How to use a nipple shield with a newborn when breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is the best natural food for the newborn in the world? For me, it was not. We had a lot of trouble in the beginning, so a lactation consultant at the hospital advised me to use a breastfeeding shield. Today I would like to share with you How to use a nipple shield with a newborn when breastfeeding? not only my personal experiences but also the scientific background and professional opinions.

How to use a nipple shield with a newborn when breastfeeding

Soft photo young mother feeding breast her baby at home in white room

Breastfeeding nipple shield: What is this?

A Breastfeeding nipple shield is a nursing aid. It is an attachment made of silicone, rubber or latex, which is shaped like a large nipple. The attachment is usually flat in part with a recess for the baby’s nose. At the other end, there are holes through which the milk flows. The cap is positioned over the nipple and it should consider the nipple and areola. It must suck in quickly so that no gaps are created. With the help of the nursing cap, babies can drink at the breast. The aid should only be used in case of breastfeeding problems and after consultation with a lactation consultant.


Indicators for breastfeeding aids

How to use a nipple shield with a newborn when breastfeeding? A nipple shield is usually recommended when there are problems with natural breastfeeding. These can be caused by:

  • Slip- or inverted nipples
  • Non-elastic, flat nipples
  • Too short frenulum of tongue in the baby
  • Sore nipples
  • Sucking problems with the baby
  • Anatomical changes in the child, such as Pierre-Robin syndrome, tracheomalacia and cleft palate etc

How to use a nipple shield with a newborn when breastfeeding?

How to use a nipple shield with a newborn when breastfeeding

If your lactation consultant advises you to use a breastfeeding cone, it must be attached correctly. First, choose the right nipple shield. The models are available in different sizes. Choose the ones that do not give your nipple too much slack, but are not too tight either.

How to use a nipple shield with a newborn when breastfeeding? Before you put on your breastfeeding shield, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Ideally, it would be best if you also cleaned your chest with lukewarm water.  

How to use a nipple shield with a newborn when breastfeeding?

  • Ideally, it would be best if you first stimulated the milk-donor reflex with a breast massage.
  • Moisten the wings of the nursing cone slightly (with water or breast milk) so that they stick better.
  • Pull the cap slightly apart at the wings.
  • Fold it halfway in and position it on the nipple.  
  • Position the baby so that the newborn baby nose is at the opening of the shield.  
  • The baby’s lips rest on the wings of the nipple and are turned outwards.  
  • Make sure that there is as much breast tissue in the baby’s mouth as possible.  
  • You must clean the nipple shield daily and boil it out once a day.

Period of use

It is generally recommended to use the nursing shields only for as short a time as possible. Problems with putting it on often disappear by themselves after a few days. Hatching and inverted nipples do not. Therefore, the duration varies from person to person. 


I still remember that my midwife said that after six weeks at the latest it was tough to wean the baby off it again. Therefore it’s often advised to leave out the nursing cap as soon as possible.  


The problem with prolonged use is that milk production can decrease because the baby has no direct contact when drinking. There is a possibility that the hormones work differently, which can lead to a lower milk quantity. I did not know this during my breastfeeding period, but in fact, I always had problems with the amount of milk. 


In the course of my research, I found the recommendation to additionally pump out milk when breastfeeding for a more extended period with a nursing cap. This also helps to empty the breast. When using the nipple cap, your baby may not be able to empty the breast. There is a risk of milk congestion and inflammation.

Criticism of the Breastfeeding shield

Inflationary use: Often, the nursing cap is administered because there is no time for good breastfeeding advice. Some counsellors and midwives assist the aids to a massive number of women. Other experts warn against this. In their opinion, breastfeeding cones should only be used in exceptional cases. With intensive breastfeeding advice, many mothers could breastfeed naturally and would not need support in the form of a silicone nipple.  

Reduced milk production: Some studies prove reduced milk production through the use of breast caps. However, other research results showed that babies gained the same weight, whether they were breastfed with or without a cap.  

Dependence on the breastfeeding cone: If newborn babies are imprinted on the breastfeeding cones for too long, it isn’t easy to switch to natural breastfeeding. It is sometimes reported that it was even harder to wean the nipple shields than the bottle.

Wrong remedy for painful warts: A cap is often given for sore breasts. Many manufacturers describe this application possibility. However, experts see a risk that nipple shields could even promote inflammation and infection.  

Less skin contact: Even when using nipple shields with a nose recess, there is less skin contact between mother and child than when they are put on without aids. However, connection controls the release of some hormones in the body, including prolactin and oxytocin. These two hormones are also responsible for milk production. This is why the reduced skin contact is also partly responsible for the reduced milk production.  

Less nest protection: Breastfeeding babies are typically considered less susceptible to disease. This is because the mother’s organism receives information about contact with the baby’s mouth, nose and throat. Among other things, information is given about which germs the baby is currently carrying. The mother’s body then produces appropriate antibodies which reach the baby via breast milk. The breastfeeding shield is a barrier to the exchange of germs between mother and baby. 

Risk of loss: If you lose or forget the nursing cone, you will not be able to feed your baby.  

Discreet breastfeeding more complicated: If you want to put on the breastfeeding cone inconspicuously in public, you will have more problems with the breastfeeding cone than without it. 

Our personal breastfeeding shield story

A breastfeeding nipple shield is not necessarily famous among some scientists and lactation consultants. This is understandable if one looks at the criticism. However, I would also like to tell our personal story about How to use a nipple shield with a newborn when breastfeeding?.  

How to use a nipple shield with a newborn when breastfeeding?

After the delivery, I had big problems with putting on the shield. If it didn’t work right away, my baby began to protest wildly. He screamed in such a rage that he could not put it on anymore. Even the lactation consultants could hardly help. Some lactation consultants at the hospital said that it would soon work. But I became more and more nervous. Then a nurse advised me to wear a breastfeeding cone. I had never heard of it until then. But breastfeeding worked right away, and I felt safer every time.  


When the midwife visited me for aftercare, she put a little pressure on me to leave the nipple cone out. Since that didn’t work, she asked me if I wanted to get rid of the aid. I wouldn’t say I liked it. But I didn’t know about the disadvantages either. I have probably lived through every breastfeeding problem there is. Sometimes I screamed and cried in pain while breastfeeding. Maybe I would have been spared this without breastfeeding cones but perhaps not.  


But at some point, the complications subsided. It became more comfortable, more natural. We breastfed her until she was 2.5 years old. And we stopped breastfeeding from one day to the next, without ever having a problem with weaning. My daughter continued to use the nipple cap. To fall asleep, she held it under her nose.  


What I notice – somewhat irritated and slightly worried – is that she likes the smell of certain types of plastic very much – it probably reminds her of her babyhood. Except for this side effect, I am grateful that there are breastfeeding shield and i know How to use a nipple shield with a newborn when breastfeeding. With my current level of knowledge, however, I would probably try to breastfeed for a longer time without any aids. But if that doesn’t work out, then nipple shields are a great option.    

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