Breast Feeding Hullabaloo

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Virgil Evetts

“THOU SHALT NOT BREAST FEED AT THE TABLE.  Yes, I have seen table-side breast feeding at a four-star restaurant. If at all possible, take it to the ladies room. (Note: most upscale restaurants have really nice restrooms!)”

So began the ‘10 commandments of dining with little kids’, published in that bible of genteel fustiness, Better Homes and Gardens magazine, this week – to massive international outrage from mothers and parenting groups. The publishers back-peddled like crazy, removed the offending/offensive passage from the web version, and issued a formal apology. All is forgiven.

Well no, there are still throngs of seriously pissed-off mothers out there who will be unlikely to pick up a copy of BH&G anytime soon. Fact is, this was a startling stupid, offensive and prudish statement to make in a publication read mostly by women – particularly ‘nesting’ new mothers. It shouldn’t have made it past the editors.

The rest of the highly offending article is actually made up of some pretty good advice, so one wonders how the writer, known only as Heather W(apparently a mother herself), made such an egregious, poorly judged blunder.

Having worked for many years in a public venue popular with families, I don’t bat an eyelid at the sight of breast feeding; I couldn’t care less if it’s going on at the next table in a restaurant. The adults are eating, so why not the baby too? Although I guess it could count as bringing in outside food.

I do however question the appropriateness or wisdom of taking a baby to a four-star restaurant. Doing so is hardly considerate to your fellow diners and is not likely to be much fun for you either. Baby WILL get bored/tired/hungry/ and cry; other diners WILL give you disapproving looks and the braver ones may even complain.  Is it really worth the stress for all involved?

Get a bloody babysitter.

What do you think? Is tableside breast feeding in restaurants ok?  Do babies even belong in restaurants?

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12 thoughts on “Breast Feeding Hullabaloo

  1. Hasn’t this been an interesting topic. AS far as I’m concerned breastfeeding is what women were given breasts for! I have fed 2 babies and happily did so in public. Not once have I ever been hassled about it either….which is just as well for the person as I can be rather stroppy about things like that! I found it really intersting in the States as while they are quite prudish about breastfeeding (my friend was ‘directed’ to the restrooms to breastfeed her baby in Disneyland), they are the complete opposite about showing off their bodies. It is such a double standard that it’s not ok to give a baby it’s food but you can show off your booty in a g-string bikini and show pretty much all of your boobs except the nipple in a suggestive top….all in the name of looking ‘sexy’. It’s certainly a wierd country like that. As for here it is totally offensive to compare it to having a ‘s**t’ as Jazz says. I think that says a lot about the ignorance of some people. Let our babies feed when and where they like and leave it up to the mother to decide if she feels more comfortable to cover herself while doing so or not!

  2. I think it’s time womem made their minds up. They want it all now, even though their wants are contradictory to themselves. Women want to have big boobs, display their “assets”, have them enlarged, pose for photos featuring boobs and cleavage, use their bosoms to attract men and …the list goes on.
    And then …oh! Suddenly we’ve had a baby and boobs have overnight transformed into feeding tubes. And out they pop in public, all over the place.
    Don’t you women see that your boobs cannot be touted as a sexual attraction one month and then exposed in public the next just because you have a baby in tow. You want to breastfeed? Great. Do it at home or very discreetly thanks.

  3. I have no problem with breastfeeding in public at all, if others don’t like it, don’t look. You have to look pretty hard to see anything most times . You wouldn’t stare at any other diner, why stare at a breasfeeding mother. I would never use a cover, this just draws attention to the fact that you are breastfeeding. I’ve fed my children everywhere, and i doubt anyone ever knew.
    Would I take them to a high end restaurant?, probably not, just for cost alone, but other than that, yes I would and feed them if required.
    I would rather have content breastfeeding baby at the next table than a loud mouthed Alpha male, or woman who’s showing much more skin than i ever would.

  4. I have been following this story with great interest. I’m pregnant with number three and am living at the moment in the Stares. In NZ I never thought twice about breastfeeding my babies. And it was accepted as normal pretty much anywhere – NZ is very welcoming and encouraging towards the breastfeeding Mum. But here – in America – which is where the writer is writing from – all the breastfeeding mothers I have seen use covers…..they hid away behind these material ‘hooter hiders’. It is a cultural thing…so you have to understand that is where the writer is coming from…..they are very modest when they want to be here!! So as much as I disagree with it…there are cultural reasons for her opinion I’m sure. And yes….I have weakened, due to positive peer pressure and have bought myself an ‘udder cover’ for when I need to hide myself in public…..

  5. What is all the fuss about – for hundreds of years women have breastfed their babies in public and now all of sudden it is not a cool thing to do – it is completely natural and as others have stated the majority of women do it discreetly. I breastfed out in public and that is over 25 years ago, my mother in law was mortified but it caused me no concern. No one can see what is being exposed. Whats the problem.

  6. There are things that put me off my dinner including people who insist on carrying on conversation with a mouthful of food or who were never taught that to chew with your mouth open is unsightly. Unfortunately there are many adults who do both – at home and out.
    I will not start on those that honk into their handkerchiefs without turning their head from the table.
    Most babies eat quietly wtih their mouth firmly closed. Most mothers are discreet and have their baby tucked away underneath their top or throw a cloth over their shoulder.
    In fact I have seen more breast exposed through women in plunging neck lines than I have ever from a breast feeding mother.
    I don’t get the fuss over this.
    If a baby is crying and disturbing others with noise then that is another thing but if they are quietly minding their own business then surely they are entitled to do so.

  7. I’m with Homes & Gardens on this one. Just because YOU’RE comfortable breastfeeding in public, doesn’t mean you aren’t making others feel uncomfortable. It might be a completely natural event, but so is taking a sh*t. And I don’t want to see either while I’m eating thank-you.

  8. If a mother of a demand breastfed baby who prefers to not use a baby sitter and formula substitute, should have no qualms to be able to feed her baby at a commercial food service dining table. Breastfeeding mothers in cafes in my experience are very artful in carrying it out and should offend no-one. (i’m a cafe owner and grandmother of 7)

  9. My daughter has been going to out to eat since she was around one. The trick is to pick your restaurant and take toys. We started her out at one that had a garden. Since the age of 2 we have had her at a number of higher end establishments. She has never been a pain unlike some of the other children we have observed. We go to 4 star restaurants with my parents who don’t like lower level places. There is no reason why their granddaughter shouldn’t go with them.
    Lorna don’tyou think manner and consideration for others should be taught at home before you take the children out in public?
    It is not the age of the child that is important it is the planning, parenting skills and consideration of the parents.

  10. Having two young children of my own. I would never take them to a 4 star restaurant. After all that is time just for my husband and I. My children are pretty much well behaved, but their limit is Breakers (family style restaurants) as they can colour in..
    I say Breastfeed when ever and where ever you have too.
    Im sure some wouldnt like to eat their dinner in the bathroom, so why should a baby.

  11. I have no objection to young babies in restaurants. They are usually asleep, if not being breastfed, or lying gurgling contentedly in their capsule/pram. It’s the older ones who are the problem. Once baby starts to sit up and take notice, that’s when boredom with adult activities begins. As you said,Virgil, leave them at home. I don’t see why anyone expects to ‘share’ the joys of parenting with the people at the next table, or worse, the whole restaurant when said child is screaming the place down or running amok among other diners. Between the ages of about 4 months and 2½ years, it should not be expected that children will be able to learn the finer points of dining out. Once they are of kindergarten age, by all means take them to a restaurant, but a family restaurant where they can begin to be taught table manners and consideration for others. Keep the fine dining establishments for those who appreciate them.