We occasionally link to products offered by vendors to help our readers find relevant products. Some of these links may be affiliate in nature, meaning we earn small commissions if items are purchased. Click here to learn more

best nipple shields

When you really want to breastfeed but you find it complicated, nipple shields can help. You can handle a long list of breastfeeding challenges through the use of shields.

Most moms use them as a temporary aid on the way to bare breastfeeding, but others have found them helpful on a more long-term basis.

A nipple shield is simply a cover for the nipple and areola of a nursing mother. It mimics the shape of the female breast. Usually made of silicone, it is used for a myriad of situations, including nipples that are sore, inverted or cracked, and infants who have difficulty achieving a good latch on the breast.

Because the baby doesn’t stimulate the breast in the same way when a woman uses a nipple shield, some lactation specialists worry that it may result in reduced milk supply. There are ways, however, to deal with any issues that arise. Most experts say that if a nipple shield will keep moms from giving up on breastfeeding, it is worth any minor problems that may occur.

Here is a preview of some of the best nipple shields.

Our Top Picks

Image
Medela Contact Nipple Shield for Breastfeeding, 24mm Medium Nippleshield, For Latch Difficulties or Flat or Inverted Nipples, 2 Count with Carrying Case, Made Without BPA
Philips AVENT BPA Free Nipple Protector, Small
purifyou Premium Nipple Shields for Nursing - Set of 3, 24mm, Clear with Free Carrying Case | for Breastfeeding, for Latch Difficulties or Flat or Inverted Nipples | BPA & BPS Free
Model
Medela Contact Nipple Shield for Breastfeeding, 24mm Medium Nippleshield, For Latch Difficulties or Flat or Inverted Nipples, 2 Count with Carrying Case, Made Without BPA
Philips AVENT BPA Free Nipple Protector, Small
purifyou Premium Nipple Shields for Nursing - Set of 3, 24mm, Clear with Free Carrying Case | for Breastfeeding, for Latch Difficulties or Flat or Inverted Nipples | BPA & BPS Free
Customer rating
Features
  • Designed for skin-to-skin contact
  • Available in three sizes: 16mm, 20 mm and 24 mm
  • BPA free
  • Online access to product instructions, online community, and a lactation specialist
  • Designed for maximum skin-to-skin contact
  • Available in small and standard sizes
  • BPA free
  • Pack of two
  • Affordable price point
  • Shipped in a reusable storage bag to cut back on plastic
  • Free of BPA, BPS, latex, lead and phthalates
  • Pack of three
  • Good customer service
  • Designed for skin-to-skin contact
  • Middle price range
Image
Medela Contact Nipple Shield for Breastfeeding, 24mm Medium Nippleshield, For Latch Difficulties or Flat or Inverted Nipples, 2 Count with Carrying Case, Made Without BPA
Model
Medela Contact Nipple Shield for Breastfeeding, 24mm Medium Nippleshield, For Latch Difficulties or Flat or Inverted Nipples, 2 Count with Carrying Case, Made Without BPA
Customer rating
Features
  • Designed for skin-to-skin contact
  • Available in three sizes: 16mm, 20 mm and 24 mm
  • BPA free
  • Online access to product instructions, online community, and a lactation specialist
Image
Philips AVENT BPA Free Nipple Protector, Small
Model
Philips AVENT BPA Free Nipple Protector, Small
Customer rating
Features
  • Designed for maximum skin-to-skin contact
  • Available in small and standard sizes
  • BPA free
  • Pack of two
  • Affordable price point
Image
purifyou Premium Nipple Shields for Nursing - Set of 3, 24mm, Clear with Free Carrying Case | for Breastfeeding, for Latch Difficulties or Flat or Inverted Nipples | BPA & BPS Free
Model
purifyou Premium Nipple Shields for Nursing - Set of 3, 24mm, Clear with Free Carrying Case | for Breastfeeding, for Latch Difficulties or Flat or Inverted Nipples | BPA & BPS Free
Customer rating
Features
  • Shipped in a reusable storage bag to cut back on plastic
  • Free of BPA, BPS, latex, lead and phthalates
  • Pack of three
  • Good customer service
  • Designed for skin-to-skin contact
  • Middle price range

*All product links in this article will take you to the latest prices on Amazon.com. Scroll down for our in-depth reviews below.

