Taking Baby Out in Public

Updated on February 04, 2013
H.P. asks from Lynchburg, VA
35 answers

I am a new mom, and I hesitate to bring LO out in public b/c I'm breastfeeding pretty much on demand and I'm scared that we'll be out and he'll wake up crying for food, and then I'm stuck with a fussy baby until I can get home to feed him. Yes, I do pump and I could bring a bottle, but if he doesn't get hungry and it's past the time of the milk being good, I will have wasted breast milk.

I don't want to have to have a sitter every time I have a Dr's appt, or need to get out and run errands. I feel like FF babies are easier b/c you can just bring formula and mix with water and be set.

Like today, I have to go to an eye Dr. @ 11:30. LO just ate @ 10 (previously ate@ 7:30). If he does the same as before, then 12:30 would be time he will probably be hungry again. BUT babies change what times they want to eat, so he could want it sooner and I'll be stuck without being able to comfort him until I can get home. Sometimes I just want to try and feed him right before I leave so I know he's full, but I don't want to do that b/c i don't like the idea of forcing him to eat.

ADD: Well, he's not the greatest latcher at times, so if I need to help him out, I'm afraid the blanket might fall and I'll be exposed. I feel like it's a tricky thing to do, haha. And maybe it's where I live, but I have never seen anyone doing it in public, although I'm all for it. I guess my issue is still what to do if I'm at the Dr's where they have to check me out...I can't just stop in the middle and go feed him...or do people do that?...

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So What Happened?

I fed LO an hour after his last feed, @ 11:10 and had to pull him off in time to leave, then went to appt @ 11:30. Of course he started fussing while waiting, then calmed himself, then fussed more.../h finally quieted but I offered both pacifier and bottle of breast milk, which he wouldn't take since it was cold. So it was funny that I tried to prevent it but didn't. I got home shortly after and fed him. I am just going to have to pop the boob out in the future...thanks for all the help!

Featured Answers



answers from Baton Rouge on

I took mine out at three weeks old, breast fed in public as soon as she indcated that she was hungry, and managed to do so without covering her head witgh a blanket and without flashing passersby.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

You'll adjust with time. And yes, you can stop in the middle of an appointment. You can also offer food while you are waiting for the Dr to come into the room.

Offering food isn't forcing them to eat, it's offering them food. How often has someone asked you if you wanted something to eat, and you ended up eating even though you didn't think you were hungry? It's no different.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Houston on

I nurse in public. Sure it is kind of awkward and I mean that literally. It is hard to get comfortable and settled for the nursing session. I use a nursing cover because I think it stays in place well. In a pinch I have used a blanket, though. It's really no big deal. Honestly I don't think most people even realize what you are doing and if they do, they don't say or do anything. They understand you are feeding your baby. No different than a bottle. Nursing in your car is great too. I have settled down more than once between errands or just as a means to get out of the house. I can play the radio and relax.

I have two funny stories about nursing in public. The first time I ever nursed in public was during a trip to the art museum with my three week old. I settled down in this gorgeous hall full of amazing art and was nursing happily and looking around. This teen couple came up to me and asked where a certain exhibit hall was. The teen boy finally clued in to what I was doing and became enormously flustered. It was really pretty funny since I am not sure exactly was going through his mind. The other was when I went to the zoo with my family recently. I parked myself on a bench in an out of the way corner. Just when I got settled down three zoo keepers showed up with an animal on a leash and stood right in front of me. They proceeded to draw a crowd of forty or so zoo patrons. All of whom were staring right at me. For about twenty minutes the South American ant eater and I were on display. My husband was in the crowd smirking at me. Oh well. I noticed all of the adults patrons ignored me out of respect/privacy while the kids were clueless.

Oh, I have flashed a boob once or twice. Who cares? I figure if you don't like what you see, stop looking. It's just a boob. Half the population has a set.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I have nursed in every public place you can think of...yes..even a bathroom. I was an on demand breast feeder with my 3 kids.

I had to get over my modesty of not wanting to nurse in public. It came down to the fact that my boobs were a food source for my babies..just as a bottle is. I found that once I got the hang of it I could whip em' out and feed discreetly and one could pass by and not even notice. Most people/doctors don't want a screaming baby in the room while they are examining you so they are fine with you feeding and can give you a few extra minutes...or they can work around you as you are nursing(depending what kind of exam is taking place. Hard to do if you are in the stirrups ;))

If you strictly feed at home then you will be stuck in your house constantly. M.'s got a life to lead!! Especially with all those early dr. appt.

