What breastfeeding supplies do I need? (part 2)

By Kelly Bonyata, BS, IBCLC

photo of nursing newborn

One breast.

One baby.

Simple, huh?

Expecting and new moms are often deluged with lists of must-have items for baby. Do you really need all the breastfeeding paraphernalia? The short answer is “No, probably not.” There may certainly be some things that might make life easier for you, so if it’s within your budget, then go ahead and give it a try. But for most moms, the extras are simply that – extras. The “extras” are nice at times, but they are not needed for a successful breastfeeding relationship.

Here’s a rundown of some of the more common breastfeeding-related items…

Item Who might need this? Alternatives
Breastfeeding Books Helpful for most, but not necessary.

See How can I find breastfeeding help?

Book Reviews

Recommended books

  • Public Library
  • Breastfeeding support groups
  • Lactation Consultants
  • Friends and relatives who were successful at nursing
  • Websites
Nursing bra Convenient for most, but not necessary.

See Choosing a Nursing Bra

Nursing clothing Convenient for some, but not necessary.
  • Regular, non-nursing clothing. Many moms prefer to wear a loose shirt that can be pulled up for nursing. Many moms wear a tank top (regular or nursing) underneath to keep their tummy from showing.
  • Make your own
Nursing pads Convenient for some, but not necessary. Some moms don’t leak.
  • Nothing
  • Folded handkerchief or washcloth
  • Make your own from scrap cloth
  • Apply pressure to nipple (straight in toward chest) to stop leaking. In public, you can do this by crossing your arms and pressing in (like you might do when you’re cold).
Nursing pillow Helpful for some, but not necessary.
  • Nothing
  • Bed pillows
  • Throw pillow(s) (or other small pillow)
  • Make your own
Nursing stool Helpful for some, but not necessary.
  • Nothing
  • Footstool
  • Plastic stool from discount store
  • Stack of books
  • Low table
  • Bottom rung of chair
Purified lanolin nipple ointment or other baby-safe nipple cream Helpful for some, but not necessary.
Baby carrier A great parenting tool, but not necessary. See Slings, wraps & other baby carriers.
Nursing cover Convenient for some, but not necessary.
  • Nothing
  • Sling or wrap
  • Baby blanket, scarf or shawl over your shoulder, or tuck cloth under your arm and drape it around baby’s body (rather than over your shoulder)
  • Practice nursing in front of a mirror or supportive friend. With a little practice you’ll find you can nurse in public very discreetly – without covering baby & mom with a blanket or shawl.
Pacifier Convenient for some, particularly when mom and baby are separated. Not necessary, and may cause problems at times.

See What should I know about giving my breastfed baby a pacifier?

  • Breastfeeding
  • If mom is not available, caregiver can use other comfort measures.
  • Baby may suck fingers or thumb.
Breastpump Helpful when baby can’t/won’t nurse, when mom needs to increase supply, or when mom and baby are separated.

See Do all breastfeeding mothers need a pump?

Bottles and accessories Helpful when mom & baby are separated, or when supplements are needed (and parents prefer using a bottle).
Breast shells May be helpful for moms who have sore nipples. No need to get these unless you need them, as many moms never use them.
Nipple shields Helpful for specific situations. See Nipple shields. Should only be used under the direction of a lactation consultant.

Curious about what baby/breastfeeding “extras” I find most useful?

  • Supportive partner & family
  • Phone numbers for LLL & a local lactation consultant
  • Breastfeeding support meetings
  • Good breastfeeding books
  • Good breastfeeding websites
  • Cordless phone
  • Baby carrier (I personally prefer a wrap or ring sling for a newborn)
  • King-sized bed
  • Breastfeeding pillow (or anything else that will help to free up your hands when nursing at home)

Some of the “extras” are available through KellyMom.com .

KellyMom is sponsored this month by Earth Mama Angel Baby, maker of natural and organic herbal products, who has graciously helped pay our costs this month.
Our sponsor is not responsible for and has had no influence over the creation, selection or presentation of evidence-based or other information or resources provided on this site.