History of Nipple Shields

Nipple shields have been used since the 1500s, according to an article published in Breastfeeding Medicine. Originally the devices were made from wood, metal or animal skins and were fitted with some type of rubber teat. Researchers assume that mothers used them for roughly the same purposes then as now.

Modern nipple shields were made of rubber or latex until the development of silicone offered a better option. Although a few moms still opt for shields made of natural latex rubber, this type of shield can be very hard to find because of the prevalence of silicone in this market.

Why Use Nipple Shields

Here are the main reasons why some moms choose to use nipple shields.

Resources for Nursing Difficulties

Moms who have difficulty breastfeeding their babies should consider consulting a lactation specialist. The gold standard is a practitioner known by the initials IBCLC for International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. You can look for an IBCLC here.

Some areas lack certified consultants, but many doctors and nurses are well-versed in breastfeeding practices. In the United States, most insurance plans are required to cover breastfeeding equipment and support.

In addition, you can seek help from groups such as La Leche League International or a local group that supports nursing moms. You can also find many breastfeeding resources on the Internet.

Almost every maker of nipple shields recommends that you use them under the guidance of a lactation specialist.

Issues to Watch for When Using Nipple Shields

Nipple shields have one simple benefit. They may enable a mom to continue breastfeeding when otherwise she might quit. When moms use nipple shields properly and monitor baby’s growth, they are completely safe.

Still, several issues can arise with the use of nipple shields. Sometimes nipple shields keep babies from emptying the breasts, which can lead to blocked milk ducts and mastitis, a condition that can be very painful for moms.

In addition, nipple shields are associated with a reduced transfer of milk from mom to infant. Since breasts produce more milk when more is taken, the using nipple shields can adversely impact a woman’s milk supply.

Some women address this issue by pumping after nursing. They can then freeze the milk for supplementing or donate it to a milk bank.

Babies who are using nipple shields during nursing must be monitored carefully for weight gain. Moms also should watch for signs of efficient nursing.

For example, you should be able to hear your baby swallowing. Milk should be visible between the breast and the shield. And the breast should be noticeably softer after feeding.

In addition, babies should be soft and cuddly after feeding. Hands should be open and relaxed rather than being clenched.

You can also gauge babies’ intake by checking their output. Babies who are getting enough milk will produce plenty of wet and poopy diapers.

Look for at least six very wet diapers per day and at least two or three soiled ones. Most breastfed babies have multiple stools a day, in the early days at least.

Weaning From Nipple Shields

Since nipple shields are ideally a temporary solution, most moms will want to transition from using nipple shields to bare breastfeeding. Some babies will balk at feeding without a nipple shield because they have become accustomed to it.

One of the best ways to wean baby away from the nipple shield is to start with the shield and then switch to the bare breast.

Babies often continue without hesitation because they are already in feeding mode. You can do this after you have fed one breast or when you stop to burp your baby.

You can also give your breasts a few quick pumps to start the letdown of milk before you put baby to the breast. The immediate reward may make your baby willing to nurse without the shield.

Some moms have more luck nursing without the shield if their baby is a little sleepy. If your baby is wide awake and ravenous, it might seem like a good time to try, but actually your baby may be more easily frustrated under these conditions. (Think of how you feel when you are “hangry”!) If your baby gets upset, do not continue. Use the shield, and try again another day.

Taking Care of Nipple Shields

Since most nipple shields are made of silicone, the standards for cleaning are fairly uniform. The best practice is to follow the cleaning instructions given with your brand of shields, but here are some general guidelines.

Most nipple shield manufacturers recommend that you boil them for about ten minutes before the first use. Silicone is a very tough substance that shouldn’t be harmed by boiling.

After the initial use, washing shields thoroughly with hot water and soap should do the trick. Most shields can be also be sterilized in the dishwasher.

