Thursday, 21 May 2009

Tasteless Toddlers - Get Some Class!

Oh the horror!  A small child pretends to breastfeed a doll.  Doesn't this lower class, chav like scummy little creature know that nice little girls bottle feed their dolls?  Doesn't she know she is displaying every attribute of being a crude little attention seeking backstreet floozy?

Doesn't she know it's not normal?  It's depraved and disgusting.
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Before you know where we are, she's going to grow up and do it for real.
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Quick, get a pot of paint and paint out this obscene image.  Report her family to child protection services.  Get this child a plastic bottle with white fluid in it!  Stat!.
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Alternatively, email or write IMMEDIATELY to the Pennine Acute Hospitals Trust and tell them how wonderful this image is, and how responsible of them it was for them to have it on their walls during National Bash Breastfeeding Week.  Who knows, if we let them know how good it is, they may actually produce an official one for next year.  This one was simply made for the notice board, for that week.
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Do not put it off until later.  Do not do it tomorrow.  They are in the middle of a media storm RIGHT NOW, and the people who put this lovely little snap shot poster together, need to know you are rooting for them.  They need to know they are not going to get sacked/banned, all official materials censored and checked for 'content' every time they press print on the printer...and they are not going to be shunned in the canteen... and that what they did was thoughtful, inspiring and lovely.  They need your support: now.
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They also need to know what a lovely photo it is, and to be asked to tell the Mum of this darling little girl "Thank You!" for supplying this photo.  Sounds like the Trust really have got their head screwed on about how to make the breastfeeding is normal message accessible to all.  Pity to see them torn to shreds for innovative thinking, and an image most of us think is cute.  :-)
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This is the reality of lactaphobia people - when toddlers are told off for putting a doll under their shirt.  This is why women get ordered out of cafes. 
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Because breastfeeding is low class, scummy, cheap, tacky and crude.  
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And it's shocking that a child is pretending to do such a tasteless thing.
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Contact them now: spread the word - support this poster, this child and her mother.  Tell the world that this is actually the normal behaviour.
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Three minutes effort to make a difference.  How often do you get that chance?
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Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust
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Trust Headquarters
North Manchester General Hospital
Delauneys Road
Crumpsall
M8 5RB
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Do this especially if you are one of my non-UK readers.  I imagine the breastfeeding support team at the trust, need to be able to walk in and say "We got congratulations and thanks from all over the world."  :-)
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Speak Up.  Speak Out.  Speak True.
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EDIT:  The following has been sent in by Dr Karleen Gribble, from her research into breastfeeding and cultural practices:

