Nipple Shields: Pros & Cons, Proper Fit, How Long To Use

| Reviewed By Amanda Lundberg, BSN, RN

Nipple shields are pieces of silicone designed to assist moms and babies in breastfeeding successfully when there are issues latching. 

Do nipple shields cause gas? Yes, when installed incorrectly, nipple shields can cause excess gas. Babies develop gas when they take in too much air during feedings. Your nipple shield should be the right size for your nipple and snugly fit against your breast before you attempt to feed your baby.

Read on to learn more about nipple shields, including how long you may need to use them.

Nipple Shields for Nursing – What To Know

If a lactation consultant suggested you use a nipple shield, here are some things you should know.

Nipple Shields’ Purpose

The purpose of a nipple shield is to help babies who may struggle with breastfeeding. The silicone nipple cover stimulates the roof of the baby’s mouth and encourages proper suckling.

In most cases, a nipple shield is only for short-term use, and you should only use it if your lactation consultant recommends it.

Nipple Shield Pros and Cons

A nipple shield provides the following benefits for you and your baby:

  • It allows you to breastfeed your baby while your nipples are healing.
  • It gives you time to improve breastfeeding while you wait for your baby’s tongue-tie treatment.
  • It allows your baby to get proper suction if you have a flat or inverted nipple.

On the other hand, a nipple shield comes with the following drawbacks:

  • It can decrease milk supply and cause your baby to drink less milk.
  • It limits skin-to-skin contact between you and your baby.
  • You can develop mastitis or clogged ducts from your breasts not being emptied properly.
  • It can be challenging to wean a baby from a nipple shield.

When To Use Nipple Shield

A nipple shield can be helpful in the following situations:

  • Your baby was born prematurely
  • You have inverted, small, or flat nipples
  • Your baby has a lip or tongue tie
  • Your breasts are very soft

Using a Nipple Shield With a Newborn

You typically use a nipple shield with a newborn who is having difficulty latching to the breast. Find a nipple shield that’s the right size for your baby’s mouth. Hold them comfortably for you and your baby to get a good latch.

You should also monitor your baby’s weight gain by scheduling regular pediatrician visits.

Nipple Shield for Sore Nipples

Nipple shields may be effective if you have sore nipples from breastfeeding. Usually, sore nipples are the result of latching problems with your baby. Besides using nipple shields, you can also:

  • Try different breastfeeding positions to find the one most comfortable for you and your baby.
  • Wait for your baby’s mouth to open wide before inserting your nipple.
  • Use a pillow to bring your baby right up to the breast.
  • Sit in an upright position with pillows behind you.

How Nipple Shields Affect Your Baby

A nipple shield helps your baby get a better latch while breastfeeding. This is usually a short-term solution to latching issues, so work with a lactation consultant when using and weaning off them.

When incorrectly used, nipple shields can limit weight gain in babies and prevent them from getting enough milk.

How To Reduce Baby Gas When Using Nipple Shields

Reduce baby gas while using nipple shields by using them correctly. Babies get gas when they suck in too much air while eating.

The nipple shield can have an air pocket between the breast and the shield, so make sure your nipple shield fits snugly before feeding your baby.

Do Nipple Shields Affect Milk Supply?

Yes, nipple shields can decrease milk supply over time. Milk production is encouraged through nipple stimulation, which secretes prolactin and oxytocin.

When your baby feeds with a nipple shield, they touch the silicone shield, not your actual nipple. During the time you plan on using it, you may want to pump to maintain your supply. 

How Should a Nipple Shield Fit?

The nipple shield should be snug around your areola, and the nipple should be deep into the nipple area instead of having space. It also shouldn’t feel like your nipple is scraping against the sides.

How To Get Nipple Shield To Stay On

You can get a nipple shield to stay on when you choose the right size and the proper fit. Follow these tips for getting the nipple shield on your breast correctly:

  1. Turn your nipple shield inside out before putting it on your nipple.
  2. Flip the base of the nipple halfway inside out with your thumbs, creating a dimple.
  3. Put your nipple into the dimple and stretch the base over your breast.
  4. You can get a better fit by using water or nipple cream around the shield’s edge.

How Long To Use Nipple Shields

Only use nipple shields for as long as your lactation consultant recommends. For those moms with flat or inverted nipples, you may need the nipple shield for longer until your baby grows.

The longer you use a nipple shield, the more challenging it can be to wean your baby off of it. Your lactation consultant can guide you on how long to use your nipple shield and when to wean off it.

Permanently Using Nipple Shields

Nipple shields are usually only for temporary use, but some babies don’t want to wean off the nipple shield. In that case, it’s usually better to use the nipple shield permanently instead of switching to bottles or formula.

If you need to use the nipple shield more often, you’ll need to monitor your baby’s weight gain and check that they’re getting enough milk.

Best Nipple Shield

When looking for a nipple shield for you and your baby, choose the proper size based on what your lactation consultant recommends. Check out these products!

Medela Contact Nipple Shield

If you have short, flat, or inverted nipples, the Medela Nipple Shield might be the right choice. Its design promotes skin-to-skin contact and helps mothers who may be experiencing soreness, overactive letdown, and latching difficulties.

Lansinoh Nipple Shield for Breastfeeding

The Lansinoh Nipple Shield is especially suitable for mothers breastfeeding babies with tongue ties. The Lansinoh Nipple Shield has a lower profile to accommodate babies with a shallow latch.

Philips AVENT Nipple Shields with Storage Case

The Philips AVENT Nipple Shield has a unique design that encourages skin-to-skin contact and is easy to hold. Breastfeeding mothers with sensitive nipples appreciate this product because of its comfortable material.

Related Questions:

Do Nipple Shields Cause Mastitis?

Mothers who use nipple shields could be more at risk for mastitis and clogged ducts.

Sometimes nipple shields reduce the amount of milk transferred out of the breast. Milk ducts can get clogged and infected if milk doesn’t drain out of the breast often enough.

Do Nipple Shields Cause Reflux?

Nipple shields can cause reflux in some babies. Nipple shields can leak air between the shield and the nipple. When the baby sucks the shield, they might take in extra air, causing gas and reflux.

If your baby gets reflux from a nipple shield, consult your pediatrician or lactation consultant.


Nipple shields are an effective solution for common breastfeeding issues. Work with a lactation consultant to find the best plan for you and your baby.