Curious Georgie: Breastfeeding bribes are a total boob of an idea

Bribing mums to breastfeed is not the way forward believes Journal columnist Curious Georgie

A woman breastfeeding her baby
A woman breastfeeding her baby

In my 26 months of existence, I’ve heard a few ideas which have been both figuratively and literally filed under ‘potty’ (well, it might as well be used for something).

The bedroom tax would be one. Double denim would be another. And don’t even get me started on the parentals’ assertion that there should be a limit on the number of Peppa Pig episodes a two-year-old is able to enjoy in one sitting.

This week my under-potty file got a little bit thicker, courtesy of a pilot scheme based on the idea of bribing new mummies to breastfeed their babies.

Now before I demonstrate what an in-print tantrum looks like, let me start by saying I’m a big fan of breastfeeding.

Both me and Big Bro Fred were more than happy to have Mum as our sole source of sustenance for the first six months after we arrived.

I’m aware we were all very lucky. Mum wanted to breastfeed and had no trouble doing so, which I’ve heard isn’t always the case.

She was never happier than she had nothing to do but settle down with a hungry baby and have a game of catch up with the telly.

In addition, she hates any kind of washing up, so the fact us new additions didn’t come with any extra crockery considerations was also seen as a big plus... meanwhile an idea for a nifty piece of underwear which had its lightbulb moment during an afternoon feed with Fred has turned into a nice little sideline she likes to call breastvest.

From our point of view, being breastfed probably contributed to the fact we never had tummy problems as babies... and Fred would probably say it helped him become the clever little fella he is today (congrats on getting your good boy passport certificate at school this week by the way, bro).

Finally Dad, who likes to watch the pennies, couldn’t have been happier that giving us the best start in life came with a £300 saving (the approximate cost of baby formula and associated sterilising paraphernalia for six months). He didn’t actually say ‘kerching’ as we latched on for the first time, but...

So, I think I’ve made my point. Breastfeeding gets the thumbs up in the Telfer household. It’s best for the health of mums and babies, costs nothing, saves on washing up and allows mums to quaff an extra 500 calories a day without worrying about their waistline. Bonus.

However, the idea that you can incentivise mums to breastfeed by offering them shopping vouchers is yet another notion taken directly from the daft hat.

Has someone just decided that educating expectant and new mummies about the benefits of breastfeeding so they can make their own informed choice is too much trouble? Sounds like it.

It also has the hallmarks of a scheme which is all about the numbers.

If they can SAY more mums are breastfeeding, then who cares if it’s actually the case?

Which brings me to the question of how this scheme is possibly going to be policed?

Can we expect random baby breathalyser stations to start popping up with pushchairs getting pulled over and searched for a pre-prepared bottle of SMA?

Mums involved in the trial will be given up to £200 in shopping vouchers (it’s not clear whether these could be spent on formula milk, by the way) if they breastfeed their baby for six months. If they do it for six weeks, they’ll be given £120.

It makes absolutely no sense. Breastfeeding is nature’s very own money-off coupon.

And if the knowledge that you’re giving your baby the best start in life isn’t enough, then no amount of money is going to convince mums otherwise.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
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