After my own lengthy online research with collaboration from breastfeeding moms as well as healthcare professionals, I have narrowed the field down to the 10 best nipple shields for breastfeeding. My #1 pick for best nipple shield is Medela’s Contact Nipple Shield.
How Nipple Shields Work
If you and your baby are struggling with latch, or if you are suffering with sore and cracked nipples, then trying a nipple shield has most likely been recommended. A nipple shield is a thin piece of flexible silicone that is placed directly over the nipple for breastfeeding. Nipple shields were created to assist with latch.
Most latch issues are associated with the placement of your nipple in your baby’s mouth. In order to actually remove the milk from your breast, you nipple must rest in the very back part of the baby’s mouth. Milk expression is dependent on compression of the milk ducts located just beyond the areola not compression of the nipple.
Babies are even born with a reflex to suck anything that touches this area on the back of their tongue. Nipple shields were first designed to get the nipple in the back of the mouth creating a better latch. And, while nipple shields were not actually designed for the purpose, they do offer a bit of protection by creating a barrier between the skin breakdown on your nipple and your baby’s mouth.
This makes breastfeeding with sore or damaged nipples more pleasant. However, it has been found that using a nipple shield reduces milk transfer which permanently affect your milk supply and can lead to even bigger issues like plugged ducts and mastitis. And, if you are considering using a nipple shield for this purpose then it is definitely time to seek expert consultation.
Most nipple pain is associated with poor positioning, but breastfeeding nipples are also susceptible to certain infections such as yeast and require medication for both mom and babe. A lactation consultant or healthcare professional can help you determine which is your case.
Difficulties with breastfeeding can be overwhelming, but choosing the appropriate nipple shield doesn’t have to be.
Best Nipple Shields for Newborns
The Medela Contact Nipple Shield comes with one shield and a carrying case but is available in 3 different sizes, while the Purifyou Premium Nipple Shields comes in a 3 pack with a drawstring bag and is available in one size.
Medela Contact Nipple Shield
Medela is a clear leader in breastfeeding supplies and it is no surprise that they make the best nipple shield on the market. The Medela Contact Nipple shield boasts a unique cut-out area allowing for more skin-to-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 is dependent not on the size of the nipple as much as the size of the infant’s mouth. Please see the frequently asked questions section below to help determine the appropriate size for you. This shield is BPA-free and safe for both mom and baby. Moms reported that while using this shield to breastfeed, they experienced less pain and greater enjoyment.
Medela also makes a great nipple balm, it can help soothe sore nipples and make breastfeeding easier.
Purifyou Premium Nipple Shield
The Purifyou premium nipple shield comes in a set of 3. Like most of the breast shields on the market today, this shield is made of silicon and is manufactured and produced without using dangerous chemicals such as latex, phthalate, lead, BPA’s, BPS’s or other toxins. The shield comes in a convenient little drawstring bag, which is nice because you may find that losing these see-through nipples is more common than losing your socks.
These shields are the standard 20mm size and the shape is designed for comfort.
And Purifyou even offers a 30-day money back guarantee on this nipple shield.
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 to help those moms with sore, painful, raw and chapped nipples.
This nipple shield was designed with your baby’s sense of smell in mind. As it has been found that the smell of mom along with skin-to-skin contact promote bonding, their unique design does not obstruct your baby’s nose. Also, moms with unusually shaped nipples reported that this shield stayed in place better and provided more pain relief than the other brands that they tried.
Best Nipple Shields for Protecting Your Skin
The Ameda Contact Nipple Shield is ultra thin and flexible, created to help with latching issues; whereas the Haakaa Breast Feeding Nipple Shield is uniquely shaped and has been reported to help mom’s with inverted or flat nipples.
Haakaa Breast Feeding Contact Nipple Shield
The Haakaa Breast Feeding Contact Nipple Shield has the most unique shape of any on our list. This shield is made to fit multiple nipple sizes, so if you are having a problem with fit, this shield may be the solution. Several of the reviewers had flat or inverted nipples and reported success with the Haakaa shield when other brands failed. However, a couple of the moms reported restricted milk flow and complained that their babies had to work too hard to be satisfied.
