When baby is hungry, she’ll let you know it—and she won’t care if you happen to be at home or out and about. And while it would be wonderful if there were clean, comfy nursing rooms on every corner, the reality is there will be times when you’ll have to find the closest spot to sit and breastfeed your ravenous little one, privacy be damned. Which is where nursing covers can come in handy.
Are nursing covers necessary? Absolutely not! While the specific laws differ state to state, all moms across the country now have the legal right to breastfeed in public. But while some moms are at ease with public breastfeeding from day one, others feel more comfortable having a little coverage. Plus, certain babies nurse better when they’re under a nursing cover and less distracted by all the sights and sounds around them.
Types of Nursing Covers
If you’re in the market for a nursing cover, keep in mind that there are different types. These are the different styles available, so you can pick the best nursing cover that suits your needs:
• The nursing shawl. This option looks just like a “normal” shawl, in that it’s a large piece of fabric that can be draped across the shoulders and used for warmth as well as discreet nursing. Strategically placed buttons let you fully cover baby within the folds of the fabric.
• The nursing poncho. These are made from a single piece of fabric that slips over your head and covers the front, sides and back, providing slip-free coverage for nursing.
• The nursing scarf. This style can be worn around the neck when you’re not nursing, and then draped across your shoulders and over baby’s head when it’s time to feed.
• The nursing apron. These nursing covers aren’t designed to be worn as regular clothing pieces, since, as the name implies, they look like aprons that tie around your neck and drape over baby. The benefit of nursing aprons? The slightly structured neckline allows for ventilation and an easy view of your nursing babe, and many designs include pockets for any breastfeeding accessories.
Best Multifunctional Nursing Cover: Copper Pearl Multi-Use Cover
Seasoned moms will agree multi-use items are a busy parent’s best friend. The Copper Pearl cover is a 5-in-1 option that can be used as a nursing cover, infant car seat cover, shopping cart seat cover, high chair cover and infinity scarf. The poncho-style design gives you full coverage while still giving you easy access to your little one, in case you need to adjust the latch or reposition. It’s made of a super-soft, stretchy rayon blend and comes in a variety of trendy prints.
Buy it: Copper Pearl Multi-Use Covers, $25, CopperPearl.com
Best Nursing Shawl: Bamboobies Nursing Cover Shawl
This option from Bamboobies stands out as a best nursing cover thanks to the fact that few people will ever guess its real purpose! This simple, chic cover looks like a normal shawl you’d find in any woman’s closet, and has a flattering drape that’s perfect for all shapes and sizes. And rest assured, it provides plenty of coverage for a nursing baby. Made of soft, sustainable bamboo blend, it’s crafted by seamstresses earning fair wages and even offers UPF 50+ protection for when you’re nursing in the sun.
Buy it: Bamboobies Nursing Cover Shawl, $30, Amazon.com
Best Nursing Scarf: NuRoo Nursing Scarf
No need to stash this nursing cover in your diaper bag—you’ll definitely want to wear this one out! The NuRoo Nursing Scarf is lightweight, breathable and looks totally chic. Snaps on either end allow for customized nursing coverage, so it can be worn wrapped or draped, over the shoulder or around your neck. It’s made of stretchy, soft fabric, and—get this!—it’s wrinkle free.
Buy it: NuRoo Nursing Scarf, $30, NuRoobaby.com
Best Nursing Poncho: Rosie Pope Nursing Cover-Up
Rosie Pope is the go-to choice for chic and practical maternity wear, and her nursing poncho is no exception. It slips on overhead and provides plenty of coverage while keeping your hands free. The unique cowl neck detail and flattering cut of this nursing cover offer a stylish alternative for nursing moms.
Buy it: Rosie Pope Nursing Cover-up, $48, Nordstrom.com
Best Nursing Apron: Bebe au Lait Premium Muslin Nursing Cover
Bebe au Lait offers an apron that’s made of lightweight, breathable muslin to keep baby (and mom) cool, making this a best nursing cover pick. The flexible neckline ensures that baby gets plenty of air and that you and your little one can maintain eye contact during feedings. (After all, breastfeeding is a great bonding experience!) A nice bonus feature: The two internal terry cloth pockets are perfect for stashing small items.
Buy it: Bebe au Lait Premium Muslin Nursing Cover, $28, Amazon.com
Best Nursing Cardigan: Goodbody Goodmommy Multitasking Cardigan
For an option you’ll still want to use after your little one is weaned, the Goodbody Goodmommy’s Multitasking Cardigan is the best nursing cover for you. The wrap style cardigan features two pockets perfect for holding your little necessities. Hidden buttons and loops turn the cardigan into a nursing cover, but the soft fabric and timeless design also makes it a wardrobe staple.
Buy it: Goodbody Goodmommy Multitasking Cardigan, $59, GoodbodyGoodmommy.com
Best Cheap Nursing Cover: Kiddo Care Nursing Infinity Scarf
If you’re on a tight budget, the Kiddo Care Nursing Infinity Scarf is one of the best nursing cover options for under $10. The soft grey infinity scarf can easily be thrown over any outfit and positioned over one or both shoulder for full coverage when nursing. Made from lightweight cotton, it can also be used as an infant car seat cover.
Buy it: Kiddo Care Nursing Infinity Scarf, $10, Amazon.com
Best Luxe Nursing Cover: Seraphine Chevron Cable Knit Nursing Cover
If you prefer something a but more luxurious than the standard stretchy nursing cover, you’ll love Seraphine’s Chevron Cable Knit Nursing Cover. The cozy cable knit shawl is made with a blend of cotton, wool and a touch of cashmere for heavenly warmth and comfort. Shoulder snaps keep the shawl in place, while the gorgeous gray tone and cable knit pattern will keep you looking put together and glamorous—no matter how little sleep you may be getting.
But it: Seraphine Chevron Cable Knit Nursing Cover, $99, Seraphine.com
Best Plus Size Nursing Cover: CoverMe Ponchos Plus Size Nursing Cover
The CoverMe Ponchos is one of the best nursing cover picks out there for moms size 16 and up. Specifically designed for more voluptuous mamas, the poncho has an increased width and height to provide the most complete coverage. The lightweight, soft fabric keeps moms cool and comfortable while also providing plenty of room for baby to freely nurse.
Buy it: CoverMe Ponchos Plus Size Nursing Cover, $37, Etsy.com
Best Cover for Pumping: EN Babies 360 Nursing Cover
If you’re committed to breastfeeding and find yourself pumping on the go, you need a nursing cover that can accomodate all the pump parts. EN Babies 360 degree Full Coverage Nursing Cover keeps everything under wraps. Made of 95 percent cotton and just 5 percent spandex, this cover is comfortable and breathable and cut to provide the maximum amount of privacy.
Buy it: EN Babies 360 Full Coverage Nursing Cover, $29, Amazon.com
Photo (top image): Michelle Rose Sulcov / michellerosephoto.com
Model (top image): Erin Williams
Updated August 2018
Plus, more from The Bump: