Announcing 1-855-NIP-FREE: the Best for Babes “Nursing In Public” Harassment Hotline

Best for Babes is excited to announce our newest undertaking, a Nursing In Public (NIP) incident reporting hotline! Best for Babes is taking action against nursing in public harassment. We believe in protecting the legal, civil and human rights of breastfeeding moms and babies!

Best for Babes is the first consumer-driven cause focused on righting the wrongs and the harm done to the millions of moms and babies who each year suffer from the Breastfeeding Booby Traps(R) — the cultural, legal and institutional barriers that prevent them from achieving their personal breastfeeding goals which include making moms feel lousy about engaging in a behavior which is as good for us all as exercise and as instinctive as hugging.   The fact is  moms in the USA endure an obstacle course of Booby Traps trying to get breastfeeding going (relatively very few succeed —  60% of moms report not meeting their personal goals) and the lucky few who make it are being bullied and even discriminated against for feeding their babies in public.   How can we let this happen?  Mothers and babies are our most vulnerable and precious population and they deserve full cultural, institutional, and legal support –cheering, coaching and celebration — certainly not degradation and sabotage.

As a breastfeeding mother of four, I have managed to dodge several Booby Traps and to succeed despite facing many oppositions.  Aside from the eye-rolls and stink stares many moms get while nursing in public, I faced harassment while shopping at Target with my infant. I have used the Target incident as fuel to advocate for lasting change.

Now that I volunteer for Best For Babes as their Director of Take Action (Activism), I get calls from moms across the country who have faced NIP harassment, who want support from someone who has walked in their shoes, and suggestions on how they too can harness their energy to help other mothers and babies by strengthening legislation, raising awareness about the rights of the breastfeeding pair, and fixing this problem!

I tell the moms I speak with that until we have a federal law that covers breastfeeding harassment and discrimination, until existing laws in 48 states which do make breastfeeding in public a legal right are all changed to include enforcement provisions, until businesses institute not only breastfeeding policies, but training sessions to educate and sensitize their employees about how to treat breastfeeding customers to go along with those policies, our deep cultural prejudices will bleed through and this problem will persist.   The question then became how do we influence and expedite the change we so badly need?

The Best for Babes NIP Hotline 855-NIP-FREE will revolutionize and increase our chances of quickly and more effectively accomplishing broad and lasting societal change!

What is the hotline? 

The hotline is the one place to report and the one place to record NIP incidents. We believe having records of as many incidents as possible, even if the mom chooses not to take action on her own, will be instrumental as proof when we take big steps, like encouraging companies or legislators to make real changes. Documenting for the media, moms, companies and our legislators of exactly how many problems mothers have is something we haven’t had before.  With this form of organization, the potential is BIG!

How does it work?

  • Moms who have been victimized through a NIP incident will call 855-NIP-FREE and report the issue to Best For Babes.
  • When moms call our hotline, you’ll be asked to record a message, giving us some information about what you experienced.
  • One of the members of our team will return the call of that mother. Our team is comprised of influential and well-versed moms who have faced NIP harassment themselves, who have begun advocating for either corporate policy change or improvements of state breastfeeding legislation, and who most importantly can offer support to moms faced with NIP harassment. Rest assured everyone manning the phones and having access to the information you give us truly has your best interest at heart, and most of us have been exactly where you are.
  • Our volunteers are there to help aggrieved mothers understand what their rights are, to help moms navigate through their situation and suggest ways to approach the offending institution, as well as refer moms to become active in their state breastfeeding coalitions.  We want to help be a guiding hand in what can be a very frustrating and emotional time.
  • All of the incidents will be recorded but your personal information will be kept private.

Who is behind the scene making this work?

Beyond the volunteer moms who are returning calls, the Hotline is being overseen by the Best for Babes Take Action Steering Committee — a powerful alliance of  breastfeeding advocates and influential media partners and bloggers, including Best for Babes Founders Bettina Forbes and Danielle Rigg, Peggy O’Mara of Mothering.com, Jodine Chase, facilitator of the Facebook! Stop Harassing campaign, Annie Urban of PhD in Parenting, Robyn Roche-Paul of Breastfeeding  in Combat Boots, Michelle Hickman aka The Target Mom and BFB Director of Activism, Marsha Walker of the United States Breastfeeding Committee (and Best for Babes Board Member), Christie Haskell of Daily Momtra, and Emily Mohajeri Norris (aka the Pottery Barn Mom) of Breastfeeding Friendly.  Our Take Action Committee will be consulted about every phone call, every incident.  As they say, there’s more strength in numbers and if the company you keep within those numbers includes the kind of mama power we’ve assembled, we are destined to succeed at creating lasting change!

How can YOU make sure this work?

