'After I told my daycare provider I was formula feeding, I caught her breastfeeding my baby.'

It’s not unknown for women to breastfeed other women’s babies. Before formula came along, wet nurses were commonly employed to do just that. But for a daycare provider to breastfeed a baby in her care without asking the mother’s permission?

That is one serious line being crossed there.

A woman contacted Slate’s Dear Prudence column to explain that this is what happened to her recently.

Questions you have when you don’t have kids: Breastfeeding. Post continues below…

The woman had adopted a baby girl and was formula feeding. When she returned to work, she left the baby at a home-based daycare run by a woman with two young children.

On day one, the daycare provider made it clear she wasn’t a fan of formula feeding.

“I pulled out the formula and bottles, and she wrinkled her nose and said, ‘You feed her that slop?’” the woman remembers. “I ignored the barb (I’m used to it), gave a quick rundown, and went on my way.”

Two months later, the woman finished work early and went straight to the daycare to pick up her baby. She walked through a side door without knocking, and was shocked to see the daycare provider breastfeeding her child.

“I marched over, took the baby from her arms, and asked her if she was crazy. The provider said that she was saving my baby from chemicals I was trying to force into her body and I should thank her for doing it all these months!”


The woman asked for advice on what she should do next. Should she report the daycare provider to the supervising agency? Should she do what her sister suggested and send texts to the other parents with children at the daycare, even though she personally felt that was going too far?

Advice giver Daniel Mallory Ortberg told the woman she should definitely report the daycare provider to the supervising agency.

Holly Wainwright and Christie Hayes are joined by a gaggle of specialists to deep dive on the ongoing battle of breast vs. bottle all new mums face. Post continues below…

“This is a huge breach of trust, a total violation, and absolutely worth reporting. Please do it.”

But when someone else suggested taking the matter to the police, Ortberg said he was “on the fence”.

“While the violation is real and troubling, I’m not sure there’s sufficient long-lasting harm to the child in question to involve the cops.”

Yes, it is a huge breach of trust. It’s up to parents to decide how they feed their baby – no one else. The parents’ decision needs to be respected.

But could a baby be harmed by someone else’s breastmilk? In Australia, when women have accidentally breastfed the wrong baby due to a hospital mix-up, experts have reassured parents that the medical risks are low.

Associate professor Dr Karleen Gribble has said that it’s “quite difficult” for infections to be transmitted via breastfeeding.

The bigger issue here is the daycare provider thinking she knows better than the mother and secretly defying her instructions. What else might she do? Put the baby to sleep on her stomach? Not give prescribed medicine? Try alternative therapies?

What would you do if this happened to your child? Let us know in the comments section.