Sometimes breastfeeding may not be as easy as you thought it would be. It is not uncommon to encounter a range of problems which can be frustrating to mothers that they are unable to feed their baby. In many cases, nipple shields can be a great help. Having said that, it is also important to consult with a specialist before using nipple shields, as everyone is different.

Nipples shields are made of silicone, and protect the nipple in order to allow breastfeeding. They are available in different sizes and thicknesses, to allow them to adapt as well as possible to the nipple and not to impede on this wonderful experience between mother and baby.

Key Facts

  • Nipple shields are used to protect the nipple and promote successful breastfeeding. They help address solve many issues which can occur when breastfeeding, such as cracks in the nipple or the baby failing to latch properly.
  • When buying this handy device you should consider a number of criteria. Most importantly, the model you buy should be the right size and fit so that it will secure effectively.
  • Nipple shields are made mainly of silicone, as this material allows them to be thin, soft and easy to place. When feeding, it will allows you to bond with your baby.

Ranking: The best nipple shields on the Australian market

There are a wide range of brands and types of nipple shields on the market, so it is vital to find the one which is right for you. Following are the best and most popular models, with their features and assets so you can decide which is best suited to your particular case:

No. 1: Ameda Nipple Shields

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This nipple shield from Ameda is made of ultra-thin, flexible silicone. This means it attaches easily and fits comfortably while allowing for skin on skin contact which helps you to bond with your baby while breastfeeding. The material is also washable and reusable.

The silicone this product is made from is BPA free and DEHP free, minimising the risk of irritation. It is a medium size with a 24mm opening, making it easy for your baby to feed and encouraging attachment to the breast.

No. 2: Lansinoh Contact Nipple Shield

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These nipple shields from Lansinoh are made of ultra-thin, soft and flexible silicone for maximum comfort. Special cut out design to maximize skin-to-skin contact. BPA and BPS free. They come with a protective case for hygienic and convenient storage. Easy to keep clean and sturdy enough to be used throughout your breastfeeding journey.

Founded by a breastfeeding mom, Lansinoh has supported moms for 35 years with award-winning breast pumps, nipple creams, nursing pads, and breast milk storage bags, helping families create bonds that last a lifetime. Contact Nipple Shields are effective tools to address short term latch-on issues related to premature, small, or ill infants, flat or inverted nipples, tongue tie, lip tie, or overactive let-down.

No. 3: NUK Barely There Nipple Shield

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These Barely There nipple shields are designed to be ultra thin and as least noticeable as possible. They are made from super soft silicone which fits and adheres effortlessly, as well as being designed in a unique natural shape.

These nipple shields come with a case, making it easy to carry the shields with you wherever you go. After all, you will likely be breastfeeding in various locations so you will want to be able to easily carry them with you. The case also helps to keep the shields clean and hygienic.

No. 4: Breast shields with hands free nipple shields

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These nipple shields are a unique cut-out shape allows for more skin contact between mum and bubs. They are ideal for latch on difficulties or flat and inverted nipples to help continue breastfeeding. Made from 100% food-grade, soft, flexible silicone and PP, with FDA approved and BPA-FREE, non-toxic and tasteless., safe materials for both mother and baby.

The set comes with not just nipple shields but also breast pads. The nursing pads are designed to be placed in your bra. Compared with gel pads, these breast shells protect nipples from friction and help with relieving engorgement.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about nipple shields

These devices are used more and more by mothers who are becoming desperate as they do not know how to solve the problems they are having in breastfeeding. These days nipple shields have evolved, being almost a second skin. This helps you to have a good breastfeeding experience. Let’s take a closer look at these useful products.

This tool should be placed on the centre of the nipple to allow your baby to feed.
(Source: Evgeny Atamanenko: 50932783/ 123rf.com)

What are nipple shields exactly?

They are accessories whose main function is to protect the nipple when you are breastfeeding your baby. Normally they are made from silicone and are extremely thin to allow skin-to-skin contact with your little one. They are placed on the nipple in order to fit well on the areola, creating a suction cup which prevents it from shifting.

Nipple shields are used when there are problems with breastfeeding. As a first step, you should always see a specialist, as everyone’s situation is individual. The problem may be that your baby prefers the bottle, that the nipple is injured, or that your baby is not strong enough because it is premature.

Australian Breastfeeding Association

“When using a nipple shield, it is important to seek follow-up from a breastfeeding counsellor or lactation consultant to assess how breastfeeding is going and when the time might be ‘right’ to cease using the nipple shield.”.

What are nipple shields made of?

In days gone by, nipple shields were somewhat frowned upon, and they were actually not recommended. This was largely because of the materials they were made of which used to be glass, ivory and silver. Later, manufacturers started making them from rubber and latex. However, these early models had something in common: they were very hard and thick.

These days they are made exclusively of silicone, making them soft, thin and malleable. This gives them easy placement and good grip. This also means the nipple shields should not alter the production of milk or interfere with breastfeeding. They can even be used with premature babies.

Nipple shields can be a great help to first time mothers.
(Source: Famveldman: 54640069/ 123rf.com)

How do you use nipple shields?

