Breastfeeding advocates, beware: Forest Park, Ga. is not your ideal vacation destination. The small Georgia city just passed a ban on public breastfeeding for any child over two-years-old.
That means if you’re nursing your toddler, you’ll be asked to take it indoors. The ordinance is intended to prevent public nudity, city officials say.
How many times will women have to make the case that feeding your child is not a lewd or obscene act? It’s not “public nudity” to bare your breast if you’re baring it feed your baby, even if that baby has reached her second birthday.
In much of the world, breastfeeding for more than two-years is the norm. The World Health Organization recommends that infants be breastfed for at least two years. There’s nothing sketchy about breastfeeding a toddler. Babies continue to benefit from breastfeeding’s immune benefits and closeness with their mothers long after they’ve begun adding solid foods to their diets.
I breastfed both of my kids well past their second birthdays. I fed them at home, and also at the park and in museums and on trains. Over time we gradually tapered off our nursing until they were only nursing at bedtime and when they woke up. At that point, our public breastfeeding days were over. I’m glad that got to happen naturally for us, and not as a result of shame or pressure from the local law enforcement.
It’s hard to imagine how a law like this could be enforced. Is a cop really going to walk up to a nursing mother at a park and card her kid? “Let’s see your birth certificate, kid. Nope, too old for num-nums at the playground. We’ll have to charge Mommy here with public nudity now.” Seriously?
I also wonder what the motivation can have been to pass this law. Even if Forest Park has a public nudity epidemic, which I doubt, is it really nursing moms causing the problem? It’s pretty rare to see a mom breastfeeding a toddler or preschooler in public as it is. When they do, they tend to be discreet.
Of course, that might change now. I can just picture the lactivist nurse-ins that will occur in response to this bill. The city will probably see more mamas nursing two- and three-year-olds than it ever has before.
What do you think? Is Forest Park totally out of line here, or do they have a point?
Bad Parent: I’m still nursing my toddler (and it freaks me out)