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18 Must-Have Breastfeeding Supplies

From a mom who exclusively breastfed, here’s a list of 18 must-haves for your breastfeeding journey. From nursing clothes to a comfy chair, you’ll be glad you have these supplies, especially as a brand-new mom.

mother breastfeeding her baby using a pillow

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If you’ve started breastfeeding, you know it’s not always as easy as it seems. It is natural, yes, but it doesn’t come naturally to a lot of us. It takes some time and some struggle to get the hang of it.

Thankfully, there are some supplies that can make breastfeeding easier at the beginning. 

While you could breastfeed successfully and happily with zero products or extra things, I’ve found that having a few well-chosen items can ease the learning process.

I have one daughter and, as of this writing, she is nearly a year old and still breastfeeding a few times a day. We have exclusively breastfed since day one (adding in solids after 6 months). 

These 18 items are the breastfeeding must-haves I recommend to new moms.

Breastfeeding Must-Haves

The items on this list are the exact things I bought for my breastfeeding journey. I genuinely think they’re all worth spending money on. 

Let’s start with some breastfeeding essentials. Then we’ll get to clothes, pumping and bottle feeding accessories, and a few random items.

Breastfeeding Essentials

breastfeeding must-haves

While “breastfeeding” can encompass a lot, these essentials are things you need for the actual moments of feeding. These are the core must-haves for breastfeeding.

BOPPY PILLOW and COVER: A Boppy pillow is going to be your best friend. At the beginning, your baby will take a while to eat. He or she will get faster as time goes on but they’ll also get heavier. Having a pillow that fits around you snugly is going to provide relief for your arms, shoulders, and wrists. Plus, it makes it a lot easier to do things one-handed.

Your Boppy Pillow isn’t going to come with a cover, though, so make sure to add one to your registry, too. It might even be nice to have two for the times it gets covered in spit up and you need to wash it.

BURP CLOTHS: You’re going to need burp cloths and you’re going to want a LOT. I ended up buying a few more packs of burp cloths after the first few weeks. We were going through them super fast and we were sick of doing laundry every day.

I’d recommend getting about 25 burp cloths so they last you a few days. Don’t worry, they don’t have to be expensive. These bamboo ones are super soft and absorbent. And they’re cheap!

BREAST SHELLS: During those first few months, the breast your baby isn’t eating on will leak a lot of milk while your baby drinks. You could let it soak into a nursing pad. Or you could put in a breast shell and collect that milk!

You can freeze the milk you catch, in case someone else needs to feed your baby. Or you can donate it for babies in need.

NIPPLE SHIELDS: Nipple shields are really thin silicone nipples – kind of like a bottle top – that you place over your nipples while breastfeeding your baby. They minimize or eliminate pain while your baby is learning how to latch on properly and your nipples are getting used to it.

They were a lifesaver for me. I recommend you have them on hand in case you need them, too.

NURSING CHAIR: I went back and forth about buying a nursing chair. I wondered if it was really necessary. But after a few weeks, I decided to get a glider chair and it’s been so nice to have. I got a nice used one online and saved a ton of money. If you can’t find a used one or feel more comfortable buying new, this one is similar to the one I have.

Whatever you get, I recommend getting one with a high enough backrest that you can comfortably lean your head against it. Chances are you’ll end up taking more naps in your nursing chair than you probably think.

Nursing Clothes

nursing clothes

I didn’t consciously think about the fact that my wardrobe would need to change if I wanted to breastfeed. So I’m telling you now: you’ll need a few new clothing items if you want to make breastfeeding – especially in public – easier for yourself.

NURSING BRAS: I didn’t like nursing bras at first but I’m glad I didn’t give up on them. They are definitely a breastfeeding must-have. It takes a second to get used to unclipping and clipping the hooks, but it’s so much easier than trying to use a normal bra. 

I’ve really liked these from Target. The neckline is a little higher than normal bras but that hasn’t been a problem. The lining is sewn in so they don’t get all bunched up in the wash. And they have good support for a non-underwire bra.

I tried one popular Amazon brand (Hofish) and the clips broke after a few months. I recently heard these ones from Amazon are good, but I have yet to try them.

BEDTIME BRAS: While not strictly necessary, it’s nice to also have some extra comfortable bras for sleeping in. You can buy fancy ones meant for bedtime or you can just get simple cotton bras. That’s what I did.

I recommend buying one size up from what you usually wear. Your breasts will be bigger than normal while your milk is coming in. And even when they aren’t as full, the extra roominess is nice at night.

NURSING DRESSES: If you wear dresses regularly, you’ll definitely want some nursing dresses. Unlike a shirt, if your dress isn’t made for nursing, you’ll need a private room for breastfeeding so you can take the dress completely off.

Nursing dresses can be pretty pricey if you buy the fancy ones. But you can get ones that are both functional and stylish if you know what to look for.

