How Can Lactation Professionals Help Make Child Care Centers Breastfeeding-Friendly?

edited stormy cover pic

Guest Post by Stormy Miller, CLC

February 27, 2015

Why should daycares, nurseries and child care centers support their breastfeeding families and create a breastfeeding-friendly site?

In short, the payoff is significant.

Child Care Centers can see savings and benefits from breastfeeding in areas like:

  • Better daily attendancebreastfeeding_welcome_here_stickers
  • Less spit-up, reflux and GERD
  • Less offensive diaper smell
  • Healthier newborns, infants and children
  • Public image boost for center
  • Builds trust and communication with parents
  • Encourages centers and its employees to be up-to-date on current breastfeeding information and practices related to child care and development
  • Centers under the USDA Child Nutrition Program (or similar programs) may get reimbursed if parents do not use the provided food (as they are instead using expressed breast milk)

Having a breastfeeding-friendly daycare, nursery or child care center will not only help support the mother in reaching her breastfeeding goals, but it will also increase breastfeeding rates and lead to healthier people. Hopefully, this in turn will help reach the Healthy People 2020 goals.

How do we create a breastfeeding-friendly center?

  • Education is key! Staff and employees not only need to know the benefits of breast milk but also how to bottle feed breastfed babies (called paced bottle feeding) and how to store and handle breast milk (more on this below). They also need to know that from 1 – 6 months of age, breastfed babies do not need increased quantities of milk because breast milk changes composition to meet infants’ needs – so unlike formula, volume does not increase. Many assume that as babies grow, they need greater quantities of milk and this is not true in the case of breastfed babies.
  • Paced Bottle Feeding – This is a method of bottle feeding that mimics breastfeeding. The baby controls the feeding, just like at the breast, which is not only healthier for the infant’s digestive tract, but it helps protect the breastfeeding relationship. See here for videos on how to do Paced Bottle Feeding.

  • Feed on demand – Watch for hunger cues instead of scheduled feedings. In fact, most infants will begin to put themselves on a general schedule (e.g. 3 oz every 3 hours).
  • Develop a communication plan with parents – What should be done if breast milk is gone? Does mom want to bring in an emergency freezer stash that is clearly labeled for cases like this? When should this freezer bag be de-thawed and does mom want to be contacted in this case? What does mom want done if baby is acting hungry and she will not arrive for another hour? Have a clear plan and be aware of both parties’ expectations.
  • Do not give any bottle within 1 hour of mom’s arrival if possible– This way baby will be ready for mom (as long as this is outlined in communication plan).
  • Know proper breast milk storage and handing guidelines, including  how to properly thaw and warm up breast milk.– see here and here and here.
    • Guideline charts are great to print and put on all of the refrigerators!
  • milk labelsEstablish proper and correct labeling procedures in place for breast milk. Ensure  all staff understand protocol and labeling techniques and that parents are educated on labeling protocol as well.
  • Ask the mother to bring her milk in small amounts (2-3oz. in each bag) to avoid unnecessary wastage – especially if regulations require throwing out bottles that are not finished within 1 hour.
  • Offer to keep breast milk in the mother’s cooler, if her baby has not finished it within the 1 hour rule.
  • Baby-wear – wear infants in wraps, slings, etc. Studies show baby-wearing keeps babies calmer, less colicky, promotes physical development, increases trust and attachment and promotes breastfeeding; in addition to helping employees multi-task with multiple children. See here and here and here. Some cities, counties and or state regulating agencies do not allow baby-wearing, so always check with your regulatory agency first to ensure you are abiding by current regulations.
  • Have free breastfeeding materials and how-to guides available for caregivers here and breastfeeding families here (hard copy), here (electronic) and here readily available and accessible. These are just some examples of what’s available.
  • Create a community breastfeeding resource guide – let parents and caregivers know what type of help is available in their own communities. This can include local breastfeeding support groups, WIC offices, lactation consultants, breastfeeding peer counselors, breastfeeding classes, Baby Cafés, etc.

    Click on book!

  • Normalize breast feeding for all – infants, children, parents, employees, etc. Have children’s books that discuss breastfeeding or show illustrations of breastfeeding. This demonstrates that nursing is the natural and healthiest way of feeding. Some examples available: Mama’s Milk, Nursies When the Sun Shines, The Mystery of the Breast, We Like to Nurse, We Like to Nurse Too, Mommy Breastfeeds My Baby BrotherMichele: The Nursing Toddler – A Story about Sharing Love

 Last but not least, provide a comfortable, practical space for pumping and nursing – for both nursing mothers, staff and employees. Many mothers will nurse at drop-off and, if their work allows, will pop in during the day to nurse their baby. What can be included in a pumping/nursing space? Here are some ideas: 

ACES Lactation Room, Peoria, AZ http://austincenters.com/

Lactation Room at Austin Centers for Exceptional Students (ACES) Peoria, AZ http://austincenters.com/

  • A room with a locking door, a comfortable chair – perhaps with a footstool, outlet for the pump, table to set the pump on, a mini fridge or fridge access, a sink (or access to one), a CD player or I-pod dock for relaxing music and mini heater for cold rooms can also be beneficial.
  • If possible, a microwave for sanitizing (with the microwave bags). Hand sanitizer and/or sanitizing wipes.
  • Even better – providing extra storage bags and bottles for milk collection in case the mother forgets hers at home.
  • If a workplace has multiple pumpers, they could consider investing in and supplying a hospital-grade multi-user pump. This will enable mothers and staff to pump efficiently and effectively – thus saving time and ensuring they maintain their milk supply. A win-win for all!


If you would like to write a guest post or collaborate on a post for Galactablog, please contact me with your ideas! I am open, flexible and very interested in helping you publish anything lactation-related.

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Free Webinar: Business Case for Breastfeeding

floridaDo you want to learn how to promote and support breastfeeding-friendly businesses in your community? Do you have businesses contacting you, asking how they can become more breastfeeding-friendly? If so, you may be interested to know that the Florida Breastfeeding Coalition, Inc. is hosting a FREE webinar on Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at 12:00 PM EST.

From Florida Breastfeeding Coalition, Inc – Learn about DHHS new platform of tools to use to promote and support employers being breastfeeding friendly. Focus on rejuvenating Florida’s Business Case for Breastfeeding efforts to get more businesses on board with becoming a Breastfeeding Friendly Employer. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. 

Business Case for Breastfeeding: Free Lactation Support Toolkit

Do you have breastfeeding mothers asking you how to they should approach their employer about pumping and even wondering if they can continue to breastfeed once they go back to work?

Do you have employers contacting you, asking how they can how they can better support their breastfeeding employees, how to assess their current lactation program or even wondering what lactation policies to put into place?

Whatever the case, check out the Business Case for Breastfeeding, a free lactation support toolkit put out by the U.S Health and Human ServicesIt gives not only provides awesome, helpful tools (in the form of handouts and brochures) for families to make the case for breastfeeding to their employer, but it gives resources for employers as well. All are free to to download, print and distribute.

This lactation support toolkit also has a section of resources specifically geared towards lactation and health professionals in order to support outreach with businesses – including marketing guides and presentations.