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(extended) nursing ... in public


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My baby, who is not really a baby any longer :crying: but will always be my baby ;) is coming up on 18mos and still nurses. A lot. Of course baby eats 3 full meals per day, snacks, drinks out of a cup & is growing well. I've always nursed my kids for years and I like it that way. ;) I don't force mine to nurse, it's not about me, but I don't force them to wean before they are ready and this one is not ready to wean.

 

My question is about nursing in public. How old is too old to nurse a child in public? I will add that if I do nurse in public, I always have a big baby blanket over my shoulder. It's obvious what I'm doing but the blanket is big enough that the "baby" is hidden and so is every square inch of my skin. ;) There's no flashing of belly or booKs or anything else.

 

I don't want to make anyone uncomfortable or open my kids (who are always with me) up to rude comments or uncomfortable situations.

 

So, what says the Hive. In your mind, what is the oldest acceptable age to be nursing outside of the home? What about if you're with a group of friends/acquaintances that you see regularly, would you nurse in front of them? Do you stop all nursing when you are out unless you are in a car or somewhere where nobody else is? Does it matter the circumstances- meaning a quick nurse during a play date vs. being out at the mall? Does it bother *YOU* to see a mother nursing an older baby or child in public?

 

Truth be told, I never thought much about it before. I'm big on extended nursing but I know it's not for everyone and I want to be respectful of that. However, it's not like my little one talks in complete sentences or anything like that. :lol:... Yet.

Edited by plain jane
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Well, I never hardly see anyone nurse in public period, regardless of the age. Personally, I do it pretty rarely past around 1 year and not really at all past 18 months as it is just so unusual around here. I can generally find some place somewhat out of the way to nurse- not in a bathroom! Around just friends I would nurse (even though my one friend won't nurse in front of anyone), or my own family but not just random public. I don't care to see moms nursing and wish I seen it more.

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There are a lot of people around here that are very much not in the camp of liking extended nursing, but you can get away with nursing a child in public usually until they're 2 years before anyone is really getting uncomfortable. After that, it's best to find a secluded place to nurse. At least around here.

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That is a tough one. I nursed all of mine until long into their toddler years. I think once they stopped looking like a "baby" I didn;t nurse them so much in very public places. A playdate or around people I knew well- sure. Not because I thought it was wrong, but because so many people are so against even nursing a newborn in public I didn;t want to 'make it worse' if you know what I mean.

 

The older they got, the more easily they could understand the need to wait or get to a more private/quiet location.

 

The most fun for me was when a nursing toddlers playgroup mom came to my salon for a haircut. Nursed her 3yo right under the haircutting cape while I cut her hair. :D

 

Sorry I;m no help. I hope you find a good balance and nurse your big little one for as long as you both wish. :grouphug:

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All of mine have nursed past 3 (well, DS2 is 2.5 and shows no sign of stopping yet). Starting around that age (18 months, maybe a bit older), I personally pushed off NIP unless they were injured, sick, etc. I would nurse in my car if it was convenient. I did NIP pretty regularly before that age, and became more comfortable with it with each subsequent child. But I certainly NIP a good bit with all 3 (no cover, as I use nursing tanks and found them discreet. My kids never tolerated a blanket at all, in any way, shape, or form past about 3 months of age).

 

I don't think there's anything at all wrong with nursing an 18 month old in public, just to be clear. But my comfort level was such that I preferred some privacy starting around that point. If they fell or otherwise injured themselves, I did whatever I needed to in order to meet their needs, which included NIP sometimes at that age.

 

That's what worked for me, it doesn't mean I wouldn't smile if I saw you NIP your DC, kwim? I totally support it.

 

I don't like anyone else imposing a rule on someone else about when is "too old" for NIP. If it feels okay to you and your DD, I think it is fine. If someone gave me a dirty look, I'd probably just return it :tongue_smilie:

I certainly think a toddler NIP can be far less annoying, disruptive, etc. than a toddler running around like crazy, so people really should be thankful at times ;) Anyone bothered by an 18 month old NIP would probably just find something else to gripe about related to parenting style and kids.

