When you start breastfeeding it can take a while for your newborn to get the right latch. In the first few weeks while breastfeeding is becoming established, they are likely to feed little and often, meaning that your nipples may get sore, painful or cracked as they adjust. This where nipple creams come in. There are a whole range of different nipple creams and balms that can make life a little easier while your body adjusts to breastfeeding.
The most common ingredient you'll find in nipple creams and balms is lanolin - an oily substance found naturally on sheep’s wool. Other popular ingredients include beeswax, coconut oil, olive oil and shea butter. The creams are liberally applied all over the nipple area to lubricate, soothe and moisturise.
Midwife and breastfeeding expert Jacqui Nancey says, "Nipple pain can make the difference between an easy and enjoyable breastfeeding experience or not. The quick or immediate relief of nipple cream when breastfeeding is a major factor for numerous mothers out there. Nipples can be very sensitive to touch, painful or even cracked from the many hormonal changes that occur throughout pregnancy."
"Using a UK medically approved nipple cream can make the difference between dreading a challenging breastfeeding experience or healing, by its soothing and skin softening effects on the areola and very sensitive delicate nipple skin tissue."
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Best nipple creams at a glance
- Best for everyday use: Lasinoh HPA Lanolin Nipple Cream, £10.49 for 40ml
- Best for easy application: My Expert Midwife No Harm Nipple Balm, £16.59 per 30ml
- Best for a trusted brand: Medela Pureland 100 Nipple Cream, £9.99 for 37g
- Best for quick absorption: Weleda Nipple Balm, £8.25 for 25ml
- Best for vegans: Mama Mio Keep Calm Nipple Balm, £12 for 30ml
- Best for thick consistency: Boots Maternity Nipple Cream, £7.99 for 40ml
- Best for value: Superdrug My Little Star New Mum Nipple Cream, £1.29 for 75ml
- Best for organic ingredients: Organic Babies Mum & Baby Rescue Balm, £13 for 100ml
- Best for simple ingredients: Tommee Tippee Made For Me Nipple Cream, £9.49 for 40ml
- Best for a luxury package: NESSA Nipple SOS, £19 for 30ml
How often can I use nipple cream?
You can apply most nipple creams as often as you need to. Most brands don’t need to be removed when it is time to feed, which saves you precious seconds and avoids calming a fussy baby while you’re washing it off. While the majority of the creams are odour and taste free, some babies might not like feeding when you have just applied nipple cream, so it is best to put it on in between feeds or just after.
What to look for when buying nipple creams?
Type – There's the option to choose a cream, balm or serum, it's all down to preference. The key difference tends to be the main ingredients of it - whether there's lanolin or not for example. This impacts the consistency as some emolients are much thicker than others.
Do you need to remove it before breastfeeding? - Because most nipple cream products contain natural or plant-based ingredients, they won't cause any harm to your baby if they aren't wiped off prior to feeding, however some brands may advise that they're removed. Check the packaging to make sure you know what's advised for your specific cream.
Size – Although you don't need to apply a whole lot of nipple cream at a time, if you're really suffering from sore and cracked nipples you may need a lot of it over a period of time. To begin with, buy a small size cream or balm to see how you get on, and then if you still need more opt for a bigger size (or multiple tubes) next time.
Ease of use – Nipple creams are generally very straightforward to apply. They usually come in a tube that can be squeezed, or a pump dispenser for easy access, which also makes it convenient to apply straight to your nipple with one hand whilst you hold your baby with the other!
Texture – Nipple creams and balms vary in texture. Some creams are made with a light, thinner consistency that glides and spreads more easier. Others are thicker and appeal to mums who want the cream to stay on for longer. Depending on your preference, you can choose a nipple cream that works best for you.
Cleaning – You can easily wipe or wash clothing items that have nipple creams on them. They may be a bit sticky, so that's something to bear in mind when choosing a bra to wear when using the cream.
How much do they cost?
In our roundup, we have included brands that appeal to every budget, with the cheapest nipple cream at just £1.29 for 75ml and the most expensive at £19 for 30ml. The majority of nipple creams we have featured are priced at around £10, but with many of them a little bit goes a long way and they can have multiple uses as skincare.
Here are our picks of the best nipple creams
1. Lasinoh HPA Lanolin Nipple Cream, £10.49 for 40ml
– Best for everyday use
Type: Cream | Size: 10ml, 40ml | Remove before breastfeeding: No
The UK’s number 1 selling nipple cream, breastfeeding mums often swear by the healing magic of this product. Lansinoh only contains 100% pure lanolin, which helps to rehydrate damaged tissue from within. MFM parent tester Colette, mum of 3, said: "I used it for all of my babies. It is great and helped me to breastfeed comfortably."
As well as being hypoallergenic, it’s odour and taste free so you don’t have to wipe it off before breastfeeding. You can also buy a 10ml size if you want to test it out before committing to the full sized product which is 40ml.
Parent tester Jessica was impressed with how effective it was for her, "Lansinoh really helped heal me when I had nipple damage with my little one after she was born. It healed me within a couple of days so that I could try latching her on again and I can confirm it doubles up as a lip balm too. Oh and no need to take the cream off before baby feeds which is a plus!"
