22 June 2010

National Breastfeeding Week

This week is National Breastfeeding Week and one of the things that is often talked about when people talk about breastfeeding is that it is no longer seen as "normal" within our culture. Baby dolls are automatically sold with a bottle and a bottle symbol is synonymous with baby facilities - so what about children's literature?

Lots of childrens books - for example the
Usborne First Experiences Series feature the everyday lives of the characters, which is usually similar to the everyday life of young children – they show all the day-to-day things like getting up, having meals, going to school or pre-school, playing, going shopping, going to the park, going to bed etc. All things which will reassure the reader that his or her life is “normal”.

Often in books toddler age children are shown as having a baby brother or sister - how many of these are babies shown breastfeeding? (Answer very few).

When children grow up surrounded by pictures of babies bottle feeding, it can subtly undermine awareness and confidence in breastfeeding, reinforcing bottle feeding as the dominant norm. Given that the current recommendations from the Department of Health and the World Health Organisation are for exclusive breastfeeding to six months and for breastfeeding to ideally continue beyond this to at least two years, surely we should be showing this in the images our children see? The reasons behind this imagery are complex and often it will simply be that it just doesn't occur to the illustrator as breastfeeding is not part of their experience.

One book that does feature breastfeeding is the Usborne First Experiences story:
The New Baby which has an illustration of Mrs Bunn sat in a chair nursing baby Susie - with the text "Mrs. Bunn feeds Susie." and "When Susie is hungry, Mrs. Bunn feeds her with milk. Susie will need to be fed many times each day."

Please add other children's story books that show breastfeeding as normal.

No comments: