Were you one of those moms who envisioned a new baby cuddled close to you, content and nursing well? If breastfeeding has been more challenging than you expected and you find yourself needing to use a nipple shield, you’re not alone. We’ve been there too and have learned a lot through the experience.
A good nipple shield will help you deal with some of the hiccups in your nursing adventure, such as a tongue tie, cracked nipples, latching complications, or an oversupply of milk. But it can be hard to find the right fit.
So we’re sharing what we’ve learned to make the process easier for you. We’ll review our top picks for the best nipple shields based on their comfort factor, ease of use, materials, style, and shape, so you can find a good fit quickly and get back to focusing on breastfeeding.
We’ll also explain why you might consider using a nipple shield and offer tips on choosing the right size and using your shield correctly.
- Addresses specific breastfeeding situations
- Maximizes skin-to-skin contact
- 100% ultra-thin, soft silicone
- Hygienic and easy to clean
- 24mm size nipple shields
- For short term latch-on issues
- Protects sensitive nipples
- Great fit
- Includes a storage case
- Free from harsh chemicals
- Finest quality sourced materials
- 20mm in diameter
- 3 premium nipple shields
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Non-toxic, BPA free
- Food-grade silicone
- Soft and flexible
- Easy to clean
- BPA- and DEHP-free
- Available in single purchase
- Encourages latching
The Best Nipple Shields of 2023
Here are seven great nipple shields to consider.
Medela Nipple Shield
Best for Skin-to-Skin Contact
Medela is one of the front-runners in the breastfeeding industry. The brand’s complete line of pumps and nursing accessories come highly recommended. If you’ve tried a traditionally-shaped shield and hated it, this one may change your mind.
The unique half-moon shape of this shield keeps a portion of the breast uncovered. This is where your baby’s nose will rest while nursing, so plan to position the shield according to your baby’s head position.
This shield allows your baby the benefits of skin-to-skin contact, to breathe more easily, and to nurse better. It can also make the transition to nursing without the shield easier in the future.
I love that these are also made without BPA or other harmful chemicals. And you get to choose from a variety of sizes for the best fit.
Lansinoh Nipple Shield with Carrying Case
Best for Traveling
Lansinoh is another highly trusted name in breastfeeding. They’ve been working on solutions for nursing moms for 30 years. These shields are another great option from their line of products.
Made of BPA-free silicone, these shields are soft and flexible. The included carry case is perfect for keeping track of your shields and making sure they stay protected from germs.
They come in two sizes and have a low-profile and rounded, more natural shape to the nipple. If you’re looking for a shield that can help make later weaning easier, this one’s worth trying.
Philips Avent Nipple Shield
Best for a Realistic Nursing Experience
The Philips Avent shield has an optimized shape. Because of its narrow design, it enables skin contact to give a realistic texture to your breast.
Just less than an inch in diameter, these shields are thin and soft. They are also flexible and made from odor- and taste-free silicone to make nursing more comfortable for both you and your little one. The shields are designed for easy latch on, which can help you get the perfect fit you’re looking for.
The shape can be helpful if you have a restless nurser. Even with a lot of activity, you can expect the shield to stay in place without jeopardizing your baby’s latch.
Momma Bear Premium Nipple Shield
Best Nipple Shield for Flat Nipples
The Momma Bear shields are soft and thin. They conform well to the breast and allow great skin-to-skin contact with your baby. The extra holes in the nipple can make it easier for your baby to get the quantity of milk they need.
Made with food-grade materials, these silicone nipple shields are non-toxic and BPA-free. They’re easy to position, and the spiraled tip helps keep the nipple from collapsing in on itself during use.
The textured base is a great feature. It makes it a little easier to hold the shield in place without slipping. It also works to provide a more natural nursing experience for your baby.
Purifyou Premium Nipple Shield
Best Nipple Shield for Tender Nipples
The Purifyou shields are easy to use and provide a great layer of protection between your baby and your sore nipple. Straightforward in their design, they’re non-toxic and made with BPA-free materials.
This pack comes with a set of three nipple shields. It’s perfect for leaving a spare in your diaper bag. The included handy storage bag can make it easy to keep track of your shields.
There’s little risk with trying these shields out. This product comes with a satisfaction guarantee. If you aren’t happy with the product, you can send it back within 30 days for a full refund.
JLR Industry Nipple Shields and Collection Shells
Best Nipple Shield for Premature Babies
This nipple shield and collection system can be a great option if your premature baby is struggling with your let-down. It can help break up the stream of milk so your baby can catch up.
While breastfeeding on one side, you can use the included shells on the other breast to catch any milk that would otherwise be lost. The collected milk can then be transferred to long-term storage for later feedings.
The shells and shields are made from food-grade BPA-free silicone. They’re soft, flexible, comfortable to wear, and easy to use. Simply wash and sterilize the breast shells after use and they’ll be ready to use again next time.
Ameda Contact Nipple Shield
Best on a Budget
Unlike many other shields on the market, this model by Ameda is available as a single purchase. Consider this design if you’re looking for a short-term solution and don’t mind relying on one nipple shield only. It’s a great option if you’re on a tight budget.
These thin and flexible silicone shields are BPA- and DEHP-free. They can help provide a more natural breastfeeding experience for you and your baby.