Lansinoh Contact Nipple Shield
Available two different sizes, this nipple shield comes in a set of two with a convenient and hygienic carrying case to complete the Lansinoh contact nipple shield set. The special cut out design gives mom more skin-to-skin contact with her baby while nursing. This nipple shield is made with 100% silicone which is both BPA and BPS free. And, this shield was a favorite among those mothers with flat nipples.
YIYEE Nipple Shield
The YIYEE Nipple Shield is made using 100% silicone and it is also free of BPA and other harmful substances. This shield is uniquely shaped to assist with latch and is advertised to prevent biting and choking during nursing. Some moms reported that this particular nipple shield sticks to the breast better than the other shields.
Philips AVENT Nipple Protector
These Philips AVENT nipple protectors take skin-to-skin contact while breastfeeding very seriously and instead of just the typical top cutout, these nipple shields have a bottom cutout as well. What you are left with is 2 side flaps and lots of exposed skin, the downside to this increased skin-to-skin contact is the decrease in surface area to hold the seal. You may struggle to keep this shield in place while your baby latches on.
You can buy these nipple protector shields in two sizes: small and standard. They are made from a BPA-free silicone and can be sterilized by boiling or steaming (try a bottle sterilizer!) These shields feature 3 larger holes in the nipple area to allow for more milk flow.
The best thing about these is the price. You don’t have to pay much for a pair of these, so you can buy a few and have one in the house, the car, the diaper bag, etc.
Ameda Contact Nipple Shield
The Ameda Contact Nipple Shield is a 24mm super thin and flexible nipple shield was created to help with latch issues. It is BPA-free and DEHP-free, making it a safe choice for mom and baby. Moms loved how these soft shields help to protect their sore and cracked nipples, however, some moms complained that these nipple shields were simply too thin.
MAM Nipple Shields
Quite a few moms are attached to the MAM brand. For things like bottles, pacifiers and sippy cups, the MAM brand is gaining popularity. The MAM Nipple Shields offer several nice features. They are super thin, allowing air between the shield and the baby, and as much skin-to-skin contact as possible to stimulate more let down.
bumblebee Nipple Shield
The bumblebee Nipple Shield is a full coverage silicone nipple shield that helps to evert flat or inverted nipples. It is designed with a double layer of flexible silicone but it is thin enough that baby can latch well. Moms loved this shield for flat nipples and also for painful nursing.
Comparing Nipple Shields
The table below compares only the recommended products on this page. A low or high Price means it is low or high compared to the other products listed. The Popularity Score reflects how often readers click on and buy the product. The Quality Score is our assessment of the overall performance and satisfaction with the product compared to others in the table.
|MAM Nipple Shields||$$$$||3.9||7.6|
|Philips AVENT Nipple Protector||$$$$||6.0||8.2|
|Ameda Contact Nipple Shield||$$$$||8.8||8.6|
|Purifyou Premium Nipple Shield||$$$$||9.7||8.0|
|YIYEE Nipple Shield||$$$||9.7||7.4|
|Ardo Tulips Nipple Shield||$$$||8.9||8.6|
|Lansinoh Contact Nipple Shield||$$||9.9||8.8|
|Medela Contact Nipple Shield||$$||9.6||9.2|
|Haakaa Breast Feeding Contact Nipple Shield||9.2||7.0|
|bumblebee Nipple Shield||4.4||7.2|
Guide to Selecting and Using a Nipple Shield
When choosing a nipple shield for yourself, it is important to take into consideration both the size and shape of your nipple along with your baby’s needs. Your lactation consultant and your child’s healthcare provider are valuable resources to utilize. They can help determine if a nipple shield is right for you and offer suggestion in choosing the one appropriate for your situation.
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.
FAQ’s About Nipple Shields
What are the most common reasons for using a nipple shield?
