Breastfeeding On Sesame Street: Children Should Learn About Nursing

So a bunch of parents have their boobies in a twist over a push by breastfeeding moms to have Sesame Street  put together a segment or two showing toddlers how some mothers feed their babies. Apparently, showing a mother with a *gasp!* boobie in her kid’s mouth on a show viewed by toddlers who, not too long ago, were among the bunch who most likely had boobies in their mouths, is just, like, sacrilege.

The uproar comes after almost 5,000 people signed a petition asking Sesame Street to promote breastfeeding. In her petition, blogger BoobieTime, argues that in the 70s and 80s, nursing was “tastefully shown on the show, but now they have replaced their nursing videos with bottles.” She notes that she’s not asking Sesame Street to remove bottle feeding—just that the public television program, the longest-running children’s show, get comfortable showing that both ways of feeding babies, from the breast and from the bottle, are normal. She adds:

If we normalize breastfeeding in our community, especially with our children, we can help raise a generation of breastfeeders, which will support our economy, make for healthier children and lessen the risk of breast cancer for many nursing mamas!”

Of course, the internet is abuzz with people who think showing mothers breastfeeding their kids is “gross” and will forever scar the babies. And no wonder: we have judges tossing breastfeeding moms out of courtrooms and stores like Target threatening and banishing breastfeeding moms to bathrooms to feed their kids—despite laws saying public breastfeeding is allowed; Facebook is still deleting thousands of pictures of mothers breastfeeding their children, and; airheads like Kim Kardashian take to Twitter to say that feeding babies milk from the source that God provided—a boob—is “creepy.”

Nevermind that babies see more titties at the grocery store check-out and on the covers of magazines and in television commercials than they ever would looking at a breastfeeding mother. I mean, how many times have you seen pictures of Kim Kardashian’s breasts—and booty and thighs and everything else—hanging out every which way on People magazine? And how many jiggling boobs did your little one catch the last time your local television station ran ads for the Victoria’s Secret fashion show? Have you seen Nikki Minaj’s “Super Bass” video? She’s scantily clad, giving lap dances to shirtless, muscular men. I saw that one for the first time on TeenNick. At 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning. While my kids were eating cereal.

But we have a problem showing a child how mothers feed their babies? On Sesame Street—a children’s show that teaches kids about potty training, etiquette, self-esteem, HIV, and black girl hair?

So you know how beautifully Sesame Street has handled the subject before, watch the videos below—one of Big Bird getting a lesson from guest star Buffy St. Marie on all the different foods kids eat at different stages in their lives, including milk from a mother’s breast; the other of Sonia Manzano, a.k.a. Maria, breastfeeding her daughter, Gabi, while an older kid asks questions. “Is that the only way you can feed her?” the child asks. “Oh no, sometimes I feed her this way, and sometimes I feed her with a bottle,” Maria replies. “But you know? I like this way best. It’s natural, it’s good for her, and I get to hug her more.”

Those two videos, according to a story on Yahoo Shine, were on Sesame Street’s segment rotation until the 90s, when the show altogether stopped showing segments of moms breastfeeding their kids.

As a mom who breastfed both my daughters—Mari for a year, Lila for 10 months—despite big-time pushback from doggone near everybody around me who thought I was spoiling/coddling my babies and who refused to acknowledge that giving my children milk from my breasts was about sustaining them in the way I, their mother, thought was best, not about their sexual fantasies, I sure would like it if we could count on an educational show like Sesame Street to “normalize” the myriad of ways mothers feed their children, including, yes, breastfeeding them. It’s not nasty. It’s not gross. It’s not inappropriate. It’s not choosing sides. It’s about the natural, beautiful way some mothers feed their babies.

To sign the petition asking Sesame Street to bring breastfeeding back to its programming, click here.


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1. Salma Hayek, Kim Kardashian and “Creepy” Breastfeeding
2. Dear Michele Bachmann: Shut Up About Black Moms and Breastfeeding
3. Score Two In The Black Girl Battle Against Lazy Beauty Standards!
4. Nipples and Ninny: An African-American Mom’s Breastfeeding Journey

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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.

11 Comments

  1. I just signed the petition and tweeted it. It’s like the twilight zone these days, I just don’t get where people are coming from on so many topics. *sigh*

  2. They should be showing both ways. Not everyone bottle feed their child. I really hate the way society has gotten these days with aversion to breast feeding–like it’s nasty or something. It’s something that women have been doing since the beginning of our existence.

    Sometimes I really wonder if there is a conspiracy or propaganda that would promote negative views of breastfeeding by formula companies.

  3. I signed, thanks for your post.

  4. I signed the petition and retweeted this. I’m one of those rare mothers that have breastfed past one years old. GASP!! The comment that Kim Kardashian made about bf’ing is just plain ignorant! Anyway, thanks for promoting this.

  5. I’m a nursing mother also, and I feel that signing was a good thing.

    And Kim. grow up!

  6. I’m heading over there to sign that petition because I’m tired of this anti-breastfeeding trend

  7. I agree Denene breastfeeding is natural, it’s society that makes it triflin. I didn’t do it, but I commend mom’s who do. I signed on the dotted line..kudos for this article!

  8. I signed. Thanks Denene for sharing!

  9. Thank you for sharing, Denene! You make a great point regarding the contradictions that surround breasts in public spaces. Breasts for adult pleasure are OK. Breasts for sustaining life — not OK. I’m interested in learning what happened between the time Sesame Street aired the episodes showing breastfeeding mothers and the time they stopped. Within that time frame, what caused the shift in acceptance? Thanks again for this post! I signed the petition and will share with others.

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