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16 best nursing tops for breastfeeding moms

Dec. 7, 2018

Ask any breastfeeding mama and she’ll tell you: Nursing (in public) ain’t easy. Whether you’re a modest mom or as uninhibited as it gets, breastfeeding outside the comforts of your own home can get a little tricky. (Shout out to all those squirmy, easily distracted babies out there!) While nothing can compete with the serenity that a glider in baby’s nursery provides, feedings in the wild can be a little less stressful — and a lot more stylish — when you have the right nursing top.   

When shopping for nursingwear, there are four key elements to consider, according to Elisa Minsk Hartstein, founder of Milk Nursingwear: Access, comfort, care and style.

“A nursing top is first and foremost a functional garment,” she says. “You need to be able to access your breasts easily for feeding or pumping. Soft, stretchy tops with generous, well-placed openings that enable you to ‘get to the goods’ with minimal fuss are ideal.”

Here are some tips for selecting nursing tops.

Read the reviews

If you’re shopping for nursing tops online, Hartstein recommends reading reviews since the placement of shirt openings aren’t always apparent in photos. And in addition to making sure the style suits you, take washing instructions into consideration, as well.

“With all that a mom has to do, she does not want to have to add ‘hand wash’ or ‘dry clean’ to her list,” Hartstein says. “Make sure your nursing tops are machine washable.”

Pay attention to the material

It’s also important to remember that, when you’re nursing, the clothing you wear may not just be impacting you, but it could be affecting your baby, as well. Mia Seipel, founder of Boob maternity and nursingwear, advises breastfeeding moms to be mindful of the materials that go into their clothes — especially their nursing tops.

“Looking for certificates like OEKO-TEX Standard 100 and/or GOTS will guarantee that the final garment has been tested for harmful chemicals and that it is safe to wear closest to your skin and baby,” she says.

Check the sizing guides

When it comes to choosing a size, Seipel suggests going with what you normally wear but taking a peek at the sizing chart nevertheless.

“Many women can vary in size over pregnancy and nursing, which makes their regular size hard to relate to,” she says. “Because of this, it’s always a good idea to get a little help from the size guides.”

Get loose

And if your usual style errs on the side of form-fitting and/or restrictive, you may want to reconsider your wardrobe when you’re nursing — and not just for easy access sake.

“Wearing tight clothing that has no give while nursing may cause plugged milk ducts, which can lead to mastitis and/or possible lowered milk supply,” says Leigh Anne O’Connor, a New York City-based lactation consultant. “Not to mention tight clothes when nursing can be quite uncomfortable.”

Ready to shop? Whether you’re breastfeeding, expecting or just looking for a great gift, you can’t go wrong with one of these 16 stylish, functional nursing tops. They have everything a nursing mom could need — except the milk!

1. The black staple

Cross-Panel nursing top by Isabel Maternity by Ingrid & Isabel ($23, Target)

It’s black. It’s versatile. It creates a cozy little cocoon for baby to nurse. And it can take you from pregnancy to breastfeeding. Need we say more?

2. The frilly surprise

Frill detail maternity & nursing sweatshirt ($69, Seraphine)

This soft sweatshirt with adorable ruffle detailing is perfect for nursing, as it provides quick and easy boob access. That said, moms who aren’t completely comfortable nursing in public may want to pack a nursing cover when wearing this out since it doesn’t provide a ton of coverage.

3. Cheery, casual comfort

Striped solid yoke nursing top ($39, Milk Nursingwear)

Not only would this top look adorable with a pair of black skinny jeans, it provides very quick, very discreet access — which, for many moms, is crucial.

“I like to be somewhat modest when breastfeeding in public, so I always try to wear nursing shirts that have an easy opening in the center,” says Ilene Palmieri, of Howell, New Jersey. “This way, I don’t have to worry about pulling my shirt up or using a nursing cover, which none of my babies have liked!”  

4. Super cozy goodness

Jamie knit sweater ($139, Boob)

With its generous side slits, this chunky, cheery knit sweater works well for both pregnancy and nursing. And you can feel good about the fact that you — and baby — are keeping cozy in warm recycled wool.

