If you were to ask me now what was one of the most valuable investments I made as a new parent, I think there is one stand-out item – my nursing cover.
Both as a frequent traveller with my babies and moving to a Muslim country – where breastfeeding is accepted but very much expected to be done discreetly – it was vital that I felt I could confidently feed on the move.
A nursing cover quickly became an essential item that came EVERYWHERE around the world with me & my babies!
This post is part of our family travel advice series.
My baby hates being covered up – is it worth investing in a nursing cover?
With my first baby – I was like any first-time mum – everything felt hopelessly difficult and foreign. No matter what I tried to do, my baby fussed and didn’t like it, and using a breastfeeding cover was no different (I thought it was just me, but have since worked out my oldest child is awkward about just about everything!)
I struggled by attaching a large muslin around my neck when I felt I needed to and having the baby rip these off – leading to several full nipple exposure incidents. It’s one thing to have this happen in very cosmopolitan London – but it was something I desperately needed to address when I moved to Abu Dhabi with my second child.
So if this sounds like you mammas and you’re thinking my baby just hates being covered up – please bear with me while I explain!!!
To get past this, practice, practice, practice at home. When you are sitting down for a regular feed and baby is not fussing, you are not stressed; experiment with using your new cover and introduce the concept slowly before you need to do it out and about and the pressure is on you both.
Picking the best style of nursing cover
There are several different styles when it comes to breastfeeding cover-ups and choosing the best nursing cover.
It really depend on you and your babies feeding style; what suits you for one baby may not work best for the next. For every item we mention here I am sure for every nursing mamma who loved it there’s another who hated it!
We invite you to join the conversation before you go – let’s see if you agree or disagree with any of our choices in the comments below!
A quick and clever way to stay covered up, made of super stretchy material, you can simply wear your scarf around your neck as an accessory, then when it’s feeding time, wrap the stretch material around your bubba. They allow for all-around coverage, so slippage is minimalised.
Similar to a scarf, the poncho can be worn all the time but more as a fashion piece that covers your entire upper body. It’s made of a decent amount of stretchy fabric at the front so you slip baby up from underneath with ample coverage over the front, back & sides.
Similar to a poncho and a scarf, you can wear it all the time as a fashion piece, and utilise it as a sun cover for car seats and strollers.
An apron cover you slip on over your neck when it’s feeding time and it covers the front of your body. Most come with an adjustable neck strap so you can fit it to size, and a hard wire on the top sewn into the fabric so the neck opening stays put and you can see downward, but no one can see in sideways. Some also come with an optional back tie.
All-in-one nursing cover
While you can theoretically wear these as a fashion accessory, they are more of a stretchy pullover that can also be used as a sunshade cover for your car seat, stroller, a liner in a shopping trolley… the list goes on! They tend to be a bit tighter than a poncho.
Features we look for in a nursing cover
Nursing cover fabric
This may depend on what climate you are living in, and whether you want to be wearing the item against your skin all the time. Do you want cotton, muslin, bamboo or spandex material?
Like anything babywear, always check it is machine washable!
How much coverage does you nursing cover give?
These designs all come with varying amounts of fabric covering over you and baby. The scarf provides the least amount of coverage, and from what we’ve seen of some brands really works best with your much smaller child – as they grow, it can become quite a snug fit under there! – while the apron provides much wider coverage and allows for a much larger child with open sides.
I found that in a hot climate I didn’t want the snugness of the shawl and I liked the wire opening of the apron so I could actually see what was going on down there!
Are you just looking to use your cover during breastfeeding, or interest in some far more versatile functions including using it as a sunshade on your car capsule or stroller?
You can read more about the added benefits we have also found for nursing covers (even after the milk has dried up!) over here
Top 5 nursing covers to try in 2023
We have not personally tried every brand mentioned – some were invented after we’d moved on from this stage so we have talked to a lot of current breastfeeding mammas to bring you this round-up.
Best apron nursing cover – Bebe au lait
The one-size-fits-all Bebe au Lait was one of my early favorites. Available in a wide variety of colours and patterns, the wire was perfect for being able to keep an eye on what I was doing without the outside word seeing in! The dimensions I always found provided ample coverage even if baby was kicking about.
You can also get the Bebe au Lait in a premium muslin version, some mums & bubs really prefer this light material, especially in hot climates.
Other nursing aprons with a wired top opening to consider:
Best Hybrib nursing cover – Bamboobies
Bamboobies could possibly be one of my favourites when it comes to a hybrid cover. They come in a few different designs, but as a versatile fashion piece, I love the open style kimono maternity cover. Made from bamboo and a touch of spandex, it is lightweight and quick-drying.
Best Poncho Nursing Cover – Rosie Pope Nursing Cover
This is our absolute favourite for a cover that truly does look fashionable, not like you are wearing your breastfeeding cover – there’s a fine line! The Rosie Pope brand does cost a little more but the lovely soft modal/spandex blend with a flattering cowl neck is the perfect addition while travelling to wear with their lightweight and breathable nursing cami’s, perfect for hot climates.
Other poncho-style nursing covers to consider:
Best Stylish Nursing Cover – Emma Moe Premium Nursing Cover
Pretty and practical, the Emma Moe Premium Nursing Cover to practical but extremely stylish, perfect for a summer retreat. It comes with a rigid neckline which we LOVE, giving you peekaboo access to bubs beneath, but it is wide enough to ensure privacy.
Nursing scarf – LK Baby Infinity
This is our budget pick, doing exactly what it needs to at a fraction of the cost of many of the fashion brands. A jersey knit, it can be wrapped or looped around your neck and folded down to provide full coverage over baby.
Other simple nursing scarfs to consider:
Multi-purpose nursing scarfs and car seat covers
What was a brand new innovation when I started breastfeeding is now a quite flooded market meaning there are many products available now at a very similar price point with very similar specs, we’ve included a selection here:
If this is your preferred style, it’s really about choosing the colours and styling you like best.
My only major observation about this design is that you need to pull the elastic down to see what’s going on down there. Some babies prefer to make eye contact while they are feeding or often come unlatched; if this sounds like you, then an open apron may be preferable.
Further reading for new travelling parents
Before you go! We’ve been travelling with our children for 10 years now! We have a wealth of knowledge on all family topics, from baby travel through to more active adventures with school-aged kids.
Here are some more stories and reviews from our best of baby travel advice you may be interested in:
- How to tackle your very first baby flight
- 10 Baby Travel Essentials you will absolutely need (yes, including nursing covers!)
- Best Travel Toys for your 1-year-old
- Sleep solutions on the go – best travel cots & bassinets
- Is it worth investing in a travelling high chair – really important if you are transitioning from breastfeeding to solids
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