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Breastfeeding In Restaurants


SquashSoup
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Parenting is a tremendous and respectable responsibility.  And everybody loves a cute and "non-screaming" baby.

But... If you're going to bring your baby to dinner in a crowded dining room, for pete's sake- don't breast-feed the infant at the table in the middle of dinner.  I'm not sure if it's in clear violation of traditional etiquette rules, but I feel sorry for all the fellas busted by their +'1s caught staring.

And If you're wondering, there was no corkage fee.

Happy New Year everybody,

Cheers, -j

Ouch!!!

Note to self: cancel upcoming reservation at Notti Bianche as I won't give money to a company that doesn't welcome everyone, including nursing mothers.

Where exactly was she supposed to feed the baby? Do you have a seperate facility for nursing mothers? Would you have brought her dinner to her in that location? Would you have preferred that she ignored the baby's cries of hunger and let him/her scream through the balance of dinner?

(Note I'm not debating whether the parents should have brought the baby out. But once you seated them, surely you had a reasonable expection that the kid was going to need to eat at some point...)

Sigh....

Not a parent but a proud aunt to six nieces and nephews who all probably broke this etiquette rule at one time or another...

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But... If you're going to bring your baby to dinner in a crowded dining room, for pete's sake- don't breast-feed the infant at the table in the middle of dinner. 

I guess the mom should take her child into a restroom to perform this completely naturral and necessary act? In my 10 plus years of being in the restaurant business, I have had less than a dozen women breast feed their babies in the restaurant. It has never been a problem. One time I had to reseat a party that was insulted that I "allowed such behavior" in the restaurant. They could have left for all I care. Its their probelm, not the mom's.

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Its their probelm, not the mom's.

I agree. Most of the women I've seen breastfeeding in public have a nice, discreet blanket thrown over the whole scene so that the only way you would be subjected to an R-rated flash is if you were staring, in which case you are the one with the etiquette problem. Now if it's full frontal nonchalance we're talking about, then I might change my tune.

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as the only person that establishes policies at notti bianche, let me state very clearly that breast feeding mothers are perfectly welcome in our dining room.

i apologize on behalf of the entire notti bianche family for this unintended slight to women in general and mothers specifically.

Edited by starfish
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Wouldn't a better solution for everyone be that the mother takes along a bottle for the baby when planning to be dining in public?

-Camille

Not everyone uses bottles. Many will on occasions such as this...but not all. Most of my friends are so discrete you'd never even know what they're doing.....but there are always excpetions.
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Check opentable for Sunday the 15th at 6 pm.  Just dumped it 20 minutes ago...

Don't you think that's a little extreme? Do you really think that NB has some kind of corporate policy/plan-of-action/problem against nursing mothers that you'd cancel your reservation before this discussion even played out? For cripes sake, the folks from NB are on this board pretty regularly and I'd be damned stupid to immediately jump into considering them a corporate monster with discrimination on its mind.

Jason's a young, well-meaning guy, and when he says he's never seen this in a restaurant before, I believe him. I consider his apology sincere and think that this probably is a great, albeit embarrassing, learning experience for him to be a better restaurant staffer in the future.

Edited by CrescentFresh
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Jason's a young, well-meaning guy, and when he says he's never seen this in a restaurant before, I believe him.  I consider his apology sincere and think that this probably is a great, albeit embarrassing, learning experience for him to be a better restaurant staffer in the future.

As a mom to a two year old, I can honestly say that my pre-baby self would have probably made the same faux pas as Jason. Breastfeeding etiquette just isn't something you learn about going through everyday life until you or someone close to you experiences it. Let's cut the guy some slack. Obviously he's not ever walked into a "nurse-in" at a Starbucks

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Who will be first to observe that this is all a storm in a D-cup?

Sigh. Why does this not surprise me? :)

Edit to say that as a former nursing mother it was extremely uncomfortable to nurse in public, and I always took my baby out to the car, or the lounge if there was one. That's just me, and seeing other nursing mothers does not bother me in the slightest.

