It’s not always easy to find a quiet or private place to breastfeed your baby. Breastfeeding covers can offer a sense of privacy and create a calming atmosphere for your baby. Here are my top recommendations for the best nursing covers!
When you’re breastfeeding, you might not always be able escape to somewhere quiet and private to feed your baby. Breastfeeding takes place wherever you are when your baby is hungry. So it’s wise to be prepared!
When your baby is a newborn, you might appreciate the privacy that a nursing cover affords you. And when you start breastfeeding an older baby who gets easily distracted by what’s going on around her, you may really appreciate having a nursing cover. At that stage, a cover helps keep your baby focused on the task at hand, which is nursing.
After trying many nursing covers, I’ve found some wonderful nursing covers that really worked well and that has made me feel more confident nursing in public, especially as a first-time mom. So, I am going to share some of what I’ve learned over the years in hopes of saving you a little fuss when you’re out and about with your little one.
Do you Need a Breastfeeding Cover to Nurse in Public?
Nursing covers aren’t required for breastfeeding in public, but they can make nursing in public a bit more comfortable for you and your baby. Because, let’s be honest: nursing in public can be intimidating, especially in the beginning.
Whether you worry that other people will feel uncomfortable (that’s 100% their issue) or you’re anxious that you won’t find a quiet place to feed your hungry baby, these are very normal feelings to have!
I’ll never forget my first experience nursing my baby in public: he was only a couple of weeks old and we went out to dinner at a restaurant. It was a lovely dinner until my baby needed to breastfeed. And it hit me that I’d need to breastfeed in public.
So I started digging through the diaper bag to find our nursing cover. He started screaming and people were looking at us. Or at least it felt that way.
And once I found it, I couldn’t even get my baby to latch properly. Between the dim lights in the restaurant and me fumbling around with the nursing cover, it just made things harder. So he kept screaming.
It was a total mess and I ended up breastfeeding him in a bathroom stall. But, I got more comfortable with it over time. And so will you.
It can take time to get used to breastfeeding in public. So, don’t stress if this doesn’t feel normal to you at first. You’ll get there and believe me, by the time you’ve been nursing for a while, you won’t even give it a second thought.
But you still don’t have to be some kind of breastfeeding warrior who nurses in public without a cover. Do what you’re comfortable with. Do what’s best for you. I used a cover for a long time, but by the time I had my second child I really couldn’t be bothered to deal with one.
Ok let’s talk about the best nursing covers now!
Different Kinds of Nursing Covers
There are several styles of nursing covers on the market! Find one that you like and works with your lifestyle.
Apron-Style Covers: The apron-style covers are the most popular design. This style is easy to use: all you have to do is put the cover’s strap around your neck, like an apron. Mamas like the apron-style cover because you can see your baby as he nurses, and it provides plenty of airflow while he’s snuggled up underneath it.
Infinity Scarves: love anything that is versatile. Infinity nursing covers can double as infinity scarves. Because they use light, breathable materials, babies still get plenty of airflow when nursing. There is also plenty of fabric, so you don’t need to worry about exposing yourself. The only downside to this style is that because there is so much fabric, it can make it difficult to see your baby.
Shawls: The shawl style nursing cover is a large piece of fabric that you drape across your shoulders. This style offers a lot of privacy for you and your baby, and it can be used for warmth. Most shawls also have buttons that let you cover baby within the fabric, so you don’t have to hold it in place.
Nursing Ponchos: Sweater-style nursing covers are sometimes referred to as ponchos. If you don’t like the idea of any part of your body being seen while nursing, then the sweater or poncho style is perfect for you. It offers complete privacy! That being said, you can probably guess what the downsides are to this style: there is a lot of fabric so you can’t see your baby. You also will want to check on your baby to make sure he doesn’t overheat since it is a thicker fabric.
The 7 Best Nursing Covers for Breastfeeding Moms
Here are my personal favorite nursing covers. They offer the best range of styles, functions, and privacy.
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State of the Wilde offers an organic cotton nursing cover with 360-degree coverage. Made from certified organic cotton, this is a lightweight, hypoallergenic, and eczema-friendly nursing cover.
Measuring 28” x 29″, this nursing cover stretches to perform multiple jobs. You can use the State of Wilde as a nursing cover to accommodate all size babies and toddlers. But you can also use it as a high chair cover, a stroller cover, or a shopping cart cover.
