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When you pictured what breastfeeding would be like, you probably never imagined sore nipples, engorgement pain, or milk leakage just because you heard a baby crying — and no one warned you it didn’t even have to be your own baby crying to get your milk flowing!

It only takes one public milk-leaking incident to know that leaking through your shirt is a problem that needs a solution (and quickly).

The good news is that mothers have been dealing with breast milk leaks for decades, and companies have been hard at work perfecting the best nursing pads. Rest assured, amazing nursing pads exist, and we’re here to guide you to them!

Nursing pads are soft pads placed inside your bra. They work to help absorb any extra milk your breasts leak between feeds, so it doesn’t soak through your clothing or irritate your nipples.

They’re just one piece of a lineup that includes things like nursing bras and positioners that can make nursing easier, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

When shopping for nursing pads, one of the decisions you’ll need to make is whether you want to go the disposable or reusable route.

Disposable nursing pads are intended for one-time use and can be thrown out after they’ve absorbed your breast milk for a period of time. Because they often come individually wrapped and you can throw them out after they’ve served their purpose, they’re great when you’re on the go.

Reusable nursing pads are designed to be washed and reused, making these types of pads ultimately more friendly to the environment — and your budget. Especially in the first few weeks with your newborn, extra laundry may not seem very appealing, but we’ll leave it up to you to do your own cost-benefit analysis!

Torn between disposable and reusable nursing pads? Don’t worry, many breastfeeding people actually stock up on a bit of both types!

When considering which pads really are the best, we took into account a variety of factors like absorbency, price, and material. And, of course, we weighed heavily what fellow parents had to say — after all, who better to judge what really stands above the rest?

Price guide

  • $ = under $1 per pair
  • $$ = $1–$5 per pair
  • $$$ = $5–$10 per pair
  • $$$$ = over $10 per pair

Best disposable nursing pads

Lansinoh Stay Dry Disposable Nursing Pads

  • Price: $
  • Material: The pads are made primarily of a “fluffy pulp” and are nontoxic and latex-free.
  • Size: Approximately 5 inches across

These pads from Lansinoh (you might know them for their nipple cream) get rave reviews from breastfeeding moms — and there are plenty of reasons why.

They’re extremely soft, thin, super absorbent (thanks in part to their honeycomb lining), and even include adhesive strips to keep themselves in place.

According to the company’s responses to customer questions on Amazon, the pads are made primarily of a “fluffy pulp,” that’s a paper material. They also have a contoured shape for a discreet fit and come individually wrapped for easy access on the go.

Plus, their price is competitive and you can easily buy them in bulk for additional savings.

Pros

  • These are an affordable option that can be even cheaper if buying in bulk.
  • They’re individually wrapped, which makes them easy to store in your diaper bag or purse.
  • The pads have adhesive strips on the back to help hold them in place.

Cons

  • These are disposable, and as such are not the most environmentally friendly option.
  • Some users wished the pads lay flatter.

Best reusable nursing pads

Bamboobies Washable Nursing Pads

  • Price: $$
  • Materials: Layer that touches the skin: 57% bamboo viscose, 23% polyester, 20% cotton. Inner layer: 55% ramie (a plant-derived fiber), 45% cotton. Outer layer: 100% polyester with TPU waterproofing
  • Size: Three pairs of regular daytime pads, and one thicker pair of overnight pads

These soft, reusable pads are designed for comfort. Available in a thinner version for daytime wear and a thicker option for additional protection at night, Bamboobies bamboo-rayon-based pads are both eco-friendly and absorbent.

Although washing is never fun, these pads are easy to launder with all of your other baby-related loads. And since they can go in both the washer and dryer, you won’t have to worry about waiting a long time for them to dry.

As a bonus, many users say they get softer and softer every time you wash them!

Pros

  • They can go in the dryer — so you don’t need to leave them out to air dry, which could take a long time.
  • They come in two varieties: a thicker option for nighttime use and a thinner option for daytime wear.
  • Some users felt they got softer every time they were washed.

Cons

  • Even though they’re dryer-friendly, washing and drying them between uses will still be extra work.
  • Some of the colorful designs may show through clothing.

Most versatile nursing pads

Curve by Cache Coeur Washable Nursing Pads

  • Price: $$$$
  • Material: 53% polyester, 27% PET, 15% polyacrylate, 5% elastane
  • Size: three sizes (slim, day, and night)

These pads are made with antislip and antibacterial materials. (They’re certified Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX, so you won’t have to worry about potential chemicals coming in contact with your skin.)

They come in slim, daytime, and nighttime sizes, and are contoured to follow the curve of your bra.

Curve pads are machine washable, so they can be reused. They’re also eligible for HSA/FSA reimbursement. This is important, because the biggest downside to many users is the high price.

