DIY Nipple Cream for Breastfeeding

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DIY nipple cream
Wellness Mama » Blog » Motherhood » DIY Nipple Cream for Breastfeeding

With my first child, I was prepared for pregnancy to be uncomfortable at times. I expected labor and delivery to be intense. I figured I’d be emotional after having a baby. What I didn’t expect (or really prepare for) is that breastfeeding can be difficult the first few days as well!

Don’t get me wrong. It is worth it. The pain isn’t that bad and a lot can be helped by making sure baby has a good latch from the very beginning. However, this certainly didn’t make it completely painless for me as many claim. Instead, I found that for the first week or so of nursing a baby, I had to take a deep breath and mentally prepare because it was quite uncomfortable.

Perhaps you can empathize if you’ve also breastfed a baby. And my apologies to anyone who hasn’t yet but plans to, I wish someone had warned me!

Nipple Cream

A few days after I had my first baby when I was in the trenches of learning to breastfeed, the lactation consultant suggested lanolin cream. I tried it and proceeded to get much, much worse. Turns out I was allergic to lanolin!

Needless to say, I didn’t use it again after that. It did make me wonder though if there was something I could use that might offer some relief.

Why Not Lanolin?

For me, the answer was because I was allergic. As I started researching to make my own homemade nipple balm cream recipe, I realized lanolin wasn’t an ingredient I wanted to use, even if I could without a reaction.

What is Lanolin?

Lanolin is an oil from sheep’s wool. The sebum (oil) is extracted from the wool and it undergoes another process to create the finished lanolin. This is obviously problematic for anyone allergic to wool (raises hand). There are also concerns about pesticide residue found in wool and the potential for this to build up in fatty tissue or in breast milk.

Many sheep are sprayed with pesticides to treat various mites and pests. Additionally, most sheep are fed non-organic and GMO feed, and traces of this can be found in the wool as well. There are some sources of organic lanolin from healthy sheep, but it’s hard to find.

Sources disagree about the safety of lanolin and some claim it’s perfectly safe. It wasn’t a risk I wanted to take with my newborn babies just in case. Most popular brands of nipple cream have concentrated lanolin. While these may help mom heal more quickly, they also become part of little ones’ first food and more natural skincare options can be effective as well.

A Natural Nipple Cream

I was determined to have an easier time with those first days of nursing with my last two babies. I started experimenting with making a natural nipple cream or nursing balm that would help ease the discomfort of sore nipples. It’s also important to check for oral ties and other things that can affect a baby’s latch!

There are some really good pre-made nipple creams and salves available now if you don’t feel like making a DIY version. I still opted to make my own nipple cream for breastfeeding since I had the supplies on hand. If you want to buy one, here are some good brands:

Choosing Safe Ingredients

Since this cream is essentially ingested by a nursing baby, I made sure to use ingredients that are safe, natural, and have a low chance of allergic reaction. For this reason, I decided not to use almond oil, beeswax, or coconut oil. As much as I love these ingredients they have a small chance of an allergic reaction.

I also didn’t use any essential oils in this recipe. While they’re great for skin care (when used properly), I never gave them to my babies internally.

Nipple Cream Ingredients

Instead of using any ingredients that could cause an allergic reaction or be harmful, I used the following:

A Note on Consistency

This nipple cream is a slightly softer salve and I found it easier to apply that way. If you want it firmer, then increase the cocoa butter to 1/3 cup (or more). You could add some beeswax to thicken, but there is a rare chance baby could have an allergic reaction.

There is some evidence though that the pesticides in inorganic beeswax could be to blame for beeswax allergies. While I always use organic beeswax in my recipes, I opted to skip it here just in case.

Nipple Cream Instructions

First, you’ll want to infuse the herbs into the olive oil. This helps maintain their beneficial properties in the balm without leaving residue or grittiness. You can do this in three ways:

  1. Solar infusion– If you have the time, you can let the oils infuse in the sun. Here’s the method, but in short, use 1/4 cup each of chamomile and calendula flowers, 2 tablespoons marshmallow root, and 1 cup olive oil in a pint size or larger mason jar. Leave this in the sun and shake daily to infuse. Note that this only works well in warm weather.
  2. Time Infusion-Similar to the solar infusion but without the sun. Place the same ratios of herbs and oil in a jar and shake daily for 2-4 weeks.
  3. Heat infusion– The best method for when you’re low on time! Place the same ratios (1/4 cup each of chamomile and calendula flowers, 2 tablespoons marshmallow root, and 1 cup olive oil) in a double boiler. Heat over low heat for 2-3 hours, until the oil takes on the scent of the herbs and changes color slightly.

