Breastfeeding Hats: Just How Embarrassed are You?

Photo of a mother sitting and smiling as her baby nurses at her breast. The upper half of the baby and the surrounding area is obscured by a hat with a wide brim that the baby is wearing.

The MoBoleez nursing bonnet is a breastfeeding hat for babies. Presumably the name stands for "mobile ease."

Place this hat on your kid and whip out your boob in relative secrecy. The hat’s extra wide brim obscures your sinful nefarious activity.

The MoBoleez is machine washable, made from cotton and bamboo fibers (optionally organic) and has two sizes — birth to 6 months and 6 to 12 months.

So, you are good to go if you only breastfeed for one year. (The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends, "Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child.")

Seeing this hat left me impressed and depressed.

First, it’s sad that some men and women feel the need for women to cover up beyond basic measures for modesty. Pull up your shirt, unhook, place the baby and pull the shirt down to near the baby’s face. You’re done. That’s my wife’s technique when she’s not carrying our son in her Maya Wrap (which acts as an instant concealer).

My wife asks, "Why are people so afraid of boobies?"

I’m slightly skittish. Now on our second child, I’ve mostly gotten over wanting her to drape a swaddling blanket, burp cloth or jacket over her shoulder… except in crowded locations. After you’ve seen your first covert cleavage photographer brush past you at a crowded street fair, you worry a little more about pervs snapping photos of your wife’s boobies.

Second, the hat is an ingenious idea. Instead of mothers wearing blankets, jackets, shawls or specialty aprons, the baby does the work. The more you convince yourself the baby is just wearing a sun hat, the more normal you feel. And hey, a natural method of eliminating the need for sunscreen is a good thing.

And, right now my 4-month-old son is going through a distraction phase. Take 3 sucks and look around. Take 4 more sucks and look around. A hat that blocks his peripheral vision like a horse blinder might help.

However, Non-Toxic Reviews indicates wearing the hat full-time is perhaps not ideal because the hat is "very floppy." My own son despises hats that flop down over his eyes.

Two patent drawings depicting a baby bonnet with a wide forward swooping brim.

A similar invention, also dubbed a nursing bonnet, was patented in 1980. It has two key differences. First, the hat is more of a skull cap with a brim that attaches with Velcro. Second, the design exudes old-timey wholesome goodness you expect to find in a little house on a prairie or at an insular fundamentalist religious compound.

Anyhow, getting back to the title of this article… just how embarrassed are you about breastfeeding around people outside your immediate family? Or even within your immediate family? Would you put a boob-concealing hat on your babe?

Also see previous:

Comments

35 Responses to “Breastfeeding Hats: Just How Embarrassed are You?”

  1. RB says:

    Although I don’t think I would use this hat, I do think that any tool that will help a woman get over her insecurities and allow her to breastfeed comfortably whenever and whereever the baby wants is a good thing. I never thought of myself as a super modest woman or afraid of “boobies” in any sense. I told myself I would just lift up my shirt and do what needed to be done However, with my first child I was insecure enough with the whole process of breastfeeding and babycare that I found myself extremely paranoid about breastfeeding in public. Searching for a hiding place with a fussy baby. This was a completely unexpected feeling. I got over it and did what I needed to do without the aid of some expensive shawl or cover. I knew I had every right to be there and to breastfeed but I still thought the world was watching and judging and for some reason I cared. Now expecting our second child I tell myself again that I won’t be afraid to breastfeed in public but we will see how often I search for a “mother’s room” (why are they always impossible to find and always in need of a cleaning) or find myself squeezed into the back seat of my car.

    July 16th, 2008 at 5:17 am

  2. Sara says:

    Well, I had no problem nursing around most of my family and friends, especially when they came over to visit me in my home, although I felt a bit awkward with my father-in-law in the room. Also, I was a little skittish about nursing in public. So I stayed in a lot, especially those first few months when baby was hungry all the time. Beyond that, any time I was feeling a bit shy, I just tucked a light blanket in my bra strap and used that to conceal the baby and myself. #2 is due this fall, and I think that I would maybe be a little less shy about things, partly out of necessity. With a 2.5 year old at home, we will be out and about doing things more, requiring me to be out with the baby more.

