Are there public places where a woman should not breastfeed her child?

Yeah, I know it’s natural, it’s legal, yada, yada, yada, but there is a heated discussion going on on a theatre board about a woman who was breastfeeding her child during “The Little Mermaid.” People were against it, pointing out that it was distracting to the audience and the actors, they didn’t pay $120 a ticket to see that, some theatres don’t allow adults to bring drinks in, etc.

What is your opinion?

My opinion is that this thread is probably going to explode into a flamefest.

I’m not a mother, so I have limited judgment in this realm, but I find it somewhat distasteful. I realize this is a loaded topic and I don’t intend to argue with anyone one way or the other because I don’t care enough about this issue one way or the other–but it makes me feel uncomfortable to be around breastfeeding in general. I’m willing to accept that as a non-parent I’m completely ignorant about the natural beautiful relationship between mother and child, but that doesn’t really change my gut reaction. I’m not really sure why anyone would go the theater with an infant, either. I think anywhere it’s acceptable to bring small children it should be acceptable to breastfeed, but a theater isn’t really one of those places.

Any place where you are admonished to “Silence your cellphone” is probably not a good place to take a baby, much less breastfeed it. The only exception to that rule would be a place where, although there is an warning to “Silence your cell phone or we’ll take your ass out!”, there is food being served. In that case, if I can eat, so can your kid.

olives, do you think you’d be more comfortable if the mom used a thin blanket or something to shield the child from view? I found that little trick very useful. In fact, in some instances people didn’t even notice what was going on.

I’ll agree also with the notion of ‘no small children at theater’. But that has to do with noise and interruptions, not breastfeeding.

Any public place which has some environmental factors harmful to baby - such as dust or fumes - should not be a place where baby is fed.

I agree with olives, why did she bring the baby there in the first place?

Good question, and one the theatre goers were pondering. Probably the babysitter cancelled or they couldn’t get a sitter and didn’t want to waste the tickets. Or maybe since the baby was breastfeeding, Mommy didn’t want poor snookums to go hungry.

I once asked a theatregoer how old her child was (2) and why did she bring her (I want her to get cultured early in life). Most theatres have age restrictions. CATS is about as kid-friendly as a show could get, and the minimum age was 4.

Does the OP refer to the “baby present” issue or to the “woman whipping out a mammary” issue?

WRT to the first issue, inappropriate places = places where people can reasonably expect no noise at all. Examples: libraries, classical concerts etc.

WRT to the second issue, inappropriate places = places where other people cannot look somewhere else/pretend not to notice. Examples: a railway compartment with seats facing each other, or where someone’s job is to keep attention to something behind the breastfeeding mother.

My guess is that the reason for breastfeeding during the play was to keep the baby quiet. (Not to mention that infants nurse really, really frequently, like 8-10x/day.) I don’t see it as a big deal at all. In fact, I’m not sure why anyone else noticed. Weren’t they paying attention to the play? How easily distracted are they?

The Little Mermaid sounds like a kid-oriented production. Children should be expected in the audience. Where children go, so do their parents and their younger siblings. If it were Rent or something, this would seem less appropriate.

For the record, I’ve breastfed two kids and was generally willing to do it in public, although generally with a blanket to cover up with.

Broadly, I agree with NinetyWt, UncleRojelio, and BetsQ. Breastfeeding is normal and should be allowed in most places. Obviously this is going to vary all over the place jurisdictionally; I believe that in Ontario, breastfeeding is allowed in public places and anywhere food is consumed. Furthermore, women are allowed to go topless in public in Ontario (due to a court case back in the nineties). However, a theatre is not a public place. The management has the right to set limits that do not apply to the public square. This doesn’t mean things don’t go more smoothly if everyone involved is not a jerk.

Given that many theatres have arena type seating where you are in very extreme close contact (grrr to the dude who kept pushing his knees into my thigh during Spamalot)with people all around you, I can see that trying to get an infant latched and sucking could create a bit of distraction for your seatmates.

But if the lady was in a box seat or in the loge or gallery of the theatre where there is more elbow room and perhaps more privacy, I don’t see the problem with a sleepy infant or his breastfeeding needs.

And as mentioned above it was the Little Mermaid for chrissakes, there was probably a sizable population of whiny restless kids in the audience already!


You should be able to whip out your breast to breastfeed anywhere bringing an infant is appropriate. It is not appropriate to bring an infant to the theatre to start with.

Mommy is going to have to learn that now that she is Mommy, she has to put her own wants on hold - which may means she can’t go to the theatre. Motherhood sucks that way sometimes.

It really isn’t - there are lots of kids in the audience, but it isn’t Seseme Street Live.

It’s more family/tourist oriented than strictly young kids. When I saw the show there were many tour groups and families with 13-16 year olds. And it’s not like it’s a 2pm showing of the latest $8 G-rated movie or something. It’s a professional Broadway theatre where tickets sell for $120 each! For that money, you do not eat, talk, or suckle babies. You sit there quietly and enjoy the show.

That is a good point, about the show drawing a decidedly adult audience. BUt consider that there was a ticket sold for that infant too! I’m betting on it unless there was a free for 3 and under clause. Any guess what occupied the seat - the diaper bag(s)!

Sounds to me like the theatre allows babes in arms.

I doubt they bought a ticket for the infant. Even if they had, however, bringing an infant to live theatre is rude to the other patrons and the performers. Unless you are darn near certain the infant will not cry. Bringing anyone to live theatre (including your 70 year old father) that cannot behave appropriately for live theatre is rude - doesn’t matter what their age is.

A double-mastectomy support group.

If you are in a theater you should not have an infant with you at all. Shakespeare in the Park would be different and you could sit in the back on a blanket and suckle your kid to your heart’s content but someplace where people have paid tremendous amounts of money to enjoy the show is not a place to bring a baby, let alone breast feed it. For $25-$30 you can get a manual breast pump and leave a bottle for a sitter so that you can go enjoy a show without having someone hanging onto your nipple for the evening.

According to the person who was at the theatre, he says that all the seats around the woman were filled with other patrons.

I believe it’s OK to breastfeed an infant any place that infant happens to be when it’s time for the infant to be fed. If any place wants to forbid the entry of infants and thus prevent breastfeeding on-site, they should go ahead and deny entry to infants. Just make sure it’s legal to do so and advise your potential patrons that infants aren’t allowed. Personally, I think a performance of The Little Mermaid should expect to draw small children and infants in the audience, regardless of whether tickets are $12, $120, $1200 or whatever. (Now maybe this was the original, bloody version of The Little Mermaid, not the Disney-fied version, but a lot of people don’t know there’s a difference.) If the theater management doesn’t want anyone under 18 or 12 or 6 or whatever age they choose, they should say so. Up front.

It was a musical! Probably with a live orchestra in the pit. And mucho applauding (at appropriate times of course). I doubt any baby hiccups or a 10 sec squall and a nipple switch will throw Ariel off her arias.

It is not like the patrons smuggled in their baby, if they didnt pay for her then the venue admits children under a certain age free for that Broadway musical.

Huzzah to the art patrons who pay to expose their family to Broadway! :mad: nope :cool: