Nipple Shields - How to use them

Nipple Shields - How to use them

A nipple shield is a thin silicone tool placed on your nipple to help when your baby is struggling to eat when breastfeeding. Unsure whether you should use one and how to use it? We will guide you through it

*Please talk to your midwife or healthcare provider before you consider using one.

How and when to use nipple shields

When to use a nipple shield

A nipple shield may be suggested to help with particular breastfeeding problems such as

  • when a baby is having trouble attaching to the breast
  • when a baby is premature or small, mother's nipples are often flat or inverted
  • mother's nipples are flat or inverted
 Applying a nipple shield

Look at the nipple shield particularly noticing the cut-out shape on the top of the nipple shield. This cut-out on the nipple shield is where baby’s nose will be.


  • Breastfeeding underarm – cut out will be facing towards your other breast.
  • Breastfeeding cradle style – cut out will be facing towards your arm.
  • First express a few drops of milk onto the outside tip area, so that your baby can smell or taste it.
  • Express a small amount of milk into the tip of the nipple shield.
  • Gently invert and pinch either side of the shield folding each side onto the external tip of the shield.
  • Place your nipple “into the tip of the shield” and place it over your nipple holding it in place while stretching the edges across sideways with your fingers.
  • Touch baby’s lips with the shield, wait for a wide-open mouth, and bring your baby quickly onto the shield so that he does not slip back off the shield to cause pinching and nipple damage.



A large size shield is preferable for most women (regardless of nipple size), to ensure effective milk transfer.

Milk can take longer to flow from the breast when a nipple shield is used so feeding may take longer.

There is an increased risk of Mastitis when using a nipple shield To ensure breasts are well-drained it may be necessary to express for a few minutes after feeds particularly if the baby is sleepy or not leaving the breast softened compared to the start of the breastfeeding.

While you are feeding with a nipple shield, it is recommended to have your baby weighed weekly or at least fortnightly to ensure adequate growth.



Generally, there is no need to sterilise the nipple shield after each use. Rinse in cold water after use.

  • Rinse in cold water after use. 
  • Then wash in hot soapy water and rinse under hot running water.
  • Drain & dry the nipple shield and store in a clean covered container.



It is recommended that your baby eventually feed directly from the breast and that attempts to do this be made after a week or two of nipple shield use.

  • Offering lots of skin-to-skin contact
  • Offering the breast at different times - particularly when the baby seems interested in feeding
  • Removing the shield part way through a feed
  • Trying a different environment such as sitting in a warm bath
  • Try when baby is sleepy and half hungry 
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