Nipple shields for newborns

A nipple shield is a temporary breastfeeding aid that can facilitate breastfeeding if it is painful, the mother has sore nipples, or if the baby has difficulty latching onto the nipple after the first 24 hours. It important to first ensure that you have a good breastfeeding technique which relieves both pain and sore nipples, as well as making it easier for the baby to suck.

A nipple shield is a flexible silicone teat that is placed over the mother's nipple. When you breastfeed, the baby sucks on the silicone teat instead of directly on the mother's nipple. Ensure that the baby does not just suck on the top of the teat, but rather has the whole teat in its mouth as then the milk will flow more efficiently.

Advice about nipple shields

  • Nipple shields are a temporary aid, especially at the start of breastfeeding.
  • When breastfeeding starts to go more smoothly you can gradually stop using a nipple shield. Preferably, it should not be used until the baby has shown signs of being interested in breastfeeding and preferably not during the baby's first 24 hours of life. It is important that the baby has a good latch around the teat so that the baby gets milk and the breast empties more efficiently. You can try to let the baby suck for a few minutes with the teat and then remove it.
  • It can be beneficial to use the larger model so that the baby has to open its mouth wide when latching on. Check that the teat feels comfortable and does not feel too tight or chafe the nipple.
  • It is important to let the baby lick and smack its lips before it latches onto the teat. The more the baby licks and smacks its lips, the more the baby opens its mouth and its tongue goes further down into the base of its mouth, enabling the baby to get a good latch on the teat. Otherwise, it is easy for the baby to just get hold of and pinch around the top of the teat, which can be painful and even impede the milk flow.
  • The important thing is that the nipple shield improves the situation.
  • The nipple should be unaffected, perhaps slightly extended, immediately after breastfeeding when the nipple shield is removed.
  • Take extra care with hand hygiene and when cleaning the nipple shield, especially in the case of irritated, cracked and/or sore nipples, to avoid bacteria that can lead to breast complications.

How to put a nipple shield on your breast

  • Wash your hands. Moisten the nipple shield with water. Take hold of the outer edges.
  • Push the nipple shield almost inside out. Remember that the cut-out section should be positioned on the nipple so that it is in line with the baby's nose.
  • Place the nipple shield on the nipple/areola. A vacuum should be created so that the nipple shield stays in place. Suggestions! Put a finger on the holes as you position the nipple shield to create a vacuum, enabling your nipple to go into the teat of the nipple shield.
  • When the baby is put to the breast, allow the baby to smack its lips and lick the teat so that the baby opens its mouth wide to latch onto the breast properly. Do not push the teat into the baby's mouth.

Cleaning the nipple shield

  • After each breastfeeding session, rinse the nipple shield in cold running water
  • Then wash the nipple shield in warm water and detergent, rinse well
  • Then rinse with cold water again
  • Keep the nipple shield clean and dry
  • Once a day, the nipple shield should be disinfected and boiled for about 5 minutes.