Pros

  • These pads are available in three different sizes.
  • They’re machine washable and can be reused.
  • They’re certified Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX.

Cons

  • These pads aren’t the most budget-friendly option.
  • Some users felt these pads weren’t super discreet.

Best no-show nursing pads

BabyBliss Bamboo Nursing Pads

  • Price: $$
  • Material:The layer touching your skin is bamboo fabric, the inner layer is microfiber, and the outer layer is polyester.
  • Size: three sizes (medium, large, and extra-large)

Unlike many reusable pads, these from BabyBliss have a contoured shape that allows them to cup the breast and avoid bunching. They even come in three different sizes to better match with your bra size.

Breastfeeding people also sing their praises for their soft, towel-like texture and satin-y exterior.

While the shape and structure of these pads allow them to stay hidden, you’ll want to be careful to choose the right color pad for your bra or top — some of the more colorful pads might show through your white shirt!

Pros

  • Users rave about the softness of the fabric.
  • These pads are available in a range of sizes to better fit your breast and bra size.
  • These pads are reusable, which can ultimately save you money and will cause less waste.

Cons

  • You’ll have to put in the effort to wash them — though they do come with a wash bag to make it easy to keep track of them in the laundry.
  • Some of the more colorful pads may be visible under light-colored or thin shirts.

Best lightweight nursing pads

NUK Ultra Thin Disposable Nursing Pads

  • Price: $
  • Material: The company doesn’t specify.
  • Size: Each pad is just over 4 inches across

Focused on being thin, lightweight, and discreet, these pads are ideal for people looking to avoid the appearance and feel of a heavy-duty nursing pad.

Downsides? These pads aren’t individually wrapped if you want to take them with you in your purse or diaper bag. They also won’t protect your clothing if you have a heavy letdown between feeds. But if you just need a lightweight nursing pad for the occasional drip, this has you covered!

Pros

  • These pads are pretty discreet due to their thin design.
  • Parents who don’t want to generate waste will like that these pads are not individually wrapped.
  • These are among the most affordable nursing pads on our list.

Cons

  • These aren’t easy to pack in a bag for on-the-go use, as they’re not individually wrapped.
  • They won’t hold as much leaking milk as some of the other options on our list.

Best overnight nursing pads

Medela Disposable Nursing Pads

  • Price: $
  • Material: The company doesn’t specify.
  • Size: 4.49 x 0.39 x 2.32 inches

These nursing pads offer superior absorption during nighttime hours, though at nearly half an inch thick, they may feel bulky for daytime wear. Reviewers have found them relatively soft, and these pads offer adhesive strips on the back side so you won’t have to worry about losing one in the middle of the night!

These are very affordable and can be bought in bulk. If you end up being a fan of the overnight pads, Medela also makes an “ultra thin” version for daytime use.

Pros

  • These pads include adhesive strips to help them stay in place.
  • This is a budget-friendly option that can be even cheaper if buying in bulk.
  • They come individually wrapped, which makes it easy to pack them in your purse or the diaper bag.

Cons

  • These pads aren’t the most environmentally friendly option.
  • Some users said these pads felt a little bulky inside of their bras.

Best nursing pads for sensitive nipples

Ameda ComfortGel Hydrogel Pads

  • Price: $$$$
  • Material: hydrogel
  • Size: About 3 inches across

If breastfeeding is leaving you with cracked, sore nipples, these soothing gel pads may feel better on your sensitive nipples than pads made of cotton or bamboo. Ameda’s gel pads can also be cooled in the refrigerator before using for some extra pain relief.

Landing somewhere between a disposable and reusable pad, these pads can be used for about 6 days before it’s recommended to discard them — they’re definitely not the most cost-effective option on this list, but if you’re in pain, it might be worth it. Just know that they aren’t designed to specifically absorb milk. They even get good reviews for being fairly unnoticeable!

Pros

  • These pads can be cooled in the refrigerator for extra pain relief and soothing.
  • You can rinse and reuse these nursing pads for up to 6 days.
  • These pads are small and discreet.

Cons

  • These pads are not the most budget-friendly choice.
  • These pads won’t absorb much, if any, milk, as they’re more designed to soothe.

Best eco-friendly nursing pads

LilyPadz Reusable Nursing Pads Starter Kit

  • Price: $$$$
  • Material: medical-grade silicone
  • Size: 7.31 x 1.5 x 5.19 inches

These silicone pads stand out in a sea of cotton — and bamboo-based nursing pad options! Instead of focusing on collecting milk, LilyPadz aims to prevent milk from dripping out by placing gentle pressure on your nipples.

They adhere to you and not your bra, so they can actually stay put when you’re not wearing a bra.

The manufacturer claims that when washed appropriately these nursing pads can last up to 2 months. But even if they don’t make it that long, you can at least know that you’ve prevented a few pairs of disposable pads from ending up in the landfill.