No matter which method you use, at the end of the process, carefully strain out the herbs and keep the finished oil. I do this with a metal strainer lined with cheesecloth. This makes extra infused oil, but you can use the extra for lotion or other recipes.

If you want to make just enough for one batch of DIY nipple cream, then use the following ratios:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon each chamomile and calendula flowers
  • 2 teaspoons marshmallow root
DIY nipple cream
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5 from 4 votes

DIY Nipple Cream

This moisturizing nursing balm helps soothe sore, cracked nipples. Plus it’s safe for baby to ingest.
Prep Time6 hours
Active Time5 minutes
Author: Katie Wells

Materials

Infused Oil for Nursing Balm

Nursing Balm

  • ¼ cup infused oil
  • ¼ cup cocoa butter (or more for a firmer balm)

Instructions

Making the Infused Oil: Three Methods

  • There are three options detailed below for making the infused oil for the nursing balm: Solar infusion, time infusion, and heat infusion.

Infused Oil, Solar Method

  • In a clean pint-size mason jar combine the ingredients listed above for the infused oil.
  • Place in the sun and shake daily for 2-4 weeks.
  • After infusion is complete, use a metal strainer lined with a cheesecloth to carefully strain out the herbs.

Infused Oil, Time Method

  • In a clean pint-size mason jar combine the ingredients listed above for the infused oil.
  • Place in a convenient location and shake daily for 2-4 weeks.
  • After the infusion is complete, use a metal strainer lined with cheesecloth to strain out the herbs.

Infused Oil, Heat Method

  • Place water in the bottom portion of a double boiler. You can also place a heat-safe glass bowl on top of a pot of water.
  • In the top portion, combine the ingredients listed above for the infused oil.
  • Heat over low heat for 2-3 hours until the oil takes on the scent of the herbs and changes color slightly.
  • After the infusion is complete, use a metal strainer lined with cheesecloth to strain out the herbs.

Making the Nursing Balm

  • After the oil is infused and strained, add ¼ cup of the infused oil and ¼ cup of cocoa butter to the top portion of a double boiler or glass bowl.
  • Place water in the bottom portion of the double boiler or pot.
  • Heat over low heat, stirring, just until the cocoa butter is melted.
  • Pour into a glass jar or tin and cool to room temperature.

Notes

  • This balm will be somewhat soft and not ever get completely firm. If you prefer a harder balm, add more cocoa butter. Alternatively, the liquid oil could be used alone or in a higher ratio for a smoother balm.
  • Use the leftover infused oil for lotions or other recipes.

How to Use Nipple Cream – I liked to use this immediately after a nursing session. Gently apply it to the nipples and areola as needed to prevent soreness.

Ever used a nipple cream or lanolin? Did it work for you?

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.

Comments

64 responses to “DIY Nipple Cream for Breastfeeding”

  1. Katie Avatar

    Hi there. I’d like to make this today, so hoping for a somewhat speedy response if possible! I am just wondering if there is a particular reason you only recommend olive oil and if you feel that there are some other oils that may also work well. Let me know. Thanks!

  2. Sarah Snow Avatar
    Sarah Snow

    How long is a couple of hours for the heat infusion method? Is it possible to cook for too long or too short of a time?

  3. Sarah Snow Avatar
    Sarah Snow

    I was wondering how many hours are “a few hours” for the heat oil infusion? I know that you said until the color changes and you smell the herbs in the oil but I am noticing that my super pregnancy nose is smelling everything long before I put all of the ingredients together. Any suggestions for time or better details of what I should look for and smell? Thank you.

  4. Michaela Avatar
    Michaela

    Trying to make a natural remedy gift basket for a friend. Is it possible to use essential oils in the olive oil instead of infusing the oil? Just trying to use things that I have around the house already! Thanks!

