Well Being

Lactivist Call for Change in Michigan

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Second update: Read the center's response before you contact Rainbow Child Development Center. It has asked that all concerns be addressed to Karen Krygier at the Home Office at (248) 569-2500.

Update: Please spread the word! The daycare in question is Rainbow Child Development Center in Plymouth, Michigan. You can contact the director Mary Buchin by email at: Plymouth@RainbowChildDevelopment.com or by phone at
(734) 455-2761. Rainbow Child Development Centers has locations throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and New Jersey. To contact the national management, call (800) 90-LEARN or use the on-line contact form. Those of you in Michigan can contact your state representative and senator and urge them to introduce and support legislation protecting a woman's right to breastfeed (and a child's right as well)!

A Michigan mother wrote to me asking for help to spread the word about change needed in the Michigan law. Her call for change stems from a distressing experience she had at her son's daycare. Katy writes:

This January, I was told that I was no longer permitted to breastfeed my twenty-six month old son in his room at daycare, although I had been nursing him at pick-up and drop-off without incident since he started daycare at three months. I immediately called the licensing board, which confirmed the daycare's interpretation of the regulations. Following the recommendation of the local La Leche leader, I wrote a letter to the director, in which I explained my objections to the new regulation and included citations supporting the importance of breastfeeding past infancy. Nursing in the alternate location did not work, and the director did not respond to my requests for explanation. When I talked to the director's supervisor, all I was told was that they had a right to make rules as they saw fit. After several days, I tried nursing him in his classroom again. The lead teacher ran to tell the director, and the other teachers evacuated the children. Here is the regulation that they cited:

“(a) The center shall support and accommodate breastfeeding.
(b) The center shall have a designated place set aside to accommodate mothers and their children who are breastfeeding.”

They are interpreting “designated place” to mean only the designated place, and decided that a room with two nursing toddlers (mine and another one) would no longer be designated. I feel that “designated place” should mean that they need to have a comfortable location available, not that that should be the only place to breastfeed.

I am sharing this incident for two reasons. First, I want other working mothers to know that this daycare chain, Rainbow Child Development Center, especially the center in Plymouth, Michigan, is not friendly to breastfeeding toddlers.

Secondly, although I have since switched daycare providers, I am still appalled that it is legal for a daycare to prevent a child from nursing wherever he or she needs to. If any of you feel the same way, please write to your legislators! I have a sample letter available if you want it. Especially since Wisconsin is currently considering legislation to legally protect breastfeeding in all public locations, now could be a good time to lobby our legislators to extend the same protections to Michigan women.

If you want more information or a copy of the sample letter to send to legislators, please contact Katy directly at “katykay at gmail dot com” (substitute the appropriate symbols for the email address). I contacted the daycare for a response and received no reply. Specifically I'd like to know whether the daycare's concern revolved around the fact that the child was age two, given that he had breastfed in the classroom for several months prior to that incident. Did it really evacuate the children (Katy explains that the children were asked to go to the Gross Motor area to play when normally they would not be there at that time and the space was already occupied by another class)? Anyone else think that that disruption would be more traumatic for the children than seeing a mother breastfeed her child?

I really don't understand why the center would object to a mother nursing in the classroom. I understand that some people are prudish and narrow-minded when it comes to breastfeeding in public, but I expect more from a childcare provider whose main concern should be the welfare of the child. If breastfeeding helps a child transition happily to and from daycare each day, that should be encouraged, not vilified. Other children in the room likely paid it no mind, and even if they did, all it requires is a simple statement that the child is nursing and leave it at that.

Does anyone else have an experience to share about nursing at daycare? Are you aware of any push for legislation in Michigan? Currently the state law exempts breastfeeding from the public nudity statute. Breastfeeding may also be taken into consideration in child custody cases. A search of the bills currently introduced in the state legislature did not reveal any measures pertaining to breastfeeding. What do you say, lactivists?