From pillows and pumps to creams and chairs, there are lots of products on the market designed to make breastfeeding a little easier. Here's our guide to the best breastfeeding accessories.
Breastfeeding takes time to establish but there are a number of items available that can help ease the experience for both mother and baby. While no-one can promise you a stress-free breastfeeding experience, we can offer a guide to the top breastfeeding essentials that you might find useful as you embark on feeding your baby. We’ve rounded up this list of the breastfeeding essentials we'd recommend trying – to save you time researching online.
Breastfeeding accessories and products - at a glance
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Babymoov Mum & B Maternity Cushion - JoJo Maman Bebe | £35 Lansinoh HPA Lanolin Nipple Cream - Boots | £10.49 Elvie Pump - Elvie |£249 Tommee Tipppee Express & Go Pouches for milk - Amazon|£7.66 Bravado Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra - John Lewis | £34 Jojo Maman Bebe Stripe Jersey Breastfeeding Cover - Jojo Maman Bebe | £19 Close Pop-In Reusable Breast Pads - Jojo Maman Bebe | £11 Medela Hydrogel Nipple Pads - Amazon | £21.59 The Positive Breastfeeding Book – Amazon| £11.55 Kub Hayward Nursing Chair - John Lewis | £180 Joie Roomie Glide DLX Bedside Sleeper Crib - Argos | £169
1) Breastfeeding pillow
We love: Babymoov Mum & B Maternity Cushion
A nursing pillow gives you and your baby the support you need when it’s time to feed. These pillows can help if you're having trouble positioning your baby at your breast during feeds, because they take the difficulty out of holding a baby in place, making it easier to feed comfortably. Breastfeeding cushions raise your baby up closer to your breast as they feed, and can ease the strain on your neck, back and shoulders.
This maternity cushion can be used as a pregnancy pillow to support your back or legs at night before your baby arrives, as well as during breastfeeding, so we think it's good value for money. It's a good size whilst still being compact – so it won't take over the whole sofa – and the shape means it's versatile and easy to use in a variety of different breastfeeding positions.
2) Nipple cream
We love: Lansinoh HPA Lanolin Nipple Cream
Breastfeeding can be tough on nipples – sometimes leaving them sore and cracked. A nipple cream is a great purchase for breastfeeding mothers, as it’s specially designed to soothe sore and tender breasts, and safe to apply to your breasts between feeds. Most nipple creams are made with a base of lanolin – an oily substance that's secreted from sheep's skin – but there are also plant-based creams for those who want to avoid animal products.
There's no need to remove this nipple cream between feeds as it's 100% natural, completely hypoallergenic and paraben-free, so it's safe for your baby. It's specially developed to help soothe and protect sore, cracked nipples caused by breastfeeding. It has no taste, colour or smell, so your baby shouldn't even notice it. We recommend keeping a tube in your change bag and one by the chair you usually sit in when you're feeding your baby at home.
3) Breast pump
We love: Elvie Pump
While breastfeeding can be an incredible bonding experience for both mother and baby, it can be a good idea to have a little 'spare' milk stashed away – ready for someone else to feed your baby. This is particularly helpful with night feeds or if you're planning to return to work.
This is the role of a breast pump - a device that allows you to express milk to be fed to your baby later by you or someone else. There are a whole host of different products on the market depending on what you want, from manual and electric breast pumps to ones that can express from both breasts at once or from one side at a time. Some breast pumps can even be connected to apps on your phone, to help make the expressing process easier to control.
This silent, wearable breast pump helps take all the stress out of expressing breastmilk. You simply pop it in your bra and let it get on with expressing, leaving your hands free to hold your baby – or make a cup of tea! There are no messy wires to clean and you don't have to sit in one spot attached to the mains when you're expressing.
4) Breast milk storage bags
We love: Tommee Tippee Express & Go Pouches
If you’ve gone to all the effort of expressing, there’s nothing worse than that milk going to waste. Storage bags and containers are designed to prevent that from happening, as they keep milk fresh and ready for when your baby needs it. Many of these storage bags have a flat design so they can be frozen and thawed easily. Some breast pump brands even come with their own storage bags, so milk can be pumped directly into them.
Many of these storage bags can also be frozen. According to the Mayo Clinic, freshly expressed breast milk can be stored in the back of a deep freezer for up to 12 months – but using the frozen milk within six months is recommended. The NHS says the best way to defrost milk is in the fridge or, if you need to do it right away, by putting it in jug of warm water. For those looking to freeze their breastmilk, there are a number of products which can help.
These handy single-use pouches are cleverly designed so that you can express your breastmilk directly into them for handy storage in the fridge or freezer. Best of all, you can use them with any breast pump – it doesn't have to be a Tommee Tippee one. Just click the pouch into the pump and start expressing. They're pre-sterilised and have a screw-top lid so you don't have to worry about spilling a drop.
5) Nursing bras
We love: Bravado Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra
As brilliant as breastfeeding can be, it can sometimes come with hiccups, like milk leaks – particularly in the early days when your breastmilk is still coming in. A nursing bra is a great option for both comfort and practicality, as it supports the breasts and has extra padding to help absorb leaks. They are also designed to make it easy for you to access your breast quickly when your baby is hungry – most have clips that snap on and off at the base of the shoulder straps, while others have fabric which can be pulled away.
Finding the right nursing bra is a matter of personal choice – what suits you best might not appeal to someone else. That said, this Bravado seamless nursing bra is a really good everyday bra that gives good support and a seamless silhouette. It's designed to mould to your body, and it comes with removable foam cups, so you have the choice to add padding at times if you wish. It won't break the bank either, so we'd recommend popping two of these in your underwear drawer – one on, and one on the wash!
