I have an eight month old daughter, Ameli, who is still primarily breastfed, although we do play at Baby Led Weaning once or twice a day. Below are some of the questions I’ve been asked and my responses to them, or that other people have been asked and what I would have said had it been me.

I find that people generally ask annoying and otherwise offensive questions out of ignorance, a lack of understanding or misconceptions brought about by lack of experience. Most of the time these retorts, when accompanied by a sincere face and a bright smile, put a quick stop to the line of questioning without any animosity.

Isn’t that baby too old for breastfeeding?

Well, when is too old, too old? I don’t have the answer to that. My daughter is eight months old and I have been asked when I was planning on stopping on more than one occasion. My ‘usual’ response is along these lines:

The World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding for at least two years, so I guess at least two years, or until she says no thank you. And then I’ll probably still express milk for her cereal.

Excuse me, we have facilities in the ladies toilets for that (pointing at my breastfeeding baby)

Thank you, but I’m comfortable here.

Excuse me, we prefer if you breastfeed in our comfortable facilities in the ladies toilets. Breastfeeding in Brussels

Absolutely. What time is your lunch break? You can bring your lunch in there and eat with us.

You shouldn’t be doing that here (in a restaurant)

Would you prefer my daughter to be screaming through your lunch? She’s human and hungry.

You shouldn’t be doing that here (in a church)

Remember the story in the Bible about not squandering the gifts God gives you? God gave me these breasts and He gave me the ability to make milk and He gave me a daughter who gets hungry and requires sustenance. This is what He made them for. I’m not willing to squander my gifts. If that’s a problem for you, perhaps you should take it up with Him?

Don’t you think she should be on solids already?

No. The human body wasn’t designed to eat puréed food. It’s why babies have constipation, since they swallow the purée without much saliva, so the food isn’t able to break down properly. At least with a combination of baby led weaning and breastfeeding, she’s still getting all her nutrients and her digestive system isn’t under premature pressure.

Would you like a blanket or something to cover yourself with?

No, thank you. It’s generally not too difficult to find a woman with more cleavage showing than I am when breastfeeding. If I’m not covered its because I don’t want to be.

It’s funny though – apart from sincere questions I’ve never experienced sarcastic, mean or rude comments. My husband says the look on my face means no one dares! I can’t say I’m too unhappy about that!

How about you? Have you had something said to you or do you have a ‘stock’ answer lined up for if someone does?


Comebacks for Breastfeeding Comments

  1. If being given mean and disapproving looks in public, a loud “are you looking at my tits you pervert?” Can usually teach people to look the other way, and I imagine cause a round of applause from a more liberal type of ‘neighbour’.
    Have yet to have the opportunity to use it myself!

  2. I have yet to have anyone make a comment but I have only nursed in public a handful of times. I have just become comfortable with it myself (daughter is now 6 months old) and so I am no longer pumping to bottle feed her while we are out.

    1. Good for you! It does take a while to become confident. I must say I’m curious to see what it’s going to be like with a newborn again… at least this time I have the confidence to start off with. Keep at it, practice makes perfect! Thanks for commenting!

  3. Now that my baby is 2, I am frequently getting the, “how long are you going to do THAT for?” question. My response is always this, “If I have to go with her on her first date to nurse her then we will reassess.” That shuts them up!

    1. Lol! Yes, I can imagine it would! 😀 My hubby always says people don’t mess with me on breastfeeding cause I look confident and a little fierce when I do it! Not a bad thing, I suppose! Good on you for nursing beyond the norm!

  4. Okay so here is the situation. I have a five month old. She nurses (dose not like bottles). Our neighbors has a friend visiting from out of town. He visits once a year and when ever he is here we hang out. We were all at breakfast, my neighbors, our out of town friend, my husband, my daughter, my baby and myself. Baby cries. she is hungry. I feed her. A day latter I suggest we all go to dinner at a restaurant I work at. One of the managers, a friend of mine, he comes and is catting with us for a while. The baby starts crying as I start to feed her my manager leaves because he has stuff to do. Then my girl-neighbor-friend tells me that I shouldn’t feed her in front of my manager. Then starts talking about how I made our out of town friend uncomfortable at breakfast the other day. My husband says well would you prefer to listen to a screaming crying baby?

    So I understand that nursing can make people feel uncomfortable. I get that people aren’t use to it. She said he (out of town friend) just doesn’t know what to do. WTF. News flash you don’t have to do anything. I don’t care if you look or whatever but if it makes you that uncomfortable then maybe you should leave. I’m the one who is doing all the work here and no I’m not going to go to the bathroom or some other part of the restaurant. I don’t go out to dinner so my baby and I can enjoy the comfort of sitting on a toilet that isn’t ours. If I actually had to pee that would be a different story. Oh yah and this guy is also a greatfulldead hippy dude. I’m sorry to everyone out there and their delicate sensibilities that can’t handle a mother feeding her hungry baby.

