When you’re breastfeeding, it isn’t always practical to dash the nearest empty room when your baby gets hungry. Sometimes you have to breastfeed in public or at family gatherings, and nourishing a human life should come ahead of people’s awkwardness any day of the week.
But that still doesn’t mean you want to put your breasts on display for the world to see. I know that public breastfeeding can be a touchy topic for some, but with some practice you can be so discreet people will barely know what’s happening.
A great tool in a new mom’s arsenal is one of the best nursing covers, which keeps your business private while your child gets all the nutrient-rich breast milk they want.
- One size fits all
- Rigiflex neckline
- Space saver in diaper bag
- Adjustable neck strap
- Full coverage
- Washing machine and dryer safe
- Open neckline
- Prevent corners from poking
- 100% cotton
- Has two pockets
- Breathable cotton
- Good for two babies
- Can fit inside a purse
- Remains soft even after washing
- Very versatile
- Soft and comfortable
- Keep you completely covered
- Very affordable
- Can fit in diaper bag
- Suitable for plus-sized women
- Comes in 28 colors
- Can be used as blanket
- Comes with a drawstring storage bag
- Really soft fabric
- Has handy armholes
- Used as a stroller cover
- Fits plus-size women
What Are Nursing Covers?
Nursing covers are a pretty simple concept — they’re just fabric that you use to hide your boobs while nursing your baby or pumping milk in public.
You can make them nondescript so they won’t draw any extra attention to you — although to be fair your crying baby will do that for you, no matter what your nursing cover looks like. If you want something bright and colorful, though, they make those too.
Are Nursing Covers Necessary?
If you plan to breastfeed, you might think you won’t care if people catch a glimpse of your girls in the process. But feeling that way in your mind is a lot different than actually doing it.
Potential stares from other people as you breastfeed in a restaurant can sting, even though you aren’t doing anything wrong. It’s enough to make even confident moms feel a little timid about it at first (1).
Keep in Mind
Sometimes there are no good options when you’re breastfeeding, other than exposing yourself or letting your baby cry. And neither of those work for some moms. This is where a nursing cover can help and spare you some stress or awkwardness.
In America, a mother is legally allowed to breastfeed her baby in any public place she has the right to be. While public attitudes will vary depending on where you live, the fact is that you cannot be asked to move, to cover up or to leave simply because you are making others uncomfortable (2).
Though you might resent being shamed for public breastfeeding, and though the law is on your side, you may still want to avoid the exposure anyway and choose to be discreet. You don’t have to be a loud-and-proud breastfeeding advocate — us moms have enough on our plates already, so it’s fine to pick your battles and ultimately do what works for you.
The Choice is Yours
What Are the Different Styles of Nursing Covers?
You won’t have to suffer through using a style of nursing cover that you hate because there are plenty of choices out there when it comes to cut and style. Make sure to give some thought to what style will work for you and your lifestyle before you buy one.
There are three main types of nursing covers.
- Apron nursing cover: Regular aprons have been popular for decades because they’re a cinch to use and get the job done. You place the strap behind your neck, just like you would an apron. This style is great because you can see your baby and ensure they’re getting enough air. The one downside is there isn’t a lot of fabric right above your breasts, so if your baby tugs hard, the apron can slide down and give everyone an eyeful.
- Infinity nursing cover: This design is a master of disguise. It doubles as an infinity scarf and as a nursing cover when you need it. There is plenty of light, breathable material to cover your baby, but as a downside, you won’t be able to see them very well.
- Poncho nursing cover: A huge trend in the 1970s, the poncho is making a comeback as a nursing cover. If you’re paranoid about any part of you being seen while you’re breastfeeding, a poncho will be right up your alley. You’ll keep everything covered with these bad boys and there’s no risk of your baby ripping it off either. But you need to make sure you don’t buy a regular poncho because the material might be too thick and heavy.
