to think 'do you feed her yourself' is a tucking rude and insensitive question?!

(122 Posts)
TheRinkyDinkPanther Sat 28-Sep-13 21:43:18

Random young woman in a restaurant who was a little but worse for wear came over to talk to my husband and I and our 4 month old this evening.. After exclaiming how large she is, massive in fact compared to her 3 month old (she is 50th %Ile for weight and height so hardly massive!) she then proceeded to ask if I 'feed her myself?' Am I alone in thinking this is a rude question to ask?! I am sensitive about it after failed attempts to breast feed but surely it's only a question you ask if you are judging the response?' Cheeky bitch. I wish I had said 'no. I rather prefer the method of hoping random strangers chuck her some scraps'

Lexiesinclair Sat 28-Sep-13 21:45:52

I think you are being a bit sensitive. She was clumsy in her question so you would have been justified in saying 'yes I feed her myself, with a bottle'.
But nothing to get upset about really.

Annunziata Sat 28-Sep-13 21:46:22

I think YABU. It never bothered me to be asked.

AnotherWorld Sat 28-Sep-13 21:47:57

Yes YABU - a little over sensitive maybe?

phantomhairpuller Sat 28-Sep-13 21:48:17


louloutheshamed Sat 28-Sep-13 21:48:53

I just think people are making conversation and you are perhaps a little over sensitive because you didn't manage to bf. I bf both dcs but it also used to annoy me when people said this as I used to feel like they were using it as a euphemism like they were too prudish to say 'breast'.

The best reply I ever heard was on here:

Are you feeding him yourself? No I'm putting that task out to tender

JemR234 Sat 28-Sep-13 21:49:48

I think it's an unfortunate turn of phrase but people use it to avoid saying 'breast'. Like it's a swear word or something confused

But she sounds like a bit of a dick anyway so I wouldn't take any notice. Who tells a stranger their baby is massive FFS?!

CrohnicallyLurking Sat 28-Sep-13 21:50:26

I always get tempted to say 'no, I ask random strangers to do it'. But really, it's just one if those things people ask. Like during pregnancy it's 'is it your first?' and 'do you know what you're having?' (To which the correct response is 'well I was hoping for a giraffe!')

mercibucket Sat 28-Sep-13 21:51:21


its a way of avoiding saying 'breast', which for us uptight brits is a step too far

tbh theres not much to say about a baby: weight, sleep, feeding, thats it, so conversation tends to be a bit limited

my2centsis Sat 28-Sep-13 21:51:26

Yabu. This site really opens my eyes to how rude people can be. She was making conversation about your babies, trying to be nice and you have turned it into something spiteful

carolmillen Sat 28-Sep-13 21:51:44

YABU - I've asked that - just to make small talk really.

Rangirl Sat 28-Sep-13 21:52:06

YANBU I am sure it was said in a harmless way but it is a very tactless ? IMHO It would have upset me with my Dd (tried and failed bf but also with my DS ( bf to 1.2)

CoffeeTea103 Sat 28-Sep-13 21:52:31

You are massively overreacting? Working yourself up over this is silly.

HopLittleFroggiesHopSkipJump Sat 28-Sep-13 21:54:43

YANBU to be upset, but she isn't really being unreasonable to ask, as it is a very common question.
Prehaps she could have worded it better (eg. Does she have formula or breast milk) but if you're still feeling upset about it, I'd guess that would upset you a bit too?

As you said, she looked worse for wear, she was probably tired and not thinking about what she was saying. I did a much worse thing the other day, mistook a little boy for being a girl, then was so embarrassed when the mum said he was a boy, that I blurted out "really?" before hugely apologising. blush

Also you shouldn't feel sensitive about not breast feeding, in a few months time noone will even know and your baby will be exactly the same, and have the same bond with you etc. Yes breastfeeding is "preferential" but it's by no means vital or life changing! smile

Hassled Sat 28-Sep-13 21:55:19

You say you're sensitive about it - that's the issue you need to address, not what some random woman said. You have no reason to be sensitive about it - you tried and it didn't work for you, and what more could you possibly have done? And your baby is clearly thriving.

YANBU to feel hurt - we all have our insecurities.

Having said that, I agree: it's shorthand for BFing avoiding the word <whispers> 'breasts' which people are a bit unreasonably squeamish about.
I quite often suffer from foot-in-mouth disease but never go out of my way to make people feel bad. I tend to avoid the feeding question myself, knowing it is such a minefield and emotionally fraught.

Tee2072 Sat 28-Sep-13 21:55:44

"Of course I feed her myself, she's hardly old enough to do it on her own!"


wigglesrock Sat 28-Sep-13 21:56:39

I think you're being oversensitive. It's just a turn of phrase, as other posters have said to avoid people saying breast - you know incase they die of embarrassment wink

I have formula fed all my kids and have been asked it lots of time, usually by women of my age, I never felt they were judging but I really couldn't give 2 shiney shites if they were.

hettienne Sat 28-Sep-13 21:57:01

I don't think it's rude. It just means, do you breastfeed?

Mojavewonderer Sat 28-Sep-13 21:57:49

I used to say 'no I have a wet nurse'. I did breast feed but it's no ones business really.
I do think you were being sensitive but I can understand why.

