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Sweden considers banning babies from formula ads

Nadine Bells
Shine On
November 8, 2012

It appears there's a fine line between promoting breastfeeding and villainizing infant-formula users — and Sweden may be about to cross it.

The Swedish government is concerned that images of babies on infant-formula packaging idealizes the product's use and might dissuade some mothers from breastfeeding -- the recommended choice by doctors, but not always a realistic option for many mothers.

It's solution? Ban all photos of babies in formula marketing.

Also see: Kenyan mom names twins Barack Obama and Mitt Romney: Other bizarre baby names

"The law, under preparation by Sweden's ministry for rural affairs, would mean that ads for infant formula could only be published in scientific journals and in publications specializing in infant care," the Local reports.

"It would also ban infant formula makers from featuring babies on the packaging, to avoid idealizing use of the product. Instead, packaging should feature a graphic description of how to prepare the product."

The Swedish law, if passed, would come into effect on August 1, 2013.

Offering free or discounted samples of the formula would also be forbidden, as would any packaging that implies that infant formula is a "good alternative or better choice to breastfeeding," the Swedish paper continues.

Also see: Will Hurricane Sandy cause a mini-baby boom?

Naturally, the proposed ban is not without its critics.

"If you can breast-feed, Sweden offers a haven of privacy, even in public. No one bats an eye when a mother whips out a boob to feed their baby, be it on a park bench, a bus or, my personal favourite, down the frozen vegetable aisle in the supermarket," writes the Local's Christine Demsteader.

"Yet Sweden makes a failure of mothers that can't. Formula is as poo-poo'ed as a freshly filled nappy. Midwives will encourage the try-again method until mums shed more tears than their child and the only thing the doctor can prescribe to cure mastitis is a dose of antidepressants."

The Stir's Mary Fischer echoes Demsteader's concern.

"I don't care where in the world you live, a mother should never be made to feel like she's doing something wrong because of how she chooses to nourish her child," she writes.

Last week, a father wrote an article for The Atlantic about his wife's struggle to breastfeed. Formula, for them, was the best choice for their family — and a decision they felt judged for making.

What are your thoughts on the proposed Swedish ban? Smart move or unnecessarily divisive?

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