    July 16th, 2008 at 5:22 am

  3. Lindsey says:

    I have no problem feeding my children, even in public. I do try for modesty, and I do my best to leave the peep shows at home. I use a drape or a maya wrap whenever I’m in public.

    I don’t, however, appreciate the nasty looks and rude comments from people when I’m feeding in public.

    Since it is still pretty obvious what one is doing…I don’t think this would help.

    Maybe I just need to move?

    July 16th, 2008 at 5:59 am

  4. Carrie says:

    I, too, told myself that I would not be self-conscious while BF in public. However, when the time came, I found it to be awkward, and not as natural a process as I imagined it would be. I applaud women who make it look so easy! If we go for round three, I’m definitely investing in some sort of baby carrier to make everything a whole lot easier!

    July 16th, 2008 at 6:03 am

  5. Amy says:

    Now nursing my 2nd child, I find it absolutely necessary to feed in public. Sometimes i use a blanket to cover, but with the heat, my poor son sweats and he is more distracted. I only feel bad for my husband, because he feels embarassed and wants to help me cover-up. From what others have told me, you really can’t even notice what is going on, unless you draw attention to it. Yes, I end up nursing in the car often, but that’s only because I can’t find a cool comfortable place elsewhere. No nursing bonnet for me!

    July 16th, 2008 at 6:36 am

  6. Kara says:

    The first week or so, when I was still getting the hang of the whole thing, I was really self-conscious. But I got over it pretty quickly. That hat just looks like a big neon sign that says “Hey look! Breastfeeding going on over here!” It also doesn’t look like it covers the parts that I was concerned about covering. My shirt and the baby kept my breasts pretty well covered, it was my stomach/back that I didn’t want exposed and nursing tanks were my solution to that problem.

    July 16th, 2008 at 6:37 am

  7. Katie says:

    Part of me truly believes that breastfeeding is natural and women should breastfeed shamelessly, no covers or anything, and show their motherhood pride. This part of me finds it very difficult however, to overcome the other part that is sure that every person I see is looking at me and is secretly disturbed by seeing even a completely covered baby. It is a balance.

    I actually find it more awkward around my family and in-laws because of how everybody goes out of their way to give me privacy. It’s easier when you don’t have every other person offering a secluded room or blanket. I know they’re just trying to make me more comfortable, but it ends up making me feel a lot more awkward. Plus, I must admit that having an excuse to take a fifteen minute break from the in-laws is enjoyable at times. :)

    Also, there have been lots of practical problems with discreetly feeding in public. Early on we had a really difficult latch and trying to go through all that under a blanket was difficult and painful. And, while discreetly peeking out a breast and plunking the baby on quickly seems quite acceptable, pulling out a large, very white breast and waving it around in front of the babies face for a couple minutes until she finally get a good latch seems a little more exhibitionist. Now she can latch on with no problems, but is constantly moving, kicking, and pulling. Plus, she also is doing the suck, look around, suck, look around thing, making it difficult to not turn the feeding session into a peep show.

    July 16th, 2008 at 6:43 am

  8. Julie Anne says:

    For me, it is slightly easier to nurse in front of people I will never see again than it is to nurse in front of friends. I have no problem nursing in front of family as I am very discreet.

    I laughed at this silly hat when I first read your post, but I did check out the website and am a little more intrigued… not intrigued enough to buy it though.

    I borrowed my sister-in-law’s maya wrap while on vacation last month and while walking around, my husband heard a dirty old man say “I can’t wait til she feeds her baby.” that is what makes me uncomfortable about breastfeeding in public!!

    July 16th, 2008 at 6:48 am

  9. Lisa says:

    LOL first off, I never had an issue with public breast feeding. I think because of my own confidence, people generally left me alone. The only time I experienced anything was with a friend who was skitterish herself….oh well that was her problem not mine!
    While the idea is a good one for those looking for complete secrecy of just what they are doing…like anyone wouldn’t know lol!
    My kids had realllllly big heads and most hats never fit them!

