Breastfeeding A Child In Childcare – 4 Questions Answered

Breastfeeding A Child In Childcare – 4 Questions Answered

Sending your child to childcare can be a stressful and daunting experience.

It might be the first time your child has spent time away from you.

If you are breastfeeding, you might have many questions about expressing, and about the storage and handling of your expressed breastmilk (EBM).

It’s a very good idea to learn all you can about the childcare centre you’re considering for your breastfed child.

This is especially important since research has found that many child care providers lack knowledge about the importance of breastfeeding, and how to handle and store EBM.

Breastfeeding A Child In Childcare

This article answers 4 questions you might have about breastfeeding and childcare.

#1: What Makes A Childcare Centre ‘Breastfeeding Friendly’?

Childcare centres which do the following are more ‘breastfeeding friendly’:

  • When you first make contact with them, they inform you that they are supportive of breastfeeding
  • There is a comfortable place set up so that mothers can express or breastfeed
  • They have a positive attitude about you leaving EBM for your child

#2: Can I Breastfeed Or Express At The Childcare Centre?

The right to breastfeed or express anywhere that suits you and your child is protected under Australia’s federal Sex Discrimination Act 1984. It’s against the law for a childcare provider to discriminate against you because you are breastfeeding. Childcare providers cannot refuse to give your child a place because he is breastfeeding. Neither can they ask you to wean when your child starts childcare. Your childcare provider must also allow you to breastfeed or express at the centre, support you to continue breastfeeding, and to provide your baby with EBM while he is in care.

#3: Are Gloves Necessary When Handling EBM?

While some childcare workers wear gloves when handling EBM (and other food), this is not necessary to protect them from disease. According to the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education:

“Although human milk is a body fluid, it is not necessary to wear gloves when feeding or handling human milk. Unless there is visible blood in the milk, the risk of exposure to infectious organisms either during feeding or from milk that the infant regurgitates is not significant.”

When handling EBM in a childcare setting, staff should:

  • Wash their hands prior to preparing and handling it
  • Label it with your child’s name, your name, and the date of expression

#4: How Should EBM Be Stored?

It’s also important that your EBM be stored correctly. You can read BellyBelly’s article called Breast Milk Storage – 14 Facts And Tips for more information.

#5: What Questions Can I Ask The Childcare Providers To Ensure They Know How To Handle My EBM Correctly?

To ensure the childcare provider knows how to  store your EBM correctly, you should first ask whether they have a breastfeeding policy. Next you can ask:

  • Whether they have a refrigerator for storing your EBM, and how the refrigerator is monitored to ensure it’s functioning optimally?
  • How they warm EBM for feeding? (It shouldn’t be microwaved!)
  • How they ensure your child gets your EBM and not another mother’s?

Hopefully this article has provided you with some useful information, so that your breastfed child can make the transition to childcare a little more smoothly.

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Renee Kam IBCLC CONTRIBUTOR

Renee Kam is mother to Jessica and Lara, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), a physiotherapist, author of 'The Newborn Baby Manual' and an Australian Breastfeeding Association Counsellor. In her spare time, Renee enjoys spending time with family and friends, horse riding, running and reading.


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