The idea of a fine-dining fantasy land of perfection, where no children are ever allowed, no one is every rude, intrudes on your personal space, gets drunk, wears too-strong perfume, or answers the phone amuses me greatly.

(And if no one ever makes a faux pas how are the rest of us supposed to amuse ourselves by talking about them? Personally, I am expecting to show up in one of Sietsema's chats any day now. :o )

Edited by Heather
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I was a nursing mom too. With my first I would go hide in the back of my car and cover up with blankets, with my second and third, I also nursed in public. I don't think it bothers anyone except the young who just haven't been there yet! :)

Edited by RaisaB
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What is screed? Does that mean you wrote something you had to delete so as to not cause more flaming responses? If so,I had to go back and rewrite my posts 3 x's before hitting the submit button as I did not want to do the same.

On second thought I will just write what I thought. As long as the woman is nursing somewhat discreetly, how can anyone be offended? Breasts were meant for feeding babies not men! If someone can't look at that and not keep their mind out of the gutter, I would say they are either immature or just plain deprived!

Should I edit this for screed?

Edited to add, I found the definition for screed: A breach or rant; a breaking forth into a loud, shrill sound. 2. An harangue; a long tirade on any subject.

Edited by RaisaB
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Only if I can get drunk and wear strong perfume.  We can let someone else take up the nose-picking slack.  :)

I enjoyed the screed.  No need to self-censor.

[Okay, this thread has jumped the shark. I'll delete these last few postings - if people want to continue the breast-feeding stuff, that's fine. Cheers, Rocks]

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What is screed? Does that mean you wrote something you had to delete so as to not cause more flaming responses? <snip>Edited to add, I found the definition for screed: A breach or rant; a breaking forth into a loud, shrill sound. 2. An harangue; a long tirade on any subject.

Yeah, I wrote a flaming tirade and deleted it later. It's a hot topic for me, but later I decided that the rest of DR.com doesn't deserve my ramblings. [go ahead and delete this one, too, Don when you need to]

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nursing in public is a topic that seems to set people off no matter where it occurs, an indication of social pasteurization. when the milk lets down, what's a mother to do? i have shared a restaurant table with nursing moms on a couple of occasions, and there was no disruption. people who want to make a big deal out of this are just plain rude.

i do recall an editorial meeting one time attended by a reporter who decided it was a suitable place to start nursing, which was a bit in your face, but the real question was whether it was appropriate for the infant to be there in the first place. children, for the most part, are not allowed in our offices at all, because of liability and insurance (?). i think most offices would be improved if there were children running around. dogs would help too.

of course, when you do nurse in public i guess you shouldn't be too surprised when there are perverts peeping at you from around the corner, or through the curtains. i thought it was just drooling geezers who used to do this, especially when rubenesque bathers were in the picture.

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As a former nursing mother (oh, and a former baby--maybe some of the posters here were never infants who needed to be fed?), this is a hot button issue for me as well. Suffice it to say, my attitude is get-over-it. I'll breastfeed where ever I am with my infant if the infant needs to eat. If my infant is welcome in the setting (NB: not talking about an editorial board meeting, or an expensive restaurant at 8:00 on a Saturday night), then I'll feed the infant as I do.

I don't cover what I'm doing up with a blanket (I'm not ashamed of breastfeeding and if it makes you uncomfortable--don't look), nor do I flaunt it by taking off my entire top. You'll see no more boob than you do watching cheerleaders on Sunday sports shows, and I doubt any of the complainers here think those breasts are a problem.

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If my infant is welcome in the setting (NB:  not talking about an editorial board meeting, or an expensive restaurant at 8:00 on a Saturday night), then I'll feed the infant as I do. 

Isn't that really a large part of what we are talking about here? The topic came up because someone did exactly what you are saying you wouldn't have done.

And isn't that what etiquette is all about to begin with?