When the nursing cover gets dirty, throw it in the washing machine, and lay flat to dry.
- Pros: This high-quality nursing cover offers full coverage, is made with organic cotton, and lasts through many washes.
- Cons: May be too thick for use in hot weather.
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Cat and Dogma offer an organic cotton infinity nursing cover that comes in two colors: one is very vibrant and the other is a versatile neutral beige. This nursing cover provides 360-degrees of total privacy. That means your baby has complete protection from sunlight, germs, and all the outside world distractions.
Because the material is 100% GOTS certified organic cotton, it allows for good airflow and temperature regulation. While this infinity scarf nursing cover doesn’t technically function as anything else, you can easily spread this out this as a baby blanket, high chair cover, or shopping cart cover. Easy to care for as well: just throw it in the washing machine when needed!
- Pros: GOTS-certified cotton, breathable, and offers privacy from all angles.
- Cons: Not as stretchy as similar products.
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If you want apron-style nursing over, Bebe Au Lait is one of the best-known brands. Apron nursing covers are easy to take off and on while also giving you ample privacy. The cover is made from 100% organic cotton and has two terry cloth pockets for cleanup and storage.
Bebe Au Lait offers two patented features to set their nursing covers apart: the Rig flex open neckline and the Interlocking Cap System. The Rig flex is an open neckline that holds the cover open to let you have eye contact with your baby while you nurse. This opening also allows the baby to keep a good airflow under the fabric. Their patented end caps are more of a safety feature to prevent the corners of the neckline from poking you or your baby. This is also machine washable!
- Pros: 100% organic cotton, open neckline that allows you to make eye contact with your baby.
- Cons: Only comes in one size and isn’t as versatile as other styles, such as infinity scarves.
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Milk Snob’s unique nursing covers are more like an infinity scarf that can double as a car seat cover, too. Milk Snob offers complete privacy and versatility.
When you’re out and about, you can use this cover as a car seat cover, shopping cart cover, high chair cover, or even as a soft baby blanket. It’s also good to note that while this material is breathable and offers airflow, it’s a little thicker than other materials, making it a great cover during the cooler months!
- Pros: Machine washable and very versatile – can be used as a car seat cover, blanket, nursing cover, and more.
- Cons: Can stretch a little bit so be sure to wash it on the gentle cycle.
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Udder Covers are an excellent apron-style nursing cover for those who want something roomier. This one would be great for moms with larger busts or those who want to use the nursing cover for pumping. The Udder Covers are 32 inches by 24 inches and made from 100% organic cotton. The apron closure features a stainless steel D-ring that lets you adjust the necklace for the perfect fit.
Udder Covers have a rigid neckline that shapes away from your neck and upper chest area. The design helps to give you ample room to look at your baby. Your baby won’t be too hot in the summer, and the non-creasing fabric looks nice even after you stuffed it in the diaper bag.
You can pick from eight different patterns. Udder Covers offers something for everyone – vibrant to subtle. Of course, machine washable! Made in China.
- Pros: 100% organic cotton and has a roomier fit
- Cons: Not as versatile as infinity scarves but great for nursing.
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LK Baby offers a stylish, apron-style nursing cover that provides a nice amount of coverage. While this nursing cover is made from 100% jersey polyester, it is AZO free, which means it is free of some of the most harmful dyes. It also has a rigid neckline so you can see your baby while you’re nursing.
One thing that is unusually wonderful about this apron-style nursing cover is that it can also be used as an infinity scarf! For most mamas, this cover is long enough to either single or double loop it when not nursing their baby. Machine washable!
- Pros: Lightweight and semi-breathable, and machine washable.
- Cons: Made from polyester.
Buy at Milk & Honey
Moms are raving about the Milk and Honey Co. nursing covers. Similar to other infinity scarf nursing covers, the design gives you the perfect amount of privacy.
Milk and Honey use organic cotton and bamboo. This combination of fabrics is actually one of makes it one of the softest nursing covers on my list. Your baby will love to snuggle under this cover while in the stroller or car seat, and it’s completely breathable!
This nursing cover is slightly larger than some others, measuring 32 inches square. When it drapes over you, it really does cover your entire upper half. On one side of the cover, the design has an opening so you can use your arm to help your baby latch.
As with other shawl styles, it can be used for a variety of functions such as a baby blanket, nursing cover, and a car seat canopy.
