Ask a Baby Blogger: Breastfeeding In Front of Older Children

Question: I have a question. I have a newborn baby whom I am breastfeeding and two older sons ages 6 and 8. It makes me uncomfortable for them to see me breastfeeding the baby. I’m afraid them seeing me breastfeed will damage them psychologically. Are my fears unfounded?

Your View of Breastfeeding

I think you’ve really already answered your own question but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with some basics. Breastfeeding is natural, and dare I say at the risk of offending someone, the way babies are supposed to be fed. Women have breasts for the purpose of breastfeeding their children.

With that said, it seems to me that teaching your sons what breasts are actually for, is healthy and can only do them good as they grow into adolescents and understand more about human sexuality. My own children have seen me breastfeed a gazillion times and are not ‘psychologically damaged’ but have just come to view it as the normal part of life that it is. I don’t flaunt the fact that I’m feeding a baby, but neither do I hide it. It is my house and I must feel comfortable here.

Family Boundaries

I really think that different families have different boundaries on this issue that are all within the range of normal. I have seen families who are quite comfortable with family nudity whose children turn out just fine. I have seen families who are quite conservative and no one ever sees anyone naked ever–and their kids come out just fine.

I think the fact that you are uncomfortable with them seeing you breastfeed is very telling about your family boundaries. . .and that’s fine. If you’re uncomfortable with your children watching you, then ask for some privacy or use a cover up. I think the real key is open communication. Breastfeeding doesn’t have to be hidden but telling your sons that mommy is feeding the baby and would like some privacy is completely appropriate.

Neither do you have to worry about your sons if they do happen to catch a glimpse of breast. Children are naturally curious and if they haven’t seen it before, they may well want to ask questions. I think you’re far better off to answer any questions they have openly and honestly than you are to discourage them from wanting to know. On a side note, once it is explained it is very unlikely that they will give a second thought to it.