Pros

  • These pads can last up to 2 months.
  • They don’t require a bra to stay in place.
  • They put slight pressure on the nipple, which the company claims helps to keep milk inside the breast.

Cons

  • This is among the most expensive options on our list.
  • Some users felt the pressure these pads placed on their nipples contributed to nipple pain or even milk blisters.

Nursing padsPriceReusable/disposableMaterial
Lansinoh Stay Dry Nursing Disposable Pads$disposableprimarily of a “fluffy pulp” that’s nontoxic and latex-free
Bamboobies Washable Nursing Pads$$reusablelayer that touches the skin: 57% bamboo viscose, 23% polyester, 20% cotton
inner layer: 55% ramie, 45% cotton (thicker pad is 40% cotton, 22% polyester, 21% linen, 17% ramie)
-outer layer: 100% polyester with waterproofing
Curve by Cache Coeur Reusable Nursing Pads$$$$reusableprimarily polyester
BabyBliss Bamboo Nursing Pads$$reusable-layer that touches the skin: bamboo fabric
inner layer: microfiber
-outer layer: polyester
NUK Ultra Thin Disposable Nursing Pads$disposablenot specified
Medela Disposable Nursing Pads$disposablenot specified
Ameda ComfortGel Hydrogel Pads$$$$reusablehydrogel
LilyPadz Reusable Nursing PadsStarter Kit$$$$reusablemedical-grade silicone

If you’re planning on breastfeeding, you’ll want to have a supply of nursing pads to help keep you and your clothing dry and clean — or cleaner, at least. There are plenty of options to choose from, so you’ll want to consider a number of factors, including:

  • Material. Nursing pads are made from a variety of materials. You’ll want to consider if you’re comfortable with (or allergic to) any of the materials in a given pad. Some materials, like cotton and bamboo, are better for absorbing milk. Others, including silicone, are better for cooling or soothing chapped nipples.
  • Reusability. While some pads are designed to be thrown away after a few hours of use, reusable pads can be washed and worn again. The upfront cost for reusable pads is higher, and you’ll need to put in the effort to launder them correctly. However, these pads are made with super soft materials, may help you save money over time, and are often more environmentally friendly.
  • Shape and style. How a nursing pad fits on your breast matters! You’ll want to find one that can cover your nipple and stay put in your bra. While bright colors or bold patterns may seem fun, you’ll want to think about the possibility of them showing through your shirt, especially if you prefer to wear bralettes or thinner bras, or go braless.
  • Price. If you opt for disposable nursing pads, know that you may go through a decent number of them before you’re done breastfeeding. So you’ll want to make sure that whatever you choose works for your budget.

It can be hard to know exactly which pads you’ll like until you’ve actually tried them out. You may want to try a couple different types of disposable and reusable pads before investing too much in a particular one.

Which type of nursing pads are best for newborns?

Nursing pads are designed for the nursing parent — not the baby. Choosing a nursing pad is a very personal decision. You’ll want one that stays in place over your nipple, absorbs any milk that you’re leaking, and doesn’t irritate your skin.

Newborns feed frequently, so some parents like to use chilled silicone pads designed for sensitive nipples after feeding. However, others may prefer pads that can be thrown out after each use. In this case, it’s completely up to you.

How can you stay dry while breastfeeding?

Using a nursing pad (and changing it frequently) between breastfeeding sessions is one of the best ways to stay dry. You may also want to use a nursing pad, haakaa, or other milk storage option on the opposite breast when your baby is feeding, since letdown can occur at the same time from both breasts.

Why use a nursing pad?

It’s important to keep your nipples dry and clean so that they don’t become irritated or infected. Wearing a nursing pad and changing it frequently can help with this.

Nursing pads can also prevent milk leaking through you bra and T-shirt. This could help you avoid feeling embarrassed in public, or having milk stains on the chest area of shirts you wear throughout the day — or at night.

  • Even if a nursing pad only needs to cover a small part of the breast to prevent leaks, you may feel more comfortable with a larger pad inside your bra to keep it from sliding around.
  • Consider avoiding colors and bright patterns. While decorated nursing pads may seem more fun than white, black, and nude colored ones, they also show through clothing more easily.
  • Make sure to check the laundering directions on reusable pads. Some need to be washed or dried by hand.
  • Some brands of disposable pads offer a way to stick them to your bra. This can help the pad to stay in place, but it can also potentially irritate your skin if you have allergies or very sensitive skin.

Whether your breast milk is just coming in or you’ve been breastfeeding for a while, you’ll probably want to avoid leaking through your shirt in public.

Having some nursing pads on hand (and in your bra) can help to keep you from constantly cleaning your shirts or feeling embarrassed. Happy breastfeeding!