Since the shield will come in contact with nutrient-rich breast milk, a bacteria-friendly environment will develop if the shield is not properly cleaned.

Choosing Your Nipple Shield

A nipple shield is not a complicated device, so there aren’t going to be giant differences between brands. All the ones on our list are made of silicone and are BPA free.

When deciding which shield to buy, most moms go with a brand they trust. If feel that if they have issues, they will probably be able to get satisfaction. In addition, many top brands have helpful information on their websites.

Sometimes, however, a lesser-known brand works better for a particular mother. In addition, prices may be more reasonable for off-brand shields.

The main thing to realize is that every shield is going to have some satisfied users and some users who are not so satisfied, because each mother’s situation is different. Her infant is different, too. Often moms will have to try more than one shield before finding the right model.

Now let’s take a look at some top-rated nipple shields.

Best Nipple Shields

Medela Contact Nipple Shield on AmazonMedela Nipple Shield
Medela is a brand that many breastfeeding mothers trust. The company makes a wide range of breast pumps and accessories to help moms be successful at nursing their babies.

Medela has been in business for 50 years and is the maker of the top-selling breast pump. The company’s headquarters are in Switzerland. Medela has a free app, My Medela, and you can upgrade it to include consultations with a lactation specialist around the clock.

The Medela Contact Nipple Shield has a cut-out area for baby’s nose. This feature allows skin-to-skin contact and also allows the baby to absorb the smell of mom and her milk.

The company recommends that moms consult a lactation specialist to determine the best size shield for them. The size of the baby’s mouth and the size of the mom’s nipple determine the correct size.

A bit of cream around the outer edge of the shield can help to keep the shield in place, according to the product brochure. Besides the Medela Contact Nipple Shield, Medela also manufactures a full coverage nipple shield. The website does not state where the Medela nipple shields are manufactured.

PROS & CONS
Pros:

  • Designed for skin-to-skin contact
  • Available in three sizes: 16mm, 20 mm and 24 mm
  • BPA free
  • Online access to product instructions, online community, and a lactation specialist

Cons: 

  • Can be prone to leaking
  • Nipple can be hard
  • Only sold as a single
  • No case included
  • Higher price point

Lansinoh Contact Nipple Shield

Lansinoh Contact Nipple ShieldLansinoh Nipple Shield
Another leader in the breastfeeding field, Lansinoh has a lot of help for breastfeeding moms available on its website. You can download a free app for your phone that helps with tracking feedings and diaper changes.

For a fee, you can supplement the app with a subscription to Lansinoh’s helpline and get breastfeeding help 24 hours a day.

Lansinoh makes only one style of a nipple shield, a cut-out model that is available in two sizes. The shields are sold in pairs and come with a convenient carrying case.

Lansinoh states that they make their shields with super-thin, soft, flexible silicone, and that they make them in Thailand. The shield should be stored in the case with the nipple up to preserve sterility.

PROS & CONS
Pros:

  • Shorter nipple that won’t gag baby
  • Designed for skin-to-skin contact
  • Available in two sizes: 20 mm and 24 mm
  • BPA and BPS free
  • Access to online information and a lactation specialist
  • Pack of two
  • Comes with a carrying case
  • Shields become cloudy with use
  • Affordable price point

Cons: 

  • Not a good fit for some moms
  • Can be hard to adhere to breast

Philips Avent Nipple Protector

Philips Avent Nipple ProtectorPhilips Avent Nipple Protector on Amazon
Philips Avent calls its device a nipple protector rather than a nipple shield, but it is used in the same way as a nipple shield.

The Philips Avent model is also designed to maximize contact between baby and mother, but rather than being cut out only on the top, where baby’s nose goes, it uses a symmetrical cut-out, so that the protector does not have to be placed in a certain position. The nipple protectors are sold in a twin pack.

Philips Avent is another company that many moms trust. Based in England, it burst upon the infant feeding field in 1984 with its innovative, wide-mouthed bottle design. The Philips Avent nipple protectors are manufactured in England. The company website offers some online support and a baby care app called uGrow.

