Tips for Breastfeeding in Public

When thinking of a title for this post, naming eight tips for breastfeeding in public, I went through the list of horrible comments I’ve been told or have heard as a breastfeeding mom about the “right” place to feed a baby. Some say the bathroom. Others say in cars. I say whenever you need to, whenever your baby wants to.

The controversy over the issue is what makes most new moms leery about breastfeeding in public. But, breastfeeding in public need not be a major thing. Here are eight tips that I lived by as a new breastfeeding mom that made my experience easy.

  1. Know your rights! Forty-five states, Washington DC and the Virgin Islands all allow women to nurse in any public or private location. To find out your state’s laws, check out this site.
  2. Buy a nursing cover. Bebe Au Lait is a great company that makes nursing covers that are stylish looking, comfortable, lightweight, and easy to use. As a new mom, I lived by my Bebe Au Lait nursing cover. Using it allowed me the chance to become more comfortable with the act of breastfeeding in public
  3. Or, use a large blanket. If you don’t want to spend the money on a nursing cover, just bring a large baby blanket on your outings. When nursing, just drape it over your body.
  4. Wear breastfeeding-friendly tops. Cotton, stretchy tops allow for easy access when breastfeeding in public. Layered on top of a nursing tank, you can breastfeed discretely by lifting the top shirt and lowering the bottom shirt. This works without even using a nursing cover or blanket.
  5. Do a test run first. Try breastfeeding in “public” with family and friends using whatever method you’d use while out with strangers (i.e., with a nursing cover, blanket, or with just a nursing tank). Once you get comfortable with this, you’ll find it easier to take the plunge into true public breastfeeding.
  6. Feed your baby before they’re starving. Having to feed a crying baby with flailing arms and legs in public is hard. Period. So, be sure to pay attention to your baby’s hunger cues and feed sooner, rather than later.
  7. Learn to use a baby sling to breastfeed your baby. The Moby Wrap has a kind of wrapping hold called the “Breastfeeding hold.” Using this hold, you’ll “wear” your baby, while breastfeeding. Other baby wrap companies have similar holds, so be sure to do your homework, watch Youtube videos, and practice, practice, practice until you feel comfortable.
  8. Nurse in locations that are less busy, less full distractions. This is mainly good for your baby and you. It’s nice to nurse without all the noise and people.

Breastfeeding moms: How do you comfortably breastfeed in public? What tips would you pass on to new breastfeeding moms?


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Jessica lives in the Washington, DC metropolitan area with her husband and two girls. Once upon a time, pre-motherhood, she did many things as a “serious-looking” woman who managed to successfully balance a reality TV addiction with a career and academic pursuits. She's now a serious-acting woman whose primary job is raising her children. She writes, reads, fantasizes about minivans, and takes midday naps. She enjoys (among many other things) dancing to 80s music, photography, laughing out loud (at, usually, inappropriate moments), and writing about writing, being a writer, and becoming fearless on her blog Jessica F. Hinton

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6 Comments on "Tips for Breastfeeding in Public"

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Michelle O.

When I need to BF in public, I cover-up with a sarong instead of a blanket. They are thin enough that they fold tiny and take up almost no room in the diaper bag (or a coat pocket). They are also thin enough that they don’t overheat baby! Plus they are pretty. If baby is trying to tear the cover off, I clip it to my shirt with a hair clip.

When we visited the US last year i breastfed my 7 month old boy most everywhere. Even sitting on the floor in the immigration line (where we were stuck for 2½ hours). And hardly anyone noticed, most people thought I was just holding him. A mom of three even asked i he did’t need to feed, and I said “I’m (breast)feeding him right now” and she looked at me like she didn’t believe me. My tip is to wear a looser top over a tight strechy tank-top whith 2(-3) inch slits cut over the nipples (and a good nursing bra… Read more »

My biggest tip is make sure you are comfortable. If you aren’t comfortable, it will be hard for baby to nurse. I breastfeed my babies anywhere and everywhere….though I’ve never done it in a bathroom. A comfortable place to sit with no one sitting in my elbow space is best for me. And if I am shopping, I usually breastfeed in the car because the steering wheel entertains my toddler while I feed the baby.


I refuse to nurse in a bathroom. It is just nasty. I usually will just use my nursing cover if I am in a resteraunt but in a store I will go in a dressing room. They usually have a seat and my crazy baby can be uncovered.

I’ve breastfed all 3 of my kids till they were 2. My oldest being 16 and the youngest 18 months. With the oldest no nursing cover. I was always in bathrooms, car, empty room. With my current little one I bf anywhere ask the time. With my bebe Au lait. Just place him in my ergo and go about my business in public. Just looks like he’s sleeping and wants privacy. Best tip, if you don’t have nursing tanks I use stretchy material tank tops under all my tops makes me feel more discreet and secure that my stuff isn’t… Read more »

– If you notice people staring, make eye contact with them and smile (a nice smile). People will smile and then look away.
– Just keep doing it, the more you do it the easier it will get and you will find yourself nursing all kinds of places!
– I actually find it easier to nurse discretely in busier places. The busier it is the less likely I am to be noticed.