So if other diners are not permitted to consume their own food on restaurant premises, what makes babies so special?
Sorry, but much though I'm convinced by the health benefits of breastfeeding, I also believe in the right of other diners to the experience that they are paying to enjoy. Is it not bad enough that many a dining experience in this country is marred by someone's darling little anklebiters running amok?
And what of the dignity of mother and child? Is there some strange new phenomenon causing every recent mother to experience a yen to transform herself into a militant breastfeeding exhibitionist who seeks to deliberately foist her most intimate bonding moments onto a non-appreciative captive audience?
It goes without saying that cafes and restaurants should provide baby facilities and maintain said in hygienic condition. However there is also a good argument for SEPARATE cafes and restaurants for young families in my view. Surely there'd be a ready market for them? How much better that a new mother should have the easy camaraderie of other new mothers around her, and for any respective older offspring to network new friends simultaneously?
Of course breastfeeding is 'natural', but then so is defecation, and few people have yet begun to do this in public, just because the public facilities for doing so are often less than desirable.
Finally, rights aside, nothing outclasses human dignity for cultivating the greatest respect for the needs of others.
NB: On the subject of older children running amok in cafes and restaurants (and ok I admit there's a touch of 'green eye' here on the part of a former anklebiter who was forced to sit still and silent with a colouring book for many a tedious hour), I witnessed a canny piece of marketing and toddler control on the part of a cafe owner the other day. Two under-fives at the next table astounded me by talking in whispers and behaving impeccably for the duration of a family lunch. As the family got up to leave, all became clear. The cafe owner rushed up to them and rewarded the children for being 'such good girls!' with a large gold chocolate medallion apiece, and was in turn rewarded by two huge gappy grins and the sure and certain knowledge that he had effectively 'groomed' two determined mini marketeers who were not about to let their parents dine anywhere else in that cafe-heavy city centre, old fashioned though his establishment was by comparison, with not a cappuccino machine in sight.