An unexpected finding of this study was how common it was for children to role-play breastfeeding in games in which they sometimes showed a high level of knowledge of breastfeeding.  Role-play is recognised as a type of learning in which children imitate people around them in preparation for future roles (Edwards, 2000). Breastfeeding role-play has previously been reported in cultural contexts where breastfeeding is common (e.g. Goldman & Smith, 1998) and it is sometimes valued as important preparation for mothering. Thus, anthropological research in northern Australia described how young aboriginal girls practiced breastfeeding via the use of clay ‘dolls’ and ‘breasts’ as a part of their formal learning (Thomson, 1983). Similarly, in parts of Africa, dolls are considered ‘educational toys’ to be used by young girls to practice baby-care, including feeding (Roy, 1981). Interestingly, dolls are commonly used as a learning tool in antenatal classes inwhich positioning of a baby doll at the breast is considered a type of performance accomplishment aimed at increasing post-natal maternal confidence (Noel-Weiss, Bassett, & Cragg, 2006).
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A lack of experience and knowledge of breastfeeding prior to birth has been identified as contributing to breastfeeding difficulties and early weaning (Dykes & Williams, 1999; Hill & Aldag, 1991). However, this study demonstrated that learning about breastfeeding can begin in childhood and that children are capable of acquiring valuable information about breastfeeding though observation, discussion and role-play. It can be hypothesised that the embodied knowledge resulting from girls regularly seeing breastfeeding, talking about breastfeeding and playing breastfeeding games may assist them to breastfeed in adulthood. The high level of knowledge about breastfeeding that some of the children in this study demonstrated is in contrast to previous research in which children were found to have little knowledge of breastfeeding and to consider bottle feeding as the default way to feed a baby (Russell et al., 2004). 
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It is clear that children develop an understanding of what is normal with regards infant feeding by observing what they see around them. Thus, if children predominantly observe babies being bottle fed, they develop an understanding that babies are normally bottle fed. Television and children’s picture books could play an important educative role in this area; however, rather than normalising breastfeeding, these mediums commonly present bottle feeding as ordinary and breastfeeding as problematic (Altshuler, 1995; Henderson, 1999; Henderson, Kitzinger, & Green, 2000). Further, children are encouraged to practice bottle feeding by the almost universal provision of bottles with baby dolls. Thus, even in an environment where breastfeeding is common, children may bottle feed rather than breastfeed their dolls (Nakamura, Veiga, Ferrarese, & Martinez, 2003).
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Since children can learn significant information about breastfeeding through breastfeeding role-play, it is logical to consider whether bottle feeding play may similarly educate children about bottle feeding and, if so, whether this is a problem. There has been no research carried out in this area. However, it can be surmised that bottle feeding role-play could assist children in learning how to hold a baby while bottle feeding, that infant satisfaction is gained by provision of a visually measured amount of milk and that bottle feeding is normal. Such learning could be harmful. Previous experience with bottle feeding negatively impacts the ability of mothers to breastfeed. This is because mothers attempt to transfer knowledge they have gathered about bottle feeding to breastfeeding (Mohrbacher & Kendall-Tackett, 2005; Renfrew, Fisher, & Arms, 2004). This can cause decreased maternal confidence in breastfeeding, physical difficulties with breastfeeding, low milk supply and misinterpretation of infant behaviour in ways that increase the likelihood of weaning (Bailey, Pain, & Aarvold, 2004; Hoddinott & Pill, 1999; Mohrbacher & Kendall-Tackett, 2005; Righard, 1998). Familiarity with bottle feeding over breastfeeding also makes bottle feeding the default form of feeding and so if mothers experience breastfeeding challenges, they more quickly revert to the type of feeding with which they are comfortable (Bailey et al., 2004). In addition, bottle feeding play may create the expectancy of bottle feeding.
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Research has found that modelling of adult activities in play can encourage acceptance of the modelled behaviour as normal and desirable and increase the uptake of that behaviour in adulthood (Dalton et al., 2005; Klein et al., 1992; Klein & St Clair, 2000). This may apply to bottle feeding as a modelled behaviour. Clearly more research in this area is required.

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'As good as chocolate' and 'better than ice cream': How toddler, and older, breastfeeders experience breastfeeding
Karleen D. Gribble  
School of Nursing, University of Western Sydney,
Sydney, Australia
First Published on: 23 November 2007

To cite this Article: Gribble, Karleen D. (2007) ''As good as chocolate' and 'better than ice cream': How toddler, and older, breastfeeders experience breastfeeding',   Early Child Development and Care, 1 - 16 To link to this article: DOI: 10.1080/03004430701764176 

20 comments:

Tomsmum said...

Indeed - i can't believe that someone thinks that its highly offensive!(Actually sadly I can :()
My 3 1/2 year old DS is currently breastfeeding his monkey - good :)

RedOnHerHead said...

Done - Thanks for sharing Morgan.

Morgan said...

I had to tandem nurse Wall-E and Eva last week... mine was breastfeeding his Zebra called Carla at the time...

jane said...

This is what I emailed to them - as a mum who had trouble with bf, it's something I can jump into and soundly refute a biased comment or two!

"Congratulations on the picture of the little girl copying her breastfeeding mother! This is great to see! Children all copy, and to see one copying something which is so fundamental to our nature is fantastic. (After all, we *are* mammals, named after the mammary glands!)

Less than 2 years ago I was one of those "new mums who can't breastfeed for medical reasons" that one of your staff seems to think would be upset by this. On the contrary! I find this poster encouraging, and indeed if more people saw this as the norm, perhaps I'd have had more medical help to be able to feed my son without resorting to un-natural milk derived from animals."

