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Nipple Shield - General Guidelines

What is a nipple shield?

A nipple shield may be able to assist with latch on or milk transfer difficulties. A lactation professional may recommend them for prematurity, tongue-tie, or a baby with a weak suck. They may also help slow a fast milk flow. The shape and texture may help a baby who has been bottle fed get back to breast. Mothers and babies learn to breastfeed through practice.

How do I use a nipple shield?

Refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines that come with the shield.

  • Wash the nipple shield in hot soapy water after use. Allow to air dry.
  • Get the nipple shield wet just before use. This helps the shield stick to your breast.
  • Hold the shield by the rim. Turn the shield inside-out halfway, center over nipple and smooth rim over areola. This helps to pull your nipple into the shield.

How do I latch my baby?

After placing the shield on your breast, tickle your baby’s upper lip with the shield. Wait until your baby opens wide and gently guide the nipple over his or her tongue. Continue to guide your baby up to your areola until his lips form a seal onto the flat part of the shield. Press your baby’s shoulders closer to your body. Your baby’s lips should be on the areola part of the shield and not sliding onto the nipple. The nipple of the shield should be completely covered by your baby’s mouth.

How do I know my baby is getting milk?

  • As your baby starts to suck you should feel a deep pulling sensation.
  • You may feel let-down or see milk dripping from the opposite breast.
  • You may hear swallowing and see slower, larger jaw movements after let down.
  • By monitoring diapers:
    • Wet diapers: At least 6 per 24 hours after 5-6 days of age.
    • Poopy diapers: At least 3 yellow stools per day after 5-6 days of age.
  • Your baby has relaxed limbs, is sleepy, and not showing feeding cues after feeding.
  • By weighing your baby with a breastfeeding scale before and after feeding.
  • Your baby should gain 4 -7 ounces per week.

What should I do after a feeding in the hospital using a nipple shield?

Use a breast pump after feedings to maintain an adequate milk supply.

What should I do after feeding my baby at home using a nipple shield?

Use a breast pump after daytime feedings (5 or 6 times per day.

How long should I use the nipple shield?

It is important to try to wean your baby from the shield. If the nipple shield was initiated because your infant was born prematurely, it could take a few weeks for this to occur – at or around the original due date of the infant. In some situations, the baby may not wean from the nipple shield.

What should I do if I’m still using the nipple shield when baby goes home?

  • See a lactation consultant (IBCLC) to follow up on use of the nipple shield.
  • Follow up with your baby’s health care provider if you have concerns.
  • Monitor your baby’s wet and poopy diapers. Call your doctor if there are fewer than 3 yellow stools per day after 5-6 days of age.


This information is not specific to your child but provides general information. If you have any questions, please call your clinic.

Last reviewed 7/2018

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This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Minnesota Family Resource Center library, or visit

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