Share, share, share! Help us get the word out about our hotline, so all moms know this resource is available to them! If you see on a forum, or hear while you’re out and about, about a mom having faced discrimination, let her know we’re here to help! The more accurate and comprehensive our database, the more firepower we have when we fight for change!

Also, please consider giving $5 to keep it alive! Donations from moms (or anyone!) will help us make sure we can keep our hotline going, and get phone calls returned to moms quickly! We’ll also have bumper stickers and business cards with the phone number, so you can hand them out to anyone you see nursing her baby.

We encourage all organizations to join us and to promote the use of the hotline.

What the hotline isn’t

Unfortunately, as much as we’d love to talk about breastfeeding in general – and we do! — we are not able to answer your calls about breastfeeding concerns or offer medical advice. For questions of that nature we encourage you to contact your local La Leche League or Breastfeeding USA chapter, contact an IBCLC, or go to www.4women.gov.

Neither Take Action nor the Harassment Hotline are intended to provide legal counsel or advice though we do have a Legal Advisory Steering Committee.


Thank you for breastfeeding! cards



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18 Comments | Last revised on 10/02/2012


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18 Responses to Announcing 1-855-NIP-FREE: the Best for Babes “Nursing In Public” Harassment Hotline

  1. karrie says:

    I seen this post on facebook and love it…when i was nursing my daughter and son i felt like evryone was always looking at me like “what is she doing” i wouldn’t go out because i was worried i would need to nurse and there was never a place to feel comfortabe enough to do it…breastfeeding is so very important for mom and baby and if more people wouldnt make people feel bad about it maybe more moms would do it..i breastfeed both my kids for about 2 years they never had a drop of formula. i hope u guys can get some new laws in place.

  2. Luna CarlIsle says:

    left a voicemail regarding breastfeeding harassment by a delta flight attendant that involved her physically covering my baby and me twice, despite my clear objection.

    • Jeannette says:

      That is so sad. I’m so sorry you had to deal with that. I hope you were able to talk to a supervisor about it. I’d be so irate I’d have a mind to sue that person (and I think lawsuits are usually pointless).

    • Mary McDowell says:

      Luna we recieved your message and have been trying to get back with you!! We called you and left two messages on your voicemail. If you can call back into the hotline and let us know the best time to reach you or a better number or send an email to michelle@bestforbabes.org.

  3. Ceciley says:

    It’s funny that I’m seeing this today. Until yesterday, I’d never been harassed for NIP. DD is 8 months old and REFUSES to be covered up. So i try to find a spot out of the way and nurse her. Yesterday I was in the mall when DD got hungry and fussy and tired. I grabbed a table at the food court where no one was sitting directly beside me in any way, though there were tables that were in the row that were occupied. I started nursing my baby. Within 5 minutes, I noticed a woman from a nearby table (probably in her 50′s or 60′s?) get up and walk past our table. I thought she was headed for the bathroom because that was generally the path she was taking. the whole time she was glaring at me. Then she turns around and heads back to her table where another woman (about the same age) sits and they start pointing and giving me dirty looks and throwing their hands up in the air like they couldn’t believe what i was doing. At this point, I couldn’t hear what they were saying because their table was about 5 or 6 tables away from mine. They then both get up and start walking my way. They didn’t actually APPROACH me, but just kept walking back and forth in front of my table talking LOUDLY to each other about how “disgusting” I was for doing THAT and pointing and throwing their hands. I just sat there, shocked and continued feeding my baby. I started to smile at them to let them know I heard and noticed them, but then decided they weren’t worth my time or energy. they literally paced in front of my table 5 or 6 times then grabbed their things from their table and left. I sat there a few more minutes, continuing to feed DD and wondering if mall security was going to show up. Since they weren’t employees of the mall, there’s nothing I can really do, is there?

    • Nina says:

      Wow, I am appalled that happened to you, and by women none-the-less! That’s pure insanity. I’m so happy you stood your ground and continued to BF, as I would have done, even in a state of complete shock. I’ve realized that killing people with kindness is always the best way to make them give up on their rant or objection to something they probably shouldn’t be objecting in the first place. Anyway, you are awesome. :-)

    • Michelle Hickman says:

