10 best nipple shields for breastfeeding 2021

22 March 2021

new mum breastfeeding baby

If you’re having breastfeeding issues, nipple shields may help to ease pain and frustration.

Breastfeeding can be tiring and hard to establish, especially if you and your baby encounter obstacles such as latch issues or inverted, sore or cracked nipples.

Lots of new mums start threads on Mumsnet asking for breastfeeding advice because they’re struggling. Babies can struggle to latch on properly for many reasons, such as being born premature or with a condition such as tongue tie which can affect feeding.

As many mums will testify, trying to persevere with breastfeeding when your baby can’t latch properly, or you’re in pain, can be exhausting and upsetting.

But you don’t have to suffer in silence. Nipple shields can protect your nipples, lessen pain during breastfeeding, and may even encourage your baby to latch on and feed more effectively.

However, they are intended to be a temporary solution until your baby learns to breastfeed without them. For some women, nipple shields can help to keep breastfeeding going.

As one Mumsnetter reported on our Talk forums: “Nipple shields saved breastfeeding for me. DS was like a piranha! I used them up to about 16 weeks, by which time his mouth was bigger and a 'naked' latch was comfortable. Kept on breastfeeding for a year.”

It’s worth saying that nipple shields aren’t a magic solution, and that some experts don’t encourage use of them long-term. If you’re experiencing breastfeeding issues, it’s really important to speak to a health professional as your first port of call.

But if you believe that nipple shields may be helpful for you and your baby, here are our best nipple shields to buy.

1. Best overall nipple shield: Philips Avent Nipple Protector

“I found the Philips Avent shields the best.”

1. Best overall nipple shield: Philips Avent Nipple Protector

This silicone nipple protector is a bit different from the usual round-shaped nipple shield. The butterfly shape helps you to hold it in place. You can slip your fingers around the sides to get a better grip and, for that reason, it’s the best nipple shield for preemie babies that we’ve found.

The Philips Avent Nipple Protector also maximises that all important skin-to-skin contact during feeds and means your baby’s nose is kept away from the silicone so that they can only smell you.

Independent reviewers say that, although the silicone is very thin, it’s durable and withstands multiple feeds and washings. You’ll get two shields and a case in the pack.

2. Best budget nipple shield: NUK Silicone Nipple Shields

“I found NUK nipple shields the best.”

2. Best budget nipple shield: NUK Silicone Nipple Shields

The cheapest nipple shields on our list, NUK Silicone Nipple Shields, are a great budget option.

Featuring soft, thin silicone and different surface structures to feel more natural and encourage milk flow, the manufacturer claims that the special triangle shape maximises skin-to-skin contact during feeds.

Although these nipple shields come with a storage case, some reviewers complain that the case can cause the shields to become misshapen.

3. Best nipple shield for tongue tie: Lansinoh Contact Nipple Shields

“I used nipple shields until DD was nine weeks. I had a set of Lansinoh ones. I tried a couple of other brands as well but I always preferred the Lansinoh ones.”

3. Best nipple shield for tongue tie: Lansinoh Contact Nipple Shields

Breastfeeding can be tricky for a baby with tongue tie (also known as ankyloglossia). That’s because the strip of skin connecting their tongue to the bottom of their mouth is shorter than usual, which can restrict motion and prevent them getting the hang of latching and proper suction.

The Lansinoh Contact Nipple Shields have a lower profile, making them the best nipple shield for shallow latch, which can be an issue with tongue tie.

They are also the best nipple shields for flat nipples and are available in two sizes – 24mm and 20mm – so that you can get the right fit.

Price: £8.99 for two shields with case

Buy now from Amazon

4. Best nipple shield for newborns: purifiyou Premium Nipple Shield

4. Best nipple shield for newborns: purifiyou Premium Nipple Shield

This nipple shield is free from BPA and BPS and you get three shields for the price, so you’ll always have a spare.

