If you choose to breastfeed, finding clothes that you can nurse in easily and comfortably is essential. Button-up tops, for instance, can feel fiddly and annoying when your baby starts fussing and you want to feed them as quickly as possible. Likewise, you may not want to pull up a T-shirt or sweater in a public café, exposing your tummy and breast in the process.
Of course, no one should ever feel like they need to cover up, and you should feed your baby wherever and however you like. But many breastfeeding women like to have a few nursing tops in their postnatal wardrobes with discreet panels and openings. This way, if you do feel the need to be discreet, you can do so super easily.
“The best types of nursing tops are those that have a wrap top or a flap top partition,” says Amanda Wood, CEO and Founder of The Haute Edit LLC. This allows you to feed comfortably while remaining covered. “Likewise, you can also wear a wrap knit top, crop top, or cropped sweater over a nursing tank dress.”
So, with Amanda’s and our other experts’ words of advice firmly in our minds, we found a selection of the best nursing tops to add to your wardrobe and make those endless feeds a little easier.
H & M
H&M is always a go-to for postnatal essentials, and this pack of three nursing tops is a great way to prepare your wardrobe for breastfeeding. It comes with a long-sleeve, wrap-style top, a round-neck, short-sleeve top, and a sleeveless top with adjustable straps and an elasticated panel below the bust. Each is made from a soft jersey that washes well and feels soft on the skin.
Sizes: XS–XXL | Type: Shoulder clip and pull-down concealed panel
Sizes: XS–XL | Type: Pull up concealed panel
If you’re going to treat yourself to something extra special for the precious postpartum stage, make it this gorgeous alpaca-blend nursing cardigan from Storq. Cut to an enveloping fit, this super-soft layering piece is designed to snap close at the center front with an additional hidden snap near the shoulder. This means the baby can feed inside while you cover yourself and stay cozy at the same time.
Sizes: XS–XXL | Type: Center snap closure and hidden snap at shoulder
Your breasts can go up a couple of sizes when you’re lactating, so you may find yourself in the ‘bigger boobs’ category even if you haven’t before. This tank may seem simple, but it’s thoughtfully designed from stretch micromodal and certified OEKO-TEX® fabric with a one-handed clip-down cup, built-in bra, and strap adjusters. It also starts in a size small and runs up to 3X, so you’ll be able to find your perfect fit.
Sizes: S–3X | Type: One-handed clip down
Cozy and with a long length, this soft jersey top from Seraphine is the perfect everyday layering piece. It comes in two versatile shades (grey and sky-blue) and has a roll neck that’s ideal for chilly days. Wear it with your favorite leggings and when it comes to feeding, just snap open the sides with one hand.
Sizes: XS–XL | Type: Split sides with snap fastenings
Hatch is one of our favorite maternity and postnatal brands, and its ‘The Luxe’ nursing tee is a great staple to invest in. While it is on the more expensive side, it’s made from 100% organic Pima cotton that is super soft and the kind of piece that you’ll wear on repeat. The top layer is made for discreet feeding and pulls open at the center.
Sizes: 0–3 | Type: Pull up concealed panel
This versatile tank from Storq has easy-to-access clips that allow you to feed easily and discreetly. It’s made from smooth and stretchy OEKO-TEX® jersey and inside, there’s a shelf bra to offer light support for you morning, noon, and night. Wear it around the house with leggings or with your maternity jeans and sneakers for baby groups and coffee dates with friends.
Sizes: XS–3X | Type: One-handed clip down
This everyday nursing tee has a lift-up panel for feeding that makes it easy to latch baby on without anyone seeing anything and runs up to a size 3X. We recommend buying it in both the black and grey colorways and wearing them with everything from leggings to dungarees.
Sizes: 1X–3X | Type: Pull up concealed panel
“I was reluctant to buy a lot of pieces that I wouldn’t be able to keep wearing after I had my son,” says British fashion journalist Frankie Graddon, “So, instead of buying specific maternity tops I wore [button-up] shirts from Gap.” Like Graddon, we also love an oversized shirt as a chic and versatile nursing option, and Gap has a great range, such as this roomy style. You can also wear a specific nursing tank or vest underneath if you want a little extra coverage.
Sizes: XS–XXL | Type: Button-up
Once your baby arrives, you’ll want comfy essentials that you can wear on repeat. This hooded sweater from MORI is ideal for those newborn days, with a roomy fit and side poppers to allow for easy feeding. It’s also made from organic stretch cotton and modal, so is a great sustainable option.
Sizes: S–L | Type: Split sides with poppers
When it comes to top-tier nursing shirts, our favorite option is H&M’s MAMA 3-pack Cotton Nursing Tops for its variety and bang for your buck. If you’re looking to splurge, we’d say to go for the Mama + BB Nursing Cardigan by Storq; this ultra-plush, alpaca-blended top will provide ultimate levels of comfort for you and your little one.
What to Look for in Nursing Tops
Types of fastening
Nursing tops come in four main styles. The first is clip fastenings at the shoulder straps, which are usually seen on vest tops and camis. Double-layered panels that pull upwards or to the side are also very popular, as are nursing tops and sweaters with snap fastenings along the sides. The one you choose is all dependent on your personal preference and the position you feed your baby in.
The hormone oxytocin is released when you breastfeed, which not only makes you feel relaxed and a little bit sleepy but often quite warm, too. As such, you may want to wear layers when you’re lactating so that you can peel off any extra pieces if you start to feel very hot—like in a café or baby group. It’s also wise to look for cool fabrics such as cotton, bamboo, lyocell, and even fine-knit wool.
What should you look for in nursing tops and how do they work?
Great nursing tops will appear like regular tops but have hidden details and layers to help you feed your baby without exposing your stomach, breasts, or back. Vest tops tend to have clips at the shoulder straps, while T-shirts and sweaters lift up or pull to the side to reveal concealed feeding panels.
Liana Chaouli, who is the founder of Image Therapist International, says that a good way of making sure that a top is a good fit for you is to see if your fingers have the dexterity to open up the panel or zipper with one hand. “You’ll have to do this several times a day and as soon as your baby cries, so you want your nursing top to be accessible as possible.”
How many nursing tops do I need?
When you first start breastfeeding, you’ll probably produce quite a lot of milk, so leaking is expected. As such, you’ll need a few different nursing tops to get you through the week, and it’s a good idea to pop a spare in your baby bag, too, just in case you need to change when you’re out of the house. Some brands, such as H&M offer great nursing sets, including vest tops, tees, and shirts which are a great way to get started.
Do I also need a breastfeeding bra?
Yes, and a breastfeeding bra should be as easily accessible as your nursing top so you can undo both quickly. Another thing to think about is that your nursing bra has a pocket for a pad. “They should have a padded pocket,” she says, “so you don’t leak out into your clothes, especially if you’re immediately returning to work,” Chaouli says.