Sitting in my son's pediatrician's office, I noticed a half dozen cans of sample baby formula on the counter. I frowned, not because I think formula feeding is wrong, but because I think formula feeding being the norm is wrong.
Why is normal so important? Seth Godin, a marketing blogger I follow, posted about the "power of normal" in a recent post. (The other way I spend my time, after being a mommy, is head of marketing for a nonprofit.) He used the example of taxi cabs that now take credit cards and offer tip amounts of $2, $3, and $4. "You can decide to be a cheapskate and hit the $2 button.... Except that if you had paid cash, you probably would have tipped 75 cents for that $4.25 ride." The button cues us to what is normal and we fall in line.
So what do cans of formula in a pediatricians cue us to? That formula feeding is normal, and we should fall in line. How can we change this?
First, next to those cans of formula should be breastfeeding posters and literature, all with pictures of women breastfeeding. The information should include helpful resources such as videos, books, and websites--and most important, access to one-on-one help by phone (a hotline that can give basic information and referrals to lactation consultants or other professionals, 24 hours a day, would be a great start).
Eventually, move those cans of formula into the medicine cabinet, leaving only the breastfeeding stuff. If every pediatrician and hospital in America did this over the next five years, just through the cueing alone, we could make great strides toward our goal of getting 75% of new moms breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of life.