6) Breastfeeding Cover
We love: Jojo Maman Bebe Stripe Jersey Breastfeeding Cover
If you want to give yourself and your baby a little privacy while feeding, there are a plethora of covers and scarves designed to do exactly that. Nursing shawls – which can be created with a muslin cloth – simply hang on a shoulder and cover a baby, while a nursing scarf is worn around your neck when not in use. Lots of high street brands also sell cardigans and loose jumpers and hoodies designed for use by breastfeeding mothers.
This versatile breastfeeding cover is made from super soft fabric and cleverly designed so that you can wear it as a scarf when you're not using it during feeds. We love this idea, as it means you don't have to try and fit yet another item in your change bag! The loop design also ensures it stays in place, so you don't have to keep tugging it over your baby or worry about it slipping off your shoulder while you're feeding.
7) Breast pads
We love: Close Pop-In Reusable Breast Pads
Breast pads help to absorb milk if your breasts leak, preventing the milk from leaking through your bra to your top. You can get disposable ones and washable ones, but you might need to try a few different brands until you find ones that suit you best.
These washable breast pads are great value for money as you get six in a pack for £11. As well as being less wasteful than disposable breast pads, washable breast could pads save you money in the long run. These have a waterproof layer and come in a handy mesh bag for easy storage. The teardrop shape has won lots of rave reviews from mums, who say the shape seems to help them stay in place.
8) Hydrogel pads
We love: Medela Hydrogel Nipple Pads
Hydrogel pads can help soothe nipple discomfort by attaching to the skin as a protective, cooling cushion. They can provide instant relief, and help support the healing process by providing moisture and keeping the skin smooth. They also stop cracked nipples from rubbing against your bra and causing further problems.
Sometimes you just need instant relief for sore nipples. These cooling nipple pads are just the ticket. They have a cooling effect that you'll feel as soon as you apply them to your skin, and you can even pop them in the fridge for an hour before use for an extra soothing boost. The gel inside the pad helps reduce the temperature of your skin. Don't suffer in silence if your nipples are sore – it can be a real setback when you're breastfeeding, but using nipple pads and nipple cream can really help. Talk to your health visitor or midwife, too, if you need extra breastfeeding support.
9) Nipple shields
We love: Boots Maternity Silicone Nipple Shields
A nipple shield is a flexible silicone nipple that you wear over your own nipples during each feed. They are ideal for babies who struggle to get milk as they offer a larger surface area to latch onto, and the holes in the tip help the milk flow into your baby's mouth. They can also offer some relief from sore and cracked nipples.
If your nipples become cracked and sore, breastfeeding can be painful. But there are still some resources that can help if you wish to continue feeding. These silicone nipple shields are designed to be worn over your nipples during each feed, offering some protection and allowing your nipples to heal, whilst still allowing you to breastfeed your baby whilst maintaining skin-to-skin contact. These come in a sterilisable storage case for extra convenience.
10) Breastfeeding books
We love: The Positive Breastfeeding Book
Looking to swat up before the baby arrives? There are plenty of books which detail everything to know about the breastfeeding process for both mother and baby. There’s something for everyone, too, depending on your interest, from the science behind breastfeeding to debunking nursing myths. You'll spend a lot of time sitting still when you're breastfeeding, so having a stash of books to dip in and out of is a brilliant way to read up about breastfeeding issues as and when they arise.
This is a brilliantly informative and easy-to-read book, which will answer all sorts of questions you might have about breastfeeding, from how often your baby needs to feed, to how you can tell whether your baby is getting enough milk. It covers everything you could think of, from preparing for your baby's arrival to getting the hang of feeding your baby in public. It's not just about breastfeeding, either – there are also chapters on mixed feeding and formula feeding to help you decide what's best for your baby. We recommend stashing a copy of this down the side of your nursing chair!
11) Nursing chair
We love: Kub Hayward Nursing Chair
A nursing chair is a purpose-designed chair which aims to make feeds that little bit more manageable. Having a comfortable place to sit and feed a baby makes all the difference – especially in the early months when feeding happens very frequently throughout the day and night. Many nursing chairs come with rocking features, while others recline. Some come with a footstool, which can help ease the pressure on your back, and remind you to put your feet up when you're feeding.
This gliding chair is well-padded with a wide seat for comfort during feeds. It's specially designed to help with your posture, and it comes with a co-ordinating foot stool for maximum relaxation. We love the side pockets on the arm – so handy for popping away a book and a tube of nipple cream.
12) Bedside crib
We love: Joie Roomie Glide DLX Bedside Sleeper Crib
A bedside crib is typically smaller than a cot, so it can fit neatly beside your bed. They are designed to allow you to safely co-sleep, whilst still ensuring that your baby is in their own separate sleeping space – very important for safe sleep. The real advantage of a bedside crib is that you can easily reach your baby for night time feeds, without having to get out of bed to pick up your baby or pop them back to bed after a feed. Many bedside cribs have rocking features to help soothe your baby back to sleep after a feed at night.
This bedside crib has a sliding panel that lifts and lowers easily and can be operated with one hand – handy for those middle-of-the-night feeds. It has 11 height settings which are easy to adjust, as well as four lockable wheels which make it easy to move around the room as necessary. It comes with its own carry bag for travel use, and has gliding functionality so you can soothe your baby back to sleep.
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As a parenting specialist for more than 15 years, Heidi has written for most national newspapers and for a wide range of consumer magazines, including Mother & Baby where she was the Shopping Editor for six years, looking after regular consumer features including buying guides and gift roundups.