I tried scheduling my own doctor's appts around baby's sleeping schedule. Usually they would eat really good at that time then get drowsy and I knew they'd sleep good through my entire examination.

Good luck and best wishes.. you are new to it...cut yourself some slack,relax and don't worry about what others may think. Think about the needs of your baby first.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

You have the right to breastfeed him whenever and wherever you are when he happens to get hungry. I'm a huge prude, but God gave us breasts for feeding our babies, and if I could nurse, I'd do it without worrying about what others around me are thinking. Just bring a light blanket to cover yourself for decency's sake and you should be fine.

ETA: Like another lady suggested, get an Udder Cover, as it stays secured in case you need to do some shifting to help him latch. They're inexpensive, and very worthwhile.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Indianapolis on

Buy a nursing cover. Or layer your clothes. Pull the bottom shirt down and the top one up. You can do a blanket or burp rag, too. I've done them all.

Which is more important : your baby or complete strangers?

I always nursed on demand. Never ran home for feedings. Never gave a bottle or formula. It *can* happen. I was shy with my first child. You think everyone's watching you. But they're not! With my second I never once hesitated to pop that boob out, lol.

Last October I saw a woman nursing her baby at the pumpkin patch. She had her shirt yanked up and was walking around. All I thought was "Dude, isn't she cold!?" :)

9 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Honestly, I found it incredibly easy to nurse modestly.

When my son was tiny, I had a nursing shawl -- a lightweight piece of fabric with a piece of velcro in one corner. I attached the velcro to my shoulder and nursed my son under that. They sell these at Babies R Us.

After a while, I realized that it was even easier to wear a loose, floppy shirt and tuck my son's head under that. This gave new life to my old maternity shirts, and my son didn't mind a bit.

A grand total of once, I think, I thought, "Oh for God's sakes, the baby's starving, who cares what people see?" and showed a tiny amount of skin. The earth continued to turn and has been doing so ever since :)

I understand your desire to be modest, but it's so easy to cover up when nursing, I really don't see this as a good reason to switch to formula.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

Why don't you want to breast feed in public? If you are uncomfortable, bring a blanket to cover. If you're worried about what others will think, then don't be. No one would expect you to hide in a bathroom or make your baby wait to eat if you were bottle feeding.

I never worried about breastfeeding in public. I was discreet about it, but I didn't cover up either. But I am not big breasted either, so it wasn't an issue. Most of the time people didn't even know I was feeding my baby.

We come equipped with these very convenient parts for feeding babies, which if you ask me is a whole lot easier than formula feeding. Breast-feeding is the most natural thing in the world, and healthiest thing you can do for your baby. If people in public don't like it, they can put a blanket over THEIR heads.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

One of the added benefits of breastfeeding is that you can do it ANYWHERE at anytime. You don't need anything special. Just your boob.
I have nursed everywhere. Even with a child who didn't latch good. If you are at the dr's office today and the baby gets hungry just pop him on. Dr's have seen breasts, mothers struggling to get babies on, and have no issues with it, I promise.
If your little one is really little it sounds like first time mama jitters. I get that, I had them too. But pretty soon your baby is going to get the hang of it and you'll be an old pro.
Take him out!

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Janesville-Beloit on

It can be intimidating at first, but if you just nurse him in public a couple of times, you will feel less trapped at home. Bring a blanket to cover if you feel self conscious. With my first I was so nervous to nurse in public, but now with my 2nd she ends up getting fed everywhere-Target, playgroup, restaurants.....
Good luck!

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Eugene on

Do they still have La Leche League? If you go out with other nursing moms you'll get to see how other mom's handle the blanket/cover trick. It's easy and once you get the hang of it, it's second nature. It would be nice for you to find a playgroup with other nursing moms There's safety in numbers, you will be surrounded by other women and children who won't care if you are fumbling with a latching baby and the other moms can help you if you need it. Go out, enjoy the world with your little one.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Why don't you feed him in public? If you feel awkward about it you could bring a blanket so you can do so discreetly and it would make your life and your baby's life much easier.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I breastfed three babies and it was never a problem, we went everywhere. I didn't use a blanket though because I felt like that was drawing MORE attention to what I was doing. I had a few nursing tops which were awesome (www.motherwear.com) but usually I just lifted the top I was wearing, taking care to not flash anyone my boob. Practice at home in front of the mirror if it helps you feel more comfortable.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I breast fed all my babies in public. Of course I was discreet as much as possible. At a Dr office you could ask to nurse him in a room.

