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11 of the best nipple shields for breastfeeding mums

If breastfeeding is painful or difficult, nipple shields may help to ease both the pain and frustration. Find out guide to the best nipple shields, as recommended by mums.

By Mumsnet HQ | Last updated May 12, 2022

mother breastfeeding baby

Breastfeeding might be natural, but sometimes it can feel like it doesn't come naturally at all. Feeding can be tiring and hard to establish, especially if you or your baby encounter obstacles such as tongue tie, difficulty establishing a latch or inverted, sore or cracked nipples.

Babies can struggle to latch on properly for many reasons, such as being born prematurely 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, and you’re in pain, can be exhausting and upsetting.

But you don’t have to suffer in silence. There are lots of organisations that can offer support, both in person and on the phone, as well as give advice on technique and tips and tricks to get going. La Leche League and The NCT are both good places to begin. 

Nipple shields can also sometimes help with feeding by protecting your nipples, lessening pain during breastfeeding, and even encouraging your baby to latch on and feed more effectively.

It’s worth saying that nipple shields aren’t a magic solution, and that some experts don’t encourage use of them, particularly in the long-term as there is some belief that they may lead to nipple confusion. If you’re experiencing breastfeeding issues, it’s really important to speak to a health professional as your first port of call. And, it’s important to remember nipple shields are intended to be only a temporary solution until your baby learns to breastfeed without them. 

For some women however, nipple shields can help to keep breastfeeding going, and that’s what’s important.

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.”

If you believe that nipple shields may be helpful for you and your baby, there are a number of products on the market to help. We’ve carefully vetted some of the most often recommended nipple shields in the shops, as reviewed by real parents, customers and experts. 

How we chose our recommendations 

To ensure we are only showing you the best of the best, we always do our research thoroughly and make sure every product comes carefully assessed, evaluated and with a clutch of honest reviews to recommend it. 

Recommendations from real parents

We believe that the best reviews come from mums who have tried the products in question, which is why, before recommending any new products, we always ask our trusted Mumsnet users, of which there are more than 7 million each month. We know we can rely on Mumsnetters for honest feedback, both positive and negative. 

Expert advice

We always ensure our information represents the latest recommendations from experts so you can rely on it, and we research each product thoroughly to ensure it follows the latest expert advice and stands up to scrutiny. Here, we consulted La Leche League’s advice on nipple shields and also looked at what the NCT had to say about sore nipples and nipple shields

Consumer feedback

We also scour the internet outside of Mumsnet, checking out real reviews from parents who have bought the products themselves, and given both positive and negative feedback to ensure every product we recommend comes with a clutch of good reviews. 

Celebrated best products

Finally, we always check to see which products had won industry awards and accolades or received recognition from trusted sources and feed this into our analysis too to help us choose the best nipple shields on the market.

What are the best nipple shields to buy?

  1. Best overall nipple shield: Philips Avent Nipple Protector
  2. Best budget nipple shield: NUK Silicone Nipple Shields
  3. Best nipple shield for tongue tie: Lansinoh Contact Nipple Shields
  4. Best nipple shield for newborns: Purifiyou Premium Nipple Shield
  5. Best nipple shield for bottle-fed babies: Haakaa Nipple Shield

Here's our guide to the 11 best nipple shields for breastfeeding mums in 2022. 

1. Best overall nipple shield: Philips Avent Nipple Protector

Price: £8 | Buy now from Amazon

“They made a huge difference to me. Without them I wouldn't have carried on. Mine were so sore I just couldn't face it anymore, it was a last ditch attempt to keep going and it worked. Once my nipples healed though I stopped using them. I had a breast feeding specialist visit me and help me get the perfect latch. My health visitor made the referral and she came the next day.” Recommended by MoominFan

This silicone nipple protector is a bit different from the usual round-shaped nipple shield, which is what sets these shields apart. Most nipple shields are perfectly round, unlike breasts, and here, 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 also a great nipple shield for tiny and premature babies, too.

The Philips Avent Nipple Protector is also thinner than many shields on the market which helps the warmth of your skin come through the shield and the shape 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 smell you a little better.

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

Price: £4 | Buy now from Amazon

“I use NUK shields, baby switches between breast and bottle perfectly.” Tried and tested by BabyBlues21.

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. Four holes in the ‘nipple’ makes it easier for your baby to suckle and get plenty of milk.

Designed for sensitive nipples, these would be great for anyone suffering with sore nipples in the early stages of breastfeeding. 

Although these nipple shields come with a storage case, some reviewers complain that the case can cause the shields to become misshapen, so that’s something to be mindful of.

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

Lansinoh nipple shields

Price: £9 | Buy now from Amazon

“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.” Recommended by KeepOnRunning85.

