When baby is hungry, they’ll let you know it—regardless of whether you’re 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 This is when a nursing cover 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.
If you’re in the market for a nursing cover, keep in mind that there are a few 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.
Image: Copper Pearl
Copper Pearl 5-in-1 Multi-Use Cover in Summit
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 5-in-1 Multi-Use Cover in Summit, $27, buybuyBABY.com
Bee+roo women’s classic weight poncho
How about this cashmere beauty by bee+roo? Voted the top nursing cover in the 2022 Best of Pregnancy awards, this poncho is incredibly soft and stylish. Made from 100 percent Mongolian cashmere, the natural fabric is touchably soft and breathable. The classic weight can be used all year round, but it also comes in a lighter knit for spring and summer. While it’s a relatively expensive item, this poncho can be used as a nursing cover-up, baby blanket, car seat cover or simply as a fashionable accessory.
Buy it: Bee+roo women’s classic weight poncho, $148, Maisonette.com
Image: Bebe au Lait
Bebe au Lait Muslin Nursing Cover in Atherton
Bebe au Lait’s apron is made of lightweight, breathable muslin to keep baby (and mom) cool, making this one of the best nursing covers out there. The flexible neckline ensures that baby gets plenty of air, and allows you and your little one to maintain eye contact during feedings. (After all, breastfeeding is a great bonding experience!) A nice extra feature: The whole cover folds up into a portable mini-pouch for easy storage when you’re on the go.
Buy it: Bebe au Lait Muslin Nursing Cover in Atherton, $28, buybuyBABY.com
Seraphine Reversible Green & Gray Maternity & Nursing Wrap Shawl
If you prefer something a bit more luxurious than the standard stretchy nursing cover, Seraphine’s Two-Tone Maternity and Nursing Shawl Wrap is one of the best nursing covers money can buy. The cozy knit shawl is ultra-soft with plenty of stretch for warmth and comfort. We especially love the slim-fit cuffed sleeves and chic sage green color with contrasting gray on the reverse. You’ll look put together and glamorous—no matter how little sleep you may be getting.
Buy it: Seraphine Reversible Green & Gray Maternity & Nursing Wrap Shawl, $99, Seraphine.com
Bamboobies Women’s Chic Nursing 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 it has a flattering drape that’s perfect for all shapes and sizes. Still, you can rest assured that it provides plenty of coverage for a nursing baby. Made of a soft, sustainable bamboo blend, it even offers UPF 50+ protection for when you’re nursing in the sun.
Buy it: Bamboobies Women’s Chic Nursing Shawl, $25, Amazon.com
Storq Mama + BB Nursing Cardigan
For an option you’ll still want to use even after your little one has weaned, this option by Storq is the best nursing cover for you. The oversized fit is right on trend, and it hits near the mid-thigh to provide you with full coverage. Hidden shoulder snaps turn the cardigan into a discreet breastfeeding cover—or you can wear it unbuttoned as a regular open cardigan. Either way, the soft alpaca wool fabric and timeless design make it a wardrobe staple. Available in sizes XS to XXL.
Buy it: Storq Mama + BB Nursing Cardigan, $215, Storq.com
Image: Bebe au Lait
Bebe au Lait Deluxe Infinity Muslin Nursing Scarf in Carmel Bay
No need to stash this nursing cover in your diaper bag—you’ll definitely want to wear this one out! Bebe au Lait’s infinity scarf is lightweight, breathable and proof that breastfeeding cover-ups can look totally chic. It can be worn wrapped around your neck or draped over your body while you nurse. It’s made of soft cotton muslin fabric, and the roomy construction promotes airflow and allows for eye contact between Mom and baby.
Buy it: Bebe au Lait Deluxe Infinity Muslin Nursing Scarf in Carmel Bay, $29, buybuyBABY.com
Image: LK Baby
Infinity Nursing Scarf in Heathered Gray
If you’re on the hunt for true value, the LK Baby Infinity Nursing Scarf is one of the best nursing cover options for those on a tight budget. The soft jersey knit infinity scarf can easily be thrown over any outfit and positioned over one or both shoulders for full coverage when nursing. It’s lightweight, breathable and comes in heather gray and navy blue.
Buy it: LK Baby Infinity Nursing Scarf, $10, Walmart.com
Image: CoverMe Ponchos
CoverMe Ponchos Plus Size Nursing Cover
The CoverMe Poncho is one of the best nursing cover picks out there for moms size 16 and up. Specifically designed for larger caregivers, the breastfeeding cover has an increased width and height to provide complete coverage. The lightweight, soft fabric keeps moms cool and comfortable while also providing plenty of room for baby to freely nurse. Bonus: This cover-up is available in petite sizes too.
Buy it: CoverMe Ponchos Plus Size Nursing Cover, $38, CoverMePonchos.com
WeeSpout Nursing Cover
If you often find yourself pumping on the go, you need a nursing cover up that can accommodate all the pump parts. WeeSpout’s 360-degree Nursing Cover keeps everything under wraps. This machine-washable, dryer-safe breastfeeding cover is comfortable, breathable and cut to provide the maximum amount of privacy. Plus, you can also use it as a convenient stroller and car seat cover for baby.
Buy it: WeeSpout Nursing Cover, $21, Amazon.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.
Plus, more from The Bump:
Everything You Need to Know About Breastfeeding in Public
Breastfeeding Tips Every Nursing Mom Should Know
Best Breast Pumps for Every Kind of Mom