Re: Breastfeeding Discrimination
posted at 9/19/2011 5:17 PM EDT
My wife and I have a son who will be a year old on Thursday. We've had a few experiences dining out with him and have never had a problem. We first took him out on our anniversary, when he was three weeks old. My parents were with us visiting from Texas. We walked to a local place (in Waltham) with a big dining room that's never crowded. He did really well for about 45 minutes and then started to cry pretty uncontrollably, at which point my wife picked him up and walked home with him. My parents and I followed shortly afterward. No big deal.
During the meal, my wife breastfed my son, and nobody noticed she was doing it. Some people here would probably be surprised how often breastfeeding goes on right under their noses. It really is extremely discrete most of the time; it's very rare to see any part of the breast at all. My guess is that the OP's wife breastfed her baby very discreetly--most moms quickly learn how to do this--and the waitress freaked out for no particularly good reason. Breastfeeding a baby (particularly a newborn) doesn't have to be, and usually isn't, distracting or awkward for anybody. I suspect that the waitress at Amrheins (I don't know the place) severely overreacted, and I would have been pretty angry about her behavior, too.
A few thoughts for those who don't like seeing children in restaurants:
Newborns are the best kids to take to restaurants. They take up little space, make little noise and generally stay quiet once they've been fed. It's kids from about 2-7 who really cause problems. Newborns are barely even there. (Also, strollers for newborns are very small by nature. Newborns can't fit in huge strollers--they'll fall out.)
It's almost impossible to leave a newborn with a babysitter, particularly a newborn that's breastfeeding. I don't want to get into why, but people with kids should know what I mean. And parents of a newborn do have to get out of the house eventually--it's not a house-arrest sentence to have a baby. Smokers stand in front of buildings and choke us all out; obnoxious people talk loudly on their cell phones at dinner or get beeping text signals all night; drunks get loud and rowdy at the bar. All of that is way more common and way more distracting than having a newborn in a restaurant, yet people almost never complain about it.
Again, you would probably have to look for breastfeeding in order to see it at a restaurant. I'm very surprised that a customer complained at the OP's restaurant (and I'm suspicious as to whether that's actually true--my guess is that the waitress herself had some sort of problem with the situation). My wife has breastfed in all kinds of places--restaurants, church, sidewalks, tailgate parties--without incident. Regardless, the waitress was rude and incorrect in her understanding of the law.
A few thoughts for parents of newborns:
We have found that (if your baby can handle it) going late to restaurants works pretty well. When our son was on a 24-hour nursing schedule and not sleeping through the night, anyway, we'd go out at 9 or 10pm or later. Places aren't crowded at that time, and staff tends to be a bit friendlier. Now that our boy is supposed to sleep all night long, we try to go early for dinner if we go out.
Boston and Cambridge are full of college students and hipsters, and many of them hate families and children. It's part of who they are. You have to grow a thick skin if you want to have a kid in the city. People outside the Northeast are much more welcoming to kids, and folks are great on the West Coast (outside of San Francisco). But then living in other parts of the country presents its own problems and its share of other kinds of idiots. The Boston 'burbs are much more welcoming to families than Boston and Cambridge are. Waltham has tons of places to eat, as do a lot of cities around here. Come on out.
It is awfully hard to get out to a nice place with a kid of any age. I don't know anything about the OP's restaurant, but we kind of lean toward going to the 99 down the street or the local pizza place around the corner if we're going to take the kid out. It's not fine dining (although the pizza place is darn good), but it's a night out of the house. Then again, a quiet baby can go pretty much unnoticed just about anywhere. We once took our son to Margarita's in Waltham after the main restaurant had closed and had dinner with him in the bar area, which was full of tipsy singles hitting on each other. Nobody batted an eye. Our boy was perfectly happy. It was pretty fun, actually.