Edited by Momof3littles
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I have just played it by ear. Usually the first nurses to go are the ones where people are present like men from church. We had pastor and deacon over one night and I was NOT going to whip it out in front of them, yet I wanted to stay in the living room and visit. So my two year old just waited that night. He had other food options. I did everything on a case by case basis, very instinctual. I trust my instincts.

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Mom of a 19 month old here (my 3rd) and we are still nursing and I was just wondering the same thing yesterday.

 

I bf my oldest to 25 months and my 2nd to 18 months and I honestly don't remember what I did, isn't that crazy?

 

19 month old was fussy in church a few weeks ago and I stuck on my nursing cover and nursed her - then wondered after the fact if I shouldn't have....

 

But she is kind of "aggressive" about going after what she wants. Either I feed her willingly or she disrobes me! Yeah, we are working on that....

 

But the biggest problem I have is how EASILY distracted she is now... she can NEED NEED NEED to nurse (nothing else will distract her) and get covered, start, and then hear something that makes her pop up and off at lightening speed - leaving me SCRAMBLING to stay covered (hence the problem at church... the music started and I was flying to keep the blanket on when her little head popped up like "pop goes the weasel!"

 

So... I don't have an answer for you - but I am in the same predicament!

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My thought is, at the point where it switches from "baby needs to eat" to "tot wants to suck," that's when I'd stop NIP.

 

My mom nursed to age 2 but never nursed in public. It isn't "necessary" but I think it's understandable when breastmilk more than 1-2x per day is needed.

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My thought is, at the point where it switches from "baby needs to eat" to "tot wants to suck," that's when I'd stop NIP.

 

My mom nursed to age 2 but never nursed in public. It isn't "necessary" but I think it's understandable when breastmilk more than 1-2x per day is needed.

My youngest 2 nursed for 95%+ of their calorie needs up to 2. I think it varies with each individual baby/toddler.

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Ok... I am uncomfortable with extended nursing. I was very taken aback when I saw someone nursing what looked like a 2 year old in public. But I recognize that that's my hang up and I would never comment on it. But there are plenty of people that would. People are incredibly rude. You have to decide how much other people's comfort is important to you when it's really none of their business. Because there are people who breastfeed (very modestly) very young babies in public and still get comments. Strangers will comment on your parenting, your children's behavior, their clothing, the fact that they are out during school hours, you name it.

 

Since you asked for an age, I would say that for ME, 12 months would be the limit in public.

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I think you should do whatever you're comfortable with and not worry about it.

 

Mine were nursed until they had teeth - that was just what worked for us. I used privacy capes and still had relatives that thought I should stay behind closed doors nursing a newborn - not even kidding. I raised an eyebrow and ignored them. I hate to see any personal choices voted on by the masses. Do what works for you. No matter what you choose, someone's going to be judgy!

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I would nurse and have nursed in front of friends. They're friends. There's no need to hide your parenting from them. They may or may not make the same choice for themselves, and I'm OK with that and they're OK with that. We're friends. Also, it helps them (and their children) see that this is normal, so if/when they're in the same boat they are less fearful that others will be negative about it. If we're projecting one image in public and doing something else in private, we're not being fully truthful with our friends, and that's not helping anybody.

 

It never bothers me to see a mom nursing in public, and I often give her a thumbs up to make sure she gets some positive affirmation in case she's hearing some negative and is not aware that there's positive out there too.

 

I didn't do the whole blanket thing, because it tends to say "hey, we're nursing over here". I found that most folks were oblivious as to what that snuggly kid was doing. The only place where I discouraged it was around dh's co-workers, as I didn't want it to be an issue for him at work.

 

You might enjoy Mothering Your Nursing Toddler, which addresses this and many other issues in a very non-dogmatic way.

