During Breastfeeding Awareness Week 2010, Christy, mom of three, found that the official International Breastfeeding Symbol (created by graphic design artist, Matt Diagle, in 2006) did not quite reflect the realities of nursing her older baby at the time. With a "gold medal in gymnurstics" her now 26-month-old son did not fit the image of a baby nursing in arms. Desiring a fitting image for her Facebook profile picture during Breastfeeding Awareness Week, Christy propositioned her friend at Skribblings by Skratte to come up with a more telling depiction of toddler nursing. "When I first asked him, I wasn't sure how he would react to the request," Christy said. It was a bit different from Skratte's typical images, but in the end "he thought it was really cool."
The International Breastfeeding Symbol was chosen by Mothering Magazine in November, 2006, after more than 500 artists submitted their versions of a symbol. It came upon the heals of Mothering staff noticing an "image of a baby bottle on an airport sign announcing the location of a 'parents lounge' [that] infuriated us and got us thinking: Isn't there an international symbol for breastfeeding?" Too often modern icons used to symbolize baby-friendly locations depict artificial feeding or soothing means, such as bottles and pacifiers. The International Breastfeeding Symbol would fill the gap for a universally accepted and understood symbol for locations where nursing moms are welcome to meet the needs of their little ones.
Daigle, a stay-at-home-father, freelance graphic designer, and cartoonist, said that his breastfeeding wife and son were the inspiration behind his creation. He designed his original icon in the style of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) signs frequently displayed in public settings. They are those that must be able to clearly relay ideas regardless of language or the ability to read or hear. A steadfast advocate for on-cue nursing (anytime, any place), Daigle told Mothering, "As a profoundly deaf individual, I know how important it is to communicate through visual means. This is why I wanted my design to communicate clearly and quickly that breastfeeding facilities are offered or nearby." Find more from Daigle at The Graphix Guy, M.Diagle Toons and read more of his behind the scenes story on the symbol here.
Skratte's alteration of Diagle's design (signed over to public domain) was perfect for Christy, who is now expecting her fourth child. It is symbolic of her youngest son's favorite nursing position, and one that breastfeeding mothers the world over recognize. The feedback on this image came as a welcome surprise to Christy, who says she does not know many other breastfeeding moms in her area, and fewer still who nurse their babies past one year. "I thought I would just post it as my Facebook pic and that would be the end of it. We live in a very rural Midwest area, in a very small town. When I first posted the picture, most of my local friends just said, 'I don't get it...' so I got really (rather stupidly) excited when I saw it was getting so many positive comments, and that so many other parents understood what it meant."
Truly, this nursing position and the fun antics of toddler gymnurstics are ubiquitously recognized on a global scale. As so many will attest in the Joy of Nursing Toddlers, hardly is there a mother who naturally feeds her baby for a normal duration of time that doesn't also find herself as the underside of some milk-making jungle gym at one point or another. Christy is thrilled that despite cultural, language, and even parenting differences, mothers around the globe relate to this toddler icon, "I think that's awesome! I just wish that more of them lived closer to us!"
If you'd like to purchase a poster of this toddler breastfeeding image, or check out more of Skratte's work, visit Skribblings by Skratte on etsy. Christy says, "He is a really great guy, and a very talented artist."
World Breastfeeding Week is scheduled to take place globally August 1-7.
Several peaceful parenting moms and dads had fun altering the toddler image a bit more to place on advocacy shirts for themselves and their little ones. You can find some of their creations available in the breastfeeding section at MadeByMomma:
Breastfeeding Advocacy Shirts & Onesies Available at Made By Momma
Mama's Felt Cafe!
More Breastfeeding Symbols with a Twist!
To add yours to this collection, send to DrMomma.firstname.lastname@example.org
By Cynthia and Danelle:
From the Valentines Day Nurse-In:
Resources for nursing mothers (books, sites, articles) linked on the Breastfeeding Resources Page.