The handy soft cotton reusable storage bag also means you won’t have to go hunting for the nipple shields in those befuddled sleepless early newborn days and nights.

The purifiyou Nipple Shield measures 20mm and purifyou offers a 30-day money back guarantee if you’re not completely happy with it.

5. Best nipple shield for bottle-fed babies: Haakaa Nipple Shield

5. Best nipple shield for bottle-fed babies: Haakaa Nipple Shield

The Haakaa Nipple Shield is the best nipple shield for mixed feeding. If you’re doing a mixture of breastfeeding and bottle feeding, your baby may find it easier to latch on to the Haakaa Nipple Shield because the tip is shaped more like a bottle teat.

This nipple shield is another one with a symmetrical butterfly design and it also has an anti-slip ridge so you can hold it in place. It’s made to fit all nipple sizes, making it the best nipple shield for flat nipples as well as the best nipple shield for inverted and cracked, sore nipples.

The pack contains one nipple shield and one carry case, but it’s worth noting that it’s the most expensive offering on our list.

6. Best nipple shield for sore nipples: MAM Nipple Shields

“I used the MAM ones which also came in a box.”

6. Best nipple shield for sore nipples: MAM Nipple Shields

The butterfly shape of the MAM Nipple Shields allows your baby to feel and smell your skin during feeds.

Suitable for newborns, the SkinSoft silicone moulds to the shape of your breast. You’ll also get a sterilisable protective case included and the shields come in two sizes so you can get the best fit.

The MAM Nipple Shields are pretty popular with Mumsnetters, who recommend them for helping to protect sore nipples.

7. Best nipple shield to help with latch: Ardo Tulips Nipple Shields

7. Best nipple shield to help with latch: Ardo Tulips Nipple Shields

The manufacturer claims that the special tulip shape of this breast shield enables your baby to have maximum contact with you when feeding and can also correct their latch if they’re struggling.

The Ardo Tulips Breast Shield is made of clear, supple, latex-free silicone and gets positive marks from independent reviewers, who say that these nipple shields are more pliable than others on the market.

Available in medium and large, the larger size measures 24mm – ideal if your breasts and nipples are on the generous side. The pack also includes a storage case.

8. Best nipple shield for small nipples: Medela Contact Nipple Shields

“I used Medela nipple shields with both of my children and found them a huge help.

8. Best nipple shield for small nipples: Medela Contact Nipple Shields

These soft silicone nipple shields come highly recommended by breastfeeding mums and independent reviewers alike, and are available in three different sizes (small, medium and large) so you can get the best fit for you. Size small measures 16mm – the smallest nipple shields we’ve found.

The specially designed contour of Medela Contact Nipple Shields allows maximises skin-to-skin contact, and they’re odourless and tasteless too. Medela have produced the best nipple shield for inverted nipples and they also offer relief for dry, sore and cracked nipples.

Price: £8.99 for two shields and case

Buy now from Amazon

9. Best nipple shield for dry, cracked nipples: Boots Maternity Silicone Nipple Shields

“I used a mix of Medela medium and Boots own-brand, which are excellent – lovely and soft, but very slightly larger than Medela. I can recommend the Boots ones as cheap and soft.”

9. Best nipple shield for dry, cracked nipples: Boots Maternity Silicone Nipple Shields

Made from thin, soft, food-grade silicone, Boots Maternity Silicone Nipple Shields are, as you’d expect from the UK’s most famous high street pharmacy, excellent quality for the price.

Each pack contains two nipple shields plus a storage case to keep them clean between feeds. Mumsnetters rate these nipple shields as being very soft and easy to wear – ideal if you’re suffering from dry, cracked and sore nipples.

Price: £5.49 for two shields and case

Buy now from Boots

10. Best nipple shield for large breasts and nipples: Lictin Breast Shields

10. Best nipple shield for large breasts and nipples: Lictin Breast Shields

Designed in a triangular petal shape, which the manufacturer says helps to keep the breast shields in place, the Lictin Breast Shields have a spiral pattern teat and cross outlet to help maintain a steady flow of milk.

