What breastfeeding accessories do I need?

There are plenty of baby products, accessories and clothing on the market – but will any of them help you with breastfeeding? Take a look at our handy list to find out

What breastfeeding accessories do I need?

If you’re planning to breastfeed your new baby, having the right kit can help. However, you may be wondering what breastfeeding supplies you really need and what you can do without. To help you decide, we’ve broken your potential breastfeeding journey into stages, as your needs are likely to change over time. We’ve also asked breastfeeding mums for their baby product recommendations and tips on the things they found most useful.

Nursing accessories for beginning breastfeeding

The first few days with your baby are usually quite hectic, so it pays to prepare. Whether you’re home soon after the birth or have to stay in hospital for a few days, there’s some kit you may want to have ready:

If breastfeeding doesn’t quite go to plan, a lactation consultant or breastfeeding specialist may advise you to use the following:

  • Nipple shields if your baby struggles to latch on, or possibly if you’re suffering from sore nipples. In general nipple shields should be considered a short-term solution. If problems or pain occur, consult your lactation consultant or breastfeeding specialist.
  • A breast pump to relive engorgement and/or help establish your milk supply.
  • Some mums also find that cooling hydrogel pads can be soothing in the days following the birth, especially when their milk starts coming in.

What mums found most useful

“Cushions are helpful for back, leg and arm support. Also nursing pads for leaking breasts, and a breastfeeding bra and loose tops for easy access (I had good-quality bras converted into breastfeeding bras so I had more support). And we used a sling all the time.” Zariya, mum of two, South Africa.

“My number one, couldn’t-be-without product was hydrogel pads. I was given these in my first few days of breastfeeding and I never had a cracked nipple or even much soreness. I swear by them and buy them for everyone who is even considering breastfeeding.” Camilla, mum of one, Australia.

“A must-have was someone to bring me a glass of water, because I kept forgetting to get one before I started breastfeeding!” Mag, mum of two, France.

“A flask so I could have hot drinks while I was stuck in bed. Decent food and snacks – my mother-in-law made awesome beef stew and flapjacks (I needed to eat a lot!). A pillow to support my baby, as I was exhausted. A comfy chair, a night light for night feeds, and a cushion to sit on as I had stitches – ouch!” Felicia, mum of two, UK.

“A sympathetic partner, friend or grandma to bring you cups of tea and all the other things you can’t get for yourself while you’re sitting breastfeeding. Oh, and a Kindle so you can read a book easily with just one hand!” Julie, mum of one, Spain.

Nursing equipment while breastfeeding gets established

As the first couple of weeks progress, hopefully you and your baby will gradually start getting the hang of breastfeeding. Feeds will be pretty frequent and time-consuming. Here are a few things that should make life easier and more comfortable while your breast milk supply is getting established, and beyond:

At some point you’ll want to leave the cosy cocoon of your home and go out with your baby. Read 'Breastfeeding in public' for more tips on feeding your baby when you’re out.

What mums found most useful

“My essentials were breastfeeding bras, disposable nursing pads, and big muslins to wipe up spillages and to help cover my baby or boobs. Also lanolin cream was an absolute must for cracked nipples, and loose tops and cardigans helped with easy feeding.” Tatjana, mum of three, Switzerland.

“The most useful product was a good U-shaped breastfeeding pillow. I also had a rocking chair that, at a certain angle, I found really comfortable for feeding my baby. I always listened to music to relax me.” Violeta, mum of one, Romania.

“A sports-type water bottle that doesn’t leak even when open, so you can have it lying on the sofa or bed next to you. Also, an app to track feeds and remind me which boob my baby took last.” Francesca, mum of one, UK.

“Milk collection shells that you put in your bra to catch any leaking milk. I had such an oversupply, they were a lifesaver.” Lisa-Maria, mum of two, Switzerland.

“I loved my feeding cover with a D-ring, which gave my baby privacy and minimised distractions when we were out and about. An Ikea Poäng chair with a slight bouncing motion was a cheap alternative to crazily overpriced gliders. I found washable breast pads really absorbent, and muslin cloths have a thousand uses. The product I wish I’d bought was the Medela Easy Expression bustier – it would have made expressing so much easier!” Camilla, mum of one, Australia.

Baby feeding accessories for expressing milk

At some stage on your breastfeeding journey you may need to use a breast pump to express milk for your baby. The type of pump you’ll need depends on your situation and how much milk you want to express. Depending how often you’re planning to pump, you might also need:

What mums found most useful

“In the very early stages, when I felt like my breasts were about to explode, I used a Medela electric breast pump – just enough to get rid of the excess milk without stimulating my breasts too much. It saved me from a lot of discomfort.” Tatjana, mum of three, Switzerland.

“I used the Medela Freestyle double electric breast pump to increase my milk supply, with the Easy Expression bustier to hold it in place so I could use my hands. It was absolutely brilliant.” Amy, mum of one, UK.