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It seems like around 20 or 22 months, DD was only nursing a few times a day, so NIP didn't come up very much anymore. I did nurse her at a few family events when she was a little older than that. And if she was hurt or sick or seriously upset, then I would not hesitate to NIP at any time.

 

My little guy is 17 months old and still seems very babyish to me. I nurse him anywhere if he wants to. He's small for his age and he's still *my* baby.

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Ok... I am uncomfortable with extended nursing. I was very taken aback when I saw someone nursing what looked like a 2 year old in public. But I recognize that that's my hang up and I would never comment on it. But there are plenty of people that would. People are incredibly rude. You have to decide how much other people's comfort is important to you when it's really none of their business. Because there are people who breastfeed (very modestly) very young babies in public and still get comments. Strangers will comment on your parenting, your children's behavior, their clothing, the fact that they are out during school hours, you name it.

 

Since you asked for an age, I would say that for ME, 12 months would be the limit in public.

 

:iagree: (with bolded)

 

The fact that I have been criticized for nursing a young infant, modestly, in a semi-private room, and even heard complaints that people shouldn't have to see expressed milk in a bottle because "we know what it IS" pretty much solidified my decision to nurse wherever or whenever, at any age. People have some weird hangups and you can't possibly cater to all of them. I have my own standards of modesty and my own comfort level and I will stick to those, not anybody else's. Sometimes that means using a light blanket or stepping out of the room.

 

Editing to add - I nursed in public until around 18 months, but after that we settled into a 2-3 times/day routine and we usually weren't out and about at nursing time.

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That is a tough one. I nursed all of mine until long into their toddler years. I think once they stopped looking like a "baby" I didn;t nurse them so much in very public places. A playdate or around people I knew well- sure. Not because I thought it was wrong, but because so many people are so against even nursing a newborn in public I didn;t want to 'make it worse' if you know what I mean.

 

The older they got, the more easily they could understand the need to wait or get to a more private/quiet location.

 

/QUOTE]

 

The same for me.

 

Also by the time mine was 18 mos old, she was down to mostly nursing at naptime and bedtime or comfort in only the most extreme situations like she got hurt or something. This did take some training on my part. Between 12-18 mos. I worked on weaning her down to those times for my own convenience. I had been sitting down and nursing for the full year before, and I needed to be on my feet and sitting down less by that time. So by 18 mos. she was used to only nursing after lunch/before nap, bedtime, and other sleepy times.

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I am totally OK with seeing toddlers and preschoolers nursing in public. But, context is often key. Around my crunchy friends, nursing was normal so I never felt the need to change my behavior. In this group, nursing for comfort was just as important as nutrition. However, in other situations (like out on errands or in settings that were not child-focused), I would use distraction and substitutions and reserve nursing for home or more comfortable settings. Part of it was societal expectations and part of it was the difficulty in keeping covered. My kids never tolerated a blanket or anything like that and, by the time they were toddlers, nursing was a pop-on/pop-off kind of thing, which made it more difficult to prevent inadvertent "flashing." That said, there were times when a well-timed nursing headed off a huge meltdown in my middle child.

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My baby, who is not really a baby any longer :crying: but will always be my baby ;) is coming up on 18mos and still nurses. A lot. Of course baby eats 3 full meals per day, snacks, drinks out of a cup & is growing well. I've always nursed my kids for years and I like it that way. ;) I don't force mine to nurse, it's not about me, but I don't force them to wean before they are ready and this one is not ready to wean.

 

My question is about nursing in public. How old is too old to nurse a child in public? I will add that if I do nurse in public, I always have a big baby blanket over my shoulder. It's obvious what I'm doing but the blanket is big enough that the "baby" is hidden and so is every square inch of my skin. ;) There's no flashing of belly or booKs or anything else.

 

I don't want to make anyone uncomfortable or open my kids (who are always with me) up to rude comments or uncomfortable situations.

