually help you heal faster.
Can Nipple Cream Cause Thrush?
The answer to this is both yes and no. Thrush on the nipples is caused by the Candida albicans fungus, which thrives in moist, warm places. While nipple cream doesn’t directly cause thrush, what it can do is make it easier for an already-existing infection to spread.
If you develop thrush, stop using nipple cream until it clears. This is because you may inadvertently transfer the infection every time you touch your nipple, or encourage its growth by providing a moist layer over the surface of your nipple.
Breast pads should be avoided with thrush for the same reason. If you’re really desperate, make sure you rub it in well and air-dry your nipples before dressing again.
Can Nipple Cream Cause Baby Acne?
No. Baby acne is quite normal for many infants, and nothing to worry about. The cause is usually the hormones in your own body, heat rashes, cradle cap or allergies, and seldom has anything to do with your nips.
Can I Use Nipple Cream While Pregnant?
Yes, you can.
Can You Use Nipple Cream for Chapped Lips?
Look, nobody needs to know. You can slap some on dry lips, but no need to stop there. If it works for you, you can use it on chapped heels, rough cuticles, elbows and knees, dry hands, or whatever you like.