How to Choose the Best Nursing Cover
I know they said that diamonds were a girl’s best friend, but a mom’s best friend is a burp cloth. I’ve lost count of all the times a simple square of absorbent muslin has saved the day, whether it’s mopping up spills or serving as an impromptu nursing cover. While you can make do with a blanket or towel if you don’t have a nursing cloth on hand, it’s better to be prepared and shop for a breastfeeding cover that you can rely on.
Consider the season and choose a fabric that’ll be most comfortable. Muslin is great for summer, wool blends or heavier cotton makes sense for cooler months.
Sometimes I have to remind myself I have a life outside of my children. Multipurpose items that don’t take up huge amounts of space in the diaper bag are ideal. Choose a cover that doubles as a scarf and you can even keep using it once your baby is weaned.
Use your own discretion to decide what level of cover you’re comfortable with. If you’re on your fourth baby already and don’t give a damn, a scarf will do, but if you’re big chested, a bit more conservative or simply a little shy, a full-cover poncho may make you feel more comfortable.
Your baby’s comfort
Some babies don’t mind having their faces covered while they feed, others hate it. Experiment to see what your little one is happy with. You don’t want to give them a reason to fuss or have them yanking at the cover out of frustration.
Pumping or nursing?
If you’re pumping milk on both sides, a full cover apron or poncho is a must, whereas if you’re breastfeeding on only one side at a time, you can get away with a strategically placed scarf or wrap.
I cringe sometimes seeing the prints and designs on clothing designed for moms, as if style and good taste flew out the window the moment you gave birth! If you’re frequently out and about, you’ll want a cover that looks good, so you’ll feel that extra bit of confidence when using it.
The Best Nursing Covers of 2020
Here are our top nursing cover picks:
1. Bebe Au Lait Premium Muslin Nursing Cover
When it’s hot outside, you don’t want to coop up your baby in a warm cover. They'll be hot and miserable and so will you. Instead you want a light, airy fabric that lets the air circulate so you’ll both be comfortable.
Moms may like that this soft and super light material feels just perfect for summer. You won’t feel weighed down or like you’re roasting alive.
This nursing cover has a Rigiflex neckline which will keep the cover away from your neck and upper chest so you can check on your baby and let the fresh air reach inside. An Interlocking Cap System is used on the neckline to ensure that any sharp boning material won’t pop out through the ends.
There’s a neck strap on this cover to help keep it in place, even if your baby decides to tug on it. You can also use this cover as a changing mat, or a blanket. On sunny summer days, you can drape it over the stroller or use it as a car seat canopy for some shade.
When this nursing cover gets dirty, simply toss it in your washing machine where it will hold up wash after wash.
- One size fits all at 36 inches wide.
- Lets you make eye contact with your baby during nursing.
- It doesn’t take up much room in the diaper bag.
- A bit on the pricey side.
- Some have found the material too sheer.
2. Kids 'N Such Arrow Nursing Apron
Moms who want full coverage but plenty of airflow for their babies while nursing may like nursing aprons. They’re popular for a reason — they keep your modesty intact and they're super easy to use. There’s no complications when using this kind of cover.
This apron has everything you’ll need. It’s budget-friendly, it’s stylish and it’s cute in a pleasant neutral color that will go well with many outfits.
Plus, it has a sewn-in burp cloth that lets you switch from feeding your baby to burping them. This apron is made out of breathable fabric so air will be circulating and keeping everyone happy.
With a rigid neckline, you’ll be able to easily peek down at your baby to see how they’re doing. That will help you correct any problems they’re having with their latch, plus you’ll be able to enjoy that mother-child bonding time by making eye contact.
This nursing cover comes with a carrying pouch too, so your nursing apron can stay clean and fresh when you aren’t using it. Just pop it in the diaper bag and it’ll stay protected till you need it.
- The neck strap can be adjusted.
- You’ll get full coverage with this apron.
- It can go in the washing machine and dryer.
- It does tend to get a bit hot in the summer.
- Plus-sized women might need a bigger apron.