- Pros: Super soft and versatile, also is easy to position and latch your baby.
How to Pick the Best Nursing Cover for You
Here are some considerations when picking the best nursing cover for you.
Material: First, think about the season you’re in or will be in when you use your nursing cover. Pick a fabric that you think will make you and your baby the most comfortable. Muslin or thin cotton are the ideal picks for summer. But for wintertime, you’ll want to think about using a more substantial cotton or a wool blend.
Modesty: Definitely consider how covered up you want to be. Most nursing covers offer some degree of privacy. However, some offer 360-degree privacy, while others offer much less. Pick the style that matches your preferences.
Style: A nursing cover doesn’t have to lack style. Have you ever noticed advertisements for nursing shirts? Some of them make me cringe. It’s like they only thought about practicality, and style went out the window. But you can have a cover that looks both stylish and remains functional, I promise!
Nursing or Pumping: Did you realize that you can use a nursing cover while you’re pumping? If you’re pumping in a break room or your vehicle, having a cover might make you feel less exposed. When you’re pumping both breasts, an apron or poncho style cover is a must. If you’re only doing one breast, then an infinity scarf could also work just fine!
Versatility: I prefer items that are versatile and have more than one use. So, I love scarf-style nursing covers. These covers are also awesome as blankets and shopping cart covers— a nice bonus!
FAQs About Nursing Covers
What is the best way to breastfeed in public?
The best way to breastfeed in public is to breastfeed in public. Really – do whatever works for you and your baby. Whether that means using a nursing cover, wearing nursing clothes, discreetly pulling up your shirt and nursing your baby, or nursing in a baby carrier. My personal favorite way to breastfeed in public is to nurse in a baby carrier. As soon as I did this, I felt like I had unleashed all the freedom in the world: I could nurse my baby at the stores, museums, playgrounds— you name it! The best part of nursing in a baby carrier is that no one notices. You’ll be walking around, hands-free, and your baby will be content as can be!
How many nursing covers do you need?
If you only nurse sometimes in public, chances are you can get away with just one nursing cover. If you’re like me and forget everything, having two covers is convenient. Leave one in your car and keep one at home so you always have one on hand. If you live in an area that has varying weather, you might want to get a thin cover for the summer and a thicker one for the winter.
Is it legal to breastfeed in all public spaces?
It is perfectly legal to breastfeed in public in the United States. You are welcome to nurse your baby anywhere you need. If you cannot find a discreet, quiet space, you can go ahead and sit on a bench in the middle of a shopping center. It’s your right and your job to ensure you are meeting your baby’s needs. Be reassured that most people who notice you’re nursing will probably passively smile and not think twice about it.
Is there a difference between a pumping cover and a breastfeeding cover?
Nope! You can use any nursing cover you want regardless of whether you’re pumping or breastfeeding. Keep in mind, pumping parts can be bulky, so you might want a roomy cover like an apron-style cover.
How do I get my baby to latch under a breastfeeding cover?
So there are two answers to this question. 1) Practice! Take time at home to practice breastfeeding with your nursing cover on. The best way to latch your baby is to first put the cover on, unhook your nursing bra, and then bring your baby under the cover to latch. I’m not going to lie, this can be tricky, and it doesn’t always work. 2) Don’t latch your baby under the cover! If you’re in need of privacy, I always suggest just pivoting your body so that the side you will be nursing on isn’t facing a group of people. Keep in mind your baby will be covering your breast as he latches on. Simply latch your baby and then slide the nursing cover on.
Founder and CEO | The Gentle Nursery
After learning about the toxic chemicals found in mainstream baby products, Yasmine created The Gentle Nursery to help other parents make healthy choices for their babies. With a 10-year background in research, analytics, and leadership for a Fortune 100 company, Yasmine applies the same principles and attention to detail to every article she writes and researches. Yasmine’s advisory team includes an amazing team of moms, medical professionals, chemists, and other experts that help ensure accuracy and perspective.
Yasmine is also the creator of Biomeology Prenatal Probiotics and the author of The Baby Registry Handbook. Yasmine’s driving mission is to help reduce the rates of disorder, disease, and trauma in mothers and children and to inspire others to lead a healthier, happier, and non-toxic life. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California, a doula in training, and is currently studying to become a Functional Nutrition Coach.