2. My Expert Midwife No Harm Nipple Balm, £16.50 per 30ml
– Best for easy application
Type: Balm | Size: 30ml | Remove before breastfeeding: No
The My Expert Midwife No Harm Nipple Balm is ‘midwife developed, mum approved’, which is our kind of expertise. The ingredients are all natural and, like other leading creams on our list, it contains pure lanolin but also coconut oil and sweet almond oil to help it glide onto skin (let’s face it, no one needs already-sore skin to drag).
Like some other nipple creams, it also has uses as a nappy rash cream and lip balm, but it does have one of the higher price tags on our list. However our parent testers felt that the product was worth the high price tag. MFM tester Diana commented, "I like the texture of it and how easy it is to massage it in. I would definitely recommend it if you have the budget. It is quite expensive compared to normal lanolin cream in the market, but you only need to use a small amount, so I would probably get away with needing just one throughout my breastfeeding journey."
What really sets it apart is the pump dispenser, making it easy to apply one-handed – a must for any mum. Our home tester Kara said: “An easy to use product and pump. Had no nipple issues using this through breastfeeding."
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3. Medela Purelan 100 Nipple Cream, £9.99 for 37g
– Best for a trusted brand
Type: Cream | Size: 7g, 37g | Remove before breastfeeding: No
A challenger to the bestselling Lansinoh HPA Lanolin Cream, both creams only contain lanolin. It’s a thicker formula than other nipple creams in our round-up, and it does take some effort to get it out of the tube, but it melts away as soon as it touches skin and breastfeeding mums rave about its results.
One great feature of this cream is that it can be used for more than just nipples. MFM parent tester Sammy said: "A friend recommended it not only for nipple relief, but also for cracked lips and it is honestly a lifesaver. I don't need it for my nipples anymore, but I use it on my lips every night before bed and no more cracked lips!"
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4. Weleda Nipple Balm, £8.25 for 25ml
– Best for quick absorption
Type: Balm | Size: 25g | Remove before breastfeeding: No
A pioneer in all things natural, Weleda’s Nipple Balm is a soothing, nourishing cream developed by midwives and pharmacists. It is made with organic calendula, plant oils and protective waxes. The addition of plant oils means it has a lovely smooth feel and mums have reported it sinks into skin really well and gets to work healing sore nipples right away.
It’s also fragrance-free and free of petroleum derivatives or artificial additives, so is a great choice if you want to opt for more plant-based ingredients.
MFM parent tester Rebecca praised it, saying, "Weleda nipple balm was for me the best. It isn’t as heavy as others and really helped my nipples heal. It’s also a natural anti-fungal which was perfect for keeping nipple thrush at bay after suffering from it."
5. Mama Mio Keep Calm Nipple Balm, £12 for 30ml
– Best for vegans
Type: Balm | Size: 30ml | Remove before breastfeeding: No | Award: Bronze – Breastfeeding products, MadeForMums Awards 2021
Vegans can struggle due to the reliance on lanolin in nipple creams, but this product blends a vegetable substitute for medical grade lanolin with organic shea butter, organic coconut and olive oils and calendula. Mama Mio’s Nipple Balm is a product our testers loved for its plant-based ingredients, and it's a great option for those following a vegan lifestyle.
Although at a mid-range price point, a little does go a long way as MFM tester Caroline found. She said, “Calming on the area and quickly relieved cracked nipples, with only a small amount required to feel the benefits. It is not sticky like other brands and doesn’t leave any residue.”
While many other balms in our round-up also have oils to make them silkier, it’s worth noting that some of our parent testers reported this formula was slightly thicker, similar to a lanolin only product like Medela Purelan or Lansinoh HPA Lanolin Cream.
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6. Boots Maternity Nipple Cream, £7.99 for 40ml
-Best for thick consistency
Type: Cream | Size: 40ml | Remove before breastfeeding: No
Boots Maternity nipple cream claims to soothe and relieve sore nipples and this is exactly what MFM home tester Jessica has experienced. She said, "Boots was the best. I had really dry cracked and itchy nipples during my pregnancy and found [other creams were] very thin and would have to constantly reapply where as Boots Maternity was a one time application and after using it for a while my nipple really began to heal and didn’t need to use the product where as I found the other two didn’t have that effect and would stop the itching for a short amount of time."
This cream doesn't need to be removed prior to feeding so you have one thing less to worry about when you're in the early stages of adjusting to the demands of breastfeeding!
Made in the UK, it can be picked up online or at your local Boots store.
Available from: Boots
7. Superdrug My Little Star New Mum Nipple Cream, £1.29 for 75ml
– Best for value
Type: Cream | Size: 75ml | Remove before breastfeeding: Yes
If it’s a good value nipple-rescuing option you’re after, you’ve hit the jackpot with this My Little Star New Mum Nipple Cream, which is the most competitively priced on our list by a significant amount. This moisturising cream is fragrance-free, dermatologically tested, paediatrician approved and suitable for sensitive skin – not bad for less than two quid.
