Major retailer’s breastfeeding policy has people talking

Major retailer’s breastfeeding policy has people talking

Although breastfeeding in public is legal in nearly every state, women do not always feel welcome nursing their babies in public.

Big-box retailer Target is trying to change that feeling for women shopping at their 1,800 stores with a breastfeeding policy that went viral last month.

The policy, which is printed in the employee handbook, states:

Guests may openly breastfeed in our stores or ask where they can go to breastfeed their child. When this happens, remember these points:

  • Target’s policy supports breastfeeding in any area of our stores, including our fitting rooms, even if others are waiting
  • If you see a guest breastfeeding in our stores, do not approach her
  • If she approaches and asks you for a location to breastfeed, offer the fitting room (do not offer the restroom as an option)

When Breastfeeding Mama Talk posted a photo of the policy on Facebook, it received more than 43,000 “likes” and 17,000 “shares.”

“We want all of our guests to feel comfortable shopping with us,” Target said in a statement to “Our breastfeeding policy, which applies to all stores, is just one of the ways in which we support our guests.”

This policy was created after an incident in 2011 when Target employees made a breastfeeding mother in a Texas store feel unwelcome, leading many upset moms from around the country to hold a “nurse-in” in Target stores.

“I was thrilled to see this policy, especially when Target was a store in particular where women have been told they couldn’t breastfeed in the past,” says Susan Bartlett-Ye, lactation consultant at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “Being able to breastfeed anywhere improves a mom’s ability to keep breastfeeding her baby. Many moms need to go out and run errands and even go back to work, which is why having the right to breastfeed at places like Target or the airport is so important to their success rate.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends mothers breastfeed their babies exclusively until they are 6 months old. They also suggest continuing to breastfeed until the baby is a year or older, depending on the desires of the mother and baby.

Breastfeeding offers a number of health benefits to both moms and babies, Bartlett-Ye says. Babies who are breastfed have been shown to have a reduced risk of:

  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • Childhood obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Ear infections
  • Gastrointestinal problems

Moms also experience benefits, including a reduced risk for health conditions such as:

  • Breast cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

“In addition to specific health benefits, breastfeeding is cheaper, more convenient and better for the environment than using formula,” Bartlett-Ye says. “It also offers an important bonding opportunity for moms and babies.”


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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.