Friday, 28 May 2010

Bistro Breastfeeding

It seems everyone is talking about restaurants and breastfeeding. Surely this is really about USA attitudes, in particular USA snobbery? We already know that these guys have issues, this is nothing new. The next step, if history serves, will be to suggest that breastfeeding is related to terrorism.

Regular readers of this blog will recall that I am particularly partial to restaurant dining - if for nothing better than getting out of doing the dishes. My impression of NZ restaurants is that those who will let babies in at all are very accommodating, and there is even an increasing presence of "we are breastfeeding-friendly" signs - go look.

Patrons in these places can see that there are high chairs provided, other patrons have small children, and they seem happy to accept that this means there will be some childish behaviour around them while dining. Those who would find this erksome, just go some-place else. This is not onerous - there exist restaurants which do not allow you in with a small child.

I have no problem with this. We need places to go and just be adult amongst adults. Restaurants are private property - the business can set whatever rules they like, and if they are prepared to refuse entry to babies that is their choice.

Having chosen to admit babies, if they want to then say "no breastfeeding at the table" then they need to provide some area where breastfeeding is allowed and appropriate. The signal that NZ restaurants are getting from this whole mess is that their patrons do not consider the toilets to be appropriate.

It may be that some restaurants will set a side part of their dining room for breastfeeding Mums. Much as they used to do for non-smokers. Perhaps there is room for a campaign similar to the smokefree one back in the day? An advocacy group could provide shawls and signs indicating a breastfeeding-friendly place?

"Would Madam care to be seated in the breastfeeding or non-breastfeeding section? Breastfeeding? Certainly ... smoking or non-smoking?"

What about the others? Children should remain seated? Children should be quiet? Yeah well - easier said than done. The problem of getting kids to sit still and shut up is one that has vexed parents of any species since protozoa. There is no indication we are any closer to a solution now - so the rule may as well be "no kids please".

Personally I enjoy seeing happy active kids while I eat - it's part of the entertainment.

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