Wooden nipple shield, Europe, 1701-1900

1701-1900 in Europe

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Left hand side: A124876, Wooden nipple shield. Right hand side, A606832/1, One of two beeswax nipple
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Wooden nipple shield

Nipple shields protect mothers from pain while breastfeeding their teething babies and soothe sore nipples. They prevent nipples from flattening, contain leaking milk and help women who had trouble breastfeeding.

This wooden example, seen on the left, is alongside a beeswax example (A606832/1) on the right. It has 13 small holes through which milk passed to the feeding baby. Doctors of this period advised breastfeeding was best for infants. They said babies should be breastfed by the mother if possible or a wet nurse. Dried milk and condensed milk were introduced in the 1860s. However, doctors claimed dried milk caused diarrhoea, indigestion and rickets when fed to babies.


Nursing & Hospital Furnishings
Object Number:
nipple shield
  • furnishing and equipment
  • tools & equipment

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