Day Care Centers Cut Off Babies From Breast Milk

Filed under: Babies, In The News, Childcare, Breast-Feeding

day-care breast milk

A lot of day care centers don't provide overnight refrigerated storage. Credit: Getty Images

"No breast milk? What do you mean no breast milk? Come, Marjorie, we're leaving!"

Oh, if only your baby could talk. He or she would be appalled by a report on how few establishments offer breast milk. After all, babies are supposed to get breast milk for at least a year.

Yet, BusinessWeek reports a small study by researchers in Cincinnati suggests too few day care centers, at least in that city, are set up for moms to nurse their babies.

BusinessWeek reports doctors at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center found only 12 percent of infants enrolled in area centers received mother's milk, even though 96 percent of the center directors said they're comfortable allowing moms to nurse.

"We were surprised to find that despite the high staff comfort levels in feeding human milk, only a small percentage of infants were being fed human milk," lead researcher Kristen Copeland, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, tells BusinessWeek.

Of course, moms don't need to nurse their babies. They can pump their breast milk and refrigerate it for ... what's that? A lot of centers don't provide overnight refrigerated storage? That's a problem, Copeland says.

"We know that centers that allow pumped milk to be stored overnight make it easier for women to provide a constant supply of milk for their babies," Copeland tells BusinessWeek, "so if more centers offered overnight storage, it might increase the number of infants who are fed human milk."

According to the Ohio doctors, this is a big deal. About half the infants in the United States are in child care, and 18 percent are in centers.

Researchers called the directors of 167 day care centers, and asked them how many infants at the centers received pumped breast milk, how comfortable the centers' employees were with feeding pumped breast milk and if the center provided a refrigerator or freezer where moms could store pumped breast milk overnight.

Your odds of being able to provide your baby with breast milk increases in centers with the smallest proportion of babies receiving subsidized tuition. It also helps if the babies at the center are predominantly white.

Copeland tells BusinessWeek non-white mothers might not have the chance to pump their breast milk, especially at work.

"The findings speak to the tremendous challenges women face in being able to successfully breast-feed their babies," breast-feeding researcher Dr. Alison Stuebe, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill, tells BusinessWeek.

Day care centers can help, she adds.

"For instance, there should also be a comfortable place where mothers can sit down and nurse their babies, either at lunchtime or when they come to pick them up at the end of the day," she tells BusinessWeek.

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How to Wean Your Child from Breast Feeding

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.