 

So, what says the Hive. In your mind, what is the oldest acceptable age to be nursing outside of the home? What about if you're with a group of friends/acquaintances that you see regularly, would you nurse in front of them? Do you stop all nursing when you are out unless you are in a car or somewhere where nobody else is? Does it matter the circumstances- meaning a quick nurse during a play date vs. being out at the mall? Does it bother *YOU* to see a mother nursing an older baby or child in public?

 

Truth be told, I never thought much about it before. I'm big on extended nursing but I know it's not for everyone and I want to be respectful of that. However, it's not like my little one talks in complete sentences or anything like that. :lol:... Yet.

Some people will make rude comments about a newborn nursing in public- especially if a woman is insisting on exposing her belly or booKs or if the little person keeps pulling the blanket off.

 

OTOH, if you are discreet and keep yourself covered, although you may think that everyone knows what you are doing, a lot of people don't think anything about a toddler hiding or napping under a blanket. So, many people probably don't look closely enough at other people to know what's going on.

 

FWIW, my youngest nursed until right at his third birthday and I nursed him basicly whenever he wanted. I feel like I was discreet and so was my little guy. Nobody ever said anything to me and really unless they were staring most people who are not aware of extended nursing probably just thought I was rocking him or letting him go to sleep under a blanket.

 

It doesn't bother me to see a toddler nursing.

Mandy

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Personally, I would say that once the child is walking around independently, exploring the world some without being constantly in contact with mom, the child is old enough to not be nursing in public.

 

Does it bother me to see toddlers and preschoolers nursing? Not really, and my kids think nursing is totally naturally and wouldn't be bothered by it. But once a child is no longer nursing for nutrition, I see it as more of a comfort issue that is a more personal thing, and teaching the child less personal ways of being comforted in public is not a bad thing.

 

I was uncomfortable once when I was at the park with a new acquaintance, and the kids (who were 4, 5, and 5) were all playing on the playground, and then the other mother's 5 year old son came over, pulled up the mother's shirt, and began to nurse, standing on his own and occasionally talking to my daughter, who wandered over to see what was up. Although I don't particularly care how long people nurse their kids, I did think that was rather socially inappropriate.

 

Tara

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I think it really depends on the mother and child. With my oldest, we kind of fit together in a way that nobody could tell we were nursing. And her body and head hid that my shirt was raised on one side (i wore basic cotton tshirts). It looked like I was just holding her and carrying her around.

 

I'm sure of this because I had people come up and start talking to me about her who had no idea. Once an elderly lady in a department store kissed her on the head while she was nursing and had no idea - uncomfortable!

 

My Dad used to say while I was sitting in the chair nursing her as a toddler "when will you be ready to go?" And I'd say "as soon as she's done eating, Dad." And he'd get this confused look on his face and say "she's eating?"

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in public, I'd limit to when she stops looking like a baby.

 

:iagree: I quit nursing in public when my boys were around 12-14 months. Of course, neither of my boys liked to be covered either. :tongue_smilie: That's a separate problem.

 

I found I just didn't want the stares, not that I was embarassed or anything. I just didn't want to deal with them. And by 12-14 months, my boys were nursing for comfort mostly. They could wait until I got to the car or private area. I used dressing rooms a lot.

 

I nursed my boys for 19 and 23 months respectively and both weaned on their own.

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I think you should do whatever you're comfortable with and not worry about it.

 

I think this is the only real answer to this.

 

I nursed my son 'till he was 2 1/2, and he was still ocassionaly nursing in public up 'till around 2. After that, nursing was primarily a bedtime thing. I imagine you'll probably notice at some point (possibly soon) that the same will be true for your little one--nursing will become a nap and/or bedtime thing--so even if you're still nursing, nursing in public will likely become irrelevant.

 

I also never covered. It was so distracting and uncomfortable for me, and (in my opinion) it makes it much more conspicuous. I was always discreet and never showed skin (most people wouldn't even know what I was doing). I nursed EVERYWHERE. lol. No one ever made comments to me. I am pretty sure 95% of folks had no idea baby was nursing.

