You are currently viewing A Breastfeeding Checklist: 17 Things You May Need

A Breastfeeding Checklist: 17 Things You May Need

Disclaimer: This contains no medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon associate, I may earn a small commission on qualified purchases at no extra cost to you. Full disclaimer here. For clarity and brevity in this post, I’ll usually refer to the breastfeeding or chestfeeding parent as mother or mom.

As a pediatrician and a mom, I want to support other moms. Especially in how they want to feed their babies. 80% of moms say they would like to breastfeed, but breastfeeding or pumping is not always easy. At all. Many times, it really does take a team of people supporting the mom for her to be able to breastfeed her baby. Whether it’s a lactation consultant, a supportive coworker, an encouraging spouse, or a cheerleading friend, every person can help her achieve her goals. 

Although many moms breastfeed with few supplies, there are a few things that can make breastfeeding soooo much easier. So, today I’m covering a few of those things, a little checklist of supplies that might help.

For full disclosure, I’m not really a big shopper. And yet, when I look back on what I purchased in order to support my own breastfeeding journey, the list is kind of long. I’ve also met countless breastfeeding and pumping parents and learned from them as well. So, with all this gathered information, here is a breastfeeding checklist, things to look through and consider when shopping, setting up a registry, or troubleshooting challenges. 

Supplies that Many Breastfeeding Moms May Use

The following are products that many (most?) breastfeeding parents find helpful. It’s a good starting point if you’re making shopping decisions.

Nursing Bra

A good nursing bra goes a long way. The main difference from most standard bras is that a nursing bra usually has some kind of clip for “easy access” for a baby to feed without their mom having to adjust too many articles of clothing. 

An alternative (and my preference) is a nursing tank. I liked these as I felt more covered up and could lift any regular shirt to breastfeed without exposing much skin. 

Breast Pads

Whether you choose disposable nursing pads or reusable pads, many women appreciate having something to catch any leaked milk. They can be tucked in the bra and changed as needed. Personally, I used Bamboobies for awhile and loved them. They worked to catch leaks. Later, when my skin became more sensitive, I switched to some handmade flannel ones from Etsy and they also worked. 

Things to consider with breast pads: 

  • Any skin sensitivities to different fabrics
  • Level of absorbancy you need (it can vary)
  • Personal preference of disposable or reusable

If someone chooses reusable breast pads, then a zippered mesh bag is extremely helpful for washing and drying the pads. 

Nursing Pillow

For many moms, a nursing pillow helps keep things more comfortable. I did not anticipate this for myself, thinking a little pile of throw pillows would suffice. Then, a friend gave me a Boppy nursing pillow and I’ve been grateful ever since. In some cases it makes it easier to support a baby’s body as they feed without putting too much stress on a parent’s hands, arms, wrists, and shoulders. The My Brest Friend pillow is another popular choice. To be fair, a stack of regular pillows can also work!

A Comfy Place to Sit

Especially in the early days, there’s a lot of frequent breastfeeding. Like, a lot. If the breastfeeding parent is alert and awake, a comfortable place to sit is so helpful! From rockers to gliders to a bed, there are many options!

If a parent thinks she may fall asleep while feeding her baby, it is safest to avoid the couch or recliners. See this post on safe sleep tips and why choosing to feed on an adult bed with a firm mattress and a fitted sheet may be one option.

Water Bottle or Tumbler for Mom

A breastfeeding parent must stay hydrated. Water is essential to making breast milk. I’ve spoken with many moms who describe the incredible thirst during their breastfeeding days. So, an easy way to stay hydrated is key. These Contigo water bottles are good because they are easy to handle with just one hand and they don’t leak. I also love my tumbler from Simple Modern just because it’s kind of pretty. It’s not totally leakproof, but can be used with one hand too. And, the stainless steel is good for those avoiding plastic

Nursing Cover

A breastfeeding cover is maybe the most optional thing on a breastfeeding checklist. That being said, many like having one especially when out and about in those early weeks when still figuring out latch and positioning.

Hand Pump

A handheld breast pump is something that some parents find useful to keep in their purse. It’s good if they have to be away from their baby infrequently, like for a doctor’s appointment, but not so often that they would want a more efficient and comfortable electric pump (see below).

Manual hand pumps can also be really useful on a road trip when it’s hard to stop at exactly the right times.

It’s also a great idea for all breastfeeding parents to learn how to hand express milk. 

Checklist for Pumping Parents

If a parent is pumping, there are a few extra essential supplies.

Double Electric Breast Pump

For those that pump frequently, a double electric breast pump is extremely helpful! If you are in the United States, please reach out to your insurance company to see if this can be covered by insurance. 

