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Preschooler Breastfeeds Her Doll in a Restaurant!

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Momlogic's Momstrosity: It's a tried and true "hot button" issue: Breastfeeding in public. Every few months, a mom is chastised by authorities or bystanders for nursing her child on a bus, or at a sporting event, or, most recently, in a restaurant (the latter was called out by none other than reality-show star Kim Kardashian).

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I subscribe to the theory that a woman should be able to nurse anywhere, anytime. It's a woman's right ... and, I believe, a preschooler's right. One night when we were out to dinner, my 4-year-old daughter casually announced that she had to "milk her baby" -- and proceeded  to pull down her princess dress so her doll could "latch on." (Remarkably, my daughter simultaneously drank her juice. I must say, I was impressed by her ability to multitask!)

It certainly did get us some attention. A couple of diners giggled (some a bit uncomfortably), but a few gave me the stinkeye. What was I supposed to do?! Suggest to my faux-lactating preschooler that she hide herself with a nursing cover (or "blanket of shame," as one friend jokingly calls them)? Do they even make them in size 4T?

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142 comments so far | Post a comment now
MJ June 24, 2010, 12:22 PM

also,try covering a squirmy 6 months old, good luck ;)
now, that doesn’t mean a mom should not cover if it makes her more comfy, but some babies refuse to be covered, can’t say i blame them, you try eating with a blanket over your head.

Jenny June 24, 2010, 2:34 PM

4 year olds nursing in public - my work here is done!!!! If its so normal that a child can do it in public I am over the moon:) made my week never mind my day :)

Jenny,
Breastfeeding Supporter with the Breastfeeding network :)

ann. June 24, 2010, 4:18 PM

i’m still saying it’s not ok.i would not be ok with that if i saw that.to me kids just don’t do that…..
yes kids copy yes …so if they see us let’s say doing something like hitting or kissing they are suppose to go do it cuz they see us doing it? no we teach them it’s wrong to do certain things at certain ages.

MJi June 24, 2010, 5:11 PM

ann, would you let your daughter feed a doll with a bottle?
because i wouldn’t, i guess that is where we differ, they are both play feeding a doll, except one way is the way nature made us to feed, the other is not :)

to each is own i guess.

MJ June 24, 2010, 5:17 PM

another thing ann, if you say girls shouldn’t be play nursing their dolls because ”kids don’t do that” then you shouldn’t let them play mommy period, because little girls don’t have babies.

again comparing hitting, which is violent or kissing which is sexual to breastfeeding, that is just strange.

Rosa June 24, 2010, 5:19 PM

Talking about all so true,when you get the eyes,no matter where you are to nurse your baby in public!

ann. June 24, 2010, 6:00 PM

there’s nothing wrong with kids playing house but when kids play house they don’t pretend to breast feed doll.s..i have heard of that….we never did that.

as far and hitting and kissing well maybe i use the wrong example but i hope you get my point…

yes i would let my daughter pretend to feed her dolls with a bottle i would let my son for that matter… i use to do that all the time when i was little.

mannequin June 24, 2010, 6:31 PM

Within the past couple years, we’ve made tremendous progress with publicizing and advocating a woman’s right to breastfeed. I’ve think we’ve laid the groundwork for our girls, it’s something they hopefully won’t have to struggle with.
We should commend ourselves on that but also realize that the path has not been cleared. There are still the stares, the gawks and worse, for something that is completely natural. It is not however, natural for a toddler to “breastfeed”.
I would think that explaining to a toddler that we only breastfeed in public when it’s necessary would be how I would handle it. It’s not necessary for a toddler’s plastic doll to be breastfed at the restaurant.
And what age would it become “inappropriate”? Elementary age?

coralisthree June 24, 2010, 8:51 PM

i think it’s completely natural to allow children to learn how babies are really fed weather by imitation or just watching. and when would you ever punish a child for kissing someone?? children don’t understand kissing as a sexual thing. they just know, “mommy kisses me because she loves me.”

also i’m shocked no one has brought up breastfeeding state laws. regardless of how people feel, legally, women can breastfeed publicly with no cover ups ANYWHERE in 44 states. most states also have laws regarding pumping at work, jury duty and breastfeeding education.

http://www.ncsl.org/IssuesResearch/Health/BreastfeedingLaws/tabid/14389/Default.aspx

ann. June 24, 2010, 9:33 PM

coralisthree—— why would anyone bring up breast feeding laws? we are talking about a child not a women feeding her child.

kids learn from example and when the see adults kissing they think it’s ok because they don’t know any better so then they try to do it on the play ground etc….i’m not talking about alittle peck on the cheek but not making out either.
it is not ok with to see a young girl (not to mention she’s only 4) breastfeeding a doll in public.