Be discreet, appropriate and considerate (in whatever you do) and I don't think any sensible person is going to have a problem.

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Parenting is a tremendous and respectable responsibility.  And everybody loves a cute and "non-screaming" baby.

But... If you're going to bring your baby to dinner in a crowded dining room, for pete's sake- don't breast-feed the infant at the table in the middle of dinner.  I'm not sure if it's in clear violation of traditional etiquette rules, but I feel sorry for all the fellas busted by their +'1s caught staring.

And If you're wondering, there was no corkage fee.

No, Bilrus. This is why the discussion started. It is about the fellas busted for staring.

I would bring a baby to almost any restaurant as long as I could keep him/her quiet during the entire dinner. Breastfeeding would be a way to do that (keep them quiet). Newborns usually feed every 2 hours, so it really would not be practical to leave the baby at home. The majority of times you cannot even tell the baby is nursing.

Is the problem with the nursing issue that someone may see a breast? If so then dresscodes should be enacted for all these fake boobs that are popping out of tight sweaters. I swear to you I have seen nipples popping out because the shirts have been so lowcut. (no comments from the peanut gallery please).This breastfeeding really should be a non-issue in today's society.

I really don't understand what all the commotion is about.

Edited by RaisaB
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Actually, no. If you'll read CajunJason's post (snipped below), he doesn't complain about the person bringing an infant to a crowded dining room. I can understand somebody complaining about that, depending on the restaurant. I've never been to Notti Bianchi (sp?) and have no idea what the restaurant or prices are like. Is it an expensive restaurant where based on prices/quality of food/level of service/formality/etc. one would expect to go out for an adults only meal? While this is a subjective assessment, that certainly factors into my decision on whether I would take an infant there.

Regardless, what CajunJason complains about is the paying customer (who, I am assuming, wasn't told that she couldn't bring her infant) who chose to breastfeed in the restaurant. What he described is not an etiquette violation to me.

However, staring at a mother and breast-feeding baby to get a shot of mom's breast is an etiquette violation. Using your definition of etiquette, which I think is reasonable, it is not discreet, considerate or appropriate.

But... If you're going to bring your baby to dinner in a crowded dining room, for pete's sake- don't breast-feed the infant at the table in the middle of dinner.  I'm not sure if it's in clear violation of traditional etiquette rules, but I feel sorry for all the fellas busted by their +'1s caught staring.

[ETA: Apparently, Raisa and I were posting at the same time with the same point. I'm leaving my post up regardless because I think it's an important point.]

Edited by smokey
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I've never been to Notti Bianchi (sp?) and have no idea what the restaurant or prices are like.  Is it an expensive restaurant where based on prices/quality of food/level of service/formality/etc. one would expect to go out for an adults only meal?  While this is a subjective assessment, that certainly factors into my decision on whether I would take an infant there. 

Unless it has changed substantially since the room's days as Nectar, there are probably about 15 tables in a room not much bigger than a large living room spaced quite closely together.

Entrees are all in the $20-$30 range. It is definitely a place where I would expect people would go for an adults only meal.

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I guess you could consider the infant an appendage. I would take her there if able to guarantee she wouldn't fuss, which is more than I could say for some adults. I am worn out on this subject, let's talk about loud obnoxious tables in restaurants. You know the types, they are so into themselves, they have no regards for anyone else in the place?

Edited because my spacebar isn't working on my laptop.

Edited by RaisaB
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If the infant needs to be fed every two hours and there is no alternate or discreet place or way to breast-feed, then it isn't appropriate for the infant to be in the dining room to begin with.

And no one here has once argued that it is appropriate for anyone to ogle a partially bare breast in a restaurant or anywhere public.

Edited by bilrus
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How 'bout breast feeding in church :) ? Sorry to go off topic, but at a wedding I attended a few weeks ago one of the guests, clad in a gown, seated in the pews in the middle of the church hiked up her dress from the bottom until her baby could attain strategic access. I guess desire not to miss the main event trumped modesty, but...

