When breastfeeding in public, some women prefer the modesty of a breastfeeding cover. There are several different types of covers, from commercial breastfeeding covers to baby blankets to just a shirt or jacket turned backward. In order to choose the best breastfeeding cover, consider personal comfort, the thickness and size of the material, portability, washability, and extra features that might be useful, like pockets. A good cover should conceal all exposed areas, be lightweight, easy to carry, and machine washable.
The breastfeeding cover should be big enough to cover all the areas that a woman wants covered, which may just be the chest or the entire torso and nursing baby. Taller women need larger covers than smaller women, and it is a good idea to try the cover before attempting to use it in public. A good breastfeeding cover should be easy to put on and take off with one hand.
Consider whether the cover will be used while nursing outdoors, while nursing in a public place, like a mall, or even while pumping at work. Different covers may serve better than others for different occasions. An apron-style cover with a strap that goes around the neck may be ideal for hands-free privacy during pumping, while a poncho-style cover that covers the front and back of the torso might be best for nursing outdoors in cooler weather. A breastfeeding cover with a stiff opening at the top, making it possible for the mother to see the baby, might be most useful when adjusting the baby's latch or switching sides.
The cover must be lightweight enough that the baby does not feel trapped or overheated as well as durable enough to withstand frequent use and travel. Lightweight covers also tend to be easier to fold and stuff into diaper bags as opposed to heavy baby blankets that take up a lot of room. Breastfeeding covers should be machine washable and need minimal ironing.
Budget can also be a concern, as some designer covers tend to be quite expensive. Extra features like pockets, built-in spit-up cloths, and reversibility might help make a breastfeeding cover serve multiple purposes to save costs. Some covers are designed to look like a regular baby blanket but come with a built-in weight in one corner to help it stay on the mother's shoulder. The more added features and design options, however, the more expensive the cover will tend to be.