    July 16th, 2008 at 7:39 am

  10. My Boaz's Ruth says:

    “So, you are good to go if you only breastfeed for one year. ” — and if your baby has an average sized head. Our baby is “Ahead of the curve” and has been in 6-12 months since Easter. He’s not a year old yet.

    July 16th, 2008 at 8:11 am

  11. Nancy says:

    I personally wouldn’t use it, I was an expert at unhooking, latching, and covering. The baby’s head blocked anything onlookers might see. Plus I don’t think either of my boys would have kept it on, it just would have been something else to play with.

    However, if it would make someone else more comfortable and not feel the need to hide in a car or restroom (ick!) then I’m all for it.

    July 16th, 2008 at 8:16 am

  12. Dor says:

    I’ve seen those hats around. Hilarious! My kids won’t even keep normal hats on their heads never mind a tent like that.
    As for nursing in public I wouldn’t mind doing it without a nursing cover if my babies would cooperate but it’s on an off every two seconds and “get this shirt off my face” in between. So yeah, I generally try to find somewhere secluded to nurse as annoying as that is. My sisters are pros at the discreet nursing thing however. They can manage it anywhere.

    July 16th, 2008 at 9:00 am

  13. Carrie says:

    I had no problem with nursing in public. As for privacy, it depended on what I was wearing and where we happened to be. Some days I covered with a thin blanket or a large scarf, other days I didn’t. Sometimes we found a quiet place to nurse, and other days we plunked down on a bench in the middle of the mall.

    As for this cover up, am I the only one that thinks it looks like a giant breast? To me, it just screams “Don’t look! I’m breastfeeding!” While it might cover, there is nothing discreet about it.

    To each her own – you have to find your own comfort level and do what works for you and your baby. Don’t worry about the general public. Most of them are oblivious to what’s going on anyway.

    July 16th, 2008 at 9:10 am

  14. Kate says:

    OK, is it just me or does that thing look a little like a gigantic areola and nipple?

    July 16th, 2008 at 9:44 am

  15. Erin says:

    i think it seems like another silly baby contraption… i can’t even keep a normal hat on my baby while nursing, let alone a huge, floppy one that annoys & distracts my baby !!!

    the hat seems like it would draw more attention to the breastfeeding mother…

    July 16th, 2008 at 9:51 am

  16. Carole says:

    I can’t see it working – at least it wouldn’t have with my son. He wouldn’t even put up with being covered by a blanket while nursing, so this certainly wouldn’t fly. However, if it works for at least one person, then it’s worth it right?

    July 16th, 2008 at 11:50 am

  17. the mama hood says:

    I think this product would work well for smaller babies but once my kids are able to, they would probably end up pulling it off while I am nursing. I think it is a great idea though and it would be nice to have one.

    July 16th, 2008 at 1:01 pm

  18. Julie says:

    I’m with Kate. It looks like a giant fabric nipple stuck on the kids head. I thought it was a tool for Mamas to advertise that their kids was breast fed. I don’t get the concealment value.

    July 16th, 2008 at 6:27 pm

  19. Darby says:

    I think I do pretty well nursing in public without drawing a lot of attention and without flashing anyone. I have never had anyone give me a dirty look or say anything. In my experience, it is not so much about covering up as it is about making a quick and easy position change from holding your baby on your lap to cradling baby at your breast to feed. The more relaxed and natural about it the mom is, the less people even notice what is going on, let alone notice your breast out of your shirt.

    To me, this hat screams “Look at me! I’m feeding my baby from my boob!” I can’t even imagine the attention it would grab from everyone in the room to just whip that hat out and stick it on your baby’s head before getting comfortable to nurse.