It doesn’t claim to be natural or organic like others, but many mums have claimed they’ve noticed a marked improvement in their nipples since using it. While it may be slightly less nourishing than other richer balms in our round-up, and you do have to remove it before breastfeeding, you can’t go far wrong for the price.
MFM parent tester Zara liked the My Little Star nipple cream, but noted: "I found it too much effort to remember to remove it before feeding, especially in the newborn haze."
Available from: Superdrug
8. Organic Babies Mum & Baby Rescue Balm, £13 for 100ml
– Best for organic ingredients
Type: Balm | Size: 100ml | Remove before breastfeeding: No
This rich cream is made from 91.9% organic ingredients and is certified by the Soil Association and the Vegetarian Society. It's one of few nipple balms that doesn't include lanolin in its ingredients list.
Made by natural beauty brand, Green People, this Organic Babies Mum & Baby Rescue Balm has a similar ingredient list to Weleda’s Nipple Balm, although it’s significantly cheaper.
It includes shea butter, hemp, beeswax and calendula to nurture and protect sore, cracked nipples and it can also be used to soften the perineum area before birth. Although it is fragrance-free and mostly organic, some MFM mums have reported a slight smell like vegetable oil.
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9. Tommee Tippee Made For Me Nipple Cream, £9.49 for 40ml
– Best for simple ingredients
Type: Cream | Size: 40ml | Remove before breastfeeding: No | Award: Gold – Breastfeeding products, MadeForMums Awards 2021
There are just three ingredients in this nipple cream from feeding experts Tommee Tippee: avocado oil, beeswax and shea butter. That makes it safe for your baby as well as you, so there's no need to remove it before breastfeeding.
The trio of oils aim to soothe and soften skin by keeping moisture in, and given its simple ingredients list there's nothing stopping you using this as a lipbalm or cuticle cream too.
Home tester Zoe, mum of a newborn, said, "My baby dislikes the greasy texture of some nipple creams and is reluctant to latch if I don’t wipe it off, but this cream is more easily absorbed by your skin and my baby doesn’t seem to notice."
10. NESSA Nipple SOS 30ml, £19 for 30ml
– Best for a luxury splurge
Type: Balm | Size: 30ml | Remove before breastfeeding: No
NESSA Nipple SOS is 100% vegan, with no lanolin or beeswax in its formulation. Packed full of moisture-boosting butters, it’s blended with tropical fruit oils to hydrate and nourish even the sorest of nipples. Its non-sticky, soothing formula is also multi-purpose and works great as a nappy rash cream or lip balm.
Comparable to the Organic Babies Mum & Baby Rescue Balm on our round-up, which is free from lanolin, NESSA’s balm goes one step further for mums who want a fully natural, vegan option. It’s rather pricey, but with 1% from every jar sold going to UK charity, Bliss, it’s just another reason to treat yourself (and your nipples).
Our parents testers loved the luxurious packaging and design, including the cotton pouch that is a nice added extra, and felt it would make a lovely gift for a new mum. Tester Sarah said: "This is a lovely soothing balm which rubs in easily and has a non sticky texture.”
Available from: NESSA
What to do if you’re struggling with breastfeeding
During those early days when you are in a newborn bubble, it might feel like your baby is constantly asleep or feeding, but don't worry, this is quite normal.
Sometimes the pain can become so uncomfortable that you may want to give up breastfeeding altogether. According to the NHS, it’s actually one of the main reasons mums switch to bottle feeding. We support mums feeding their babies in a way that works for both mum and baby, be that bottle or breast, combi-feeding or pumping – but if you are keen to persevere with breastfeeding, there's a lot of support out there.
Your midwife should be able to offer advice on helping your baby get a better position and latch on more effectively, which can go a long way to easing the pain. You can attend local breastfeeding support clinics, contact breastfeeding organisations like La Leche League, or pay to see a lactation consultant. Check out our breastfeeding support article for more advice.
How did we choose our 10 of the Best?
Our 10 of the Best lists are compiled by qualified and experienced parenting journalists. They rely on a number of sources, including our independent reviews, testing undertaken during the MadeForMums Awards, and feedback from our home testing panel and Top Testers Club. Each year thousands of products are put through their paces by hundreds of parents across the country on behalf of MadeForMums, to ensure we’re bringing you honest and true reviews and recommendations.
When testing nipple creams, we considered type, texture, ease of use, size and whether it needs to be removed before breastfeeding.
Our list is not an ordered ranking from 1-10, instead it is a carefully selected group of tried-and-tested products, each of which we believe is best for a different situation or requirement. We don’t just tell you what is best, we help you discover what is best for your family.
About the author
Janet is a Digital Journalist for MadeForMums. Over the years, she has developed a keen eye and passion for creating online media content. She writes and creates visual content sharing her journey of motherhood, fashion and beauty looks and encouragement for new mums via her Instagram page. During her time as a Content Creator/ Influencer she has worked on several brand partnerships with Garnier, Superdrug, Next, iCandy and more. She is a wife and mother to a boy and girl both under 4.