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How 'bout breast feeding in church  :o ?  Sorry to go off topic, but at a wedding I attended a few weeks ago one of the guests, clad in a gown, seated in the pews in the middle of the church hiked up her dress from the bottom until her baby could attain strategic access.  I guess desire not to miss the main event trumped modesty, but...

No,that was not discreet. Again everything is subjective and according to the graces which you have been taught. :)

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If the infant needs to be fed every two hours and there is no alternate or discreet place or way to breast-feed, then it isn't appropriate for the infant to be in the dining room to begin with.

And no one here has once argued that it is appropriate for anyone to ogle a partially bare breast in a restaurant or anywhere public.

It is definitely a place where I would expect people would go for an adults only meal.

If I follow you, you are arguing that it is both an etiquette violation for an infant to be at this restaurant (and not having been there, I withhold judgement on that) and that it is an etiquette violation for the infant to have been breastfed there (a point with which I disagree with you). It is not indiscreet, inappropriate or inconsiderate to breastfeed an infant in public.

[ETA: yeah, hiking up a dress from hem to breast (even a very short dress!) to breastfeed is indiscreet. I am making some assumptions about the situation.]

Edited by smokey
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If I follow you, you are arguing that it is both an etiquette violation for an infant to be at this restaurant (and not having been there, I withhold judgement on that) and that it is an etiquette violation for the infant to have been breastfed there (a point with which I disagree with you).  It is not indiscreet, inappropriate or inconsiderate to breastfeed an infant in public.

I think you need to read bill's post a wee bit more closely.

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It is not indiscreet, inappropriate or inconsiderate to breastfeed an infant in public.

According to whom?

Perhaps here's the real issue: the multicultural society. I'm 40 years old, lived almost all my life in Mongomery County, raised by middle-class parents (of Protestant and Catholic backgrounds) who were raised in the Pittsburg area, and guess what? ...where/when I come from breastfeeding is an intimate act that is not appropriate to perform in public. Nor is it appropriate to take an infant to a fine restaurant (or concert hall, or other public venue with paying patrons where the prevailing notion is to enjoy an adult night out).

Am I more or less in tune with prevailing cultural conditions in the DC metro area? I dunno. I thought my cultural and socioeconomic background was pretty typical for this area. <shrug> Perhaps not.

I'm not saying that I'm right or that you're right, but that we clearly come from differing backgrounds, so we should each make an effort to tolerate differing opinions. And to behave with consideration for others in public (the very essence of etiquette).

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Again does anyone have a problem with the old blanket trick!  Seriously.  No problem with breast feeding but really do  you need an audience?  Throw a blanket over the kid and nobody would care.

It's a great trick, but neither of my kids would comply with it.

I am curious whether those who are less likely to be offended by breastfeeding in public are more likely to be parents.

Edit to say that for me, an intimate act is something way more fun - not a definition I'd use to describe nursing in a restaurant.

Edited by Heather
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Again does anyone have a problem with the old blanket trick!  Seriously.  No problem with breast feeding but really do  you need an audience?  Throw a blanket over the kid and nobody would care.

When everyone else starts putting a blanket over their head to eat, that's when I'll put a blanket over my child's head.

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I am curious whether those who are less likely to be offended by breastfeeding in public are more likely to be parents.

Not a parent, but my opinion on the subject is sort of squishy. Because I don't think I would mind seeing a mother breastfeeding in Starbucks, or at the mall, or in a doctor's waiting room, or any one of a hundred different places. But my first reaction on reading about someone breastfeeding in a small fine-dining restaurant was, "Oooh, inappropriate."

Does that make me intolerant? A dining snob? Wildly inconsistent? I dunno. But that's how it struck me.

I would say the same thing about a loud cell phone conversation, though, so take that for what it's worth.