Sundancer said...

This is yet another story that makes me wonder just what goes on in the minds of some people - how ridiculous can you get?

I often had to breastfeed a baby panda, and expect this will all come again soon too when the new baby arrives.

My son at 2 years understood that daddy's don't breastfeed - so he used to express in to a cup for his dolls!

I've emailed via the link provided Morgan, thank you for making it easy for me. Such posters should be applauded, not shot down.

TopHat said...

My husband told me the other night that he once tried to breastfeed his younger brother. I'd like to see that on a poster! LOL

Naomi said...

My 2 year old DS thought he might be able to get milk from *himself*! Now that was funny lol! Have emailed the hospital trust :) thanks for sharing. x

Crank Parent said...

I've sent a lovely comment to the Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust. All of my children pretend to breastfeed their dollies, even the boys. :-)

Sea_Gal said...

Thank You for bringing this to our attention. I wrote them, thanks for the link. I am flabergasted that our societly thinks nothing of the general smut out there, but a little girl properly mothering her "baby".... This cartoon somes things up for me: http://www.thecowgoddess.com/2003/01/29/mawp/

SuSuseriffic said...

Ugg! I LOVE it when the kids care for their 'babies' in the same way I care for them and their siblings. I can't belive the gull of people!

SuSuseriffic said...

Just posted this quickly on the site and posted a link on Facebook, hopefull my friends will post too.

"I think that toddler breastfeeding poster is lovely and I urge you to keep it up. An educated formula feeder would not be offended because she would know she chose that based on her own personal reasons not misinformation or pressure from others. I commend you for the poster and encourage you to continue other similar efforts to increase your breastfeeding rates (and as a result health for mothers and babies)
I live in Maryland in the US and I was moved by your story."

Helen said...

I am British but living in Toronto, Canada and I have just sent off my email praising the campaign! I have breastfed both my sons until nearly 3 years old and they have both "nursed" their toys and were both disappointed when they found out that only Mummys can breastfed lol

Breastfeeding needs to be normalised in society once again and posters like this are part of how that normalisation will occur! Thanks so much for sharing Morgan.

Anonymous said...

Below is from a paper of mine. In three parts so it's accepted
Karleen

An unexpected finding of this study was how common it was for children to role-play breastfeeding
in games in which they sometimes showed a high level of knowledge of breastfeeding.
Role-play is recognised as a type of learning in which children imitate people around them in
preparation for future roles (Edwards, 2000). Breastfeeding role-play has previously been reported
in cultural contexts where breastfeeding is common (e.g. Goldman & Smith, 1998) and it is sometimes
valued as important preparation for mothering. Thus, anthropological research in northern
Australia described how young aboriginal girls practiced breastfeeding via the use of clay ‘dolls’
and ‘breasts’ as a part of their formal learning (Thomson, 1983). Similarly, in parts of Africa, dolls
are considered ‘educational toys’ to be used by young girls to practice baby-care, including feeding
(Roy, 1981). Interestingly, dolls are commonly used as a learning tool in antenatal classes in
which positioning of a baby doll at the breast is considered a type of performance accomplishment
aimed at increasing post-natal maternal confidence (Noel-Weiss, Bassett, & Cragg, 2006).

Anonymous said...