Don't ever feel intimidated about nursing your baby in public. One of the best things about nursing is that you don't have to pack bottles.

ETA: Nursing at the Doctors office is the best, they try to get you in and out. If it's close to nursing time, simply say "I hope he can last thru this appointment cause it's close to feeding time". They don't want a screaming baby for all their patients to hear. They typically will get you in sooner.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Trust me, formula is not easier than the ready-to-go warm milk from the boob! :)

You need a hooter hider. There are so many different styles out there, just google it. This one looks like it would totally stay in place:


6 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Oh honey. I feel for you. But, just start feeding baby in public and it will get easier.

I always tried to feed before leaving, for ease I guess... but there were times when it did not work out...

I remember arriving at the dentists office and having to feed baby #2 before my cleaning (husband had the stomach flu - he was supposed to be my helper that day)...

Another time I remember feeding baby #3 DURING an eye exam! I told my doctor that he could either 1) wait for me to feed... 2) listen to a screaming baby or 3) let me feed her during the exam. He picked 3.

I lived in D.C. when I had baby #1, and I fed everywhere. At the restaurant, at the park, at the museum...

Practice makes perfect.

Try wearing a nursing tank under a shirt you can lift to feed. That way your tummy and back are covered during a feeding. I always just lifted and got latched under a blanket to start, but once feeding was going - I didn't use a blanket anymore.

And, really, if baby unlatches, and your shirt is right there, it's pretty hard for anyone to see anything.

This is just for fun. I saw this yesterday - it's a great blog post on nursing in Las Vegas...


Good luck!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

I have an uttercover. It's got a strap that goes around your neck so it won't fall lieaving you exposed. And drs understand if you need to feed your baby.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

You should look into getting a Bebe au Lait nursing cover. They're wonderful, because the neck has plastic or wire or something in it that bows it out so that you can always see Baby and Baby can see you, but you're completely covered. I tried several brands of covers without success, but this one was fantastic, even for my daughter, who hated to have her face covered.

If you aren't willing to breastfeed in public, you're going to find yourself extremely limited. I was shy about it with my first, too, but as long as you are modest and covered, most people really don't even notice.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Important question - is he easy to feed or is there an issue where you feel you need to be home to nurse?

The thing about nursing is you can feed him ANYWHERE as long as you are comfortable. You don't have to carry ANYTHING, you just have to be comfortable to nurse, and modest enough for your and others comfort.

I breastfed my son for 2.5 years, and I fed him when he was hungry. I did have problems when he was small because I had been sick, so I did do formula for a while. I enjoyed being able to feed him whenever more than having to worry about keeping the formula cool, etc.

I had a nursing cover that was very lightweight and covered me and the baby. You can get them at baby stores, and maybe even Target.

This is what I did. If I were shopping at a place like Target, I'd go to the dressing room area and nurse him in the dressing room. If I were at a food store, I would look for a cafe and find a booth in the back, sit with my back to the restaurant area and nurse. If I were at a place where it wasn't convenient to nurse, but I knew there was a fast food place nearby or somewhere I could sit, I went there. I lived in LA and nursed him at a baseball game - nobody knew. I nursed him on a park bench, I nursed him walking down the street in NYC in an Ergo Baby carrier. I wore bigger shirts so I could cover with that. I think you could maybe use a chip clip or something like that to attach the blanket to your shoulder so it won't fall and you'll feel less nervous about it falling at the wrong moment.

If you are an an eye doc appointment, you would be able to nurse him there. All you have to do is ask, and they would probably give you a room to nurse him. You could nurse him a bit before you are brought in. Most eye doc appointments aren't that long, really. And if your eye doc is a woman, and especially a mom, she will understand.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I was a bit like you with my first baby. I wasn't self conscious or modest as much as I was worried about making someone ELSE feel uncomfortable. Then on a packed airplane flight, I asked the flight attendant if there was someplace a little more discret to nurse than the aisle seat next to a bunch of men. She suggested I nurse my son in the bathroom of all places! (Fortunately another flight attendant heard this and let me use the jump seat in the back instead). That was the moment I got over it.