Wuxiapian Sat 28-Sep-13 21:58:13

She was obviously interested in your lovely family and making conversation.


puntasticusername Sat 28-Sep-13 22:00:53

When asked "do you know what you're having?", my preferred response is to deadpan "well, since the scans, we're reasonably sure it's a baby".

It gets about 50/50 laugh "you're right, silly question" and glare and unspoken "ffs, I was only asking".

OP, I can see why the question touched a nerve with you under the circumstances but I wouldn't worry about it - it doesn't sound to me as if she meant any harm.

pictish Sat 28-Sep-13 22:02:15


bumperella Sat 28-Sep-13 22:02:19

YANBU. I doubt anyone who asks questions like that has a neutral view on BF/FF. It's not just polite small talk, it's more loaded than that and it just goes over a line in being too personal for a stranger to ask.

humphryscorner Sat 28-Sep-13 22:03:01


I found this intrusive. I'm not a 'just talk to random strangers' type not like my bloody DGM

Some people are drawn to babies and think that they are public property. '' ah how old? wow what a big baby for their age? What did they weigh? <<whistles>> bet that hurt! bet you have to ff??''

maybe I'm just a irritable snappy fucker

pianodoodle Sat 28-Sep-13 22:04:57

She saw another woman with a baby around the same age as hers and came over for a chat.

That's it really!

bumperella Sat 28-Sep-13 22:05:59

I like people ooh-ing and aah-ing over DD, and making conversation about her, but there are some questions that are too intrusive from a stranger and that's one of them.

humphryscorner Sat 28-Sep-13 22:06:05

Why would a stranger care about another random strangers babys feeding habit? Its nosey and judgy.

MissBattleaxe Sat 28-Sep-13 22:06:25

I think it's rude to be sarcastic when someone asks "Do you know what you're having?" They're only being interested. Some people know the sex of their baby and are dying to share it. Others need only say "we don't know" or "we're keeping it a surprise".

Honestly one of these days people will be too scared to make bloody small talk and what a sad day that will be.


usualsuspect Sat 28-Sep-13 22:06:37


Like a bit of drama do you?

deste Sat 28-Sep-13 22:07:08

I visited a friend last week who had a new baby. I asked if she was feeding her herself and she said yes. I doubt if she is losing any sleep over it.

beginnings Sat 28-Sep-13 22:07:46


As someone who is lucky enough to be breast feeding DD2, having breast fed DD1, I find that question ridiculous and try very hard not to use that phrase. Of course you're feeding your DD yourself. You're holding her and feeding her aren't you?

Drinkprunesbutstaynexttotheloo Sat 28-Sep-13 22:07:46

Am I only one who thinks worse for wear means drunk?
She may have been asking as she had something to share/ask about bf?
I do think it's a bit tactless but not badly meant.

pianodoodle Sat 28-Sep-13 22:08:08

I don't see it as an inappropriate question when it's a subject you might both have in common.

In this situation I wouldn't automatically think the worst of someone.

MissBattleaxe Sat 28-Sep-13 22:08:23

Why would a stranger care about another random strangers babys feeding habit? Its nosey and judgy.

The woman had a baby a similar age. When my DCs were babies I was very interested in other people's babies and all their habits and routines.

IwishIwasmoreorganised Sat 28-Sep-13 22:10:01

Think that YABU. The lady was not to know that you're feeling a little over sensitive that you were unable to bf your dd.

This is standard talk amongst new mums IME, and something to get used to without feeling the need to have a sarcastic reply prepared.

YANBU - why would she want to know?

hettienne Sat 28-Sep-13 22:10:50

Why would anyone care about how a baby is fed?
Or how much it weighed?
How it sleeps?
If it's a boy or girl?

It's just small talk. People like babies, babies don't really have any hobbies or interests so you're limited in what you can ask about them.

FrussoHathor Sat 28-Sep-13 22:14:34

I agree it's the inability of strangers to talk aloud about breasts.

It is just small talk.

Bigger babies get, "ooh isn't he growing well" and little ones get "ooh isn't he dinky" and then they all get the "how much did he weigh"

After 3dcs I've realised that it doesn't matter what answer you give, or even if you make it up. They're a random stranger and they just want to coo over a new baby and not ignore you.

Jan49 Sat 28-Sep-13 22:15:56

I think she was just making conversation and sharing information because she has a baby too. She thought your baby was bigger than hers and wondered if it was due to difference in feeding. Though "are you feeding her yourself" as a euphemism for breastfeeding is the kind of thing I'd expect an elderly person to say.

When my ds was about 4 months old, a stranger told me he looked like he'd eaten a lot of steak as he was big. Actually we hadn't yet introduced solids and we're vegetarian.hmm

TheRinkyDinkPanther Sat 28-Sep-13 22:16:04

Thank you all for your replies, some of which are very helpful indeed. I know I am sensitive about being unable to nd following a traumatic birth (the preceeding massive baby comments prob didn't jolly me along either!). You have helped give me some perspective x

puntasticusername Sat 28-Sep-13 22:17:02

missbattleaxe I know, I just think it's a weird way to phrase the question - in fact, the first time it was asked I genuinely didn't know what the person meant - what's wrong with "do you know if you're having a boy or a girl?"?

