Reader Addie says that she was at Babies “R” Us to pick up some stairway gates and try out a “glider”, but when she attempted to use the chair for its intended purpose, she was told that she was not allowed to breastfeed on the sales floor.
Here’s Addie’s letter:
I went to this Babies R Us Saturday to pick up some stairway gates and to try out gliders – my son needed to nurse, so I decided to multitask and nurse and try out a glider at the same time. Within a microsecond, an employee named Mike came over to me and told me that if I needed to “do that”, that I had to use the mother’s room in the store (mind you, I was COMPLETELY covered by a nursing cover). I told him that I did not want to nurse my baby in a room that smelled like baby poop. He stood there, shaking his head at me in disgust, and told me that it was store policy, and that if I needed to “do that”, it had to be in the mother’s room. He stared me down until I got up in left, and I have no question in my mind whatsoever that he would have called security if I hadn’t gotten up and left. I attempted to feed my baby in the parking lot (impossible since he is very wiggly and easily distracted at this stage), and ended up driving home with a hungry, sobbing baby.
Quoting California Civil Code 43.3: “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, except the private home or residence of another, where the mother and child are authorized to be present.” A cramped and smelly room hardly counts as “any location”.
I will no longer support this company.
Nearly the same scenario happened at the Toys “R” Us in Times Square a few years ago, and it caused quite a large PR debacle for the company. The ACLU even got involved. At least officially, it’s Toys “R” Us’ policy that mothers can breastfeed their babies wherever they like, in accordance with the law. They do provide breastfeeding rooms at Babies “R” Us, but you are in no way obligated to use them. The employee who told you otherwise was incorrect. You should report his behavior to Toys “R” Us corporate because it is inappropriate and may even be illegal.
Here’s a portion of the letter that Toys “R” Us’ CEO sent to the ACLU after the Times Square incident:
Toys “R” Us agrees with the New York Civil Liberties Union that we should do everything we can to provide for the best interests of our customers — moms, kids and families. Toys “R” Us does maintain a company-wide policy that any mother may breastfeed her child in the place of her choice within our stores. Beyond that, all of our Babies “R” Us stores have dedicated rooms for breastfeeding mothers. These rooms are clean, comfortable, safe and private, and we have spent significant amounts of money to provide this option for our customers. Our Times Square store, in particular, has a private area designated for this purpose. We are proud to offer this accommodation to those mothers who are more comfortable breastfeeding their children in a private environment, and it is our experience that many mothers prefer this alternative. However, we are equally respectful of the preference of other mothers — which, in New York, is their legal right — to breastfeed their children in the place of their choice within our stores.