    July 16th, 2008 at 6:58 pm

  20. Hope says:

    Wow you’ve gotten a lot of comments with this one! Here’s my two cents anyways…

    I have absolutely no modesty-unfortunately lost it when I was 17 during a game of strip-crazy eights. But that’s another story. I had no problem feeding my babies in front of my FIL, at church, at the mall, in a restaurant… Although we are in Canada, and I think we are more accepting of it up here.
    I also agree that it wasn’t the boobie that I was awkward about, it was the love handles on the side that I didn’t want anyone to see.
    I think this hat might work on a baby if you always put it on him, from the beginning, then he would just become accustomed to wearing it when he eats. (at least in theory)
    But a blanket is so much more versatile! Cover the baby when hes sleeping, wipe up some spit up, sit on at the park, change the baby on in moments of desperation…
    So..bleh, just another baby gimmick that you don’t need.

    July 16th, 2008 at 7:01 pm

  21. Sherri E. says:

    I wouldn’t bother with it. I have nursed my babies anywhere and everywhere– church services, the mall, the floor of the public library, lying on the grass in the park. Wherever they were hungry, that’s where I fed’em. And I liek to think I did a good job of keeping things discreet, but you know what? I don’t really care if I didn’t. The idea that breasts are not to be seen is so culturally narrow.

    I was at a friend’s graduation party with my first son when he was about nine months old. My friend is Nigerian, and she had lots of extended family members there with small children. When my son wanted to nurse, I was so concerned about being “modest” while nursing my son while wearing a lacy party tank top that didn’t provide much coverage that I actually took him into a coat closet to nurse him! One of my friend’s cousins asked my hubs where I went, and then said, “The difference between your wife and an African woman is the African woman would have just pulled out her breast and nursed the baby.”

    After that, I decided I was just going to feed my kids where they were hungry, and let overly-sexualized Westerners deal with their own hangups.

    July 17th, 2008 at 2:45 pm

  22. cancan says:

    Personally, I strangely feel MORE embarassed when I try to conceal the nursing with some contraption like a shawl. I feel like it makes it more obvious and give the impression that I am ashamed. I’m not ashamed, but I also don’t want people to see my boob, because they might be pervs or something.
    I try to make sure the boob is covered, but the baby prefers to be uncovered.

    July 18th, 2008 at 3:47 am

  23. Lori Ingham says:

    It really is all dependent on how comfortable you are with whipping the boob out in public. I’m going to be having my baby in the next couple of months, and will probably wait a couple of weeks before trying the breastfeeding thing in public until I am sure that baby and I have a good latch going with little effort. After that, depending on how things go, I’ll probably opt to either find a cover I can use when out in public, or carry a small cooler around with me to keep breast milk in and bottle feed in public to avoid the whole thing. When I took a class on breastfeeding recently, the lactation consultant who taught the class emphasized to us that breastfeeding is perfectly legal and not considered “indecent exposure” in our state, and that if we ever had any trouble to let her know and she would go to bat for us by writing a letter to remind the business of this.

    I admired my sister in law, though. When we went out to a restaurant one afternoon, with my nephew and niece in tow, she would put a cover on in the restaurant and breastfeed while my niece was underneath. When we went to go shopping for a bra for me to wear under my wedding dress, she used the opportunity to use the dressing room as a feeding location and whipped out her boob in front of me and fed my niece.

    July 18th, 2008 at 6:50 am

  24. Jen M says:

    Right on Sherri.

    There have been a few times I’ve felt the need to use a cover: on a Washington DC metro train during rush hour — in no small part to get the baby to focus on the task at hand — and during a church service Christening — one in which the christened baby was also breastfed, by the way — being the two most memorable and both occasions because complete strangers were within a few inches of me. Otherwise, covers are more hassle than they are worth.

    July 20th, 2008 at 6:13 pm

  25. adrienne says:

    Okay, the hat is silly, but why do these posts always devolve into a commentary that all nursing covers are frivolous nonsense?

    If a nursing cover helps a mom feel comfortable giving her child a healthy start, why must non-cover users go out of their way to criticize?

    Like bras, one size solution doesn’t fit every woman. The experience of a 36C cannot be compared to a 32G or a 40E.

    What’s it to others if a woman wants to wear a cover to hide c-section scars, stretch marks, love handles, or a simply show-stopping set of breasts?