PROS & CONS
Pros:

  • Designed for maximum skin-to-skin contact
  • Available in small and standard sizes
  • BPA free
  • Pack of two
  • Affordable price point

Cons:

  • No case included
  • Nipples can be too large
  • Less surface area can keep shield from adhering well

Purifyou Nipple Shield

Purifyou Nipple ShieldPuriyou Nipple Shield on Amazon
Purifyou Nipple Shields are sold three at a time in a cotton drawstring bag. The company is a family-owned, family-operated business that sells a variety of products for the home.

It does not specialize in breastfeeding products. Their nipple shields are manufactured in China.

The Purifyou shields are oblong. The side pieces help the shield adhere to the breast, while the space above and below the nipple allows for skin-to-skin to skin contact.

PROS & CONS
Pros:

  • Shipped in a reusable storage bag to cut back on plastic
  • Free of BPA, BPS, latex, lead and phthalates
  • Pack of three
  • Good customer service
  • Designed for skin-to-skin contact
  • Middle price range

Cons: 

  • Doesn’t come with a case
  • Only one size available
  • Can cause and increase breastfeeding pain
  • Tick silicone material
  • Can be hard to adhere to breast

Momma Bear Nipple Shields

Momma Bear Nipple ShieldsMomma Bear Nipple Shield on Amazon
Momma Bear Essentials is a family owned and operated business that offers better value to mothers by bundling products. This bundle includes six nipple shields, three carrying cases and a baby toothbrush.

The Momma Bear nipple shields are oblong in shape. They are made in China.

PROS & CONS
Pros:

  • Free of BPA, BPS, latex, lead and phthalates
  • Pack of six
  • Comes with cases
  • Good customer service
  • Designed for skin-to-skin contact
  • Lower price point

Cons:

  • Only one size available
  • Works best for women with small, pointed nipples
  • Case can be difficult to keep closed

Haakaa Nippleshield

Haakaa NippleshieldHaakaa Nipple Shields on Amazon

Haakaa is a New Zealand based, family-owned brand that prides itself in providing safe, natural, non-toxic, and eco-friendly products for your baby.

All of their products are made and tested in New Zealand under strict quality controls, and with the world’s highest safety standards.

The Haakaa nipple shield is made of super thin silicone to allow for more skin contact between mom and baby. The silicone also warms with mom’s body heat for a more natural feel. There is a cutout on one side for skin-to-skin contact.

When you purchase this nipple shield you get a pack of two along with a handy carrying bag and a protective case.

PROS & CONS
Pros:

  • BPA and BPS free
  • Pack of two
  • Comes with a case and carrying bag
  • Made in New Zealand with rigorous standards
  • Affordable price point

Cons:

  • Only one size available

Ameda Nipple Shield

Ameda Nipple ShieldAmeda Nipple Shield on Amazon
If you are looking for a basic nipple shield, the Ameda Nipple Shield fills the bill. It looks exactly like one would expect. It has a round base and a nipple shape that should accommodate most moms.

If you would like more mom-to-baby contact, the company also makes a shield with a cutout design to maximize skin-to-skin contact.

Ameda is one of the major names in breastfeeding products. Its roots go back to the first hospital-grade electric breast pump, produced in 1942.

PROS & CONS
Pros:

  • BPA and DEHP free
  • Five holes instead of four
  • Simple design with no frills
  • Online information and breastfeeding support

Cons:

  • Thick construction
  • No case included
  • Only one size available
  • Higher price point

Tulips by Ardo Contact Nipple Shields

Tulips by Ardo Contact Nipple ShieldsArdo Medical Tulips Contact Nipple Shields
The prize for best nipple shield name goes to Tulips by Ardo. These contact breast shields are cut out in a shape that resembles a tulip, but they are designed just for baby’s “two lips”!

Ardo states that its shields are meant to alleviate sore, painful nipples. Ardo is a family-owned company based in Switzerland that is in its second generation of creating products for the medical technology field.