Because nipple shields were first designed to get the nipple farther back in the baby’s mouth for a proper latch, a common reason to use a nipple shield for breastfeeding is having flat or inverted nipples. And, while nipple shields were not actually designed for the purpose, the protective barrier they provide between any skin breakdown on your nipple and your baby’s mouth can make breastfeeding with sore and damaged nipples more pleasant and so is another common reason to use a nipple shield.
. This does make breastfeeding with sore or damaged nipples more pleasant. However, it has been found that using a nipple shield reduces milk transfer which permanently affect your milk supply and can lead to even bigger issues like plugged ducts and mastitis.Sometimes a baby prefers an artificial nipple instead of mother’s breast so a nipple shield can help with latching.
As originally designed to assist with proper latch positioning, nipple shields are also commonly used to help premature babies breastfeed, and those with small mouths or other physical issues which create an ineffective suck.
Why do nipples hurt when breastfeeding?
It’s very common for mothers to experience nipple pain in the beginning stages of breastfeeding. While you and baby are getting used to breastfeeding, incorrect positioning and latch can quickly create a very painful situation.
Nipple sensitivity varies from mom to mom. Someone with sensitive nipples may feel pain that someone with less sensitive nipples does not.
Another cause of nipple pain to consider is yeast. An infection that commonly affects breastfeeding nipples because yeast thrive in a damp, dark, sweet environment. Air flow prevents yeast from becoming an issue, so ditch your soggy nursing pads and go topless whenever possible. Treatment requires medicine and you and your baby will both need to be treated, as the yeast found on nipples causes Thrush in the a baby’s mouth.
How do I choose the correct size of a nipple shield?
Contrary to popular belief, nipple shield size is determined by the size of the baby’s mouth and not by the size the nipple.
For reference, 16mm is good for small and/or premature babies. 20mm is an average size and works for a majority of newborn babies. 24mm is best for older babies or large nipples.
How do I put on a nipple shield?
There are a few steps to follow when putting on a nipple shield.
First, warm the 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. Pinch the tip to hold your nipple in place while you peel or roll the nipple shield back over your breast and create a good seal. Your nipple should fill the orifice of the shield when the baby nurses.
If your baby won’t keep the shield in their mouth, try hand expressing a few drops of milk or pumping briefly and rubbing some of your breast milk on the outside of the shield.
Once feeding is complete, wash with warm, soapy water and air dry.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to properly sterilize the nipple shield that you select.
What’s the difference between a nipple shield and a nipple shell?
A nipple shield is designed to be used during breastfeeding to either assist with latch or nipple pain. .
Nipple shells, on the other hand, were designed to use between breastfeeding sessions. Worn inside your bra, they protect the nipple by creating a pocket of air and preventing the bra from touching the nipple. Nipple shells can also be used to evert flat or inverted nipples. Over time, the constant pressure of the shells relaxes and releases the elastic fibers that draw the nipple inward. Nipple shells used for this purpose are most effective used in the final months of pregnancy.
Also, nipple shells can be used while breastfeeding to collect and breast milk leaking from the breast that the baby is not actively nursing from or the breast that mom is not actively pumping from.
What are the pros and cons of using a nipple shield?
Here, I have listed a few pros to using the nipple shield. The protective barrier the nipple shield provides gives the damaged skin a bit of a break and promotes healing without having to resort to a bottle before it is necessary. Premature and even those babies born just a few weeks early, may not have the strength in their suck to pull the nipple in for a proper latch and also they tire quickly. With the use of the nipple shield, some of these babies are able to breastfeed while they are unable to do so without.
As for cons, you should consider the following. It has been found that nipple shields decrease milk transfer. This is a concern not only to your baby, but to your milk supply as well. Since breast milk is created only on demand and only when supply is emptied, if your breasts are not completely emptied each feeding your milk supply will decrease. And, even worse, this residual milk sets the stage for plugged ducts, which could result in mastitis.
And finally, once a baby become accustomed to a nipple shield, reverting back to the bare breast could prove difficult.