A lack of experience and knowledge of breastfeeding prior to birth has been identified as
contributing to breastfeeding difficulties and early weaning (Dykes & Williams, 1999; Hill &
Aldag, 1991). However, this study demonstrated that learning about breastfeeding can begin in
childhood and that children are capable of acquiring valuable information about breastfeeding
though observation, discussion and role-play. It can be hypothesised that the embodied knowledge
resulting from girls regularly seeing breastfeeding, talking about breastfeeding and playing breastfeeding
games may assist them to breastfeed in adulthood.
The high level of knowledge about breastfeeding that some of the children in this study demonstrated
is in contrast to previous research in which children were found to have little knowledge
of breastfeeding and to consider bottle feeding as the default way to feed a baby (Russell et al.,
2004). It is clear that children develop an understanding of what is normal with regards infant feeding
by observing what they see around them. Thus, if children predominantly observe babies being
bottle fed, they develop an understanding that babies are normally bottle fed. Television and children’s
picture books could play an important educative role in this area; however, rather than
normalising breastfeeding, these mediums commonly present bottle feeding as ordinary and
breastfeeding as problematic (Altshuler, 1995; Henderson, 1999; Henderson, Kitzinger, & Green,
2000). Further, children are encouraged to practice bottle feeding by the almost universal provision
of bottles with baby dolls. Thus, even in an environment where breastfeeding is common, children
may bottle feed rather than breastfeed their dolls (Nakamura, Veiga, Ferrarese, & Martinez, 2003).

Anonymous said...

Since children can learn significant information about breastfeeding through breastfeeding
role-play, it is logical to consider whether bottle feeding play may similarly educate children
about bottle feeding and, if so, whether this is a problem. There has been no research carried out
in this area. However, it can be surmised that bottle feeding role-play could assist children in
learning how to hold a baby while bottle feeding, that infant satisfaction is gained by provision
of a visually measured amount of milk and that bottle feeding is normal. Such learning could be
harmful. Previous experience with bottle feeding negatively impacts the ability of mothers to breastfeed. This is because mothers attempt to transfer knowledge they have gathered about bottle
feeding to breastfeeding (Mohrbacher & Kendall-Tackett, 2005; Renfrew, Fisher, & Arms,
2004). This can cause decreased maternal confidence in breastfeeding, physical difficulties with
breastfeeding, low milk supply and misinterpretation of infant behaviour in ways that increase the
likelihood of weaning (Bailey, Pain, & Aarvold, 2004; Hoddinott & Pill, 1999; Mohrbacher &
Kendall-Tackett, 2005; Righard, 1998). Familiarity with bottle feeding over breastfeeding also
makes bottle feeding the default form of feeding and so if mothers experience breastfeeding
challenges, they more quickly revert to the type of feeding with which they are comfortable
(Bailey et al., 2004). In addition, bottle feeding play may create the expectancy of bottle feeding.
Research has found that modelling of adult activities in play can encourage acceptance of the
modelled behaviour as normal and desirable and increase the uptake of that behaviour in
adulthood (Dalton et al., 2005; Klein et al., 1992; Klein & St Clair, 2000). This may apply to
bottle feeding as a modelled behaviour. Clearly more research in this area is required.

mum2mums said...

Ijust sent this to the Trust.
Hi
I read an article in the Telegraph reporting your efforts to normalise breastfeeding amongst your clients. I wanted to congratulate the trust for putting together such a beautiful image of a girl role-playing breastfeeding. It sends a clear message that even a child can see that breastfeeding is the normal way for babies to fed.
The article made it clear that some people believe that breastfeeding is shameful. What is shameful is that the British community is so ignorant of the risks associated with the routine use of infant formula.
Nina Berry
Centre for Health Initiatives
University of Wollongong
AUSTRALIA

Anonymous said...

anyone who would like a copy of the complete paper is welcome to email me karleeng@uws.edu.au
Karlen

Jennifer said...

I sent a comment to them, said it would be nice if more little girls did this instead of using the bottles the dollys come with, then maybe they'd be more likely to feed their babies when the time comes.

Alison Blenkinsop said...

I have emailed the hospital to congratulate them and tell them that I have a similar photo in my book 'Fit to Bust - a comic treasure chest'. The pic is of a friend's daughter is BF her teddy Honey, and is captioned
'honeysuckle'. If I do a book update, I will include this story under that photo.

Alison Blenkinsop IBCLC

Anonymous said...

The government birth - 5 pack seems quick to tell me children "learn through play" (so much so they've built the whole reception year curriculum around it) and that role playing and mimicking of normal every day behaviour is an important part of development.
What is so out there about a child therefore copying the normal way to feed an infant, rather than the artificial risk increasing way? How weird society finds this freaky, yet dolls that scream for white plastic bottles perfectly ok.