Seriously, get a nursing cover. They have some with wires, so you can see baby and the blanket isn't covering baby's face. Find an out of the way spot and go for it.

For appointments where you are worried about being interrupted, try feeding baby right before you go in to the appointment. I wouldn't do that every time you leave though, but maybe before seeing a doctor.

You can pump and bring a bottle just in case.

ANd I nursed a lot in my car. No one will see anything and most won't care. Sometimes, you just can't find a place to sit and I was never good at walking and nursing. ;) The car is a bit more discrete if you are really modest.

Don't be a prisoner to your house mama. It's unnecessary.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

I took my babies everywhere and anywhere. They were breastfed and never took a bottle. I fed them anywhere there was a place to sit down, but I also nursed while walking through the grocery store. I had a little blanket with a snap that did up around my neck so it wouldn't fall off. After a couple of months I didn't even need the blanket because I was able to nurse discreetly enough without it. (I don't have huge boobs, so babies head always blocked the view.) Sometimes baby had to wait a little bit to get fed, like if I was checking out at the grocery store, or driving in traffic, but it doesn't hurt them. Women breastfeed in public all the time here, but most women are able to do it so discreetly (with a little practice) that you would never notice that is what they are doing. One of the benefits of breastfeeding is that it is so portable. Don't mess around with bottles if you can breastfeed!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

The other thing I would suggest is that instead of thinking about *you* put the focus on your son. so, it's not about *you breastfeeding* it's about that *your son needs to eat*.

I wasn't able to breastfeed very long.... and it was pretty intimidating.... but I found that once I switched my focus from me to her..... it was easier for me to advocate for the anywhere/anytime/in front of anyone mentality.

And yes, if you are the Dr where they have to check you out (or the store etc) you would have the same reaction as if, say, he had any other *need*. Assess it. Can he wait? Can you? If yes, finish what you're doing. If not, simply excuse yourself, find a location and do it. Same as if your baby has an *accident*. Sometimes you have a couple minutes and sometimes you have to go RIGHT THEN and diaper change. eating is sort of the same thing. Sometimes you can *talk* your baby into a 10 min wait.... but sometimes you can't.

As far as formula vs breast...... even if you were FF, you would still have to take a couple minutes, unzip the bag, pull out the bottle, pull out the powder, mix it together, give to baby. It's roughly the same amount of time.... and you can't really do that at the checkout counter either...... so there ISN'T really much more convenience either way.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Part of demand feeding IS feeding in public.
I have seen Mom's in the back corner of the bookstore,
back corner of a restaurant (sit facing the wall).
Stores have dressing rooms.
Babies R Us has a room that you can use for feeding.
Sit in the back of your car with a blanket over you.
You just have to decide what works best for you and your situation.

As for taking a bottle with you, do you have a small insulated bottle bag that you can put an ice pack in? That would keep it good for a few hours.

I am not a fan of bfeeding in public, esp when I saw a lady on the DC Metro doing it among a bunch of male riders, but a feeding baby is better than a hungry baby. I probably wouldn't have minded if she had been in the back part of the train where people aren't towering over you, or have even noticed if her Mom hadn't kept drawing attention to her.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I did. "Wearing" my baby usually meant that he wasn't so quick to cry when he did wake, giving me a few minutes to get to a corner where I could feed him. I used a cover. Also, my car windows are tinted. There was even a window of a couple of months when he could feed while I walked around doing my thing.

Wherever I went, I made sure to seek out space for feeding. When baby wasn't with me, I carried my pump with me. I would do it in the car. I sat at the eye doctor's office for about six hours one day, and when it was time to pump, I asked them for a room. When I went to a football game with my husband, I asked the attendant to find me a room to pump.

When it's something that you need to do, you'll find a way to make it happen. Don't feel intimidated.

Congratulations on the new baby!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

How old is your baby? As he gets older and stronger, he may become better at latching on and being able to nurse on the go. I was able to breastfeed my daughter while carrying her in the Bjorn or Ergo. It was perfectly discreet - usually no one could tell. And I definitely had a nursing cover ready. So much easier than a blanket.

A doctor's appointment isn't going to run so long that your baby will starve if you can't feed him right away. And if it is, I'd imagine I'd feel the least embarrassed about nursing in front of the staff of a doctor's office than almost anyone else. There's nothing they aren't used to seeing there, I'm sure.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Breastfeed in the car or the bathroom is you are nervous about doing it in public. They have great breast feeding coverups (not just blankets) that you can use and still be discrete. Get a faux nipple to put on your breast to help him latch. I used this with my daughter for three months and then she latched just fine after that. What is GREAT about breastfeeding is that you DO NOT need to take bottles, formula, water, etc with you all the time. You have your milk with YOU! Think of it that way.! I do just stop and feed as needed with my little ones. If you are at the doctor, ask if you can feed baby before you leave the room.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kalamazoo on

You need a sling it carrier with a nursing hood. Then you can nurse and no one will ever know. Also, it helps to wear a tank top under a tshirt, then just pull up your shirt and use it to cover baby. Its scary at first nursing in public, but it gets easier. If you use a sling or carrier, you can even nurse while you grocery shop.

If you absoutely cant bring yourself to nurse in public, you can always bring formula when you go out and nurse at home. Some breastmilk is better than none. Thats what I did with my first dd, with #2 I could care less and just nurse him wherever whenever. Check out the new luvs commercial on you tube that shows the mom nursing, its hilarious.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I always just nursed my babies wherever we happened to be when they needed it. There's nursing clothes with slits and things, but they never worked for me... I have heard they work well for women who are shaped differently though.

My advice is to practice nursing discretely at home, possibly even in front of a mirror. With a bit of practice, it gets fairly easy to not show much skin, even with large breasts. Good luck

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Raleigh on

I was never able to breastfeed in public. When I was breastfeeding, I wore a 36J cup. There is no "discreet" to breastfeeding a baby with my enormous breasts. It took two hands to get everything out and ready and I had to have a nursing pillow to support the baby because it took one hand to support my breast. In short, it wasn't happening in a public place.
If I took my babies with me, I would often breastfeed in the car in the back part of the parking lot. Other times, esp when I had dr appts, I would arrange for a sitter, go to the dr appointment, and then run my errands. Once I even arranged multiple appts on the same day. This way I could knock everything out at once. You may just have to fine tune your scheduling if feeding in public makes you uncomfortable.
Hope this helps!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

If you are bringing a bottle of breastmilk with you, and he takes a bottle fine... then all you have to do is:
put the bottle of breastmilk in a small insulated lunch bag with a blue-ice ice pack in it, to keep it cold.
Then that way, your breastmilk will not go bad.
And you can still feed it to him.

I used to nurse my kids, in the car, or in a changing room at a clothing store. I'd make like I have clothes to try on, etc.
And I would nurse in there.

Or just get a babysitter.

Yes, babies feed on demand and often. So yes, that is a thing we Moms do the best we can, when having to go out.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

it is tricky...you'll get it!

the biggest thing i remember doing the first few weeks was getting him on that "routine". that was especially important for me because i had to go back to work - for you i don't know, but this is just another example why it's a good idea. and it is better for baby too. if you know you have an appointment, you can offer him milk right before and it will probably tide you over for an hour or two. hang in there!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I nursed before we went out, and if convenient and necessary i nursed him in public covering up with a hooter hider. I did it in public all the time, and i still do (restaurants, shopping malls, parks), nobody cares, you are covered up anyway. Practice by sitting in an uncrowded place, like a small restaurant, first if you are uncomfortable nursing in public. Regarding bottled milk, you can keep it at room temperature for about 5 or 6 hours, so take a bottle with you but dont put it in ice. Regarding latching, have you tried using the plastic piece over your nipple or talking to a lactation consultant? He might be feeding frequently because he isnt filing up bc of the bad latch. Good luck, and thats great ur breastfeeding!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Pump, Your breast milk will be fine for a while.. If he does not get hungry, throw it out. You have plenty to pump again..



answers from Washington DC on

Hi! I would run to the car and nurse the baby there if you can, since it's more private and you'll have the heat/AC if you need it. Going to the Dr. I would nurse the baby right before we left, whether she was hungry or not (she'd usually eat some), then in the exam room while waiting for the Dr. Dr's have seen it all- so most of the time I wouldn't even cover up- most of my visits those early days were the OB and the pediatrician.
You can get a secure nursing cover online, Bebe Au Lait has nice ones, I got a cheap one that did the trick at Babies R Us, and I nursed the baby everywhere we went and no one ever said a thing.

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