In this age of information, most women are aware of the benefits of breast-feeding and want to provide the best to their babies. However, many are not entirely comfortable with the idea of nursing around others or having a baby at the breast. These feelings begin to develop in early childhood and are influenced by friends, family and society.
In our society, many women nurse behind closed doors or under a cover. Children often grow into adulthood without ever seeing a woman breast-feed or learning anything about it in school. On TV, breasts are depicted as sexual, and breast-feeding as comical or cumbersome. Many of these depictions are not only negative but inaccurate. Studies show that when kids are exposed to breast-feeding at a young age, they are more likely to think of it as a normal, natural act. As adults, these kids feel more comfortable with breast-feeding their own children.
Having a new baby is an ideal time to teach older siblings about breast-feeding. Kids need to know breast-feeding is normal and nothing to be embarrassed about. They learn by example. Talk to young kids about nursing as the biological norm. Explain that mammals are animals that feed their babies mother’s own milk, and humans are mammals, too.
Many children assume babies eat from bottles because that is what they see at day care or in public. Explain that mommy’s milk can be offered in a bottle when mom is away, but breast-feeding is best when mommy and baby are together. Young girls may pretend to breast-feed a doll when they see mommy feeding the new baby. A child modeling a normal feeding behavior is nothing to be concerned about. You are teaching your daughter how to feed her own kids one day. Talking to kids about why mommy is breast-feeding and answering their questions honestly can help them to develop a level of comfort with the idea. Reading books about breast-feeding can help answer some of their questions.