Best Nursing Covers for Breastfeeding and Pumping

Lactation requires regular extraction of your breast milk. The timing of which gives no consideration to your environment. Either your baby needs to be fed, or you need to pump to relieve the pressure. This means being ready for action at all times no matter where you are.

Most of us are not all that comfortable whipping the boobs out in public (or at work?!). Even if we were, not everyone is accepting of it. So in consideration of our own self-consciousness, and out of respect for others, having a nursing cover ready to go will provide at least some privacy at all times.

We will guide you through the key features of a good nursing cover, and what would be most suitable for both feeding and pumping.

When “Working It” in Public is Unavoidable

We all wish we could nurse in the comfort of our own homes. Away from prying eyes, where we can just let it all hang out. There we can have our comfy chair, our favorite TV show, our ideal temperature, and our stocked fridge.

The reality is that this is just not possible. Whether you are pumping, breastfeeding, or a combination of both. There will be times when duty calls (about every 2 hours, actually). You hear those hungry cries or you feel the pressure building up in your chest, and you start scouring the area for a place to park yourself.

Feeling Comfortable in Public

There is no question that nursing in public is uncomfortable. Not having all the amenities available to you out and about that you do at home makes it physically uncomfortable, and the fact that there are other people around makes it conditionally uncomfortable.

With the stigma that exists today about public nursing, you are likely to get a lot of looks. These typically fall into three categories: the supportive look (from other nursing mothers), the disgusted look (from those who view it as public indecency), and the perverted look (more of a joke than reality).

These looks are enough to make you feel uneasy, but, honestly, you may not even notice them. For me, I was more self-conscious about making sure I was covered that I barely glanced up to see if people were looking at me.

The best thing you can do for yourself and for others is to use a nursing cover when you pump or breastfeed in public. This helps to eliminate accidental “flashing” and helps you to feel more comfortable and covered. There are many covers on the market today, so how do you choose?

D ring adjustable strap

What to Look for in a Nursing Cover

Breathable Material

If you are as lucky as I was to have your baby in the summer months, you are going to be nursing in the heat quite often. Even in a cool room, you and your baby will be putting off enough heat to cause some sweating under your nursing cover.

You will want to select a cover that has breathable material. This will keep you and your baby cool during feeding time. It is also safer for your little one as heavy fabrics can be suffocation hazards.

Full Coverage

Using a nursing cover means you are looking to be modest and covered. You do not want to risk accidental exposure, embarrassing yourself and shocking onlookers. You are going to want to look for an apron that keeps you covered.

Some covers have 360° coverage, keeping both your front and back covered, which is key when you are lifting your shirt to nurse. If you opt for the classic cape style, choose one that is wide and long, with an adjustable neck strap, which can accommodate your growing baby’s size.

Stress-Free

Breastfeeding in public is difficult enough. Add to that the clumsiness of trying to figure out how to nurse a newborn, and an actively flailing baby, frustrated by fabric in their face or not being able to see mom.

Nursing aprons with a rigid neck are great for reducing frustration and stress. It keeps the material out of your baby’s face and allows you to see what is going on underneath. You can keep eye contact with your little one which will keep her comfortable and settled.

Packability

Preparing for an outing with your baby is quite the ordeal. You have a pile of things to pack into your diaper bag that now, suddenly, seems so small. If you struggled with jigsaw puzzles before, you will likely become a master by the time your baby outgrows her diaper bag.

Finding a nursing cover that can pack easily takes one more thing off your mind. There are many that fold up nice and small into a pouch or bag that is included with your purchase, taking up almost no space in your already full diaper bag.

Easy Maintenance

Nursing covers are intended for mealtime, and mealtime is messy. You are guaranteed to either get something on the outside, like your own food or drink, or to have your milk spray on the inside. On top of that, you are looking at spit up and other bodily fluids from your baby.

Most nursing covers are machine washable, which makes them very easy to maintain. Choosing one that it durable will ensure it lasts multiple washes, keeping its shape and size (no shrinking), and finding one that can be machine dried saves you time and headaches.

Top Rated Nursing Covers

Now Born Nursing Apron

This nursing cover has several great features that make it an ideal choice for both breastfeeding and pumping mothers. The size of the apron coverage area provides a safe and comfortable space for your baby, and the dual adjusting straps ensure maximum security and will keep everything where it should be. 

They also have a range of patterns with some very nice colors and patterns available, while being a very affordable option also.

Pros

  • It is very easy to pack and take with you. A small tote bag is included which allows the cover to be folded up nice and small, allowing it to fit into even the most crowded diaper bag.
  • With an open neckline, you can easily keep an eye on your little one while allowing air flow in, even on a hot day.
  • Machine washable and durable, this cover will last through several washes while retaining its size and shape.
  • One of the few nursing covers with dual adjusting straps, keeping in place around your neck and around your waist.

Cons

  • As with any nursing cover with rigid neck boning, you run the risk of it being too open and allowing passersby a peek if the angle is just right.
  • With the 100% cotton, the material may not be as soft as other covers.

>>Check out the Now Born Nursing Cover – Plus Features and Reviews at Amazon

Bebe au Lait Cover

This is one of the most recognized brands amongst most “mommy bloggers” and celebrities since 2004. The Bebe au Lait nursing cape is a great option for both breastfeeding and pumping in public.

