Breastfeeding offers a wonderful way to bond with your baby, not to mention plenty of health perks for the both of you. But as any new mom knows, nursing isn’t as easy as you might think. It takes time for mom and baby to get the hang of working together, and during the learning process, it’s common to experience some discomfort—particularly sore nipples and dry, cracked, sensitive skin. The good news is as baby perfects his latch, that pain will go away. In the meantime, finding the best nipple cream for your needs can help. Simply dabbing some on will encourage healing and can make for an all around more comfortable breastfeeding experience.
What to Look for in a Nipple Cream
Not all nipple creams are created equal. And with so many options out there, it can be tough deciding which is the best for you and baby. There are a few guidelines to keep in mind to make shopping easier:
• Consider the ingredients. Natural and organic options are better in a nipple cream, since baby will ingest it while breastfeeding. Stay away from nipple creams that have hard-to-pronounce ingredients or (major red flag!) need to be wiped off before feeding—these likely contain artificial ingredients and aren’t safe for baby. Other harmful ingredients to look out for include: petroleum, parabens, mineral oil and triethanolamine. Alcohol is another no-no, particularly for Mom: It’s extremely drying and can worsen skin quality over time.
• Test out the texture. Some balms and salves can be surprisingly tough to rub on, and you don’t want any extra pressure in an area that’s already super-sensitive and sore. And who wants to be left a sticky mess? Soft and smooth is the way to go.
• Avoid added fragrances. After all, the scents don’t enhance the nursing process, and baby—who’s sensitive to fragrance—may even refuse to feed because of them. Your best bet: a nipple cream that’s simple and unscented.
• Skip the numbing agents. While they may seem ideal if you have sore nipples, they’re not good for baby. Those ingredients could numb baby’s mouth enough to affect her sucking abilities and even stop her from feeding.
The Best Nipple Creams You’ll Ever Try
The choices are vast but we’ve combed through them all. Here are our top nipple cream picks. They’re smooth, soothing and, most importantly, safe for baby.
Motherlove Nipple Cream
This all-natural ointment—a Best of Baby 2018 winner—gets its magic from bees. The hero ingredient, beeswax, draws moisture into the skin and locks it in. Plus, it contains antibacterial properties as well as skin-enhancing vitamin A. Other superstar ingredients in this nipple cream include extra virgin olive oil, shea butter and calendula (a skin-soothing flower) to ease aches and heal cracks.
Buy it: $11 for 1 oz, Amazon.com
Palmers Cocoa Butter Nursing Cream
Like all the best nipple creams, this one is chock full of soothing ingredients—in this case, Pro Vitamin B5 (a humectant) and pure cocoa butter—to heal cracked, parched skin. Bonus: It naturally smells like coconuts.
Buy it: $7 for 1.1 oz, Amazon.com
Medela Tender Care Lanolin
Lanolin (which is derived from sheep’s wool) is one of the best-known old-school remedies. Apply this thick cream to your breasts before pumping, and your nipples will feel less raw from the strong suction. You can also dab this nipple cream along the underside edge of your pump’s flanges to prevent chafing.
Buy it: $7 for 2 oz, Amazon.com
Earth Mama Organics Organic Nipple Butter
All the ingredients in this nipple cream are organic, including the olive oil, beeswax, cocoa butter, shea butter, mango butter and wound-healing calendula extract. The ultimate multitasker, this soothing blend also softens chapped lips, dry cuticles and rough heels and elbows.
Buy it: $8 for 2 oz, Amazon.com
The Honest Company Organic Nipple Balm
Take comfort in knowing you can apply this pick and then breastfeed—all of its food-grade ingredients are safe for baby, including beeswax, shea butter, canola, coconut, aloe vera, tamanu seed (an anti-inflammatory) and sunflower seed oils. The thin yet effective balm slides on effortlessly and leaves no residue.
Buy it: $10 for 1.8 oz, Amazon.com
Lansinoh HPA Lanolin
Among the most recommended by lactation consultants across the country, this best nipple cream pick is a hypoallergenic ointment made with 100 percent lanolin—that means no preservatives or filler ingredients. However, it has a very thick texture and can sometimes leave greasy spots behind on clothing, so it’s best to use in the evening when you’re sure to stay in.
Buy it: $8 for 1.4 oz, Amazon.com
Bamboobies Boob-ease Organic Nipple Balm
With just five ingredients—virgin olive oil, beeswax, shea butter, marshmallow root and calendula flower—this is one of the best nipple creams to put your mind at ease. It’s 100-percent USDA certified organic, and it’s even safe for moms and babies with eczema or allergies. The Vaseline-like texture is a bit greasy (so don’t wear your good clothes after applying) but it’s worth it, given the super-protective barrier it provides for your skin.
Buy it: $13 for 1 oz, Amazon.com
Milkies Nipple Nurture Balm
Olive oil takes center stage in this completely organic nipple cream and provides its comforting scent. It also contains marshmallow root (a natural skin softener), calendula and shea butter. The balm melts as soon as you touch it, making it a cinch to apply for instant relief for cracked, sore nipples. The texture also creates a soothing protective layer between you and your breast pump flanges.
Buy it: $15 for 1.5 oz, Amazon.com
Mama Mio Keep Calm Nipple Balm
One of your best nipple cream bets for medical-grade lanolin, this formulation will heal and soothe dry, cracked nipples. Pampering ingredients—including organic coconut and olive oils as well as organic shea butter and calendula—provide additional relief. You can use this balm on cuticles and lips too.
Buy it: $16 for 1 oz, Amazon.com
Bella B Nipple Nurture Butter
Offering a plant-based alternative to lanolin, this nipple cream is a standout thanks to its lack of taste or smell (something baby will appreciate). It's made with avocado oil and cocoa and shea butter, and melts in your fingers for an easy application. It does tend to stain, though, so pop in a nursing pad to protect your clothes.
Updated August 2018