Breastfeeding can be tricky for a baby with tongue tie. 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 reportedly a good nipple shield for women with flat nipples and are available in two sizes – 24mm and 20mm – so that you can get the right fit. It’s worth being aware that reviews suggest they come up a little small so you may want to get a size bigger than the blurb suggests. 

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

Price: £28 | Buy now from Amazon

“I used nipple shields until DD was 9 weeks… I think it is helpful to have a pair ready just in case as it was a Sunday when DD was 5 days old when I started using them and I don't think I would have felt up to going to a shop to get them myself so DH would have had to. You'll probably just have to take a bit of a punt on which ones you think you'll get on best with.” Recommended by KeepOnRunning85.

This nipple shield is free from BPA and BPS and while it sounds expensive, 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. A hard case is also available to buy separately.

The purifiyou Nipple Shield measures 20mm and purifyou also offers a 30-day money back guarantee if you’re not completely happy, so we can’t think of a reason not to give them a go.

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

Price: £17| Buy now from Amazon

“I still exclusively use nipple shields when feeding and my girl is now four months old! She’s had a poor latch since she was born and just doesn't like a bare nipple. I used to express milk as well and my baby took to the bottle easily due to being familiar with the bottle-like teat from the shield - that was from birth as well.” Loved by PastaSauceHoarder.

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 with a long ‘nipple for your baby to latch on to more easily.

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 more easily than shields with flat designs, such as the Avent shields. 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 only downside we heard about this shield was that some mums felt that although it was easy for a baby to latch on, their suction wasn’t as strong as with other shields, so if your milk doesn’t flow easily with a strong let down, some babies might find the flow isn’t fast enough for them. 

The pack contains one nipple shield and one carry case, making it quite an expensive option. 

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

Price: £17 | Buy now from Amazon

“My lactation consultant recommended Mam nipple shields. They have cut outs to maximise skin contact with baby’s nose and chin. They have a dimpled texture so it feels more skin like. I used Medela shields with my last baby, but I’m getting on a lot better with the Mam shields this time.” Loved by FizzingWhizzBee123.

The butterfly shape of the MAM Nipple Shields allows your baby to feel and smell your skin during feeds and it seems to help the shield stick to the breast a bit more, too.

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 and, while it’s a bit horses for courses, many recommend them over the ever-popular Medela shields. 

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

Price: £7 | Buy now from Amazon

“They were a lifesaver for me - ds had a tongue tie and was only tiny. I was really struggling to get him to latch. Nipple shields worked and took the pain and stress out of breastfeeding for the first few weeks, and then he weaned off them with no issues once the tie was snipped and his mouth was bigger. I would use them again in a heartbeat.” Recommended by TofTheBe.

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. It does look fairly clever, with a scalloped edge at the top to let your baby sniff your skin rather than the shield, and a just a bit more silicone directly above the nipple to help the shield stay firmly in place. 

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 and therefore mould more easily to the breast

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

Price: £9 | Buy now from Amazon

“I bought medela nipple shields last time but not until we were home. They helped me get through a difficult period where I had double severe mastitis and cracked nipples.” Loved by Lancs84.

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 shields are specially designed for inverted, flat and small nipples and they also offer relief for dry, sore and cracked skin, too.

Highly durable and supremely comfortable, Medela impresses Mumsnetters time and again. 

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

Price: £5 | Buy now from Boots

“There isn’t necessarily one better brand than another, the most important thing to consider is the size of them, vs the size of your own nipple. Boots usually have some in, often a few to chose from, so it’s worth going and having a look and seeing which looks like they’d ‘fit’ you best.” Advice from BabyCatcher411.

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.

Other reviewers, however, felt that it was a shame these shields are one-size only, which breasts are definitely not. If you feel you’re bigger, smaller or wonkier than the average mum, you might want to go for the MAM shields, where you can choose from three sizes. 

10. Best nipple shield for premature babies: NUK Extra Thin Nipple Shields

Best nipple shields NUK

Price: £11 | Buy now from Amazon

“The shields had no impact on my supply, and made the difference between them being able to feed and not. I too had no probs switching them from breast to bottles of expressed milk. I found NUK shields the best.” Loved by Katepol

This is the second NIK shield we’ve included in this list. We felt these deserved a mention because of their ‘thinness’. It’s all a personal choice and depends what you get on best with but some babies do seem to suckle better where the silicone is quite flimsy and there’s the added benefit of them feeling closer to the breast, so perhaps more likely to go back to it eventually. 

These are designed with a dip at the top for optimal skin contact and are made of ultra thin silicone, which feels really comfy. The nipple end has four openings to make it easier for your baby to get to the milk and they come in three different sizes so you can get a good fit for you. 