3. Bebe au Lait Premium Cotton Nursing Cover
Breastfeeding is a special time for mom and baby and a strong connection can form during feedings. A nursing cover is important for when you’re out and about, but it can cut you off from important bonding opportunities. We appreciate that this special nursing cover allows you to see your baby and your baby to see you.
This nursing cover is made of the highest quality cotton fabric and includes patented end caps to prevent the corners from poking your little one. However, it is the open neckline that really stands out. It has a unique design that allows it to be flexible but rigid enough to stay away from your body.
This means your view of your baby is unobstructed. You can maintain eye contact and interact as your baby nurses. We also like that it promotes airflow and breathability and can also be used as a stroller or car seat cover.
- An open neckline allows you to bond with your baby and maintain eye contact during feedings.
- End caps prevent fabric corners from poking or scratching.
- 100 percent cotton is comfortable and easy to launder.
- Available in one size, so it may take some adjusting to ensure a good and proper fit.
4. Hooter Hiders Nursing Cover
If you’re breastfeeding twins, you’ve already got your hands full. You don’t need a cover that’s difficult to manage on top of everything. For nursing twins, the biggest thing you’ll have to look for is the size — you need it to be plenty big to accommodate your double bundles of joy.
This Hooter Hiders nursing cover will ensure your babies have plenty of air while they’re nursing. With two babies feeding under your cover, it’s more important than ever to make sure there’s enough air circulating. This cover delivers with its special Rigiflex neckline.
The neckline is rigid enough that the cover will keep its bowed shape, even when it’s on you. That bowed shape will mean that the cover stays away from your skin just above the breast, which will give your babies air and will also let you make eye contact with them.
Even with the rigid neckline, it’s still flexible enough to fold up easily when you’re finished, and you can store it in its matching carry pouch. These covers are big enough to give you complete coverage even with two babies. Plus it comes with an adjustable neck strap to make sure you can find the perfect fit.
- This cover has two pockets so you can keep small items handy, like breast pads.
- Machine washable.
- Large enough for two babies.
- Breathable cotton for hot weather.
- Can be used as a car seat cover.
- They don’t come in solid colors, only patterns.
- It may take you a few tries to find the right length for the neck strap.
5. Anikea Shawl Nursing Cover
If you think that what goes on under your nursing cover is no one’s business but you and your baby’s, you should opt for a full coverage nursing cover. You’ll love having your privacy and your baby can eat as much as it wants without you feeling the pressure to cut a feeding session short.
This is a versatile nursing cover that can do so much more. You can use it as a stylish wrap, a baby blanket, burp cloth or scarf. It’s something you can continue to use long after your baby outgrows its breastfeeding days.
It’s so big that it will give you 360-degree coverage, which will ensure your privacy when breastfeeding, even if you’re in a crowded room.
The 100 percent cotton fabric is soft and gentle on the skin and the cover is so lightweight it will even feel light in the hot summer months. Even though it’s breathable, the fabric isn’t see-through. You won’t be tugging to pull this one up or struggling to keep it on because it stays in place better than some other nursing covers do.
- It’s compact enough to fit inside a purse.
- It remains soft even after being washed.
- Very versatile.
- You only get one color choice.
- It’s a little pricey.
6. Kiddo Care Premium 4-in-1 Nursing Cover
When you’re looking for the best all-round nursing cover, you might want to focus on those that can be used in multiple ways. Even after you’re done nursing your baby, you’ll still be able to use this cover as a sun cover for your stroller, handy wrap for car seats, or general purpose blanky.
This nursing cover is tops when it comes to versatility. It works really well to block wind or bright light when your baby is on the go in their stroller, or can be used as a car seat cover. You can also use this as a shopping cart cover to keep the germs off your baby’s little hands, or as a scarf for you when not in use.
Made out of soft, light material, it will stretch without losing its elasticity. And because it’s so stretchy, it’s easy to whip on and take off again.