I don't make a Thing out of it in order to rub people's noses in my random disagreement with their choice of wording, it's mainly just as a means of hopefully getting another laugh into the conversation - if it doesn't work I apologise and move swiftly on smile

Bringbring Sat 28-Sep-13 22:18:38

I would ask this question, but for different reasons than you have assumed.

My baby is breastfed, but on the 9th percentile. I have had endless pressure from hv about weight. I would be interested in your baby (because babies are cute) and to compare anecdata for weight gain. Yabu.

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Sat 28-Sep-13 22:18:42

I hate the expression, but I wouldn't read too much into it.

I BF both of mine till they were 2.
Folks would say to me; "And are you still <hushed voice> Feeding Her Yourself?" and I would interpret that as "FGS put your boobs away you freak!"

And to be fair, before MN enlightened me, I'd kind of assumed that you decided when the baby was born whether to FF or BF, and that was that. It hadn't really occurred to me that you could try to BF and it not work out blush, so you should maybe make allowances for those not blessed with the power of MN...

Catnap26 Sat 28-Sep-13 22:18:59

I'm confused...are you upset about the way she asked you or that you weren't able to breast feed and the fact that she asked you hit a nerve?I'm sorry but I always ask fellow mothers if they are bottle or breast feeding and I always get it asked to me and really I find it a good ice breaker whatever the response.I do however understand if you feel upset about not being able to breast feed,I wasn't able to either, and people asking you about it is going to grate on you but it's all part in parcel of having a baby and chatting to other mothers.dont be so hard on yourself.

CrohnicallyLurking Sat 28-Sep-13 22:20:29

MissBattleaxe- it's the wording of the question that annoys me rather than the meaning behind it. I am very literal- the first time someone asked if I fed DD myself I honestly thought she was asking if me or DH did the feeds! 'Do you know the sex?' or 'Are you having a boy or a girl?' are both fine in my book.

I think it's a feckin' stupid question as well...but I'm speaking as someone who tried (very very hard for weeks) to bf my firstborn without success. So no YANBU at all.

CrohnicallyLurking Sat 28-Sep-13 22:21:51

Mind you 'breast or bottle' used to annoy me too, DD was fed on expressed milk for a while and I never knew which answer to give!

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Sat 28-Sep-13 22:24:40

Also, DD was born a bit early and just over 5lb, and people would come up and look in the pram and go, 'Oh what a lovely - oh my god, what a tiny baby! I've never seen a baby so small!'

And I would think, FFS, my baby is just the right size angry

People just have to be saying something, essentially. Don't worry about it overly.

FunnysInLaJardin Sat 28-Sep-13 22:25:24

yabu, I have asked this in the past and then thought better of it, but really I was only being interested. It's not loaded. Us mothers who have tried to BF love to see someone succeed. Really

hettienne Sat 28-Sep-13 22:25:48

I think most people just aren't all that sensitive about how they feed their baby. So for those people they are just asking a perfectly ordinary, neutral question. I would have been no more offended to be asked about feeding than to be asked about birth weight or what kind of pram I had.

rallytog1 Sat 28-Sep-13 22:27:01

YANBU to feel the way you do. I know it's people's way of avoiding saying the terribly rude "breast" word, but's a very inelegant way of phrasing things and it's none of anyone's business how you feed your baby.

I think anyone who's failed to bf, for whatever reason, will understand why you feel the way you do. I feel judged by everyone all the time, but I know that 99.9% of that is actually in my head. So I sort of agree with pps who say you just need to suck it up. The sensitivity does fade in time and ultimately I think the majority of people who ask the question mean well and are just trying to make conversation, not judge you.

mysticminstrel Sat 28-Sep-13 22:27:06

I don't think YABU, OP.

It's a personal question to ask a random stranger. When I was pregnant with DD2 and had a c-section planned a lady at toddler group (who I had never told about my planned c-s) bowled over to me to ask me "why have you elected for a c-section then?"

It was none of her business.

It was not the business of a stranger in a restaurant to demand to know how your DC is being fed.

We all make our own choices - you know, if I was parking my car in a carpark I wouldn't expect a stranger to walk up to me and start asking me if it was petrol or diesel, whether it was a company car or private buy, if I'd bought it outright or had a car loan.

Whatever, just back off, nosey.

ZenNudist Sat 28-Sep-13 22:29:20

YABU you need to stop assuming people are judging you. I'm sure she didn't care one way or the other how you feed your dc. I always thought it was a very delicate way to ask if someone bf. admittedly not a turn of phrase I'd use.

Ds was properly huge & I always took the wow massive baby comments as compliments. I've often commented on the size of a baby but it never bears any resemblance to the medical charts. It's just my perception that a baby seems big or small. It's just something inane you say whilst cooing over a baby.

mysticminstrel Sat 28-Sep-13 22:30:10

"I'm sorry but I always ask fellow mothers if they are bottle or breast feeding and I always get it asked to me and really I find it a good ice breaker whatever the response."

It's just nosey! Respect when something is none of your business! Why would you need to always ask this? I find that very strange.

