Karleen, I 90% agree with what you're saying.
What I'm struggling with is 1) the idea that no bottle play is ever allowed/ appropriate at daycare and 2) that bottle feeding shouldn't be encouraged.
I feel that these two issues lead into two other issues - 1) relationships with families and 2) implication for children's future feeding approaches.
I feel that bottle feeding should be encouraged. Of course, daycare doesn't need to do much at all in this regard since there is so much promotion of this everywhere else. Breastfeeding should be promoted/ protected/ supported/ normalised much more than bottle feeding. One of the things that is really bothering me about this discussion is - as was said above - bottle feeding shouldn't be encouraged the same way that smoking shouldn't be encouraged. The idea that that they are similar because they should both be discouraged/ not be encouraged really bothers me. If bottle feeding isn't bad, then why can't it be part of play? The message which I take from 'bottle feeding shouldn't be encouraged' is that it's bad - if it's not bad then why can't it be encouraged? If bottles are bad, then that says to me that all the other situations that were mentioned above are bad too, because they involve bottles. I know that none of those things was explicitly said, but I do think it's a very small, reasonable jump from 'Bottles shouldn't be encouraged' to 'bottles are bad' to 'babies in childcare/ mothers at work are bad'. I realise that not every mother who uses bottles feels this way (as you said about you and of course others i'm sure) but if this touches a raw nerve with me, as a hard core lactivist, ABA trainee who is breastfeeding a two year old, then I hate to think how a mother with less breastfeeding experience/ knowledge/ enthusiasm may feel.
If a daycare centre is implying that bottles are bad (see above reasoning) then how does do they build a trusting relationship with a bottle using family? How does a centre tell someone through their policies/ procedures that 'we don't want to encourage what happens in your family' and then expect that parent to trust them with the care of his/her child, which involves said not-to-be-encouraged bottle? How can a centre say ‘bottle feeding can’t be encouraged through play’ then say ‘put your bottle of EBM in the fridge and we’ll feed it to your baby later’ with any consistency?
Of course, this needs to be balanced with breastfeeding advocacy/ education. I think that the role of bottles in play at daycare should be limited, but I think it should be present if relevant (which it would be in almost every circumstance). I definitely think that it's inappropriate for there to be any branding/ samples/ logo tins etc.
A possible way to balance the issues (and I’m thinking on my feet here). Bottles are introduced for a time in home corner (say a week). The carers/ teachers engage the kids in discussion about how babies are fed, talk about where milk(s) come from, what might be in a bottle, encourage the kids to hold bottle for a bf as well as to give the bottles, pretend pumping etc. A mum can come in to give a demo breastfeed (either specifically invited or just a normal daycare-pick up feed of one of the kids). They can read stories with bfing in them, farm stories with the farmer milking the cow. Posters up of babies being fed etc. Then the bottles in home corner can be packed away again until the next time the How are babies fed/ Where does milk come from? unit is taught. The centre can also promote/ protect bfing though other policies eg BWH stickers, support for bfing and pumping mothers, staff training etc (as a big picture approach).
I feel that this type of approach balances the ‘bottles are bad’ implication which comes from ‘bottles should be shunned/ bottles should not be encouraged’ with the critical role of breastfeeding support/ promotion/ protection/ education/ advocacy in more respectful and inclusive, and less divisive, way than a total ban on bottle play at day care in every circumstance.
w/rt the dolls – the short answer is I don’t know. I’ve not had any experience with them and little knowledge. All I know (which I’ve read in reliable places like the internet and magazines [/sarcasm]) is that you have to hold a key in the back to ‘feed’ them, which would imply bfing positioning (tummy in) to me more than bottle feeding positioning (tummy up) but I really have no idea. I did first hear of them as parenting training tools for teen parents before I heard of them being used in childcare training which would make a bfing position more appropriate (but I really have no idea).
DD1 May 2011
Super baby Dec 2013
DD2 Feb 2015 Storked by Parla.
Proud storker: michansam's DS3, katsbi's DD3 and Gwen's mum's DS