These nipple shields measure 25mm – the largest on our list – and work best if your nipples are on the larger size.

One criticism from reviewers is that the soft BPA-free, odourless silicone is thicker than some other nipple shields, which won’t appeal to all mums and babies. But each pack contains two nipple shields and a storage case and is very reasonably priced.

What is a nipple shield?

A nipple shield is an ultra thin, clear layer of silicone which you place over your nipple during feeds. There are holes in the tip, allowing your breast milk to flow into the baby’s mouth.

A nipple shield can protect your nipples and lessen pain during breastfeeding. They may also encourage your baby to latch on and feed more effectively if they’re having breastfeeding issues.

How to use a nipple shield

Some women have issues with nipple shields moving or coming off mid-feed. To help it stay in place, moisten the shield’s edges with warm water or warm it with hot water before applying it to your breast.

Turning a nipple shield almost inside out before applying can help draw your nipple in. Put the tip over your nipple and then smooth the edges onto your breast. To encourage your baby to latch on, you could hand express a bit of breast milk into the tip.

If you or your baby are in hospital, you should sterilise nipple shields before use. If you’re at home, it’s fine to wash nipple shields in warm soapy water or on a hot cycle in the dishwasher between uses. Nipple shields should be dried and then stored inside a container or bag.

Are nipple shields worth it?

Nipple shields are designed to be a temporary solution until your baby learns to breastfeed without them.

Breastfeeding organisation, La Leche League, says that nipple shields may be helpful to you if your baby is struggling to breastfeed, you have inverted or flat nipples (because a shield helps to maintain nipple shape during feeds), your baby has tongue issues, was born prematurely or needs extra stimulus to encourage sucking.

They can’t correct underlying problems such as low milk production but, for some women, nipple shields can help to keep breastfeeding going.

What size nipple shields should I get?

Just as breasts vary hugely from one woman to the next, so do nipples. You must ensure that you’re using the right size nipple shield because using the wrong size can hinder milk supply. You may even find that you need more than one size of nipple shield due to differences between your breasts.

Ensure you’re wearing the right size by using a ruler or measuring tape to measure the diameter of your nipple at the base in millimetres, not including your areola. Allow at least 4mm (2mm either side of the nipple) when selecting your breast shield size. For instance, if your nipple measures 16mm, you’d need a breast shield measuring 20mm.

How do I know if my nipple shield is too small?

If your nipple shield is too small, you may notice rubbing or pinching caused by your nipple being pulled against the sides of the tip. Your nipple or areola may become white or discoloured. You may also notice that milk extraction is painful or that you’re not producing as much milk during feeds.

Which nipple shield is best?

The best budget nipple shield is NUK Silicone Nipple Shields, which offers a pair of soft silicone shields with a unique triangle shape plus a storage case – all at a very reasonable price.

The best nipple shield for sore nipples is MAM Nipple Shields, which have a butterfly shape to encourage skin-to-skin contact and come in a sterilisable storage box.

The best overall nipple shield is Philips Avent Nipple Protector which is great for premature babies and is very popular with independent reviewers and parents alike. The butterfly shape maximises skin-to-skin contact and allows you to help hold it in place during feeds.

How we chose our recommendations

Our suggestions for nipple shields for breastfeeding came from recommendations on the Mumsnet forums and from consumer reviews on the web.

We consulted independent review and health sites such as La Leche League, as well as checking NHS guidance on conditions such as tongue tie.

Why you should trust us

Mumsnet has been helping parents make their lives easier since 2000 and, in those years, we’ve seen, tried and reviewed thousands of products.

We work hard to provide honest and independent advice you can trust and we spend hours scouring the Mumsnet forums and online bestseller lists to find products that real parents rate.

Transparency is really important to us and that's why we're always upfront about where we find our recommendations. We write about products that we feel offer the best value to most parents – the ones that our users would recommend to their own friends and family.

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