I have to admit. It’s been years since I made a visit to Sesame Street. I won’t give away my kids’ ages, but let’s just say one is Gen X and the other
a millennial. And, when my older grandchildren were Sesame Street age, I didn’t watch it with them.
So, I’ve been out of Big Bird’s neighborhood for a while, but neighborhood gossip tends to travel.
I’ve heard some parents have concerns, and more than 30,000 of them have signed a petition because Sesame Street no longer shows mothers
I can understand their concern. In a nation where 17 percent of children between the ages
of 2 and 19 are obese, breastfeeding is one way to turn this trend around.
Joan Younger Meek, MD, MS, RD, IBCLC, is chair of the United States Breastfeeding Committee. In a February 2010 release on the committee’s
website, Meek says, "Multiple studies have shown that a history of not breastfeeding increases the risk of being overweight or obese in childhood and adolescence. Adolescent obesity often persists into adult
life. Breastfeeding plays an important role in obesity prevention and improving overall health outcomes, and therefore is vitally important to public
Curbing obesity, of course, is just one of many benefits mothers
give their children by choosing to breast feed them.
The buzz is that Sesame Street programming only shows bottle feeding these days.
An MSNBC.com Today article
includes this email response from the program as its explanation:
“Sesame Street is a research-based educational program for preschoolers. Each new season is designed to teach a specific curriculum; this year’s
curriculum is science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Sesame Street does not have a mandate against breastfeeding, and the show never
made a switch to portray bottle-feeding only. We have depicted breastfeeding in the past, and would include it again in the future if it was a
natural part of the storyline.”
Well, gee, Sesame Street, last time I checked, biology was a science. And, there’s more biology at play in the act of breastfeeding than there is in a
baby bottle, I’d say.
Here is a clip from the bygone days of the ’70s and ’80s when Sesame Street showed breastfeeding babies and their mommies on the show:
And here is a more recent one:
My youngest grandchild, breastfed like her mother, aunt and cousins, is just three months old. The American Academy of Pediatrics says she
shouldn’t watch TV
until she’s two, so we’re not watching Sesame Street yet.
I have to admit, from a health care communicator’s point of view, I’m kind of hoping that those petitions work, the show comes to its senses, and that
in 21 months, when we “get to Sesame Street,” we’ll see a mommy feeding her baby just like in the “good old days.”
By the way, in an online poll accompanying the Today Show article, 75 percent of readers agree with me.