My favorite kind of nursing dress actually isn’t a nursing dress at all. Smocked-top dresses like this one aren’t designed for breastfeeding, but they’re stretchy enough to allow you to pull the neckline down out of the way. I was super excited when I figured that one out.

(Just make sure you don’t get a fake one that doesn’t have a stretchy neckline!)

There’s also some good options on Amazon for great prices, if you’re looking for more typical nursing dresses. The basic style of nursing dress has a top layer to lift up and a crossover underneath. You can also find ones that have an elastic band on the top layer so it doesn’t look like a nursing dress.

Pumping and Bottle Feeding Accessories

pumping and bottle feeding accessories

Even if you are exclusively breastfeeding, I recommend you get a good (if small) pumping and bottle set up. I used my pump a few times when I went out and my husband fed our daughter with a bottle. I also used it while my daughter was sick and wasn’t eating much.

Because of that, I still think these items are worthy to be on our breastfeeding must-haves list, even if they are used less often.

ELECTRIC BREAST PUMP: A good electric breast pump is worth getting if you think you’ll be pumping at all. The good news is insurance sometimes pays for breast pumps. Make sure to ask your insurance company about it before your baby is born because nice breast pumps can be expensive!

I got this closed-system hospital-grade one and it’s been really nice for the few times I’ve needed it. 

MANUAL BREAST PUMP (HAAKAA): Though I don’t use my Haakaa a lot, I have been glad to have it. The Haakaa is a “manual breast pump.”

Some people use it to collect milk, like a breast shell, by putting it on the breast the baby isn’t feeding on. In order to get it to stay on, though, you have to use suction and I found that really uncomfortable.

For me, it’s been nice to have a Haakaa for those times when it’s been a while between feedings and my breasts need some relief. It’s an easy way to express just enough to be comfortable again.

MILK STORAGE BAGS: After you pump (or after using breast shells), you need a way to store the milk. I’ve liked these storage bags and they’re a good price, especially if you buy in bulk.

PUMPING BRA: If you’re going to be pumping – especially if you’ll be pumping a lot, like if you need to go back to work – I recommend getting a pumping bra. Since I don’t pump often, I haven’t bought one but it really makes pumping a hassle. If I buy a pumping bra with my next kid, I’ll probably get this one from Momcozy or this one from Kindred Bravely.

BOTTLE: If you’re exclusively breastfeeding, you don’t need a cupboard full of bottles. One glass bottle has been enough for me. 

BOTTLE BRUSH: Bottles are hard to clean without a brush meant just for that, so I got this pack of bottle brushes. I’ve used them for other baby stuff too – my breast shells, pacifiers, pump parts.

Other

other breastfeeding supplies

A few breastfeeding must-haves don’t fit nicely into a category so I’ve listed them here.

BREASTFEEDING COVER: Even if you’re comfortable breastfeeding in public, there may be times or places you’ll want a cover. Initially I tried one of those stretchy fabric covers that works as a car seat cover and a nursing shield but I didn’t love it. I got this 360° cover instead and it works better.

NIPPLE CREAM: Those first few days and weeks are a toughening-up time for your nipples. If you’re doing what you can to avoid engorgement and mastitis and your baby learns to latch on well, though, a good nipple cream should be enough to soothe the tenderness until they toughen up.

Definitely go with an all natural one that’s safe for your baby to ingest, so you don’t have to worry about wiping it off before feeding. I used the same cream for nipple salve and for recovery postpartum.

REUSABLE NURSING PADS: In case no one has told you yet, let me: as your milk is coming in, you are going to leak. A lot. You will need nursing pads. I wanted some reusable (machine washable) ones so I wasn’t throwing away disposables constantly. 

Bamboobies brand newborn nursing pads are fantastic. They’re super soft and really absorbent for fabric ones.

I literally bought 10 packs. It was worth it. You need that many if you don’t want to do laundry every day (and who does, especially if you’re a new mom?).

In addition to being cheaper in the long run, I also recommend reusable nursing pads because the disposable ones can irritate your skin.

DISPOSABLE NURSING PADS: That said, I would definitely get some disposable nursing pads. Not only are they a great backup if you really need to do laundry, but they’re really nice for travel because you don’t have to store the wet ones somewhere in your diaper bag, you just toss ’em!

More on Breastfeeding

Whether you add them to your baby registry list or buy them yourself, these breastfeeding must-haves are going to be game changers for you.

If you want to keep learning about breastfeeding, check out these blog posts:

And if you’re in the middle of learning to breastfeed right now, don’t lose heart. It’s so worth it and I promise it gets easier. You’ve got this, mama!

Until next time,

Allison

P.S. To you seasoned mamas, did I miss any of your breastfeeding must-haves? If I did, please share your knowledge in the comments!

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