 

FWIW, I don't consider 18 months extended nursing, either, but that's another story. :tongue_smilie:I wouldn't consider it extended 'till sometime after 2 years. I forget, but isn't the general guideline (not sure if it's the AAP or WHO or both) that nursing is good 'till 2 years and thereafter as mutually beneficial to mom and tot?

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Personally, I would say that once the child is walking around independently, exploring the world some without being constantly in contact with mom, the child is old enough to not be nursing in public.

 

Does it bother me to see toddlers and preschoolers nursing? Not really, and my kids think nursing is totally naturally and wouldn't be bothered by it. But once a child is no longer nursing for nutrition, I see it as more of a comfort issue that is a more personal thing, and teaching the child less personal ways of being comforted in public is not a bad thing.

 

I was uncomfortable once when I was at the park with a new acquaintance, and the kids (who were 4, 5, and 5) were all playing on the playground, and then the other mother's 5 year old son came over, pulled up the mother's shirt, and began to nurse, standing on his own and occasionally talking to my daughter, who wandered over to see what was up. Although I don't particularly care how long people nurse their kids, I did think that was rather socially inappropriate.

 

Tara

 

That kind of thing is very uncomfortable. I think it should be an intimate thing. No socializing with friends WHILE nursing. That mother had bad manners.

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I have a picture of me nursing my Dd17 *sniffle*, and she's attached, I'm cradling her head in my arms and her legs are almost to the floor. :D I never realized how huge or how old she was until that picture.

 

So, nurse away.

 

:lol: OK, the very literal brain in me is hoping you're referring to your DD who is CURRENTLY 17, but wasn't 17 in the photo. :lol: But whatever works for your family. :coolgleamA:

 

:leaving:

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I don't really have an upper age that I would find it inappropriate, pretty much all kids are weaned by the time I would find it really odd.

 

I think it is going to depend a lot on your local culture. I think there is something to be said for pushing the envelope though - don't be too sensitive if you can help it, because people really need to be more exposed to extended nursing if they are going to become comfortable with it.

 

I have found practically that by the time my kids were about two, they were not allowing me to nurse in a way I could reasonably do so in public - they all wanted to be upside down with my shirt up around my neck.

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:lol: OK, the very literal brain in me is hoping you're referring to your DD who is CURRENTLY 17, but wasn't 17 in the photo. :lol: But whatever works for your family. :coolgleamA:

 

:leaving:

 

Me, too!! :lol: And, I'm going to say right now, no matter what you all think, that nursing a 17 year old is totally inappropriate. :lol: :lol: :lol:

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@ 18 months, it is a non issue for me.

 

I never nursed older children in public for several reasons. I did not feel it was my job to educate the public. I didn't want to intentionally induce feedback and expose my child in order to assert my agenda (a greater awareness of a nautural nursing relationship).

 

Finally, though, the reason come down to what is develomentally appropriate.I don't believe in child led weaning (as it is usually practiced by extended nursers). I don't believe older children benefit from on demand nursing and I do believe they benefit from limits, restrictions, and leading from mom towards less habit and dependence n breatfeeding and the development of a wider range of skills when stressed, bored, anxious, etc.

 

That said, I nursed my kids for years, well beyond 18 months.

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There are a lot of people around here that are very much not in the camp of liking extended nursing, but you can get away with nursing a child in public usually until they're 2 years before anyone is really getting uncomfortable. After that, it's best to find a secluded place to nurse. At least around here.

 

:iagree: I think once they approach 3 things can get uncomfortable in public. My own eyebrows don't go up unless the kid is 5, and even then I wouldn't say anything. I wouldnt think twice about nursing a 1 or 2-year-old in public.

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It's your comfort level that matters.

 

My personal cut off for public nursing is 2 yrs. A 2 yr old has the ability to wait until we get to a more private place.....as long as I follow through.

