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Breastfeeding Toddlers in Public: Should There Be a Law Against It?

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On May 16, Forest Park passed an indecency ordinance that prohibits women from nursing in public if the child is over two years of age.  

“It sets up a process whereby we can try to control nudity throughout the entire city,” City Manager John Parker told WBS-TV Atlanta, noting that the council had used the exact breastfeeding wording that already exists in DeKalb County and City of Griffin public indecency ordinances.

Not surprisingly, local mothers (and maybe everyone else) laughed at the idea that such control was needed—that metro Atlanta was swarming with half-naked women clutching toddlers to their quite naked breasts.

"Lactivists" (for real) did a nurse-in Monday that got press attention and made city fathers look pretty ridiculous.

But the wording of the ordinance makes one wonder if, rather than nudity, it's really aimed at discouraging the breastfeeding of toddlers, since the under-24 months set is still allowed to chow down in flagrante.

Though some in the lactivist and healthcare communities believe that nursing a child into toddlerhood can offer the benefits of continued child/parent bonding, others may find the practice disturbing.

But why would a city council choose to weigh in on the issue?

Has there been a rash of moms nursing their overgrown youngins in public spaces in Forest Park?

I haven't spoken with any of the Forest Park City Council, so I'm not yet privy to the thoughts behind the ordinance. Council members will revisit the issue at the next meeting on June 6 and perhaps think better of it.

So is this ordinance ridiculous or 'about time'? What are your feelings on toddler-nursing? And what about there being similar laws already on the books in DeKalb County? Tell us what you think in the comments!

nudiarist May 25, 2011 at 10:16 PM
Women have topfree equality with men in Columbus Ohio, yet women do not walk about with their shirts off except at the annual Comfest event in June. The idea that people will start walking about topless or nude if there are no prohibitive laws is ridiculous.
emily May 26, 2011 at 02:34 AM
I just don't understand this law. If it's supposed to prevent nudity, why is this supposed nudity ok while nursing a newborn, but not a toddler? How will this help with an apparent nudity problem? Never mind the fact that teens can run around showing their non-lactating cleavage and no one makes a stink. This is ridiculous and not even about nudity. It's about our society still being squeamish about breastfeeding.
Chris May 26, 2011 at 11:23 AM
What utter stupidty. What does it matter if the child is over 2 years old or not? And who is going to check - are officials going to ask the child? demand a birth certificate? Breast-feeding is a natural part of human life, those who seek to ban it are insane. Thankfully our ancestors were more intelligent, otherwise the entire human race would have died out millenia ago.
Marc Acampora May 26, 2011 at 12:33 PM
More nonsense from our ridiculously prudish culture. First the use of the word "indecency" to describe nudity is prudish. Why is the naked human body automatically "indecent"? Why is breastfeeding "indecent"? Second, is this practice so prevalent in Forrest Park to justify the process of enacting legislation? Finally, how would this be enforced? Will police check for the toddler's ID to ensure they are under two years of age?
Amy June 08, 2011 at 07:49 PM
I would prefer never to see a child being breast fed. It should not be done in public as doing so goes against common sense, decency and discretion. There shouldn't have to be a law against it, but since some people lack common sense and don't know how to keep certain behaviors private, so be it.
Danielle September 03, 2011 at 06:12 AM
Well Amy, I don't see how breastfeeding is an inappropriate "behavior". And if you are anti normal human actions then I guess the solution is to look away. Breatfed babies need to nurse often. And I'll be damned if I'm just going to lock myself in my house and stay barricaded so no one has to see me discreetly breastfeeding. And I'm not going to let my child go hungry and wait for us to be safely inside our breastfeeding safe area to have milk. Ridiculous.
Sharon Foster Jones September 06, 2011 at 12:20 AM
It's a dumb law. That being said, I don't enjoy getting a flash of another woman's boobies. Some people are not discreet.
Marc Acampora September 06, 2011 at 03:47 AM
Rose, I agree that its a dumb law. But, the key to why its a dumb law is because in a free society we don't need government making laws just because some people are not discreet. Save the laws for the serious or dangerous stuff and stop protecting us from harmless indiscretion.
Ellen Sapp June 03, 2012 at 12:05 AM
About time! I recently was in the theatre at a ballet when a woman whipped out her breast for her four year old boy with a complete set of teeth and fully capable of eating a cheeseburger. The sucking and snorting sounds for the next 20 minutes were disgusting as was the sight of her breast. Infants are fine but toddlers and older children breastfeeding in public is unnecessary and offensive. It's optional nutritionally speaking, not a necessity. I think these women who do this do it for their own gratification. It's freakish. If you insist on prolonging breastfeeding, do it only in private places. Breastfeeding toddlers and older children in public should be banned. So put the breast away, honey, and feed your child actual food instead of being a milk-cow.

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