If your baby has trouble latching on, or if you have cracked and sore nipples, then trying a nipple shield has most likely been recommended to you. A nipple shield is a thin piece of silicone that is placed directly on the nipple so that the baby can feed directly at the breast. Breastfeeding difficulties can be overwhelming, but choosing the appropriate nipple shield doesn’t have to be. After lengthy online research and speaking with current breastfeeding moms and healthcare professionals, I have narrowed the field down to the top five best nipple shields for breastfeeding.
|Product||Why It Is Best||Mom Rating|
|Medela Contact Nipple Shield||Includes two shields and one case. Three sizes to choose from. Most recommended.||♥♥♥♥♥|
|Purifyou Premium Nipple Shield||Includes three shields and a soft cotton reusable drawstring bag. 30 Day Satisfaction Guarantee.||♥♥♥♥♥|
|Lansinoh Contact Nipple Shield||Includes two shields and one case. Two sizes to choose from. Great for flat nipples.||♥♥♥♥♥|
|NUK Barely There Nipple Shield||Includes two shields and two cases. Unique natural shape. Realistic texture.||♥♥♥♥♥|
|Ardo Tulips Nipple shield||Includes two shields and one case. Two sizes to choose from. Ideal for severely stressed nipples.||♥♥♥♥♥|
Top Nipple Shields for Protecting Your Skin
1. Medela Contact Nipple Shield
It doesn’t take much research to see that Medela is a clear leader in breastfeeding supplies. The Medela Contact Nipple shield boasts a unique cut-out area allowing for more skin contact between mother and baby. This product comes with a convenient carrying case and is available in three different sizes (16 mm, 20 mm, 24 mm). Nipple shield sizing will depend on the size of the infants mouth. Please see the FAQ section below to help determine the appropriate size. All parts that touch breastmilk are made without BPA and are safe for mom and baby. Users of this shield report less pain and greater enjoyment with breastfeeding.
2. Purifyou Premium Nipple Shield
The Purifyou premium nipple shield set of 3 premium silicone nipple shields are manufactured in a facility free from harmful chemicals and with the highest levels of quality control. They are non-toxic, BPA Free, BPS Free, latex free, phthalate free, lead-free, and worry-free. The 20mm shields also come inside a complimentary soft cotton drawstring bag. The length and unique shape of the nipple is designed to assist with the most difficult moments of breastfeeding. Purifyou offers a 30-day money back guarantee on this nipple shield.
3. Lansinoh Contact Nipple Shield
With two sizes to choose from, two nipple shields and a convenient, hygienic carrying case are included in this Lansinoh contact nipple shield set. The special cut out design allows the mother to maximize skin-to-skin contact with her baby while nursing. The shield is made with 100% silicone and is BPA/BPS free. It is a favorite among mothers with flat nipples.
4. NUK Barely There Nipple Shield
With two 24mm nipple shields and carrying cases, the NUK barely there nipple shield set is made from super-soft, thin silicone for maximum comfort. The triangular design maximizes mother-baby skin contact, while soft nodules gently stimulate your milk flow. The NUK Barely There Nipple shield is a favorite among mothers with sensitive nipples. Many users favor this shield for its realistic texture.
5. Ardo Tulips Nipple Shield
The ardo tulips nipple shield is available in two sizes and comes with a carrying case. This shield is specifically designed for sore, painful, and severely stressed nipples. The special tulip shape means that the baby experiences the smell of its mother close up. Users with unusually shaped nipples claim this shield as their favorite because it seems to stay in place better and provide more pain relief than other tried brands.
6. MAM Nipple Shields
Quite a few moms are attached to the MAM brand for things like bottles, pacifiers and sippy cups. The MAM Nipple Shields have several nice features like being super thin, allowing air between the shield and the baby, and allowing as much skin contact as possible for better breast stimulation and mom to baby contact.
7. Haakaa Breast Feeding Contact Nipple Shield
The Haakaa Breast Feeding Contact Nipple Shield has the most unique shape of any on our list. It is made to fit multiple nipple sizes, so if you are having a problem with fit, this might be the solution. Several moms with inverted or flat nipples reported that this shield worked where others didn’t. While it works well for most moms and babies, a couple of moms have complained that it doesn’t allow enough milk flow so their babies have to work too hard to be satisfied.
Guide to Selecting and Using a Nipple Shield
It is important to take your nipple shape/size and your baby’s needs into consideration when choosing a nipple shield. Your lactation consultant and your child’s healthcare provider are valuable resources that should be utilized, as they can suggest the appropriate nipple shield and discuss the important benefits for you and your baby. The San Diego Breastfeeding Center has a wonderful website filled with an abundance of information for breastfeeding mothers complete with tutorial videos, including how to correctly use the nipple shield. Also addressed is how to successfully wean your baby from the nipple shield when the time is right. Intermountain Healthcare has a simple, printable, easy to read fact sheet about properly using a nipple shield.
FAQ’s About Nipple Shields
What are the most common reasons for using a nipple shield?
- Flat or inverted nipples
- Sore, damaged, or engorged nipples
- Nipple preference or breast refusal – sometimes a baby prefers an artificial nipple instead of the mother’s breast
- Infant is premature, has a small mouth, weak suck, or other physical challenges
How do I choose the correct size of a nipple shield?
- The nipple shield should be the right size for your baby’s mouth.
- 16mm: ideal for small and/or premature babies
- 20mm: designed for most newborn babies
- 24mm: best for older babies or large nipples
- The nipple shield should be the right size for your baby’s mouth.
How do I use a nipple shield?
- Warm the nipple shield in your hands or under warm water. (Moistening the inside of the shield with water will help maintain the seal once it is in place.)
- Partially turn the nipple shield inside out and place directly over your nipple.
- Peel or roll the nipple shield back over your breast to create a tight fit.
- Your nipple should be drawn deeply into the nipple shield when the baby sucks.
- If your baby won’t keep the shield in her mouth, consider pumping briefly then rubbing some of your milk on the outside of the shield.
- Once feeding is complete, wash with warm, soapy water and air dry.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for sterilization of the nipple shield when needed.
What are the pros and cons of using a nipple shield?
- The mother’s nipple has an opportunity to heal without having to introduce a bottle too early to her baby.
- Premature babies who have not yet become coordinated at latching on to the mother’s bare breast, or who tire quickly, are able to breastfeed more easily.
- Babies who are unable to latch onto the mother’s bare breast, for a variety of reasons, are able to breastfeed while the underlying challenges are addressed.
- Babies may not be able to effectively transfer milk using the nipple shield, so the baby may need supplementation even if mom’s milk supply is able to meet his/her need.
- The mother’s milk supply could potentially decrease if the baby isn’t effectively stimulating her milk supply. (Don’t panic- read our Best Breast Pump article to find a hospital grade breast pump to help boost your supply!)
- The mother may experience recurrent plugged ducts or mastitis due to ineffective milk drainage.
- Babies can become very dependent on the nipple shield, which can make it difficult to wean from.
Kudos to you for choosing to breastfeed your baby. For some, this is an easy process. But for others, myself included, it is (or was) an incredibly difficult journey. For latching problems or nipple issues, a nipple shield can greatly reduce some of the stress and burden associated with feeding time. Utilize your lactation consultant and her knowledge to help you find what works best for you and your infant. Several mothers that I spoke with suggest joining a local breastfeeding support group, as they found the meetings very helpful. Keep your head up, Momma. You’re doing a good thing. See 141 Reasons to Breastfeed.