FunnysInLaJardin Sat 28-Sep-13 22:31:52

do you know what reading your OP again, you seem very mean and self absorbed. The woman who came to talk to you had a 3mo. Prob the first time she had been out in months and she came over to talk you after a few drinks to share some common ground as you both had new babies. But all you could do was think she was trying to put you down both about the size of your child and about BF'ding.

You really need to get a grip and see that there are other people out there besides yourself.

I would have been that friendly mum and I would hate that anyone thought badly of my attempts to share an experience

humphryscorner Sat 28-Sep-13 22:32:59

<<stands with mystical >>

NorbertDentressangle Sat 28-Sep-13 22:33:24

I used to hate being asked that too.

Not because I thought that it was rude or insensitive but because I thought it was a rather twee way of asking if you were breast feeding.

Like others I was desperate to say something along the lines of "No I just hand him/her over to any old random stranger to feed".

FunnysInLaJardin Sat 28-Sep-13 22:33:52

and the 'young woman who was a little bit worse for wear' is hideously loaded and judgemental. Why would you even mention that?

humphryscorner Sat 28-Sep-13 22:35:11

Wow funny that was a bit harsh.

The ' first time she had been out in months' is purely projection....

humphryscorner Sat 28-Sep-13 22:36:37

Funny I would have said ' she looked a bit pissed' is that any better?

FunnysInLaJardin Sat 28-Sep-13 22:59:59

yes it is purely conjecture, but she has a 3 month old child so most likely no that fee wide of the mark. To mention that she had had a few drinks however you say it is horribly judgemental in light of her circumstances.

In any other situation I might be a bit hmm if anyone asked me if I was BF'ding. On a night out by a fellow new mum, not at all, I would just see a kindred spirit

froken Sat 28-Sep-13 23:14:50

Yabu, it sounds like she was just being friendly.

I thought people telling you your baby was massive was a compliment?! I was very proud of my chunky baby it was like his special feature! He didn't have the bluest eyes or the longest eyelashes or tge most hair but he was certainly the biggest!

I assume she wasn't breastfeeding her baby as she was out without the baby and drunk whilst the baby was only 3 months old so it doesn't sound like she was judging your feeding choices.

Babies don't do much so there isn't much to talk about apart from how big they are, what they eat and their clothes.

humphryscorner Sat 28-Sep-13 23:17:40

funny if I was in a restaurant and a half pissed random stranger just wandered over and asked if I was feeding him myself I would be annoyed because..
1) I'm eating so go away
2) I don't like to have half pissed strangers sparking up a conversations with me. (Kindred spirit or not)
3) it's none of her business .

How I feed my child is my business, no one else's. People do not have the right to know if she is breast feeding. People are aloud to have private life's mothers included.

These are my opinions like you have yours, but I thought your posts were attacking op and it was unwarranted.

Also many mothers leave their dc waaaaay before 3 months. My friend went to Glasto when her dad was 5 days old. Different strokes for different folkes.

humphryscorner Sat 28-Sep-13 23:18:31

Dd not dad!

humphryscorner Sat 28-Sep-13 23:20:40

People 'pump and dump ' if they want to have a drink froken.

Drinkprunesbutstaynexttotheloo Sat 28-Sep-13 23:26:22

You don't need to do that humpreys just wait for the alcohol to have passed out of your blood! (Though you may need to express some if your boobs are about to take off on their own like two swollen pinky ponks)

PurpleFairy3 Sun 29-Sep-13 08:36:36

I've been asked this, it doesn't bother me really - some people just don't like to say "breastfeeding" I have no idea why.

You can't win either way to be honest - if you bf in public you get some dirty looks (speaking from experience even though I use a sling), if you ff there will be those people asking "Oh aren't you breastfeeding?" Everyone's got an opinion. Just carry on doing what you're doing and smile.

beepoff Sun 29-Sep-13 09:00:01

She probably missed her baby when she saw yours and thought she'd come over to coo at yours.

YABU to call her a bitch when she was just trying to make friendly conversation. But I understand how feeding is an emotive thing for some people.

Maybe she FF and wants to know if her baby will get lovely and big like yours. Maybe she BF but is stressed and worried her baby is too small. Maybe she is struggling to BF and wants assurance from another mum that it's ok to FF, or to encourage her to continue to BF.

The fact is we should be supportive of each other as there are enough people out there already pulling new mums down.

humphryscorner Sun 29-Sep-13 10:27:48

drink mine resembled veiny crunchy bowling balls! No one ever warned me off that!!

Loa Sun 29-Sep-13 10:58:04

If someone at a toddler group I'd had a few conversations with said this - I'd think it was small talk about babies and read nothing into it.

If a stranger I hadn't initialed in conversation comes up in a public place- comments in such a way as to come across bit judgmental about babies size then asked this I'd be wtf and be a bit annoyed.

Maybe I'm odd though.

I bf 3 DC - and I hate the negative comments about bf but I also hated a lot of the supportive comments that drew attention to what I was doing.

Fair enough if I was looking bit unsure or dealing with or ignoring negative comments - but most of the time I just wanted to get baby fed not have everyone stare at me however supportive they believed they were being. Especially when it happened week in week out at same locations and same groups.

