The Story of the International Breastfeeding Symbol

How Matt Daigle’s artwork became known around the world

Peggy O'Mara
6 min readAug 27, 2021

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Photo by Laura Egley-Taylor

In the early 2000s, I heard a lecture by Dr. Jack Newman, who has been helping breastfeeding mothers and babies for nearly 40 years. He was dismayed by the ubiquity with which the bottle is used as a cultural symbol for baby, feeding, and parenthood. Images of baby bottles abound in our culture. We see them on shower gifts, wrapping paper, gift bags, decorated streamers, balloons, cards and clothing. Children’s books are full of images of baby bottles. Baby dolls usually come with tiny baby bottles. And, baby bottle images have often been used in public places like airports and convention centers, to designate child and/or family friendly facilities or services.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), this imagery undermines breastfeeding and promotes the use of breast-milk substitutes.

Babies who are exclusively breastfed are 14 times less likely to die than babies who are not breastfed. However, today, only 41% of infants 0–6 months old are exclusively breastfed, a rate WHO Member States have committed to increasing to at least 50% by 2025. Inappropriate marketing of breast-milk substitutes continues to undermine efforts to improve breastfeeding rates and the COVID-19 crisis is intensifying the threat.

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Peggy O'Mara

Peggy O’Mara is an award winning journalist. She was the Editor and Publisher of Mothering Magazine for over 30 years. Her focus is Family, Health, and Justice.