MJ June 25, 2010, 3:39 AM

anne, maybe you didn’t do it because you were bottle fed, maybe not, but breastfeeding has really only become the thing to do recently.
i was just asking my aunt who is an early child hood educator, she said all of her breastfed kids nurse their dolls, that is how they think babies get fed, almost none of them have had a bottle, so why would they feed their dolls that way?
she said from a developmental stand point, it is excellent and more kids will grow up knowing what breasts are actually for, unlike our generation who sees them as sexual.

becky June 25, 2010, 4:21 AM

aww cute my lo’s have all done this (not in a restraint mind you) my older dd used to pretend to bf her teddy she also pretended to use my breast pump on more than one occasion lol

ann. June 25, 2010, 7:35 AM

MJ-i’m not looking at it from a sexual stand point….i’m looking at age appropriate.to me that it not ok….IMO
i have said there’s nothing wrong with teahing kids and we should about breast feeding and life etc…i understand that we will know that’s how they eat but i’m still not ok with them pretending to breast feed dolls and in public especially boys.

MJ June 25, 2010, 7:40 AM

i really don’t understand the especially boys part, make believe is make believe, but it sounds like you place your children in very strong gender role play, and i also assume you are a very right winged conservative,i could be wrong, but i doubt it, i am pretty much a hippy liberal who breastfeeds in public, so i doubt we would agree on very little in regards to child rearing ;)
what exactly do you think will happen from a boy pretending to nurse? what him exactly do you think will arise?
do you think he will grow up and believe he can nurse? lmao.
if you ant to talk about not letting kids play at things they can’t actually do, then it rules out 99% of childrens playtime.

MJ June 25, 2010, 7:45 AM

and ann, if it is not an issue about breasts being sexual, then why would pretending to be a mommy be any less age appropriate than pretending to feed baby the way mommy’s should? you have never mentioned once, exactly what the problem was, only this vague excuse of not being age appropriate, but how can you say one is and not the other?
how exactly is play nursing not age appropriate if play bottle feeding is ;)

ann. June 25, 2010, 8:34 AM

MJ i knew you were going to bring up the gender role—- i have no problem with boys playing dress up and house and with dolls just like i have no problem with girls playing out in the mud etc. when i was little i went out and played with my brother and male cousins playing street hockey and cops and robbers etc. so it has NOTHING to do with gender roles.

Alzaetia June 25, 2010, 9:07 AM

My son used to breastfeed his baby doll too.

MJ June 25, 2010, 9:30 AM

ann, hen what exactly is the problem, because besides saying ”just because” you haven’t really given an answer, and i am very,very curious.

unknown mom June 25, 2010, 9:42 AM

Ok I think this is so funny. I did not breast feed either of my kids. I could not breast feed the first one due to medical problems we both had, and with the second one I just decided I really wanted to have that mexican food and spices without worrying about him. No but seriously, I thought long and hard about what I would have done if my child just busted out the doll and the breast in public. What would be my first reaction…honestly… I think I may have flipped out. Even though I don’t have any problem with women breast feeding in public. I think it is their right. I just think I would have flipped out because I would not have expected it. Not because I thought it was nasty or something just because I wouldn’t expect it. Hey to each his own. I don’t see a big problem with kids breast feeding their babies, I just think that some people would feel a bit “shocked” to see it happen in public. I think its cute and more power to you guys that have successfully breast feed your kids. I think it is great and wish I had not kept myself from that experience.

MJ June 25, 2010, 12:43 PM

unknown mom, i like your take on things, but hey, just so you know, the whole no spicy food while breastfeeding is a myth, the majority of babies have no problems with it, i live on spicy food, lol.
the majority of babies have no problem with caffeine or a glass of wine either, in moderation of course!

people give pregnant women such outdated pregnancy and breastfeeding advice sometimes, sigh.
you should have heard some of the stuff people told me, lol


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