If you smoke, drink Big Gulps, and want to bottlefeed your baby, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg hates you. Bloomberg’s latest mission is to join state officials to discourage mothers of newborns from feeding their infants from a bottle. Letters from the state have been sent to hospitals informing them that the state is vitally interested in limiting the formula that newborns consume and will enforce regulations that deem how much formula is necessary. Bloomberg himself has instructed hospitals to lock up their baby formula so it can’t be abused; his plan, which goes into effect September 3, forces hospitals to keep records of how their formula is used.
Many mothers are furious with the invasion of their rights, and feel that the mayor is trying to publicly humiliate those mothers who choose the bottle. Rene Syler, writing on her website Goodenoughmother.com, said, “I breastfed both of my kids and it took me a good three weeks before I figured it out. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be in the hospital with someone sort of standing over your shoulder and lecturing you every time you ask for a bottle to feed your crying baby.”
At present, only infants who have a medical excuse and a doctor’s order can consume formula in New York hospitals. But this hasn’t stopped new mothers from using the bottle; less than 40% of newborns are exclusively breastfed, and about half of newborns consumed some formula as a supplement.
The obvious question is, when did it become the government’s job to get involved in the feeding of infants? It is entirely possible that Bloomberg and co. were frustrated that a segment of the population had eluded their control; after all, infants don’t drink Big Gulps or smoke, and thus were heretofore immune from the clutches of the nanny state.
But now they’ve been targeted. If they get caught sneaking a baby bottle in an old paper bag, look out.