 

I just don't feel like dealing with the negativity some get for extended nursing when my child is old enough to understand what the person is saying.

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I think it depends on your comfort level. Unfortunately, there will always be busy-bodies who have an opinion regarding this. :glare:

 

I considered weaning my youngest dd when she was around 2 when my mother commented about our nursing. But I did not feel ready and my dd showed no signs of giving it up.

 

I went to a LLL conference and attended a workshop on extended breastfeeding where scientific facts regarding the benefits of extended breastfeeding were shared. Tips were also given . . . the one that helped me was the suggestions that, when breastfeeding an older child, it could actually be discussed that nursing will only take place in certain places . . . such as your couch in your home. :D

 

It was the perfect solution for me. Since we homeschool we were mostly home. I talked to my growing toddler and explained to her that nursing was something special we were only going to do at home, now that she was getting bigger and eating solids and drinking water, juice, etc. If she needed snuggle time in public we would do that, but we would reserve nursing for home.

 

It worked beautifully. No more comments from anyone and nursing gradually reduced and finally ended naturally when she was four. I was so happy to do extended breastfeeding with her. Make it work for you and don't let anyone discourage you from what you want to do.

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I nursed DD well past 2 in public. She didn't take to solids until 1yo and at 2yo was just starting to get a goodly portion of her nutrition from food. I did stop nursing in places where it was uncomfortable (like the grocery store with nowhere to sit) around 1.5 or so. By then she could wait a few minutes or be distracted with a cracker. I nursed on benches and couches and whatnot in public though. It slowly became a nonissue. She weaned herself in the last few months at the age of 4.

 

You can't avoid making some people uncomfortable. Some people just have issues. People get uncomfortable around nursing newborns. People get uncomfortable around bottle-fed newborns. People get uncomfortable about bringing newborns out in public places. People get uncomfortable if you have too may kids, or kids too close in age, or if your boys have long hair (as I've recently learned), or if your twins are not sufficiently alike to meet their stereotypes. Just roll your eyes and move on. It's just nursing. If someone is uncomfortable, well, they're likely a grownup who can deal with their own issues.

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I sometimes find it uncomfortable to watch -- not because of the nursing per se, but because from what I've seen in my circles, it's often done in the context of the child routinely being demanding, or out of control, or just overtired due to a packed family schedule, and nursing seems to be used very often as a "quick fix."

 

To me, this isn't so far from handing a tantruming child an (organic, unrefined sugar) ice cream cone.

 

It's possible that these cases are in the minority, but they really stick in my mind, and they're what I think of when people mention nursing older toddlers in public. And again, this is coming from someone who's very comfortable with breastfeeding in general. So I'm pretty sure there are others who feel the same way.

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What about if you're with a group of friends/acquaintances that you see regularly, would you nurse in front of them? Absolutely. My friends/acquaintances that I see regularly know that I'm a nursing mom.

 

Do you stop all nursing when you are out unless you are in a car or somewhere where nobody else is? No way. I'm not going to sit in the car nursing because I might offend someone. If people don't want to see me nursing, they don't have to look.

 

Does it matter the circumstances- meaning a quick nurse during a play date vs. being out at the mall? When our oldest was about 2 1/2, my husband asked me not to nurse him at the mall and I complied. There were other places where he was ok with it though.

 

Does it bother *YOU* to see a mother nursing an older baby or child in public? Not at all.

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Remember that scene in Grapes of Wrath? Boy, that messed with my head for a bit when I read it in high school.

 

That scene scarred all of the girls in my 11th grade English class (and I was in an all girls school, so we were quite vocal with our comments) for a loooooong time. It still makes me shudder a bit. Only because I do not think I could have been as noble as Rose of Sharon was. That character was a saint for doing that.

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:confused::confused::confused:

 

I don't remember, and don;t want to read the whole book again. What was it?

 

Spoilers:

 

It was at the end of the book, the girl had her baby and it died, then they came across a starving adult man and she breastfed him. She didn't know the man or anything.

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