They come with a protective box to keep them clean. 

11. Best nipple shields for flat or inverted nipples: Dr Brown’s

Best nipple shields Dr Browns

Price: £11 | Buy now from Amazon

“To begin with I used a few different things - nipple shields which helped the baby get latched on and draw the nipple out and then breast shells in my bra (rather than breast pads) to help my nipples stay drawn out. I did find it a bit sore to begin with - because my nipples were literally being stretched but it was definitely worth persevering. After a few weeks I didn't need any extra 'equipment' and it was very straightforward. My nipples have never gone back to being inverted despite not having breastfed for six years now - still can't quite get used to it though!” Advice from SaffyWall

Dr Brown’s bottles are beloved by Mumsnetters for being good for babies that are notoriously difficult to bottlefeed. So hopefully their nipple shields can do the same for tricky breastfeeders. These shields are designed to help those with flat or inverted nipples, giving your baby something to ‘hang on to’ if they have difficulty getting a good mouthful of boob. The ‘nipples’ have several holes in for an easy flow. 

You get two in each pack so they aren’t bad value but we’d like it if they came with a storage container like the NUK shields, above - they do tend to get fluffy if chucked in the bottom of your handbag. 

How to find the best nipple shield

Finding the best nipple shields is a tricky business. They tend to be a panic purchase when you find you’re having trouble with breastfeeding, but it’s worth taking a moment to work out exactly which might be right for you. 

To save you the legwork, we’ve carefully researched the best nipple shields on the market. We’ve vetted the reviews, checked with the experts and thoroughly assessed the shields to bring you a shortlist of the 11 best nipple shields for breastfeeding, but here’s how to pick from those to find the best pair for you. 

What is a nipple shield?

A nipple shield is an ultra thin, usually 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 as she suckles.

They are designed to help protect your nipples and lessen pain during breastfeeding, particularly during the early days. They may also encourage your baby to latch on and feed more effectively if they’re having breastfeeding issues due to things like flat or inverted nipples or tongue tie.

When should you use a nipple shield?

Nipple shields are intended as a temporary solution to help you overcome problems with breastfeeding. They’re most often used when a baby is premature and having trouble latching on, if a baby has a tongue tie or neurological issues, or if the mother has flat or inverted nipples. Sometimes they can help if a baby just needs a bit of stimulus to feed, too. 

How to use a nipple shield

Nipple shields are simply placed over the breast right before a feed. 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 into it, which is particularly helpful if you’re using them due to flat or inverted nipples. 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.

Should I sterilise nipple shields?

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.

How do I get a deeper latch?

Often, sore nipples occur because your baby isn’t getting enough of the breast into her mouth and is just suckling on the nipple itself. This compresses the milk ducts and means she won’t get enough to eat, as well as being quite sore for you.

You can help her get a bigger mouthful by flattening your breast slightly with your thumb and forefinger, so it’s the same shape as her mouth and popping it in as she goes to latch on.

La Leche League also suggests trying the exaggerated latch: “Place your thumb or finger near the base of the nipple where the middle of your baby’s upper lip will be, lined up with his nose. If you press, your nipple will tilt away from your baby, presenting him with your breast rather than your nipple. Avoid pressing your nipple into his mouth. As he opens wide, snuggle him in close and use your thumb or finger to tuck the breast into his mouth. Your nipple will be taken in last and unroll in his mouth. You can then slip your finger out.”

Does the baby get more milk with a nipple shield?

It depends very much on circumstance. Some research has shown that premature babies using shields actually intake more. However, many midwives or health visitors will tell you that shields can mean your baby can’t get as much milk. As long as you are using the shield correctly and it is correctly positioned, it shouldn’t have a negative effect on milk intake. 

Why are nipple shields sometimes not recommended?

Some health practitioners advise against nipple shields. This is largely because it’s easy to have them incorrectly positioned, which can affect how successfully your baby feeds. They’re also meant to be a temporary solution, rather than a forever fix. Used for a short while, and used correctly, nipple shields can be really helpful in establishing or ensuring the continuation of breastfeeding.

Are nipple shields worth the money?

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

They can’t correct underlying problems such as low milk production but, for some women, nipple shields can help to keep breastfeeding going, so in that sense, they’re an excellent investment. Most are not expensive, so it’s worth having a set in the cupboard before your baby’s born just in case you run into problems with breastfeeding.

How do I know my nipple shield size?

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.

Can I use nipple shields permanently?

Nipple shields are only really supposed to be used as a temporary measure. Of course, there are some mums out there who breastfeed long term using shields but it’s not ideal, and aside from anything, does mean breastfeeding is a bit more of a hassle than it needs to be.

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.

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.