Ameda’s standard-size shields adhere well to the breast without getting in the way of your baby’s nursing and will help you continue breastfeeding if you have sore nipples or your baby has difficulty latching on to the breast.
How To Choose the Best Nipple Shield for You
When I began my breastfeeding journey with my firstborn, there were only a few available nipple shield choices — and they all looked exactly the same. However, nipple shields have evolved and come in several different sizes, materials, and shapes.
The most important factor in choosing the best nipple shield for you is the fit. Just as nipples vary in size, so do nipple shields. You’ll need to find a good fit for your nipple and also for your baby’s mouth. It may take more than one try to find the best fit, but nipple shields are relatively inexpensive and, when fitted correctly, are worth the hassle.
If your shield is too small, it will be uncomfortable, as your nipple won’t have any room to expand as your baby suckles. You don’t want any extra friction when nursing, as this can be painful and make it difficult to produce milk.
If the nipple shield is too big, it may not stay in place while breastfeeding, causing frustration for you and your baby. A shield that is too large can make it harder for your baby to suckle from and prevent an adequate flow of milk. It can also cause your baby to gag if it goes too far back in their mouth.
The best way to ensure an accurate nipple shield fit is to request help from your lactation consultant, midwife, or health care provider. If this isn’t possible, read any packaging carefully before purchasing to determine the right fit.
It can help to measure the diameter of your nipple (not the areola) in millimeters for the most accurate sizing. Most shields come in sizes based on the length of the nipple piece and are measured in millimeters. Standard sizes are usually 16 millimeters for the smallest size, 20 millimeters for a medium, or 24 millimeters for a large.
Some brands offer a full refund if you’re unsatisfied for any reason, so it may be worth it to purchase a couple of nipple shield sizes to find the best fit.
Nipple shields are generally made of a pliable silicone material. If you are allergic to silicone, rubber or latex models are available, although they’re harder to find.
A thin, flexible shield is helpful for having a more natural breastfeeding experience, and it will make it easier for your baby to transition to the breast when they no longer need the shield.
If you’re dealing with cracked or bleeding nipples, a thicker material may be more comfortable while they heal, as it reduces pressure on the skin.
Most nipple shields are made with food-grade materials free of BPA and other harmful chemicals, but we still take the time to check the packaging to ensure this is the case.
My toddler used to refer to nipple shields as “boob hats,” which is a pretty accurate description. Some have a wide “brim,” while others are minimalistic in their design.
If you want a more natural experience, choose a nipple shield with cutout pieces. These cutouts allow your baby’s nose and chin to rest directly on your breast skin rather than the nipple shield material, offering a more comfortable experience for you and your child.
However, the less surface area the shield covers, the easier it is for the shield to shift around while in use, which can be frustrating.
How Do Nipple Shields Work?
Nipple shields are thin pieces of silicone or rubber that cover the nipple while still allowing your baby to nurse (1). They’re soft, so they can conform well to your breast and don’t interfere with natural sucking or nipple stimulation. A small hole in the tip — quite like in a bottle — allows your baby access to your milk.
They may help remove some of the difficulties of nursing for you and your child. You can worry less about shaping your breast for easy milk consumption. Your baby will also be able to take breaks from nursing and relatch easily.
However, nipple shields are not the best solution for every mother and baby. If you’re experiencing difficulty nursing and think a shield could help you, discuss it with your care provider or a professional lactation consultant.
While every situation is different, there are a few common reasons new moms use nipple shields for breastfeeding.
- Flat or inverted nipples: A flat or inverted nipple is quite normal and functional, but a flat or inverted nipple is quite normal and functional, it’s more difficult for a child to latch on to (2). This is especially true for small newborns who don’t have the skill or strength to compensate for this nipple shape (3).
- Premature babies: While the future’s still bright for preemies, they don’t have the benefit of those extra weeks of growth in the womb. Nipple shields can help make nursing easier for preemies and help them grow and thrive (4).
Reasons to Use Nipple Shields
Shields can help ease the stress of breastfeeding — for both you and your child. Here are some of the most common benefits of nipple shields.
- They can help you avoid transitioning to formula before you or your baby are ready.
- Using them can help your struggling nurser get more milk than they would otherwise.
- They can help a preemie baby transition from using a bottle to using the breast.
- If you have a baby struggling to latch, your nipples may suffer. By using a nipple shield, you can give cracked and bleeding nipples a reprieve while they heal.
Tips for Using Nipple Shields
Using shields may not make your nursing experience perfect, but they can help. The following tips should make your journey a little easier.
- Only use them under the direction of a licensed care provider: They can help you make sure your shield is situated correctly. Using one incorrectly can lead to a lack of supply. Once you’re used to the shield, it should get easier to use it independently.
- Monitor your baby’s wet diapers: Making sure your baby is passing urine regularly will help you know your baby is getting all the milk they need.
- Nipple shields come in multiple sizes: To be truly effective, you’ll need to have the correct size for your breast. Consult your medical practitioner for an accurate fitting.
- Address any lingering fullness you feel in your breasts immediately: As fully emptying the ducts is difficult while using a shield, you’ll need to be diligent about avoiding mastitis. Be prepared to pump after nursing sessions.
- Your doctor may recommend that you only use the shield at the beginning of your nursing session: This will depend on your child’s age, size, and nursing capability. Work closely with your health care provider for optimal results.