Pumping Bra

A “hands-free pumping bra” describes itself well. It allows someone to keep their hands free while also pumping milk. Personally, when I worked in an office, I was able to complete computer and phone tasks while pumping without any hindrance at all. I appreciated a style similar to this where the pumping bra also works as a nursing bra. Many others like this kind of hands free pumping bra that just goes on when actually pumping.

Pumping Door Sign (For Privacy)

If you are pumping at work or school or simply when out and about, it’s hard to be able to rely on a private and clearly labeled lactation room. Sometimes, a temporarily vacant office or conference room is available. So, it’s nice to be able hang a little note on the door asking for a few minutes of privacy. 

Yes, a sticky note works perfectly. These door hangers I designed are another option. I suggest people keep one in their bag so it can be used whenever the need arises. 

(As an aside, when a coworker found a similar door hanger for me when I returned from maternity leave, I felt so supported!) So, I think these would make a great little return-to-work gift for pumping moms. 

Soft-Sided Cooler and Ice Packs

A lunch cooler is a simple way to transport milk home. Size depends on how much milk you need to carry. Just be sure to have ice packs to keep everything cool enough.

Others may use an insulated container designed for breast milk in order to carry breast milk home to their babies. 

Pumping Bag

If someone is pumping outside their home, it helps to have a way to carry the pump and all its accessories. There are specially designed breast pump bags that can also fit laptops, coolers, and other supplies.

To be fair, any large-enough bag will work. I think I carried around three or four separate bags (work bag, pump bag, mini cooler for milk transport, and my lunch) during my commuting-and-pumping days, so it’s definitely a personal preference as to what to use. This is before I realized the all-in-one bags existed!

Container to Transport or Collect Milk

Some of the more common ways to collect and store breast milk include breast milk storage bags and/or bottles. If the volume is large, bags may be more space-efficient, especially if storing in a freezer. 

Bottle and Nipples for Feeding

For those that pump, a bottle is the most common way to feed their babies. There are definitely other options, like small cups or teaspoons. If someone uses bottles and also feeds directly at the breast, using a slow flow nipple (we used these ones with various bottles) is a good idea to prevent bottle preference. See this post for more.

Supplies that Some Breastfeeding Moms May Use

There are a few circumstances that apply to some, but not all, breastfeeding parents. For example, a breastfeeding mom can discuss continuing prenatal vitamins with her personal doctor.

Nipple Shields

I usually suggest someone meet with a lactation consultant if they have any concerns about their baby latching. Sometimes a nipple shield is recommended in certain situations.

Breast Shells

Breast shells can be worn under the bra to help protect sore nipples. Again, a lactation consultant is essential if someone is having a lot of pain and soreness. 

There are also breast shells that collect extra or leaking milk. The shell can be (carefully!) removed and the milk poured into a storage container. For many, those little drops add up to ounces and ounces of extra milk. 

Nipple Cream

Even with a proper latch and an excellent start to breastfeeding, a nipple cream can still be helpful to soothe mildly sore nipples. This is an incredibly personal preference; different people have different sensitivities. For example, many swear by lanolin cream and others may get a rash from it. A sample size of nipple cream makes a great gift if you know the mom well. She can try out a few different brands to see what works for her. Or, better yet, she may not even need it by the time a small tube is finished. 

Support For Breastfeeding Parents

The most essential item on a breastfeeding checklist is support from other people. Sometimes, that support can be in the form of a small gift like those listed above. Or, it can be holding a newborn while their mom takes a shower. Maybe it’s best to just listen as a mom vents about the time-consuming nature of pumping while also still really wanting to continue pumping.

On a more societal level, the next time you have an opportunity to vote, consider voting for policies that also support new mothers and their preferred ways to feed their babies.

Lastly, it should go without saying that if you are a breastfeeding mom, please don’t feel like you need everything on this checklist. Just use it as a way to think through your own needs. And, please reach out if you need more support. Your baby’s pediatrician or your own obstetrician or midwife are all excellent places to start. They can connect you with other resources.

infographic entitled Breastfeeding Supplies Checklist includes categories of "for direct feeding" and 6 listed items covered in blog post and "for pumping" and 6 listed items also covered. Beige, brown, and blue floral motif. Note at bottom of image "This list is just a starting point . . . for more details see

Maya M. Mahmood, D.O., F.A.A.P. is a board-certified pediatrician and mom. She is passionate about parents having evidence-based information to help their families be healthier. Don’t want to miss a post? Subscribe to the newsletter.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Aliria Rascón

    I can’t say enough good things about the My Brest Friend pillow for the early/clumsy days of breastfeeding! I recommend it to every new mom who’s having any kind of hard time with breastfeeding. The little pocket is a nice bonus for when you get trapped breastfeeding for a while and need baby nail scissors or other random accessories.

Leave a Reply