The Best Nipple Cream for Breastfeeding Moms
Breastfeeding offers a wonderful way to bond with 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 it, and during the learning process, it’s common to experience some discomfort—particularly sore nipples and dry, cracked, sensitive skin. The good news? As baby perfects their 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.
Keep reading to discover our top tips on how to source and apply nipple balms and creams—plus our pick of the best nipple cream for breastfeeding moms.
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 always a good option, since baby may ingest traces of the product while breastfeeding. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends using medical-grade lanolin products to soothe sore nipples. Stay away from 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 to use 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. 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, numbing creams are not suitable for nursing moms. Ingredients like lidocaine could numb baby’s mouth enough to affect their sucking abilities and even stop them from feeding.
Dealing with sore, cracked nipples is a pain (to say the least!). Luckily, nipple creams are safe to use and can provide some relief. Simply, air-dry or gently pat your breasts dry after nursing or pumping then apply a topical treatment to the affected areas. Pure lanolin and other natural blends aren’t harmful, so there’s no need to wash these products off before breastfeeding.
The choices are vast, but we’ve combed through them all. Here are our picks of the best nipple creams for breastfeeding. They’re smooth, soothing and, most importantly, safe for baby.
Best overall nipple cream
With just five ingredients—virgin olive oil, beeswax, shea butter, marshmallow root and calendula flower—this is one of the best nipple creams for breastfeeding moms. This wonder-product is so good it won a Best of Pregnancy award in 2022. It’s 100 percent USDA-certified organic, lanolin-free and it’s even safe for people 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 forms on the skin. Our top tip? Apply a thin layer before pumping to help prevent chafing and avoid pain from the get go.
Buy it: Bamboobies Organic Nipple Balm, $12, Target.com
Best lanolin nipple cream
Lanolin (which is derived from sheep’s wool) is one of the best-known remedies for sore nipples. Lanolin is also 100 percent safe for infants, and is the only AAP-recommended topical treatment for sore nipples. Medela’s thick formula glides on smoothly and contains oat-derived beta glucans to soothe sensitive skin. Apply it before pumping (or nursing), and your breasts 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. One possible downside? This cream has a distinctive scent and may leave yellowish stains on your clothing. But moms still rave about this product, with one happy Amazon customer stating: “This is simply the best ointment for sore nipples from breastfeeding.”
Buy it: Medela Lanolin Nipple Cream, $14, Amazon.com
Best lanolin-free nipple cream
Although lanolin is effective, it may not be suitable for all skin types; you also shouldn’t use it if you have a known lanolin or wool allergy. Luckily, there are many effective lanolin-free options out there, including this nipple butter by Earth Mama Organics. The herbal blend boasts olive oil, beeswax, cocoa butter, shea butter, mango butter and skin-healing calendula extract. Better yet, all of the ingredients are nourishing, organic and cruelty-free. The ultimate multitasker, the creamy formula also softens chapped lips, dry cuticles, rough heels and elbows. Genius!
Buy it: Earth Mama Organics Nipple Butter, $12, Target.com
Best organic nipple cream
This all-natural ointment—a former Best of Baby award-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 vitamins. Other superstar ingredients in this nipple cream include extra-virgin olive oil, shea butter and calendula (a skin-soothing flower) to ease pain and heal cracks. Moms adore the creamy texture, which glides onto tender breasts. Oh, and did we mention that it’s USDA-certified organic and cruelty-free?
Buy it: Motherlove Organic Nipple Cream, $12, Target.com
Best nipple balm
Designed to be used from your nips to your lips, this balm is a real multitasker. The blend of organic coconut oil, beeswax and shea butter is enriched with jojoba seed and aloe vera to soothe and protect sensitive skin. It’s also completely safe for infants, meaning you don’t need to wipe it off before nursing. The tube may be small, but a little goes a long way—a pea-sized amount is enough to treat affected areas. One thing to note is that the formula is quite thick, so you may need to warm it up with your fingers before applying.
Buy it: Honest Calm Your Nip Balm, $15, Honest.com
Best cream for cracked nipples
One of your best nipple cream bets for medical-grade lanolin, this formula from Lansinoh will heal and soothe dry, cracked nipples. Recommended by lactation consultants across the country, this hypoallergenic ointment is made with 100 percent lanolin—with no preservatives or filler ingredients. However, it has a very thick texture and can sometimes leave greasy spots behind on clothing.
Buy it: Lansinoh HPA Lanolin 1.41 oz. Breast Creme, $11, Amazon.com
Best natural nipple cream
Like all the best nipple creams, this one is full of soothing ingredients—in this case, vitamin B5 (a humectant) and pure cocoa butter—to heal cracked, parched skin. It’s also dermatologically tested and free from parabens and phthalates. Apply daily to keep nipples soft and moisturized. It also naturally smells like coconuts—which could be a hit or a miss.
Buy it: Palmers Cocoa Butter Nursing Cream, $8, Walmart.com
Best nipple cream set
Frida Mom is a go-to brand for postpartum essentials—and that includes a two-step treatment for sore, cracked nipples. This clever set comes with a sterile saline spray that soothes dry skin and a hydrating salve. Between feedings, spray the saline onto the affected area and then massage the cream into your breasts using the hands-free applicator to nip pain in the bud.
Buy it: Frida Mom Sore Nipple Set, $20, buybuyBABY.com
Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.