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Just to add another two cents (probably actually worth less than that), I guess I have to say that I just can't get that worked up about something that isn't directly affecting me. Etiquette or no etiquette, think it's rude or not, I just look away from things that I don't want to see (and FWIW, I couldn't care less if someone breastfeeds in front of me). Now, if you're yammering away on your cell phone right next to me or your kids are trying to climb in my lap, I'll be bothered. It's just not in my nature to get all huffy about how someone else is leading their life if it doesn't mess up my world.

Dining to me is about the food, the drink, my friends, etc. While atmosphere is a big part of it, if it means not looking at one particular 4x6 part of the restaurant for five minutes, I'll deal.

I probably screw up the demographic analysis, though. I'm single, female, just turned 30, no kids. I'm not that big of a fan of kids in restaurants but the ones that are breastfeeding age are generally pretty quiet as compared to the ones who have learned to talk (and run around). :)

To sum it up, it's less to me an etiquette question than it is one about how you control your own meal. Ignore the distractions and enjoy your experience.

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  ...where/when I come from breastfeeding is an intimate act that is not appropriate to perform in public. 

I think it's more a when than a where.

When I was a lad, breastfeeding was not common in public (actually it was seen as pretty common period and not done at all in polite society). In fact, they were still probably flogging formula as superior to mother's milk.

Times change. I for one have no problem with someone breastfeeding at their table. I view it the same as me whipping out a bottle for the kid.

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I think it's more a when than a where.

When I was a lad, breastfeeding was not common in public (actually it was seen as pretty common period and not done at all in polite society). In fact, they were still probably flogging formula as superior to mother's milk.

Times change. I for one have no problem with someone breastfeeding at their table. I view it the same as me whipping out a bottle for the kid.

This man is truly enlightened! Actually Joe, it is sensitvity like what you have shown here, that makes some men irresistable! :)

Where is the little emoticon with all the little hearts coming out of it?

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I think the key is to do it discretely -- if done well, nobody will notice (or at least not to distraction). I think the point here is that there were "fellas" (and others) looking -- meaning the activity was obvious enough to distract them from their food and their dining companions. If for whatever reason it's a production (e.g., having to hike your dress up [!]), then I'm sure that many or most restaurants would be happy to help you find a less distracting solution.

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Male, 29, no kids here (but discussed subject at length with female co-workers):

Discretion is the key. We're talking about fine dining here. There is nothing about the human body to be ashamed of, but we don't go out to restaurants nude. You shouldn't be ogling your fellow diners but it's not appetizing in the least to look up and see a baby sucking on a nipple. In nice restaurants people try to present themselves as refined as possible, because anything else might risk ruining the enjoyment of the food, which is the main attraction.

Belching is a natural body function (that even directly results from eating), but I don't see a mad rush for public acceptance of it.

This thread seems to be going in the direction of "I should be able to do whatever I want, whereever I want, whenever I want."

I think diners shouldn't get in a huff about a discrete feeding, but mothers should also consider other patrons when exposing everyone to a non-dining bodily function.

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Count me among those who consider the presence of an infant, not the act of breastfeeding said infant, to be the offense. Infants and young children are inherently uncontrollable. To include them in a night of upscale dining (and to determine what is upscale one could use the requirement of a reservation as an imperfect litmus test) dramatically increases the liklihood of difficulty or disruption. I think it's best to leave the young ones at home until you are confident in their ability to behave in a manner that meets contextual expectations. Should one choose to take children to a restaurant, problems should be dealt with, and they should be done so in prviate (e.g., in the bathroom or outside).

Few upscale restaurants are likely to explicitly bar children and newborns. That doesn't mean more subtle messages should be ignored. If you're wondering whether or not your child is welcome, see if you're presented with a special menu for them. Odds are that if you're not, you're children shouldn't be there.

And on an unrelated note, from personal experience, serving a table with children can be very challenging. Everything from managing cutlery to timing courses to delivering food to cleaning up afterward (have you ever seen what young children can do with bread and bread products) adds up. That said, well behaved and precocious children can be a joy.

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