DoJo Sun 29-Sep-13 11:56:42

It's just nosey! Respect when something is none of your business! Why would you need to always ask this? I find that very strange.

Because babies only do three things, and asking about the state of their nappies is generally considered a bit TMI. Nobody's asking with the intention of opening a file on your feeding preferences, they are just making conversation about one of the only things there is to say about a baby, so nobody will care if you lie and in fact that is preferable to some of the mean spirited sarcasm on this thread. As this thread has revealed, even referring to something completely neutral and patently obvious such as their size can be offensive, so what else are people supposed to say? It's just small talk. People are trying to be nice and engage you in a conversation about the baby which they rightly recognise is the very centre of your world. If you are looking for reasons to be offended then you are the one who is rude.

pigletmania Sun 29-Sep-13 12:07:40

Yabvu and Overeacting. It's good that bf should be out in the open, it's good to talk about it

NotYoMomma Sun 29-Sep-13 12:12:45

I would reply that I am fostering independence and teaching her to scavenge.

I would then probably just tell them that I ff and it was the perfect fit for my family

Loa Sun 29-Sep-13 12:29:56

Because babies only do three things,... they are just making conversation about one of the only things there is to say about a baby,

Really? I don't think I've ever asked how a baby was fed of a complete stranger. Possibly I might have asked in group conversion in baby/child environment where a feeding discussion was in progress with other parents but not outside of that.

Surely you say nice things about hair, eyes clothes, smiles, possibly comment's about sleep, possibly how they'll be on the move soon are they rolling yet.

I don't think I ever walked up to a stranger in a restaurant said your babies is very big what are you feeding them.

I do think the OP is perhaps bit oversensitive - but I don't think the womans behavior was 'normal' certainly not what I've experienced or how I'd talk to a stranger.

HeffalumpTheFlump Sun 29-Sep-13 12:31:52

Yabu and sensitive, but i can understand why. I can see why you have assumed there is a judgement behind her question, as it is such an emotive subject for some. However you should have the confidence in the decisions you have made for your baby and know that you are doing whatever you feel is best/ was medically necessary.

I personally wouldn't ask the question, but only because of what I have seen on here. I never realised before how upsetting it can be for some women.

My aunt recently asked me if i will be feeding my baby myself and we had a chat about it. There was no judgement there, she was just curious! She's never been able to have children so it is all fascinating to her. There really isn't always an agenda.

DoJo Sun 29-Sep-13 13:06:00

Loa You're missing the point - on the whole, people are trying to be nice when they engage you in conversation about your baby, so asking about feeding is just an attempt to show an interest. AIBU is full of people who are offended by all the things you have mentioned, for different and sometimes legitimate reasons, but the point is that people aren't generally being mean or malicious, they are trying to connect with you over a shared experience.

digerd Sun 29-Sep-13 13:20:25

'Bonnie babies' are the chubby ones and look gorgeous. It never occurs to me if they BFed or not. My Nephew was a real bouncing bundle of chubby joy and everybody loved him and said so. The word "massive" was never used - although he wassmile.

Loa Sun 29-Sep-13 13:56:23

Loa You're missing the point - on the whole, people are trying to be nice

No I just think context of the conversation and tone of the person matters.

Most people are nice other just thoughtless but I have encounter some utter bitches and some very passive aggressive people.

I've also encountered many other mothers who are very judgey when people make different parenting choices to them - very probably from insecurity - but who then do seem to need to find fault with different choices and point it out to those parents.

Yes I think the OP is bit oversensitive and shouldn't worry about this person.

However saying a baby is massive and then immediately asking about feeding does imply some link in the questioners mind and massive isn't a complimentary description. So I don't think it's entirely impossible the woman was at best being insensitive and worse having a dig.

ActuallyMadness Sun 29-Sep-13 14:05:55

I feel for you OP because I felt exactly the same - I understand that it's a ice breaker, polite chit chat etc etc but it massively hit a nerve everytime someone asked. Thankfully it doesn't last long - the next question you will get is 'when are you going back to work?' .... I guess people just like to make conversation.

Tailtwister Sun 29-Sep-13 14:09:56

I would find this a rather personal question for a stranger to ask. There's no real reason why someone would want to know unless the were trying to point score in a bizarre way.

I'm very pro-bf btw, but I'm afraid some people use it as a point scoring exercise against other women.

YANBU OP. I would have been taken aback too. As for the size comment, that's probably just a silly comment.

Tailtwister Sun 29-Sep-13 14:11:50

I agree Loa. The 2 questions together insinuate she's trying to suggest a link between larger babies and ff.

DoJo Sun 29-Sep-13 14:29:01

Loa You must be unlucky then as I have never encountered anyone who has experienced bitchy judgement from a complete stranger over how they feed their baby. Or maybe my friends and I are just lucky. Either way, I was asked the questions that the OP was several times when my son was little and there was never a hint that there was any judgement, although he was pretty big and I was breastfeeding. I just think that people project their own insecurities onto complete strangers when often their intention is perfectly pleasant, but I accept that if this is not your experience then you might see things differently.

bragmatic Sun 29-Sep-13 15:51:41

I think it's an odd question for a complete stranger to ask. I have twins and I've always been taken aback by the 'did you have them naturally/are they IVF/did you breastfeed questions.