5. Casual comfort

Active nursing hoodie ($48, Latched Mama)

Just because you’re nursing doesn’t mean you need to opt out off the athleisure-wear trend. In fact, comfort is more important than ever when you’re breastfeeding! Whether you’re just coming off of a run or running errands with baby, this loose-fitting sweatshirt with a discreet opening in the center will make putting baby to breast easy-peasy.

6. Polished and sophisticated

A Pea in the Pod wrap nursing top ($58, Macy’s)

Never mind the fact that this color is gorgeous and universally flattering, how cute is this style? Whether you need to feed baby at a party or it’s time to pump at work, this wrap v-neck style provides quick access with zero fussing.  

7. Classic and cool

Snap down nursing sweater ($40, Motherhood Maternity)

One can never have too many Breton striped pieces of clothing, and that includes nursingwear. This soft jersey knit sweater with sides that unsnap for speedy feeding will keep you feeling stylish and baby well-fed.

8. The versatile piece

Drape maternity and nursing cardigan ($89, Jojo Maman Bébé)

This chunky cardigan is a workhorse. Not only will it take you from pregnancy to nursing (and most likely life thereafter), it can be worn open for a waterfall style or snapped close for a sleek look that provides ample coverage for nursing in public. It even comes with a knit belt for when you want to go for a completely different look.

9. Understated and ultra cool

A Pea in the Pod sleeveless nursing top ($48, Macy’s)

Doesn’t matter if you’re expecting, not expecting or breastfeeding, a sleeveless gray top is always a wardrobe staple. It goes without saying that you’ll get a ton of use out of this shirt, and people — perhaps even your baby — will be amazed with how subtle the side slits are when it’s time to nurse.

10. Cute and clever

Daryl ruffle sleeve lace panel nursing blouse ($56, Figure 8 Maternity)

To say this flowy, chambray top is “cute” is like saying your baby is “kind of adorable.” It just doesn’t do it justice. With its pretty lace detailing, ruffle sleeves and hidden zipper down the front, this top is ideal for pumping at work or heading somewhere sweet with your little one.

11. A pop of color

Dymade double layer nursing top ($12, Walmart)

What’s better than black and white stripes? Black and white stripes with a happy pop of color! Guaranteed to become a go-to in your closet, this soft cotton-blend top has a hidden slit in the middle, which makes feeding your baby on-the-go a breeze. No buttons. No zippers. No problem.  

12. Bright and convenient

LaClef Surplice Nursing Top ($20, Amazon)

In addition this this soft, stretchy shirt getting rave reviews on Amazon, it comes in 22 different colors and patterns — and at $20, you won’t feel guilty about stocking up. The deep v-neck design allows for super fast latch-on, and the gathered detailing is just plain cute.

13. Party perfect

Bearsland High Collar Nursing Sweater ($25, Amazon)

Just because you’re nursing, doesn’t mean you can’t be a little dramatic with your clothing choices. This touchably soft turtleneck sweater works as a lounging-around shirt or, when paired with the right pants and heels, a crucial piece of your party wardrobe. Of course, your baby will just be thrilled about the opening in the middle.

14. On trend

Naomi cold shoulder ruffle nursing top ($42, Figure 8 Maternity)

Are you nursing or are you heading to the South of France? In this sleek and stylish shirt, it’s possible you’re doing both! And if you’re pregnant and can’t wait until you’re breastfeeding to buy this top, don’t. It works as a maternity shirt, as well.

15. Relaxed vibes

Smallshow Fleece Nursing Top ($28, Amazon)

Need we even say it? You will get tons of use out of this rust-colored, high-necked nursing top with a loose opening below the breasts. The best part? It comes in 10 on-trend colors.

16. Plaid tunic

Mosunx plaid nursing top ($19, Walmart)

You may not feel very punk rock when you’re caring for a small baby, but with this cute plaid shirt with discreet breast openings, you’ll look it. And the circles under your eyes from all those late nights may just add to the grungy glamour.

Read next: 6 ways life changes when you become a mom

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