    Then I call a friend of mine the next day to vent a little bit about my neighbor friend who thinks that it is okay tell me what to do and what is appropriate. She tells me that some guy that I was talking to while I was nursing the baby at a our kids soccer game was offended that I was nursing in front of him. She used words like “you just whipped it out”, which is not what happened I tried to do it discretely as possible. Figured that if I treat it like it is no big deal then it would help people feel more comfortable. I mean what am I suppose to say? Do you mind if I nurse? Kind of like, do you mind if I smoke?. Give me a break people I am a mother of two. Aren’t I busy enough thinking about the comfort of my own kids too worry about the comfort of every other adult out there.

    1. @ashley, your comment, though not funny, made me laugh. I was having lunch with a male friend last year (He was also an ex, about 10 years ago, so let’s face it – he’s seen my boobs albeit long ago!), and my daughter became antsy. So I nursed her. She’d been going for about ten minutes when he suddenly stopped talking and said “are you breastfeeding now????” I said yes, with an ‘it’s no big deal shrug’, and he got SO uncomfortable that he suddenly didn’t know where to look! I asked him why he was suddenly so uncomfortable and he said cause he’d never seen anyone do it before (which is sad in itself!)

      It taught me a valuable lesson though: It’s not BREASTFEEDING that makes people uncomfortable; it’s the THOUGHT of breastfeeding.

      Good on you for favouring the needs of your children.

      1. @Luschka,
        Thanks for the support. Women are much more exposed than I was all the time. Immaturity. People and their delicate sensibilities. The next day my girl-neighbor-friend came by, and I wanted to say something in my defense and she completely blew up at me and went home to “cool off”. All I wanted to say is that if it makes people feel uncomfortable then that is their problem. It is too bad that I could loose a good friend over my hungry baby. It makes me sad. I’m sure that a lot of people could say that she is a friend that is not worth having then, but it still makes me feel bad. But I also know that feeling bad about is my choice. My older daughter loves her. It is just too bad.

  5. I always had my responses ready, but never had to. In RI, and MA, breastfeeding mothers are protected by state law that they may nurse where they like. I always intended to tell the disapproving onlooker that. One time 2 friends and I took our young daughters out on a jogging trail. They all got hungry at the same time, so we stopped and sat on the side of the path to nurse. Three mommies and three little nurslings. Along came an old couple, and the husband looked at us. He said “look at the three good Mommies” and smiled. So sweet!

  6. Loved the blog, made me giggle! I agree with Lorraine I never had any problems and I breastfed everywhere. I was all ready to declare war on anybody who commented, but I was left well alone.
    Maybe my frazzled demeanour indicated that the Pickle was not a good sleeper and that contradicting me was not a good idea.

  7. Hiya – thought I’d check in with your blog as I’ve not seen you guys for ages – missing you!!

    I’ve been quite lucky with breastfeeding. The only time I was asked to go feed Bombi in a toilet was when we went to register her birth at Southwark Town Hall!

    Other than that, i’ve fed her in churches, cafes, planes etc and so far no comments and she’s coming up to the big 2 now. I think anyone can see that she is much calmer when on the boob than not, so they don’t argue!

    On another note, Bombi now breastfeeds her dollies – it’s so cute!!!

  8. I have retorts saved up, but have never had to use them. A couple of times I’ve been asked if I’d be more comfortable elsewhere. They could have been genuine or an attempt to get me out of view. I just said ‘I’m fine here, thanks.’

    The one time I fed in a loo was at a funeral when Rosemary was screaming her head off, so I took her out of the room, but there were no seats outside, and I thought it would be disrespectful to sit on the floor. At my dad’s funeral a week later I had to feed her while giving my eulogy! Not sure what my dad’s very traditional Welsh family thought about that, but nobody said anything.

    I have to say I do sometimes will people to say something, so I can be indignant back at them.

    Rosemary stopped when she was just over 2, of her own accord. I hope that I can let Eleanor stop when she’s ready, too.
    .-= Tasha (Coding Mamma)´s last blog ..The Help by Kathryn Stockett =-.

  9. Perhaps not the ideal forum but with regards to negative reaction when confronted with breast feeding…. The day Heath came into the room where I was feeding my baby, glanced at me,came to a screeching halt,turned on his heels and ran screaming to his mother “Mommy, mommy, the baby is eating Aunty Colleen”

  10. I’ve never had anything like that when I’ve been breastfeeding. I live in Scotland though and women can breastfeed wherever they want here and no one bats an eyelid! It’s a shame that people can be so ignorant to something so natural but then I suppose a lot of the older generation didn’t breastfeed. My mum was given condensed milk when she was a baby!
    .-= Laura C´s last blog ..Review – Brio Sampo =-.

    1. @Laura C, good heavens! condensed milk! although if she was a post war baby that would have been to get the calories in her – taking a total stab in the dark at ages here though! 😀 My mom in law is Scotish and she experienced the same. She still tells me how when she wanted to breastfeed my husband, the nurses laughed at her. Shocking. Thanks for the comment!

  11. Some great retorts. We just tended to stick with a polite “Thanks, but we’re fine as we are” if anyone suggested we should be doing anything differently. Like you though, I very rarely got any snide remarks. Old ladies who though Toby should be wearing a hat / was too hot / too cold / being held wrong / possibly needed to be more active in securing world peace, however, were and still are a different matter…

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