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The International Breastfeeding Symbol » History

History


In the July-August 2006 issue of Mothering magazine, Stephanie Ondrack wrote “Taking Down the Almighty Bottle.” The article was about the ubiquitousness of baby bottles in print, ads, and even baby books, blankets, and clothing.  It also highlighted the fact that baby bottle icons are generically used, ironically, to represent “nursing rooms” in public places.  Mothering’s Art Director, Laura Egley Taylor, in response to this article, then asked a simple question: is there a universal breastfeeding symbol? Surprisingly, there wasn’t. Even though breast milk is the unparalleled ideal food for babies, and the recommended feeding method by many different health organizations, the cultural norm in western society for feeding infants is the bottle. Therefore, a baby bottle icon is usually used to represent so-called “nursing rooms” in public spaces. There was no universal symbol in existence that represented the act of breastfeeding. In response to this realization, Mothering magazine decided to hold a contest for people to submit their ideas for the world’s first international breastfeeding symbol. In November 2006, after combing through over 500 entries, the winner was chosen. Matt Daigle is the graphic artist responsible for the winning design.

Download the winning design.

This important new symbol has the potential to change the world for the better. It can be used by ordinary people to express their support for breastfeeding and to help get the word out that it is normal. It can be used by shopkeepers, restaurant owners, and other brick-and-mortar businesses to let customers know that breastfeeding is welcome inside. Where available, it can be used to indicate the presence of a nursing room. If everyone that believed breastfeeding was best were to stand in solidarity and bear the symbol: on their person, in their businesses, in their workplaces, and on their websites and blogs, it may become recognizable to all people. Our hope is that the more the International Breastfeeding Symbol is seen, the more ordinary people will recognize it and incorporate it into the collective gestalt of other universally recognized symbols. If it becomes ubiquitous enough, perhaps the concept of breastfeeding will as well. Click here for some pictures of the symbol being used (offsite link on Mothering.com).

Learn more about breastfeeding and its benefits on our Education page.

Purchase items bearing the International Breastfeeding Symbol in the Store. All orders result in a donation to a non-profit breastfeeding organization. Free shipping to the USA.