It’ll give you plenty of room to hide your breasts from prying eyes. The material is thin enough that this would make a good hot weather cover, and it won’t make your baby too hot in the summer. Plus your baby will have no trouble getting enough air under this cover because the fabric is breathable.
When you aren’t using this cover, it can be safely stored in the matching bag that comes with it.
- The material is soft and comfortable against your baby’s skin.
- It can be used in many ways.
- Big enough to keep you completely covered.
- Some moms have had problems with it snagging easily because it’s so thin.
- This cover might not be warm enough for winter use unless you’re indoors.
7. Udder Covers Nursing Cover
When you’re plus size (or simply have breasts that are on the larger side), it can be a challenge finding a nursing cover that's roomy enough for your needs. You still want total coverage, but you aren’t sure where to find it. Don’t worry — we’ve got you, um, covered.
At 32-inches across and 24 inches in length, this is a big nursing cover that will work for plus-sized women. It uses stainless steel d-rings that will let you adjust the neckline to get the right fit and level of modesty.
This Udder Covers nursing cover has a more rigid neckline that is shaped away from your neck and upper chest area. That allows you the room to easily check in on your baby or to stare into their precious little eyes.
Made out of 100 percent cotton, this material is fairly thin, which makes it breathable. It’ll stay relatively cool in the summer, and it even provides a bit of warmth in the winter. The non-creasing fabric will always make it look fresh and ironed, even if you just dragged it out of the diaper bag.
These come in eight different patterns that you can choose from, ranging from bright and vibrant to subtle. So whether you want to stand out in a crowd or blend in, you’ll find a pattern to suit you.
- One of the more affordable covers on the market.
- It folds up easily and compactly to store in the diaper bag.
- Big enough for taller moms.
- Some moms had problems with the cover shrinking after washing.
- It doesn’t come with a matching carry bag.
8. Bozeman Baby Company Nursing Scarf
Nursing scarves may look stylish, but they also really do help when it comes time to breastfeed your baby in public. No one will even be able to tell that your scarf is pulling double duty until they see it in action. All you have to do is unloop the scarf when its feeding time and you have instant cover.
If your main concern about using nursing scarves is how sheer some of them tend to be, you’ll appreciate this infinity scarf’s double layer that makes it less transparent than some others on the market.
This scarf can look dressy or laid back, depending on what you pair it with. Although it doesn’t look like it would offer much coverage, it easily conceals your front, back and sides from people who are trying to get a peek when you’re breastfeeding your baby.
The fabric is soft so it won’t be irritating to you or to your baby, which is nice since many babies struggle with sensitive skin. If the scarf gets dirty or gets some milk or spit-up on it, you can clean it in the washing machine — no need to hand wash.
- It comes in 28 colors.
- It’s affordable.
- In a pinch, this scarf can also work as a blanket for your baby.
- This may not give enough coverage for plus-size women.
- Several moms have complained about the unpleasant smell.
9. Sprout’n Smiles Nursing Cover
Airplanes can be a challenging setting for breastfeeding moms. It’s not like you can scurry off into that tiny airplane bathroom to breastfeed, so you’ll have to do it in your seat instead. You may want a lot of coverage since you’ll be shoulder to shoulder with the other passengers and possibly curious eyes.
On an airplane, you’ll want extra full coverage so you can breastfeed in peace. That’s precisely what this nursing cover can offer you with its 360-degree coverage.
But since you’re traveling, you’ll also want your cover to offer other purposes as well since packing space can be tight when you have a baby. This one can be used as a baby seat cover, high chair cover, or shopping cart cover, which will help you cut down on your baby’s exposure to germs while traveling.
Plus, this also works as a sunshade for your baby when you aren’t breastfeeding and can double as a blanket. The fabric is breathable so you can be sure that your baby is getting enough oxygen. When it gets dirty, rest assured that the fabric washes well and will hold up after multiple rounds in the washing machine.
- Considering how many different purposes it serves, this nursing cover is a bargain.
- It comes with a drawstring storage bag.