It is fairly easy to use a nipple shield. However, is is important to position them well so that they do not move and therefore cause problems such as creating air pockets, stopping the baby from latching on, or having them fall off part way through the process. Improper placement can also cause discomfort and pain for the mother.

This device, first of all, must be washed with soap and water before each use. Then, it should be placed on the nipple and the areola, with the sides bending a little, placing the protector so that it seals well and creates a vacuum. Once done, the liner should not move, and should be like a second skin.

For how long should you use nipple shields?

When it comes to how long to use these objects, there are some discrepancies. At the moment, experts recommend using them as a temporary device for as short a time as possible. This is because it is better to use the natural method of breastfeeding whenever possible. It is also easier for the mother to not have to worry about moving the shields from one side to another.

The Australian Breastfeeding Association recommends gradually eliminating them by removing them when the baby has been breastfeeding for a while. If the baby cries, they should be put back.

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It is important to eliminate nipple shields when we know that the child can do without them. Even so, if it works and the mother is comfortable, it is a good way to achieve breastfeeding.

When should you use nipple shields?

Normally, the use of this device is linked to certain problems when it comes to breastfeeding. Some of the common issues are that the baby has problems learning to breastfeed, that they reject the breast after having started mixed breastfeeding, that the baby is premature, and that pain is experienced during breastfeeding.

However, it should be noted that you should always consult with a paediatrician, doctor or lactation professional if you are experiencing any of these problems. Nipple shields can often be a useful tool to help achieve latching, produce the necessary milk and finally find success in breastfeeding.

Nipple shields are often the way to make breastfeeding work well.
(Source: Aleksandra Kuznecova: 81360756/ 123rf.com)

What advantages are there of using nipple shields?

There are a range of professional and personal opinions when it comes to this breastfeeding accessory. Some strongly support its use, since it allows many mothers to be able to breastfeed their babies who may not be able to otherwise. We have collected some of its advantages, which you can see in the following list:

  • They allow the baby to latch onto the nipple more easily.
  • They limit pain and discomfort during breastfeeding.
  • They protect the nipple from bites when the baby has teeth.
  • They allow the little one to breastfeed if they are accustomed to the bottle.
  • The milk comes out more easily and the baby learns to feed more quickly.

Shopping criteria

When buying a nipple shield, it is important to keep a few things in mind. These notions will allow us to find the best option for our baby and find a safe and quality item. Below, you will find the key things to take into account:

  • Materials
  • Size
  • Thickness
  • Fit
  • Quality-price ratio

Materials

The material of which the shield is made is fundamental. It is imperative that it is of high quality. The material will affect how the device performs, which will make it more or less comfortable as well as effective. As we have already seen, there has been a large variety of materials used in the past, but the one that gives the best results at present is without a doubt silicone.

Silicone is a harder material, hypoallergenic and considered the best since it allows a lesser thickness, creating very thin and flexible shields, being comfortable for the mother since they adhere more easily to the breast, and allowing greater contact with the baby, being more difficult to reject them.

World Health Organisation

“The WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months, the introduction of age-appropriate foods thereafter, and the maintenance of breastfeeding up to 2 years or more”.

Size

This criterion is probably the most important. Being the right size will determine whether or not the baby will be able to feed. If this item is too large, it will move around and breastfeeding simply won’t work. Therefore, it is essential to find a model that gives us a choice between several sizes to be able to find the right one.

Usually shield are available in Small, Medium and Large. We can also buy them by millimeters, which is much more precise, since we can take measurements of the nipples to be sure to buy the right size. In contrast, there are also standard models, for medium-sized nipples. If this is your case, you can risk buying it, but it is recommended to be more precise in your sizing if possible.

Thickness

Breastfeeding is a beautiful and natural process that creates a bond between mother and baby. Therefore, it is important that the liner is the minimum thickness which will let you feel skin with skin to the baby. This will also facilitate better adherance since the being smaller it will be able to hold on well. Silicone materials mean they can be made very thin.

The shield must be the correct size so that your baby can latch effectively.
(Source: Tatyana Tomsickova: 94504799/ 123rf.com)

Fit

Another critical factor for the shields to deliver strong results is that they fit and hold on well. The material it is made of and its thickness comes into play here, since it is necessary that this device makes a suction cup on the areola and which stops it from moving. It must be placed in the centre of the nipple to allow the baby to feed.

Quality-price ratio

Of course, this is something which is important to many families. When talking about nipple shields and all the problems that can be solved, the first thing parents wonder is what it will cost to get the baby to breastfeed properly. Fortunately, these accessories are usually not very expensive, you can find them between $10 and $15 and they usually give satisfactory results.

Summary

Nipple shields are increasingly being used today because thanks to their superior design these days, they are able to solve many problems in breastfeeding. These devices adapt to the nipple and areola and create a protective layer, their main function being to protect the nipple.

In breastfeeding, it is common to encounter challenges, but all we want is to feed our baby well. Some common problems include cracks in the nipple, the baby being premature or does not learn to breastfeed. Previously, nipple shields were made of glass, ivory or rubber, nowadays silicone is used, which is much finer and softer.

We hope that this article has helped you decide whether to use nipple shields, you can leave any questions in the comments!

(Source of the featured image: Aleksandra Kuznecova: 81360756/ 123rf.com)

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