A nipple shield is an accessory that helps with certain breastfeeding problems. It is a soft, thin plastic or silicone nipple cover that looks like a little hat with a brim that lies over the nipple and areola during breastfeeding. It can be purchased at many stores, through nursing mothers’ hospitals or through programs like WIC. It’s also available at some online retailers. A nipple shield can be used to help infants who have difficulty latching on to the mother’s nipple, especially when they are premature (1). It can also be used by new mothers who have flat or inverted nipples (2). A nipple shield creates suction to help babies latch and can be worn temporarily until baby and mother get stronger. Premature infants often wean themselves off nipple shields once they are stronger and have learned to latch on their own (2).
When to Use a Nipple Shield
In addition to helping with latching, nipple shields can help to stimulate the milk supply (5). They are also useful for mothers with a tight frenulum, a condition where the tongue is attached too tightly to the inside of the mouth (6). It is important to note, however, that a nipple shield cannot correct underlying issues like nipples with poor attachment or low milk production (7).
If you are thinking about using a nipple shield, we recommend talking to your lactation consultant first. They can evaluate your situation and help you find the right fit for your nipples and baby’s mouth. They will also make sure that you have an adequate milk supply and can wean off the nipple shield when necessary. It’s also a good idea to monitor baby’s feeding during the time you’re using a nipple shield. You can do this by checking their diapers, listening for active swallowing sounds and doing regular weight checks (8). nipple shield