A woman once called from the other side of the cafe - "Did you push 'em out?"

shellbot Sun 29-Sep-13 15:56:50

YANBU It's a personal question and none of her business. There's plenty of other things to talk about with fellow mothers of babies so why ask this.

zookeeper Sun 29-Sep-13 15:58:27

I think YABU. I'd be more interested in why it upsets you so much?

Loa Sun 29-Sep-13 16:00:24

Loa You must be unlucky then as I have never encountered anyone who has experienced bitchy judgement from a complete stranger over how they feed their baby

Well I'm not the only one and it's not limited to feeding IME.

I once walked home from town comforting a mother I didn't know who was in tears because her baby had a dummy and a total stranger had taken her to task very publicly. Personally I hate dummies but to do that to a loving mother I thought disgusting.

Many of my mummy friends have horror stories about strangers comments when their DC have public tantrums. Personally I found people sympathetic and helpful with mine or they've rapidly shut up with a glare from me.

Yes sometimes it parental insecurity projecting other times it's encountering people with issues and agendas of their own trying to cause insecurity or latching on to some perceived issue usually at worse time possible.

Can't hurt for OP to work on her wtf how dare you speak to me like that glare just in case it wasn't just her.

hackmum Sun 29-Sep-13 16:00:58

I find that particularly phrase annoying for being euphemistic.

Without knowing tone of voice etc it's hard to know whether she was just making friendly conversation or finding a reason to judge you. Or, possibly, she'd noticed your baby was bigger than hers and was curious as to whether you were using the same method of feeding as she was or different.

I don't usually start conversations with strangers in restaurants but might if I was a bit pissed.

badbride Sun 29-Sep-13 16:31:22

Can't believe the amount of stick the OP has had on this thread. I haven't got kids, and even I know there are 5 topics one should NEVER broach with mothers you don't know extremely well. To wit:

1) How the infant is fed
2) How the infant is sleeping
3) The infant's mode of delivery (unless involving a stork/ UFO)
4) When/ if the mother of said infant is returning to work
5) What plans there are for future pregnancies

There is plenty of scope for small talk about a baby's adorability/ age/ outfits/ toys/ likes and dislikes without having to tread on sensitive territory.

Mumoftwoyoungkids Sun 29-Sep-13 16:36:58

I defy anyone who sees ds (4 months)not to comment on his size. He is the llllllloooooonnnnnngggggggest baby anyone has seen and his weight pretty much matches his height.

People do comment, they also ask how much he weighed at birth and if my husband is tall. On discovering dh is average height and that he was only 8lb 3oz at birth then it is pretty natural to ask how he is being fed,

To which I tend to laugh and say "breastfed - a LOT!"

I guess they could comment on his gorgeous olive skin and lovely dark hair but as me, dh and dd are all very fair skinned blondes that could get them into trouble too!

(Luckily we don't have a very tall dark skinned milkman or dh would be very suspicious!)

None of this bothers me - over sharing is just a part of motherhood!

HeffalumpTheFlump Sun 29-Sep-13 16:37:11

Bad bride - Really?? You can't even ask if a new mum is managing to get much sleep without being a bitch now? Ridiculous.

badbride Sun 29-Sep-13 16:41:27

Err, where did I say that broaching those topics would make anyone a bitch? I didn't. Just that some areas are best avoided when making small talk with complete strangers. For all you know, a poor new Mum may be feeling inadequate because her baby hardly sleeps. Having to explain as much to a total stranger won't help, I'm sure.

Mumoftwoyoungkids Sun 29-Sep-13 16:44:55

badbride You can tell you have never been to an under 1s group! That is pretty much all the conversation topics we have! Remember - we are all very very tired!

And IMO far less inflammatory than "is your baby blahblahing yet, mine is!"

Loa Sun 29-Sep-13 16:51:40

You can tell you have never been to an under 1s group!

You'd expect sleep questions and feeding questions at that kind of group.

I do think it's different to what questions you expect at restaurant with a complete stranger. This context and the linking of questions the woman made were odd - IMO.

Though entirely possible due to woman being slightly drunk and not at her social best.

HeffalumpTheFlump Sun 29-Sep-13 17:09:50

Badbride - Ok take out the bitch part. Is it really so unreasonable to ask a new mum if she is getting much sleep? To me that would simply be concern for the mum! It just seems like a complete minefield where anyone showing an interest is likely to come off badly. I think that is unfair. There is a million different things a new mum could be feeling inadequate about. Should no-one speak to her about it to avoid any possible offense?

Minifingers Sun 29-Sep-13 17:11:04

It's a tactless question to as a mother in a country where inexplicably large numbers of women find they are unable to breastfeed.

It's like going to Germany and asking 'what did you do during the war'.

