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Volume 4, Number 3 - April 2016

Are early childhood centres breastfeeding friendly?

The New Zealand Ministry of Health is quite specific on the subject of breast feeding: “The ‘naturalness’ of breastfeeding and emotional bonding with their infant are some of the reasons women intend to breastfeed.” (Arora et al., as cited in Ministry of Health [MoH], 2008). While this topic is extremely important to mothers and infants, how much do teachers understand as to the importance of this start in a child’s life, and do teachers’ have the knowledge or experience to promote the benefits of breastmilk for a child’s well-being? A subsequent question is whether teachers can follow aspirations for children to grow healthy in mind, body and spirit, when they do not have specific training or experience with breastfeeding, or have the support to manage a breastfeeding mother. This paper will look at how breastfeeding can be supported in early childhood centres, the teacher’s role(s) in supporting the child and mother, and the discourse around the use of ‘infant formula’ and feeding in child care.


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