If you are breastfeeding and hope to ever leave your house (with your baby, that is), you’ll probably want a nursing cover. Sure, the brave ones (and second time moms, LOL) are just fine nursing without one, but most first-timers find it comforting to cover up in public. Keep your nursing cover in your diaper bag, and it will always be there when you need it.
Note that you can also use a standard swaddle blanket in a pinch. It happens.
There are a few different options in terms of styles: apron covers, which loop around your neck much like an apron; shawls, which generally fit more like a poncho or loose-fitting cover up; and scarves, which unfurl into an oversized garment piece you can use to cover up.
Each category has its pros and cons (see individual product descriptions below for more on this), and also know that at the end of the day, the big secret is: you don’t actually need a nursing cover, per se. Yes, there are many non-maternity clothing items out there you could use to get the job done, most notably a poncho, loose-fitting shawl, or even a flowy wrap-around cardigan. The products below are all nursing-specific, and they’re the hands-down crowd faves in the nursing cover department, but if you want to use something else, go for it.
*One thing that moms (and babies) always complain about with nursing covers is that it can get VERY hot under there — like a mini-inferno. So if you live in a warm climate or are expecting a baby in the spring or summer, we suggest opting for a thinner, more breathable fabric.
One other word for the wise — use your nursing cover at home a few times before bringing it out “into the wild.” It usually takes a few tries to really “get it” and it’s much more comfortable to work out the logistics in private vs. in public (especially if you have a screaming baby on your hands).
Best Nursing Covers
Here are our favorite nursing covers for breastfeeding, in order of price:
Boppy Nursing Cover ~$19 — Economy Pick
From the makers of the beloved Boppy nursing pillow, this is a high-quality nursing cover many moms love. The strap around the neck is adjustable, and the neckline has some heft/structure to it so it’s easy to peek down to see how baby is doing. (It’s similar to the Bebe Au Lait cover, below, but at a better price point.) It’s also machine washable and folds into a little easy-to-carry pouch.
Bamboobies Nursing Shawl ~$24 — Best Coverage (Tie) & Best for Full-Figured Moms
This is a lightweight, breathable, stretchy poncho-esque cover-up that many women love because of its cute look. This type of nursing cover provides full 360-degree coverage, which is more comfortable for many moms, so that’s another plus (no side boob here!). It also comes in a kimono version, which you can opt to wear open, like a robe. We like that you can keep using this piece long after you’re done nursing, and it also doubles as a (lightweight) car seat cover. Note that the style works well for larger-breasted and plus-sized mamas.
Copper Pearl 5-in-1 Nursing Cover ~$26 — Best Coverage (Tie) & Best Prints
This stretchy and versatile nursing cover has been a quick hit among young mamas — you can wear it like a poncho to nurse plus use it as a fashionable scarf, a car-seat cover, a high chair cover (WHY?), or a shopping cart cover (also why). In case you can’t tell, we think this is really a 3-in-1 product, but still — it’s *super comfortable and it’s actually cute. This one definitely takes the cake on print options — choose from a number of chic designs that are reminiscent of a softer Lilly Pulitzer kind of look.
NüRoo Nursing Scarf ~$29
Another fashionable and versatile option is to scoop up a nursing scarf, like this one from NuRoo. The upsides with scarves are that they’re subtle and you can keep wearing one long after the nursing days are over — the downside is that you have to really have the hang of it to use comfortably and confidently for breastfeeding in public. Nursing scarves give less coverage and things tend to be more… visible. If you’re OK with that, this is an excellent (and stylish) choice! Many reviewers hail this as a great dupe for the fan-fave Lulu Lemon snap scarf.
Bebe Au Lait Nursing Cover ~$36 — Best Nursing Apron
The Bebe Au Lait is a longstanding favorite that comes in a handful of different colors/patterns. Since it’s an apron, it’s quite accessible and especially good for warmer temps (but not so much for windy days!).
Seraphine Bamboo & Cotton Nursing Shawl ~ $55 — Upgrade Pick
This drapey (is that a word??) shawl from Seraphine is made with a breathable bamboo-cotton blend and snaps at the shoulder for easy access. Definitely a fashionable and comfy piece to keep wearing beyond nursing. (For more similar pieces from Seraphine, see here.)
One thing to note: for whatever reason, Amazon is flooded with crappy, cheap nursing covers — watch out for these!
Honestly, nursing covers are super helpful for breastfeeding moms. Don’t leave home without it!