    July 20th, 2008 at 7:15 pm

  26. amy says:

    I’m a huge nurse when and where your child is hungry type of person. I wear nursing tank tops and feel perfectly comfortable nursing when and where I need to. I’ve actually had people be suprised to learn I was nursing. You can’t see a thing. Last week I nursed while walking down the street.
    that said, I think whatever is going to make a woman more comfortable is great.

    July 21st, 2008 at 10:13 am

  27. Andie says:

    I nursed my second child until the age of 2.5 and never could get the hang of using any additional cover-up. Seems a bit bizarre to me-but if it helps mothers nurse more comfortably, thats ok…

    July 21st, 2008 at 11:49 am

  28. kelli says:

    Whatever works. If it makes a mom feel more comfortable about nursing in public, then great. I personally think that the hat screams “hey, I’m breastfeeding over here.”

    July 21st, 2008 at 3:44 pm

  29. ML says:

    I think I’m more public when around other women, but when it’s mixed crowds I feel I have to cover up. Sometimes though when using my BabeAuLait(Hooter Hider) I feel it draws more attention. At least with a blanket it looks more like baby is sleeping. I noticed when I was at the airport with nowhere to sit, I plopped baby into her Ergo and just fed her in there standing by the door. My husband stood discretely to the side she was feeding and it just looked like we were waiting around. This was when she was 7 months old. I wish I figured out how to this months earlier so going out and walking at the mall wouldn’t have been such an ordeal for feeding.

    July 24th, 2008 at 9:11 pm

  30. LIsa says:

    I’d be embarrassed to wear this hat. Honestly, i think that anything extra that you use to cover up that baby whether it be this hat or a blanket will scream, “hello! I’m nursing over here!”. Besides if i’ve ever used this on either of my two children when they were infants, they would have whipped it off in two seconds flat.

    July 27th, 2008 at 2:08 pm

  31. Acadia says:

    I quickly have gotten over any embarrassment about breastfeeding in public, especially since most states in my area have made it a “right” for a woman to do so (and not face indecency charges!). My son really hates hats, so I don’t think he’d go for this product and he even hates it when I try to cover him/me with a shawl when nursing. I try as best I can to cover up a little on a plane or a super public place, but most times you can’t see much since the baby’s mouth is on the nipple most of the time and you can cover a little with a shirt sometimes, too. I say the more we “normalize” breastfeeding in public, the less “shocked” people will be. To anyone who’s shocked by seeing boobs in public, I want to say, “that’s what Nature made them for!”

    August 14th, 2008 at 10:20 am

  32. leah says:

    Can I just say YAY to a supportive husband!

    March 24th, 2009 at 11:13 am

  33. Ari says:

    What leah said +1.. yaaay!

    As for me, I would probably use it, if i had one. Why? not b/c i’m embarassed, but b/c i’m kind of modest that way. It’s just a preference. But… i would think that those apron-like things that go around mommy’s neck are a lot easier to deal with.
    Would I buy this? NO.
    Would I use it if someone gave it to me and i could not for the love of buddha return it? YES.

    April 5th, 2009 at 9:24 am

  34. Amy says:

    Try a Modest Middles Nursing Tanktop. They are really more like an undershirt. It has a deep U shaped front cut out so your back, tummy and sides are covered, you can wear any nursing bra and make any shirt into a nursing shirt. It keeps you covered without adding more fabric to navigate while you get your baby to latch on.

    April 6th, 2009 at 4:35 pm

  35. Brittany says:

    Brilliant! I have to have one. I am by far the least modest person I know. For me, it’s not about me being modest or uncomfortable nursing openly; I have come up against a lot of discomfort from male members of my family. This has made me more conscious of other people’s feelings, and my need to accommodate them. That being said… I live in Florida where it is generally too darn hot to keep covered up with a blanket or shawl all the time. A sun hat would be the perfect solution. Then I’m not stuck roasting to death under a blanket while I feed my baby.

    May 1st, 2009 at 6:24 pm

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