      Ceciley, Thank you for sharing your story with us. It is so disheartening that people feel it is acceptable behavior to intentionally direct rude verbal remarks, stink stares and unapproving glances toward a nursing mom and child. All of those things are forms of bullying and attempts of control, and that is simply unacceptable behavior. Did you know that October is anti-bullying month? It is almost certain that at some point in the lives of those 2 women, that they have taught a child not to bully their peers. It is hypocrisy that they would be bullies themselves, yet carry the belief and profess out of their mouths that bullying is wrong. You can find anti-bullying campaigns that include awareness and education to try to end bullying at school amongst children, and we need to raise awreness of bullying that effects nursing moms and children as well. There are nursing moms who don’t even know they have the right to nurse in public, and it may be the case that those 2 women were unaware of that legal right as well. (Which on a side note, the lack of knowledge about the legal right to nurse in public is no excuse for their bullying behavior.) I would encourage you to use the feelings you endure in times like these to volunteer some time in making lasting changes towards education and awareness about the legal right of mothers to nurse their children in public and also to help strengthen those rights through stronger legislation that includes enforcement. Did you know that in most states even though a mother has a right to nurse in public, if something occurs where someone tries to stop that mom from exercising her right nothing can be done? This is because the legal right to NIP has no enforcement, meaning the bully doesn’t get a much needed “time out” and is not able to be fined for their unacceptable behavior. If you are interested in making a change to prohibit this from happening to other breastfeeding moms, you can find various campaigns listed on our Take Action page.

  4. Meggan says:

    Just wanted to let you know your link to breastfeeding USA leads to “Beach Front USA” :) the correct link is https://breastfeedingusa.org/

  5. Mara says:

    Thank you so much for doing this! A Breastfeeding mom to a 19 mo. :-)

  6. Erin O'Reilly, RN,IBCLC,La Leche League Leader says:

    Thank you for doing this! I really am loving all your bestforbabes breastfeeding promotion also! Very artistic and positive!

  7. Kira says:

    This number is now stashed in my phone just in case! Thank you SO much for doing this.

  8. Terri LaPoint says:

    Great! Thank you! Just added your hotline number to my Resource List for New Mothers that I give out at my breastfeeding class!

  9. Anita Pineda says:

    Took my son a couple of days ago to his first doctor appointment, As Im sitting in the waiting room my baby boy gets hungry so I cover my self completly and begin to nurse and as I look up to in frount of me a woman with two kids a girl aprox 8 and a boy aprox 12,she is yelling at her son to cover his eyes as she covered her daughters eyes giving me the most evil look as if I were doing the most discusting thing by feeding my baby. As she spoke in another language (romanian)and pointing and staring i kindly smiled and waved. I was so surprized at her reaction. even my 3 year old kept asking “mommy are they playing peek a boo ” :)

  10. I am a nursing mother and I work full time, and while I have never had anyone tell me my NIP was discustiing or that I needed to cover my child up while feeding her – one of my managers have told me that she was old enough for me to stop feeding her. My youngest Isabella is only 9 months old. I do not think that is old enough for me to stop breastfeeding OR pumping for her. I want to breastfeed until she is at LEAST two years old. I am also having trouble getting my employees to cover me while I go pump at work too. As of right now I have gone 6 whole hours TODAY without pumping because they refuse to help. Isn’t there a law protecting my right to pump in Florida? Could someone please help me out with this? This is a daily occurance with this and I tried to let some of my managers know this – and I apparently ‘did it the wrong way’ and let our District managers know as well. Maybe they should know! This is against my rights as a mother!

  11. Jessica says:

    My right to breastfeeding has been violated
    The July 26, 2013 I was in Orange county public library, after 20 minutes waiting for customer service, my daughter of 1 month old began to cry, immediately decided to breastfeed my daughter while waiting for attendent , after five minutes I was harassed by an employee of the library where I was breastfeeding my daughter, the clerk asked me to cover up, I indicate that I had a cloth to cover myself, the clerk immediately tells me that I could not breastfeed there I had to cover miself or leave the place, I quickly became frustrated, distressed and humiliated before the people who saw me as she harassed me and saying “You cannot breastfeed in here” and wonder what reason I have to stop breastfeeding my daughter, the clerk told me that there were children on the spot and two people complaining about my act, I ask for the supervisor, the employee tells me she is the supervisor in charge and I had to leave or she would call security, I told her i wasn’t going to stop breastfeeding my daughter, she quickly picked up the phone made a call. At that time I did not know my rights, I thought security or the police might get me out and I said “I would leave but first give me your name” I also said I could not believe her ignorance, she gets upset and annoyed and gave me his card and says that she was the supervisor and that if she told me to get out I had to get out.
    This is a terrible and insensible act of this supervisor that violates my right to breastfeed so I can provide my daughter the best food for babies.
    I want to take action but do not know what I can do.

  12. Zina Difrancesco says:

    As a breastfeeding mother of 2 children (still breastfeeding my 2 year old) I’d like to thank you all for supporting us against ignorant comments and actions of others. More Moms would breastfeed if there was more positive feedback when nursing in public. I work directly with expectant Mothers and Breastfeeding Mothers, and I’ll be spreading the word of this website! Thank you so much again!
    ~ BFPC

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