It is made from 100% premium cotton, is large in size (36-inches wide, 26-inches long) for optimum coverage, and is machine washable. It also includes patented, award-winning features such as their open Rigiflex neckline and safety end caps.

Pros

  • With the Rigiflex open neckline, you have no troubles seeing your baby and maintaining a proper latch while nursing.
  • It is super easy to wash. Just throw it in the machine and you are good to go. No need to cry over spilt milk.
  • The cotton material and open neckline allow for breathability, keeping both you and your baby cool, even during the summer months

Cons

  • Packing this cover to take it on the go can be a bit difficult with its rigid neckline. Trying to fold it into a smaller size may result in bent and misshapen boning.
  • An open neckline allows you to see your baby easily, but if you are not careful, it can also allow others to see her (and you) easily as well.

>>Check out the Bebe au Lait Premium Nursing Cover – Plus Features and Reviews at Amazon

Boppy Nursing Cover

This is the nursing cover that I opted for with my little one. It is inexpensive and comes with some cool features, like an attached pouch for packing and a sliding ring which helps you keep track of which side you left off on.

Even though I exclusively breastfed with this cover, I would recommend it more for the pumping mother. It runs a bit small (narrow), so once your baby reaches the age where she is a bit more active, it is very easy for her to move the cover just enough to expose you.

Pros

  • Packs up easily into its attached pouch, reducing it to a compact 8” x 6” size, making it possible to throw it into any bag while taking up almost no space.
  • It is machine washable and dryable, eliminating the time and hassle of air drying.
  • The sliding ring feature is great for keeping track of which side you are feeding on. With everything else going on with your little one, this feature takes one more thing off your mind.

Cons

  • This product boasts an open, rigid neckline, but it is made of a soft plastic so that it can fold up small enough to fits into its pouch. Because of this, it wears out quickly and makes it hard to see your baby.
  • Rather than being rectangular in shape, it is shaped more like a trapezoid. This means that it is very narrow at the bust, where you need the most coverage. You will likely wear this cover over your shoulder rather than your front to make sure you stay covered.

>>Check out the Boppy Nursing Cover – Plus Features and Reviews at Amazon

EN Babies Feeding Poncho

There are many companies that now design clothes with nursing mothers in mind, and this poncho is one of the best out there. It is intended to be used as a nursing cover, combining both practicality and fashion.

The features of this product include 360° coverage, ensuring your sides and back are hidden from prying eyes, and fabric that is thick enough to not be see through while still offering breathability. This poncho is great for the breastfeeding mother who is looking for subtlety when nursing in public.

Pros

  • Fashionable and subtle: it can be worn as an article of clothing and will not look like a nursing cover to outsiders.
  • 360° coverage, which is key when you are lifting your shirt up to breastfeed.
  • It is easy to take with you. You can either wear it as a piece of clothing (especially in the cooler months) or throw it in your bag and go.

Cons

  • While it is “one size fits all”, this means that it is not adjustable. For a smaller framed woman, she may have troubles with a loose neckline or feeling like she is “swallowed” in it.
  • Without an open neckline, you do not have an easy line of sight to your baby and you have reduced airflow.
  • It is not a simple “wash and go” piece. Made of a cotton/spandex blend, the care instructions include gentle washing and air drying, which may be a turn-off for mothers who are looking for simplicity.

>>Check out the EN Babies Nursing Cover – Plus Features and Reviews at Amazon

Udder Covers

Another name that is well known amongst nursing mothers, the Udder Cover nursing cover boasts a rigid, open neckline and 100% cotton material. With its size, being more on the short and narrow side, this cover would likely be more suitable to the pumping mother.

Pros

  • One of the most inexpensive nursing covers on the market, making it affordable for any mother’s budget.
  • The open neckline allows you to maintain eye contact with your baby and allows air flow to keep you and your little one cool.

Cons

  • The cover is small, making it difficult for a breastfeeding mother to use in public, especially when she has an active eater.
  • It is machine washable, but still has been known to shrink in the wash, making it even smaller than its already small size.

>>Check out the Udder Cover Nursing Cover – Plus Features and Reviews at Amazon

And the Winner Is…

Knowing you are going to be nursing (pumping and/or breastfeeding) every couple of hours means that public nursing will be unavoidable. With this in mind, you are going to want a good cover that will keep you comfortable, covered, and modest.

My recommendation to you is the Now Born nursing cover. It hits all the points on our list: breathable material (100% organic cotton), full coverage (dual straps to hold it in place), stress-free (open neckline to give you eye contact with your baby), packability (an easy storage pouch), and easy maintenance (machine washable).

The biggest problem is deciding on the pattern that I like the most!

Final Word

Nursing in public can be uncomfortable enough with your own self-consciousness without all the unwanted looks. This nursing cover will help you feel comfortable and covered, and eventually, you will get used to nursing in public. 

It will become second nature, and both you and your baby will be thankful for the ability to enjoy some bonding time together, even while out on the town.

If a cover has not caught your eye here, check out our post on how to use a nursing scarf. They are a lighter option and fit in more with your OOTD than an accessory (or tool) you need to carry around.