Inexpensive clothing options that make it easier to nurse baby

Affordable Clothing for Nursing Moms

TDS Reader Solutions

Cheap Nursing Clothes: Advice, Please

I plan to nurse my baby, but I am having little luck finding used or even new nursing outfits. I can do very simple sewing but nothing fancy. I would like to have several tops that would allow me to nurse more discreetly than just a button down top! New tops from the online catalogues are outrageous! I'd rather spend all my time at home than pay those prices. All the readers out there who nursed their babies surely have some great tips. Please help!

Cheap Nursing Clothes: Start With Nursing Bras

Before I started nursing, I wondered if I needed fancy nursing clothes to nurse discreetly, too. I couldn't afford to buy a whole new wardrobe and I don't sew at all. I managed quite happily with a few nursing bras as my only "real" nursing clothing articles. For the rest, I wore loose fitting blouses usually with a colorful pattern, never a solid color. Patterns don't show wetness as much, which you get a lot with a tiny baby around. I successfully nursed two children this way.

Cheap Nursing Clothes: Try a Cape

Having nursed two children, I discovered that special clothing is not necessary at all. At Target, you can buy a "nursing cape" for about $4 and they are wonderful! Basically they tie around your neck and the cape covers the baby. My friends and I swear by them as they are much easier to use than the nursing shirts.

Cheap Nursing Clothes: Oversized T's

As the mother of 6, I have a bit of experience in that area and perhaps could offer a little help. I tried the very expensive and trendy catalog clothes and I can tell you now that the easiest and most comfortable clothing for me and the baby was over-sized T-shirts! I would buy pretty ones and tie a knot at the hip when I was not nursing the baby. But when it was time for nursing, I untied the knot and had plenty of room for baby and enough soft material to keep myself covered. At one time I was nursing 2 babies (one adopted and one home-birthed). The t-shirts really worked well for me. I nursed all my babies in malls, restaurants, and even walking around flea markets and nobody really could tell because I was covered by my t-shirts. Also, it helps uncomplicate matters if you go without a bra. But if there are times when you just can't, then get one that is easily accesible to opening and closing with one hand.
Kay A.
Mom of 6

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Cheap Nursing Clothes: Easy to Make

I nursed both my kids, and found that nursing clothes are really easy to make. Elizabeth Lee Designs has very functional, simple, versatile patterns that go together fast. It might also be worth checking eBay or your local newspaper ads to see if you can find any nursing clothes used. Failing all of that, wearing two-piece outfits, with a loose shirt on the top, can still allow you to nurse discreetly. If you have on a button-down shirt, just unbutton it from the bottom and drape a baby blanket over your shoulder. I also would often wear a T-shirt underneath a button-down shirt, and between the two of them could nurse easily.
Judy B

Cheap Nursing Clothes: Some Resources

  • Check out online at eBay for great used nursing stuff.
  • Contact your local La Leche League group. Our group had a fundraiser rummage sale this weekend and sold a lot of them.
  • Do you have a Dan Howard maternity outlet in your area? We do and prices are okay, not great, but cheaper than many catalogs and whole price maternity.
  • Invest! Some of the really cute nursing stuff (check out is stuff you may be wearing even after you wean.

Besides that, think of all the money you are saving by breastfeeding instead of formula feeding (at least $1200 if you nurse just for one year), and splurge on yourself. If you have more than one child, it might well be worth it to have something you're comfortable in.

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Cheap Nursing Clothes: My Solutions

I have spent 4 years of my life nursing (between 2 kids) and here's what I have done, and I have NEVER owned specific nursing clothes. You're right, they ARE outrageous.

Often, I use my husband's t-shirt. Often the armholes are large enough to slide over into the appropriate position

Button down shirts are also great. To make this more discreet, leave the neck buttons closed, exposing as little chest area as possible. When I did this, no one ever knew I was nursing. A baby who is swaddled, and has a bit of blanket around their head will often shield your breast from the rest of the world.

A vest with a shorter shirt underneath can give you a polished look, and eliminate the bunches of fabric involved in lifting your shirt.

Never make a tent because I feel like it's a big red flag. It was much easier to arrange the blanket around the only possible places skin could show (top of breast and side), than to keep peeking into the blanket to check on baby.

Don't hide it. It's a sad thing in our culture when the most natural thing is laced with shame and secrecy. Being discreet is one thing, being paranoid is another. How nice it is to see mothers nursing their babies- comfortably!

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Cheap Nursing Clothes: Try a Sling

I am currently a nursing mom, and I know what you mean about the price of nursing clothing. Having nursed two other children, I can tell you that I have managed without ever buying anything specifically made for nursing. And I am not a stay-at-home or sit in the dressing room(let alone bathroom - yuck!) kind of girl. What I did invest in is a thing called a baby sling. It's not inexpensive, but it is well worth the price (about $39.99, I think). You wear it slung across one shoulder, and draped over the opposite hip. Inside it, the baby can snugly cuddle, you can carry her hands free, and if necessary, nurse absolutely discreetly. You can even walk around while doing so, and most people will just assume that the baby is sleeping. When the baby is bigger, there are several different ways you can carry the child in it, with far less strain to your body than other methods.
Julie T.

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Cheap Nursing Clothes: Two-Piece Outfits

I agree that the ready-made nursing fashions are very expensive. I found that for everyday use I was able to use regular two-piece outfits for nursing. With a button-down top, you unbutton from the bottom so the baby covers your middle. To be more discrete, a sweater or jacket will keep you more covered. I was able to find one or two nursing outfits at La Leche League conferences. Frequently women will sell nursing clothes that they sew themselves--much more affordable than the catalog fashions. I also bought one beautiful nursing dress from a catalog, but I bought it marked down from the clearance section of the website. There are several places that have outlets, and if you're near the factory outlet you can also find marked down items.

Check consignment or thrift shops for nursing clothes. Family garage sales might also turn up a few bargains.

Finally, there are patterns for nursing clothes which are fairly reasonable. I don't sew, but my mother made me a few dresses and nursing tops to round out my wardrobe. It's nice to have a pretty dress or something suitable for special occasion that you can nurse in easily, but I don't think you need a whole closet full of nursing clothes. You'll probably need some comfortable nursing bras, but the special clothes are a luxury, not a necessity.

I've nursed three children over the past 7 years, and like most baby-related items, you don't need everything you see. Wait until the baby is here and then decide which items are really necessary.
Larissa L. in East Brunswick, NJ

Reviewed January 2018

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