If you’re looking for a nursing cover so that you feel more comfortable nursing or pumping in public, it can be a little overwhelming. Not only are there a ton of cute patterns to choose from, there are several different types of covers, each of which has their own advantages, disadvantages, and learning curve. To find the best nursing cover for you, you need to consider how you plan to use it (nursing or pumping), how important full coverage is to you, and your baby’s personality, if you’re nursing.
The 3 Types of Nursing Covers
Apron-style covers are the most common kind of nursing cover. They consist of a large rectangle of fabric that covers your chest, and they have a strap on the back of your neck holding them in place, like an apron. Both nursing and pumping can be done easily with an apron-style cover.
Most apron-style nursing covers have a firm neckline – sort of like the underwire on a bra – that holds the fabric out enough so that you can see your baby or your pump parts, which really helps with latching on or getting your pumping stuff hooked up.
These covers are easy to quickly put on whenever you need to nurse or pump, but they can also be easy for your baby to pull off. My middle child hated covers and always pushed them away; if you have a baby like this, other options, such as a poncho cover (see below), might be better for you.
If you like to wear scarves, infinity scarf nursing covers can be both a fashion accessory and functional. These scarves are long circular pieces of fabric that can be wrapped around your head twice as an infinity scarf or once around your shoulder as a nursing cover. These tend to come in fairly neutral patterns that work with most outfits so that you can wear them as a scarf and then transition to a nursing cover when you need it.
These provide great coverage when nursing, especially because they cover your back in addition to your front. However, depending on how you drape the material, it can be a bit more challenging to see your baby.
Pumping is more challenging with infinity scarf-style covers, but in a pinch you could make it work. If you are exclusively pumping, I would recommend getting one of the other styles.
Nursing cover ponchos are the best option if your primary concern is modesty, because they provide coverage around your entire body. Other covers can slip off to the side while you’re nursing or pumping, but that won’t happen with a poncho. It’s also much harder for your baby to pull these off of you if she doesn’t like covers. Additionally, sometimes, when you pull your shirt up to nurse or pump, you back can be exposed – a poncho will cover that up.
Ponchos do not have rigid neckline, so depending on how it’s draped, it can be slightly more difficult to see your baby or your pumping gear.
Make sure that any poncho that you get is light and breathable; you’re not going to want to wear a heavy poncho when you nurse your baby or pump outside at the pool when it’s 90 degrees and sunny.
Top 4 Nursing Covers
Bebe Au Lait produces high-quality nursing covers in a variety of cute patterns. This cover makes our top 4 list because of the muslin fabric that it’s made from – it’s lightweight and breathable, and perfect for summer. In general, it’s good to get lighter rather than heavier covers so that your baby doesn’t overheat and so you can use it comfortably no matter the temperature.
This cover is a traditional apron-style cover with a rigid neckline on top that allows you to look down on your baby, while still covering your chest from other people.
If your baby moves around a lot while nursing, it can require some vigilance to keep yourself covered. Additionally, if she doesn’t like the cover, she may be able to push it off to the side when you’re nursing.
This cover can be used while nursing or pumping. If you pump while using it, you can just put the cover on and then hook yourself up to pump underneath it. It should provide full coverage (and obviously, you don’t have to worry about your baby kicking it off).
Multi-use nursing covers are becoming more and more popular. This Copper Pearl cover has three possible uses: a poncho-style nursing cover, a car seat cover, and a shopping cart cover.
How can a nursing cover be all three things? The cover is a large piece of circular fabric with a hole on top. If it’s a nursing cover, your head goes in the hole and you wear it like a poncho, if you’re using it like a car seat cover, the cover goes over the entire car seat with the handle in the hole, and if you’re using it as a shopping cart cover, the fabric is placed all around the seat with your baby’s feet going through the hole. (Note: As a car seat cover, it works well to protect against wind and sun; less so for rain and snow because it’s not waterproof.)
As far as nursing cover functionality goes, because it’s a poncho-style cover, this will work well if modesty is a high priority for you. Because it goes around your entire body, it will be more difficult for your baby to throw it off.
This cover does not have a rigid neckline, which might make it hard to see your baby depending on how the poncho fits you and how your baby is positioned.
You can pump using this cover. It can be a bit challenging to see your pump parts when you’re hooking yourself up, so if you can put them together as much as possible beforehand, that will help.
This is a lightweight cover that can be used easily and comfortably in all weather.
The Itzy Ritzy Infinity Scarf is a different type of multi-use nursing cover; this one can be used as both a scarf for yourself and a nursing cover for you and your baby.
The coverage with this cover depends on how you drape it, but it can cover the entire side that you’re nursing on as well as your back. An exposed back can sometimes be an issue with traditional apron-style nursing covers when you lift up your shirt, depending on the type of shirt you’re wearing.
This cover isn’t really designed for the kind of coverage you need while pumping because it is intended to cover one side at a time. However, you could probably manage it in a pinch by single pumping.
The Itzy Ritzy scarf is lightweight and breathable and can be used in any weather; however, it might be a better option for cooler climates as it may be less appealing to wear a scarf in oppressive heat.
This 360 degree nursing poncho is a great option if your biggest concern is modesty, as you’re covered up all the way around, including your back, and your baby won’t be able to push the cover off to the side.
This cover is really easy to use while pumping – if it weren’t for the noise, other people might not even realize what you’re doing. As with the Copper Pearl cover, it will make things easier if you can get everything assembled before you start to hook yourself up.
This cover is not ideal for very warm weather; I think that if you were using it outside when it’s hot out, you could get a bit overheated, and the Bebe Au Lait Muslin Cover might be a better choice. However, it’s a great option for use indoors or in milder weather.
How to Choose the Best Nursing Cover for You
There is a lot of variety in the nursing covers on the market, and no one nursing cover is perfect for every mom and every baby. Below are the things you should consider when deciding which cover to get.
- Season/Temperature. If you’re having a baby in the spring and plan on spending the summer at the pool with your children, you’ll want to get a really lightweight cover like the Bebe Au Lait Muslin cover instead of a scarf or poncho. If you plan to nurse or pump mostly indoors, this isn’t as much of a consideration.
- Pumping vs Nursing. If you’re planning on using the nursing cover to pump in public, you’ll want to choose either an apron style cover or a poncho rather than a scarf.
- Importance of Modesty. If you are really nervous about exposing anything normally covered by your shirt when you’re nursing or pumping, a poncho might be the best bet for you. With a poncho cover, it’s less likely that your baby will kick or pull the cover out of the way, and your back is completely covered.
- How Your Baby Responds to Covers. If you are using the cover to nurse your baby (as opposed to pumping with it), think about whether your baby minds being covered while she eats. If she does, a poncho or scarf might be a better choice over an apron cover.
- Versatility. You probably already have plenty of stuff to carry, so it’s great being able to throw one thing in your purse or diaper bag that has multiple uses. If this appeals to you, consider the scarves or multi-use cover options.
Hopefully these nursing cover reviews help you decide on the best breastfeeding cover for you – one that works for both your needs and (if you’re nursing) your baby’s personality!