    1. Carolyn Avatar
      Carolyn

      I wouldn’t use essential oils in something a baby would ingest.

  5. Tiffany Avatar
    Tiffany

    The best nipple cream I have ever used was my breast milk. Just squeeze a little out when the baby is done feeding and rub it in. It heals your nipples so fast!

  6. Anna Humberstone Avatar
    Anna Humberstone

    Hi Katie, I’m due in September but I want to get a head start making the balm. How long does the infused oil last before it goes rancid please? I’ve read that adding vitamin E oil can help prolong infused oil, would this be appropriate for a nursing balm where baby may injest it? Thanks so much 🙂

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      With that much time, I’d do a slow infusion or a solar infusion and make the balm closer to baby time. You could let the oil sit with the herbs in a jar for a couple of months before straining and using.

    1. Carolyn Avatar

      Just throwing in my personal experience. I can’t eat uncooked avacados because I’m allergic to latex and there’s a compound found in both. Not sure if it is present in the oil too, but it might be a potential allergen.

  7. Rebekah Avatar
    Rebekah

    Hi, quick question. Does the recipe call for marshmallow root EXTRACT? Or the powdered root? I imagine it’s marshmallow root EXTRACT since the picture looks like it’s a pretty clear balm, but wanted to double-check before making.

  8. Veronica Avatar

    Hi Katie, could I use a few drops of marshmallow tincture instead of the actual herb? Not sure how the alcohol would affect the rest of the mixture.
    Thanks!

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      Typically alcohol doesn’t mix well with oils. I’d probably just use a drop of the marshmallow tincture directly on the nipple and then apply the balm.

  9. Laura Avatar

    The recipes should be in grams, it’s inaccurate to measure by volume, lots of room for error.

  10. Jackie Avatar

    Well, it’s been a long time, but I used lanolin and it worked well for me. I only needed it for a few days to a week until the baby got the hang of nursing so for me, even if I knew about the downside of lanolin, I think it wasn’t much of a risk in my case.

    This sounds weird, but an old fashioned remedy for sore nipples is cabbage leaves. Just stick a head of cabbage in the fridge and peel off a whole leaf and stick it in your bra when you need it. It feels nice and cool. That alone is worth it but supposedly something in the cabbage helps with healing. I have no idea if it helps heal or not but it feels great if you are really sore. I thought the person who told me this was crazy but it worked for me and a head of cabbage is dirt cheap.

    Also, a few drops of breast milk applied to the nipple can help heal and prevent irritation.

    Breastfeeding my third child was extremely (EXTREMELY!!!!!!) painful at first but it is only temporary and this too shall pass. It was a bit of a rude awakening since I had done this with my older two and had a little difficulty but not much. I recommend hanging in there. Most people can nurse problem free once they get the hang of it.

    1. Elara Avatar

      Cabbage leaves do help soreness, but look out because they also reduce breastmilk volume!

      I’m looking forward to trying these new options for nipple cream. I used a purpportedly super refined lanolin cream with my first baby. I have no way to know if the purification process removed any pesticides.

      Thank you for the recipe!

      1. Jackie Avatar

        I have never heard that about cabbage leaves affecting volume. I was lucky that enough volume wasn’t a problem for me with any of my kids but that is good to know for those who have had an issue with it. I still think it is a good option because it is cheap and easy but it may be a good idea for someone trying it out to drink more fluids to compensate. I noticed no difference at all back in the dark ages but it is good to know.

        1. Darlene Seitz Avatar
          Darlene Seitz

          I used lettuce leaves (a firmer type such as Boston green or romaine) as a barrier between my bra and nipples. The nipple pads were too scratchy at the time. I microwaved two small pieces of the greener part for maybe 3 seconds to soften them and then let them cool. The nurse recommended this because the leaves were able to cling to the sore nipple and to the balm. It is a difficult initial period of time, but it will pass and then nursing is so easy and convenient.

  11. Darlene Seitz Avatar
    Darlene Seitz

    Congratulations! I highly recommend the nipple balm. The first few weeks of nursing can be painful. A nurse at the doctor’s office suggested I heat up romaine lettuce in the microwave to soften the leaves. I put them on my nipples as a barrier between my clothes. Nursing pads were too scratchy. It really helped.

