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Success Stories

Creating a Private Space for Breastfeeding Mothers

The Early College High School (ECHS) Child Care Center in Oregon turned a closet into a warm and inviting space for young mothers to breastfeed in private.

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Infant Feeding

Support parents' decisions on infant feeding.

As a child care or early education provider, you love babies. You care deeply for all of the families who trust your care for them, and you know their decisions about infant feeding are deeply personal.

Supporting Moms’ Decisions
  • Almost all moms across the United States want to breastfeed and do start.
  • All moms deserve to be respected for how they choose to feed their baby.

Once a breastfeeding mom puts her baby into care, it’s up to her to bring you her expressed milk or come in person to breastfeed her baby. So what does breastfeeding have to do with you? Everything.

For many moms, no one cheers them on to support their decision to breastfeed, and 60 percent who stop breastfeeding say they wish they could have kept going longer. It doesn’t have to be that way, and it’s not even hard for you to be a powerful champion who can help make breastfeeding work. Plus, to moms with unsupportive families, employers or who work in places with policies that actively discourage breastfeeding, you can be more than just a powerful champion — you can be a hero.

Respecting Individual Choices and Becoming a Champion

As a child care or early education provider, you value all families’ decisions about infant feeding. You can support their efforts so they can follow through with what they want to do.

When a mom tells you she wants to breastfeed and provide milk for her baby, you can show you respect her and you’re her champion by saying something positive, such as:

“Good for you…what a lucky baby! We will take very good care of your milk.”

There’s no need to ask her how long she plans to breastfeed; assume she wants to continue providing her milk until she says otherwise.

How Everyone Benefits from a Supportive Breastfeeding Environment
  • Breastfeeding helps protect babies against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • Breastfeeding helps protect babies’ health in all kinds of ways even long after breastfeeding is over. Breastfed babies are less likely to grow up to be obese or suffer from things like diabetes and asthma.
  • The longer a baby is breastfed, the longer he or she will experience benefits. Although babies should be breastfeed at least until they are 12 months old, there is no specific age by which breastfeeding should be stopped.
  • Breastfeeding protects moms against breast and ovarian cancers and type 2 diabetes, and it helps them fend off or cope better with postpartum depression.
  • Breastfeeding makes bonding easier and helps moms stay closely bonded to their babies after going back to work.
  • Since breastfed babies tend to be healthier babies, moms are able to work more instead of taking time off to care for a sick baby.
  • Breastfeeding costs less than formula, saving moms at least $1,500 each year.
Infant Care Providers
  • Breastfeeding keep babies from getting sick with things like diarrhea and ear infections, so everyone else (the other babies and your staff) stays healthier too.
  • Reassurance from you builds trust and communication with your moms.
  • Since moms provide the milk, you save money. Even better, breastfed babies can even earn you money, since expressed milk (fed by you) is reimbursable from the Child and Adult Food Care Program (CACFP).

Handling and Storing Expressed Milk
Recommendations & Tips
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) and the Department of Labor and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) all agree that expressed milk is not a hazardous body fluid and is not a biohazard.
  • Expressed milk is food brought from home. Just follow your existing procedures for handling and storing foods brought from home (such as infant formula and baby foods) when handling and storing expressed milk.
  • Be sure not to waste expressed milk -- moms have worked very hard to collect and provide milk.
  • If state regulations require providers to wear gloves while handling food and infant formula, the same requirement applies to expressed milk. If state regulations do not require this precaution, it need not be taken for expressed milk.
  • If you don’t have procedures for foods brought from home, follow existing procedures for medications brought from home.
  • Freshly expressed milk can sit at room temperature for up to 8 hours. Once expressed milk has been refrigerated, though, it needs to stay that way until it’s fed to baby.
  • Never heat infant foods, infant formula or expressed milk in a microwave. Instead, run warm or hot tap water over containers in a sink.
  • Never reheat infant foods, infant formula or expressed milk. Instead, minimize wasted expressed milk by warming it in small amounts of only a few ounces at a time. You can always warm up more if needed.
Additional Resources

Working With Parents to Introduce Solid Foods

Work with parents when starting solid foods.

The AAP recommends that for the first 6 months of life, babies be given only breast milk (or commercially prepared infant formula). For breastfed babies, the time when the baby is given only breast milk (no formula, cereal, juice, water or baby food) is called “exclusive breastfeeding.”

Starting foods too early can keep babies’ bodies from being able to get all the nutrients they need to grow and thrive because they are only ready for breast milk (or formula). Contrary to popular belief, starting foods before 6 months does not help babies sleep longer. It can also increase their chances of allergies down the road.

You can be a champion by establishing a policy to not routinely feed solids to infants under 6 months and by educating your staff and families about why this is important. However, it is ultimately up to parents to choose when and what to start feeding their baby other than breast milk (or formula). So always let them make the first move, and support their choices by working together with them every step of the way.

Safety tips to keep in mind when starting infants on foods:
Make sure baby is able to sit on his or her own.

The muscles babies need to be able to safely eat foods need to be strong and coordinated, and until a baby is able to sit and stay seated on his or her own without support, these muscles aren’t ready. Feeding babies food before this point can be dangerous.

Make sure baby is seated upright.

The baby can only use the muscles they need for safely eating foods and moving foods from the mouth into the stomach while sitting upright. This means that reclining babies for feeding foods can be hazardous.

Make sure an adult is supervising.

While eating foods, the baby always needs to have an adult very close who is paying attention and knows what to do if the baby chokes. Sometimes babies make gagging noises while learning to eat and that’s ok. Staff needs to know how to tell if a baby is in distress. Also, never leave a baby in a high chair or feeding table after they are finished — always remove them safely and promptly.

Make sure foods are not choking hazards or allergens.

Hold off on foods that are known choking hazards and likely allergens. Be sure not to cut foods into pieces that are too small for baby to safely move around and chew before swallowing.

Follow baby’s lead.

Train staff to never try to convince a baby to eat more or less of any food than the baby wants -- even if the baby is picky. Many people think they are helping babies learn to eat by making ‘airplane’ noises with a spoon, clapping and cheering when baby takes a bite or eats a certain food or telling baby they can’t have one food until they eat all of another. But it turns out that babies know very well when they are done eating and what they want to eat, so the best thing we can do to help them stay that way is follow their lead.

More Resources on Introducing Solid Foods

Additional Resources For Child Care Settings

Accommodate moms who want to continue infant feeding.

The American Academy of Pediatrics Recommends:

  • Breastfeeding for at least the first 12 months.
  • After 12 months, breastfeeding continue for as baby & mom desire.
  • Breast milk for toddlers to build their immune systems.

Ways you can help:

  • Educate staff about breastfeeding & storing expressed milk.
  • Use expressed milk carefully – be sure none of it is wasted.
  • Create an inviting, private space for moms to express milk or breastfeed.