PROS & CONS
Pros:

  • Tulip shape allows skin-to-skin contact between mom and baby
  • Comes in M/L
  • BPA free
  • Set of two
  • Attractive and discrete carrying case
  • Affordable price point

Cons:

  • Not a good fit for all users
  • Can be hard to adhere to breast

Mamivac Nipple Shields

Mamivac Nipple ShieldsMamivac Nipple Shields on Amazon
Not all breasts are created the same. That’s why Mamivac offers two nipple styles: cherry and conical. The rounded cherry shape is available in small and medium sizes. The more pointed conical style is available in small, medium and large.

While some moms will simply match their own anatomy, others may want to try a different style. For example, some moms have found that the cherry style is perfect for babies who have latch difficulties.

The shield itself is an off-center oval shape, to provide more skin contact for baby than a round shape.

Mamivac nipple shields are a product of KaWeCo, a German company with an international clientele. The nipple shields are made in Germany.

PROS & CONS
Pros:

  • Wide variety of shapes and sizes
  • Shape allows substantial contact between mom and baby
  • BPA free

Cons:

  • Only sold in singles
  • Case not included
  • Moderate to high price range

Maymom Nipple Shields

Maymom Nipple ShieldsMaymom Reusable Nipple Shields on Amazon

Maymom Nipple Shields on AmazonMaymom Nipple Shields are high quality without the high price. These shields are made of thicker silicone to prevent nipple collapse, but are still thin enough to cling nicely to the breast. They have a moderately cut-out profile.

Maymom is an interesting enterprise. It was created by a group of fathers who were frustrated with the quality of breast pump accessories.

They liked the pumps on the market, but not the accessories, which were often unlabeled or poorly labeled. They wanted accessories that had been well-sourced and tested for safety, so they ended up starting their own company. The company is headquartered in North Carolina.

PROS & CONS
Pros:

  • Thicker silicone for more protection
  • Cut-out shape allows skin-to-skin contact between mom and baby
  • BPA free
  •  Soft nodules on the underside that stimulate milk flow
  • Pack of four
  • Reusable carrying case
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Only available in S/M
  • Not a universal fit

Love My Nipple Shields

Love My Nipple ShieldsLove My Nipple Shields on Amazon
If you don’t care about having a name brand nipple shield, you may fall for the Love My Nipple Shields. Some moms have found that they have a good shape and performance, for considerably less than name brand shields.

Love My is a company that sells a variety of products in the fashion, baby and home markets. The place of manufacture is not stated for the nipple shields.

The shields have a cutout design for more contact than a round shield, but they are not cut so close to the nipple as some designs. Also, the nipple length is shorter than some of the major brands.

PROS & CONS
Pros:

  • Unique almost-round shape for skin-to-skin contact
  • Shorter nipple
  • Soft nodules on the underside to stimulate milk flow
  • BPA free
  • Pack of two
  • Comes with a case
  • Available in two sizes
  • Moderate price range

Cons:

  • Nipple can be too narrow or tight for some moms
  • Can be hard to adhere to breast

And the Winner Is!

Many times, the best-known product in a certain niche isn’t the best choice. Often there are lesser-known brands with better features at a lower price.

In the category of nipple shields, however, our top choice is the Medela Contact Nipple Shield, which is probably the best-selling product in this category. It’s impossible to ignore the many comments from moms that basically say, “Just buy Medela.”

Moms who have breastfeeding issues are usually not happy people. They may be in love with their babies, but they are not happy about their sore nipples, engorged breasts or overactive letdown. And as much as they love their little ones, moms hate it when their babies have latch problems.

It’s amazing that so many of these mothers are happy about one product, the Medela Contact Nipple Shields. Many moms state that they would not have stuck with breastfeeding if it weren’t for this product. They got relief for their sore nipples, and their babies were able to latch successfully.

The Medela Contact Nipple Shields allow for skin-to-skin contact, which may make the transition to bare breast easier. It certainly makes the experience of feeding your baby sweeter.

Choosing a breastfeeding aid is a highly individualized process that may require more than one trial, but moms would do well to start with the Medela Contact Nipple Shield.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *