Breastfeeding · Parenting

Breastfeeding in public

Toddler breastfeeding on subway

Many mothers are comfortable breastfeeding in public. But maybe that’s not you.

If you feel anxious about breastfeeding in public these tips can help you:

  • Get comfortable with breastfeeding your baby at home with your family and friends before you breastfeed in public.
  • Wear comfortable clothes, a loose fitting top, or a breastfeeding top.
  • Use a blanket or scarf if you want to cover up.
  • Choose a quiet public place to breastfeed.
  • Just do it!

You can also call or attend our free breastfeeding clinics and support groups to discuss your breastfeeding concerns.

What if someone asks you to stop breastfeeding in public?

You have the right to breastfeed in public anytime, anywhere. According to the Ontario Human Rights Commission, no one should stop you from breastfeeding your child, or ask you to cover up or move you to another place to breastfeed. You do not have to respond to anyone who criticizes you for breastfeeding in public. However, if someone asks you to stop breastfeeding in public:

  1. Do what you need to do so that you can breastfeed your child comfortably.
  2. Talk to the owner, manager, or the individual who asked you to stop breastfeeding. Tell the person:
    • It is your right to breastfeed in public.
    • You will make a complaint to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario if you are asked again to leave, move or cover up.
  3. Follow up with a letter to the owner or manager. Explain what happened and inform the person that it is your right to breastfeed in public.
  4. Follow up with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal of Ontarioor call 1-866-598-0322.

How do I make a complaint?

You can make a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario by filling out an application. You may also talk to the Human Rights Legal Support Centre for advice or assistance.  You can call the centre at 1-866-625-5179 to speak with a Human Rights Advisor.

Remember you are meeting your baby’s needs. It isn’t possible to stay home all the time and you should feel free to breastfeed your baby in public. You can talk to other breastfeeding moms about how they have handled criticism in public. While no one should ever criticize you for breastfeeding your baby in public, it might help to know ahead of time what other moms have done.

What if eating a sandwich in public got the same reaction as breastfeeding in public?

For more breastfeeding information and support, chat live with a Public Health Nurse or call (416) 338-7600.

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