  12. Nora Avatar

    Congratulations on your latest creation, Katie!

    When I gave birth 26 years ago the hospital sent all the moms home with an assortment of baby-related items including a jar of lanolin for nipple care. By day 3 post-partum I was pretty sore and having a little trouble with latching on. I called the La Leche League and was advised to throw out the lanolin because of the “sheep dip” pesticides that were sure to be in it and to use vitamin e instead: a 100 I.U. capsule pricked with a sterile pin and a drop applied to each nipple after each feeding giving it time to soak in and begin healing before the next feeding, using a fresh capsule each time. In less than 24 hours I was all healed and pain-free. After that, I applied it once a day for a week or so, then didn’t need it again and continued to happily breastfeed for the next six months–until I put my back out and baby was weaned overnight, but that’s another story!

    1. Elizabeth T Schiller Avatar
      Elizabeth T Schiller

      I also did the vitamin E capsule and it worked great. I didn’t need it for long and toughened up pretty quickly. I don’t even remember using it for #2…. but that was a long time ago. They are 28 & 30 now! But I am going to make the nipple cream for a friend who is having her first. Already made baby powder and diaper cream.

  13. Aneah Avatar

    I have a friend who is about to give birth to her first baby. I would like to make this for her – but I don’t know how to tell her to use it. What instructions are there for applying it, and when? Thanks!

  14. kamila Avatar

    Hi Katie, congratulations on your new baby! I hope you and the baby are doing great! I was wondering how old are you? I am 39 and have 4 kids. Some times I think about having another one, but then I get worried about being too old or something happening to me and leaving all my kids without a mama…

    1. Jeanetta Avatar

      Kamila, I just want to be an encouragement to you. I am 46 years old (tomorrow!), and I am expecting baby number twelve on March 27th. I have had the same fears as you, and while no one has any certainty of how young they are going to die, we need to trust God with our lives and our families. He knows what is best, and He works all things out for our good. Enjoy your precious children, and don’t worry about what could happen in the future. Welcome each pregnancy without fear, and trust God. The most important thing you can give your children is a mother who loves them, prays for their salvation, and loves God with her whole heart.

      1. Cori Avatar

        AMEN!! I think all of us have fears during pregnancy no matter our age and its so freeing to be able to give it all over to God!

      2. Rebekah Nance Avatar
        Rebekah Nance

        Jeanetta – I needed to read this today (although not meant initially for me?) thank you! I started everything a little behind the age “power curve”. I am 40 and just lost identical twins and suddenly am having fears I never had to face with my first child (at 38). But your word are encouragement to my heart right now, and especially to read you are 46 and pregnant! God is good, and he is faithful.
        (And thanks Katie for an awesome sounding nipple cream recipe!!)

  15. Brandi S Avatar

    Thank you so much for this! I’m pregnant with #2. I used lanolin the first time, but would definitely prefer something more natural and safe this time around. I love the earth mama angel baby bottom balm, so am certain i would love their nipple cream as well! Without your article, I didn’t even know it existed! Thank you!

  16. Angela Avatar

    Why don’t you sell these products on your website? I don’t have the time to make it, but would gladly buy your recipes for myself/friends over & over! Do you have any plans to do this??? *Fingers crossed* Please say yes;)!

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      I don’t have any plans to make and sell products at this time. I enjoy experimenting and creating healthy recipes for my family, but the idea of mass producing, shipping, and handling customer service issues is not something I want (or have time) to do. That’s why I also link to products which are of good quality which you can purchase pre-made if you don’t want to make my creations yourself.

      1. Laurie Avatar

        Hi wellness mama instead of using marshmallow root can i try another ingredient

    2. Katie Avatar

      Would this still be effective without the flowers? Simply the olive oil and cocoa butter?

  17. Sarah Avatar

    I’m newly pregnant with baby #2 and almost immediately thought “I hope Wellness Mama has a nipple cream recipe”. I used a store bought version last time, but I enjoy making my own stuff. And I’ve made a few of your healthy and beauty recipes.

    I’ll be making a batch of this soon!

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