- The fabric is really soft.
- You only have one color to choose from and it has polka dots, which may not appeal to every mom.
- Because this cover is so dark, it may feel extra hot in the summer.
10. Genovega Bamboo 360-degree Nursing Cover
Ponchos are a great choice for a nursing cover. They are roomy and airy so your baby will be comfortable in any season. You’ll have lots of space to work with and you can constantly peek in and make sure your baby is doing well.
This nursing poncho will give you complete privacy while you’re breastfeeding your baby. But the thing that really makes it stand out among competitors is that it has handy armholes, which eliminates that awkward reach-around thing moms have to do while wearing other covers.
If they don’t do the reach-around correctly when they are grabbing for something out of the diaper bag, they risk pulling the cover away from their body and flashing any unsuspecting people in the vicinity. With this cover, you’ve got the freedom to reach for anything and still be covered.
You can also make this cover appear a lot more fashionable by doing a knot at the side to gather up the extra fabric when you aren’t breastfeeding.
- You can get it in 27 colors so you’ll be able to find options to go with any outfit.
- It can be used as a stroller cover too to protect your baby from the sun or wind.
- It’s large enough to fit plus-size women.
- It can’t be put in the dryer.
- This cover is a little more expensive than some others.
How Many Do I Need?
If you’re the type of person who doesn’t misplace anything and only nurses in public occasionally, you may be able to get by with one nursing cover. But if you’re like many busy moms where you’re constantly struggling to stay organized, you would probably benefit from having two or more nursing covers.
From a fashion perspective, it doesn’t hurt to have two different nursing covers — one lighter and one darker so you always have one to go with your outfits.
Keep in Mind
Tips for Using a Nursing Cover
If you’re using an apron style cover up with a stiff hoop at the top, practice wearing it at home beforehand so you get comfortable with how it feels. You may even like to check in a mirror at home to make sure that you’ve got the hang of it and nothing is peaking out when it shouldn’t be.
If you’re using an infinity scarf style cover, the first step is to drape the scarf over just one shoulder, kind of like a beauty pageant sash would fit. Then, wrap the front drape of the scarf over your baby and the arm you’re holding them with. When you’re satisfied with the placement, you can open your shirt and feeding bra and make sure to latch properly.
Other things to consider when you breastfeed in public:
- Everything will be easier if all the clothing you have underneath the cover is also lightweight, comfortable and easy to open.
- Make sure you’re covered to your liking before opening your bra.
- When you’re done, the scarf can be refolded around your neck, the apron can be slipped off and packed away, or a poncho can be left on until the next feed.
How to Make Your Own Nursing Cover
If you’re handy with a sewing machine, it’s possible to make a DIY apron-style nursing cover to your own liking.
If that’s a little too much crafting skill, it’s easy to shop around for an ordinary infinity scarf and use it as a nursing cover if it’s big and breathable enough. If you have any long, broad piece of fabric at home, sew the edges together to create a loop and voila, you have an infinity style nursing cover. Just be sure to always wear the seam at your back to avoid irritation.
Another idea is to simply sew up a clippable strap that can be attached to any blanket or piece of fabric. You can take this strap anywhere to easily convert whatever burp cloth, towel or muslin square you have on hand into a nursing cover.
All you’ll need is a pair of pacifier clips and a strip of fabric, or you can buy pacifier clips on lanyards and simply attach two of these to the right length, making a very affordable DIY alternative to buying a new nursing cover.
The Bottom Line
While it may feel strange and a bit out of your comfort zone at first, breastfeeding in public is all about attitude. Be calm and confident in the knowledge that you’re doing your best for your baby, and simply smile at any curious onlookers. Though you may feel like the spotlight’s on you, most people are polite and understanding and will simply let you get on with it.
Nursing moms, what do you think is the best nursing cover? How do you handle nursing sessions when you’re away from home? Do you have any tips and tricks for keeping stealthy while you feed your baby? If so, please share and comment below to help those moms who are just starting out.