HeffalumpTheFlump Sun 29-Sep-13 17:13:13

I also don't see the problem with asking if a woman would like to have more children or if they plan on returning to work! If there is no judgement behind it, why is it wrong to be curious about a person's future plans? Perhaps it's nosy, but showing interest in any area of a person's life could be classed as nosy. People just seem so quick to decide that others must be judging them sad

wokeupwithasmile Sun 29-Sep-13 17:28:48

I think it was a bit awkward, and it has happened to me, too, from people I am not really friendly with. But then I think that there is a compliment somewhere in there. If my baby is healthy and clearly well fed, and if I am doing that, it must mean that I am doing it well and that my baby is thriving. Some people just don't know how to say things in an appropriate way, even without the wine.

jasminerose Sun 29-Sep-13 17:30:27

I think this makes you sound crazy tbh

I think it's slightly rude from a stranger as implies there could be some judgement about the way you're feeding her, you might have been unable to breastfeed but not want to go into it all, and even if happily breastfeeding some people might find that slightly uncomfortable to talk about with a stranger. I'm sure Debretts would recommend other lines of conversation as openers with a mother, her partner and baby!

Want2bSupermum Sun 29-Sep-13 17:36:41

I would never ask someone how they were feeding their baby. People have asked me I say bottle. It doesn't answer the question as could be ebf or ff.

froken Sun 29-Sep-13 17:58:29

It's like going to Germany and asking 'what did you do during the war'


Where is the logic in that? How is feeding your baby like a war?

HeffalumpTheFlump Sun 29-Sep-13 18:14:30

Froken - I didn't quite get that one either to be honest.

badbride Sun 29-Sep-13 19:03:24

Heffalump I'm not suggesting that one can never ask these things. But I think it's all about how appropriate the questioning is to a) the situation and b) the degree of intimacy you have with the Mum in question.

If I were in a restaurant and spotted a cute baby, I'd stick to compliments and small talk about how adorable the baby was. I jut think it's a bit intrusive to ask personal questions about feeding/ sleeping of someone I've never met before. Especially when they're trying to eat dinner!

Once you're on first name terms with someone, I think it's fine to get more personal, but given the sensitivity of many of these topics, and how exhausted mothers of young babies generally are, I'd start off with some pretty generic, neutral questions, such as: "How are things going?" or "How are you doing?" and wait for the Mum to raise the topic she felt happy talking about.

MumofTwo Yes indeed, I haven't had the pleasure grin. But at least women at those sorts of groups will have at least been introduced to each other.

MissBattleaxe Sun 29-Sep-13 19:18:04

*It's a tactless question to as a mother in a country where inexplicably large numbers of women find they are unable to breastfeed.

It's like going to Germany and asking 'what did you do during the war'.*

WTAF? Not everyone can or wants to BF. The War was an event in which millions died. No comparison at all.

I think people are too quick to take offence sometimes. The vast majority of people who ask questions about your baby mean well and are genuinely interested.

It's a sad day when even the most well intentioned small talk is regarded as nosy and rude instead of a human being taking a kind interest in a mother and baby. You can always choose not to answer or make up an answer. The death of friendly small talk will be a sad one. I think there's more hostility than friendliness these days and that's a shame.

HeffalumpTheFlump Sun 29-Sep-13 19:27:17

badbride - "there are 5 topics one should NEVER broach with mothers you don't know extremely well"

"Once you're on first name terms with someone, I think it's fine to get more personal"

These two statements contradict each other. Can you understand why I feel attitudes like this make it a minefield for well meaning people?

I think as long as you are just being curious/interested, it shouldn't be a problem to ask about these things. It's unfair I assume there is always a judgement or agenda behind it.

MiaowTheCat Sun 29-Sep-13 19:29:02

Annoyed me when I got asked it - on one notable occasion by some random little old lady in the middle of town who proceeded to ignore the fact I sidestepped the question and go into a 10 minute sermon about how she hoped I was breastfeeding and not one of those lazy bottle feeders.

These days I'd just respond with "I'll tell you what I do with my boobs if you tell me what you do with yours"

Only people whose business how I feed my child is are my husband, my child and associated health professionals if it's relevant to their health needs. Anyone else sticking a beak (or the knife in) can fuck right off.

You meet a stranger with a baby you go down the "awww aren't they gorgeous" line of discussion (even if they look like Winston Churchill)... or you ask how much they weighed, or where they got the outfit/pram blanket or whatever... plenty of banal shit to waffle on about.

Oceansurf Sun 29-Sep-13 19:30:20

Hmm. The weight comment would have annoyed me! In fact, I actually stopped taking DD to be weighed because I was sick of the 'gosh she's massive' comments whilst I was waiting. Really made me feel as if we were doing something wrong.

People asked me this. I didn't mind at all. Why would I? It's just conversation. The only people I have ever come across who have minded have been those who bottle fed, and in a vague attempt at amateur therapy I'd wonder if that is because they have a bit of an internal conflict about it already. It seems odd to get so upset otherwise.

ThermoLobster Sun 29-Sep-13 19:51:30

As I recall, when DD1 (pfb) was 3 months, I was sleep deprived and wholly obsessed with was she having enough milk, was she having too much milk, when was she going to sleep longer, would formula help, was she on the right centile, when was I ever going to get my life back etc whereas I have only had DD2 weighed about 3 times, poor nsb - neglected second born so if I saw another woman with a baby about the same age I probably would have asked something similar. Shall we cut her some slack?
And also, I think it is good to talk about breastfeeding more, even if we can't say the word 'breast' out loud without blushing, bless us!
And I am not evangelical. I couldn't bf DD2 for very upsetting reasons but I wouldn't call a fellow mother a bitch if she had asked me about it.

Mumoftwoyoungkids Sun 29-Sep-13 20:11:18

badbride -Not usually! There are a lot of woman about whose names I do not know but who I could identify by the state of their vaginas!

Of your 5 topics my answers are as follows (might have them in the wrong order):-

1. Dd EMCS. Ds VBAC.
2. Dd ebf. Ds ebf
3. Dd - finally! Ds - not at all in evenings but pretty good at night.
4. Going back 3 days once I've maxed out mat leave.
5. No more - family complete.

Don't have any objection to sharing any of these things. I have always been a bit sad about dd's birth - I wanted a natural birth and she got stuck. But I don't mind people asking. And I'm always willing to talk about my VBAC as after dd's birth I would have liked to talk to someone who had a VBAC as it seemed like a bit of an impossible dream.

Personally I wouldn't talk to a stranger in a restaurant about how their baby is fed but I don't think it makes her rude- I think she just forgot that what is completely acceptable and even expected when meeting a complete stranger at baby groups is not quite appropriate at a more adult environment.

badbride Sun 29-Sep-13 20:16:26

Heffalump I'm probably not explaining myself very well. I still wouldn't ask an acquaintance a direct question about feeding/sleeping etc. I'd open the conversation with a generic "how are things" question, and wait for the Mum to introduce the topic she felt comfortable discussing.

I agree with you that this is a minefield: hence my belief that it needs to be approached with caution. There's no way to be sure what's going on in the life of a stranger with a new baby, and I wouldn't like to think I'd made anyone feel uncomfortable by my questions, however well-intentioned.

Anyway, judging by this thread, it's a subject that seems to divide opinion!

HeffalumpTheFlump Sun 29-Sep-13 20:17:58

Miaow - "You meet a stranger with a baby you go down the "awww aren't they gorgeous" line of discussion (even if they look like Winston Churchill)... or you ask how much they weighed, or where they got the outfit/pram blanket or whatever... plenty of banal shit to waffle on about."

How is someone supposed to know what classes as banal and what could cause offense? There isn't a list and it really isn't always obvious. I wouldn't have thought many of the things mentioned in this thread would cause offense, but apparently they would! It's impossible to get it right!

Mumoftwoyoungkids Sun 29-Sep-13 20:19:13

Thermo - love the phrase nsb! I have one - poor lad. Gets lugged around like a parcel and I can never remember how old he is!

Ocean I quite like the "massive" comments. Maybe because he is my nsb so at least people know I bother to feed him.

ThermoLobster Sun 29-Sep-13 20:27:56

Its bad isn't it Mumoftwoyoungkids!? Poor DD2 only wore sleepsuits more or less until she could walk! No pretty little outfits for her!

badbride Sun 29-Sep-13 20:29:28

MumofTwo LOL at the vagina-ID method. Perhaps as an outsider, I'm being too delicate after all grin

waterrat Sun 29-Sep-13 20:39:54

The world has gone totally bonkers when breast feeding is an inappropriate subject for conversation - it's a polite question , if you were bf you wouldn't have thought twice about it. People are interested in how it works with babies / thy make chit chat and you were seriously over sensitive

Honestly - the whole issue of bf has gone mad. It's become insensitive now to even ask someone about it????

I BF both of mine and would be happy to talk with anyone about the experience in the right situation, that is after I'd got to know them a bit and in a relaxed environment, such as at home. I'd still possibly feel a little uncomfortable, or that the question was in slightly bad taste, to be asked "Do you feed her yourself" by a stranger in a busy restaurant!

BTW I was just lucky it was easy for me and DCs seemed to know what to do from the beginning too. Just like with birth with breastfeeding everyone has different experiences.

bumperella Mon 30-Sep-13 22:01:06

Of course it's a sensitive issue for some people who bottle feed, and yes, some do have "a bit of internal conflict about it already" !!!!! How would YOU feel if YOU wanted to do something you thought was "best" and "right" for your child but were unable to? ...despite making far more effort than many BF mothers to whom it came naturally. Sadly some people DO look down on bottle-feeding mothers even without having a the first clue why they're not BF, never mind knowing what efforts they go to do the best they can for their child.
That's why asking "do you breast feed?" of a passing stranger isn't polite.

Minifingers Mon 30-Sep-13 22:29:27

"It's like going to Germany and asking 'what did you do during the war'.*

WTAF? Not everyone can or wants to BF. The War was an event in which millions died. No comparison at all."

The comparison was intended to flag up the depths of guilt/anger/defensiveness we've all been witness to in relation to this issue among UK mothers, who have some of the lowest rates for continuing breastfeeding in the developed world despite several decades of enthusiastic and widespread state sponsored promotion of breastfeeding.

So many tales of woe and suffering. A universe of excuses. So much guilt and defensiveness... Which is why I personally NEVER as anyone how they're feeding their baby.

I think you can look at it much more simply though Mini as just being inappropriate to the situation and the fact the woman asking had only just met her.

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