After a hotly debated ban on Big Gulps earlier this year, Michael Bloomberg is now launching the Latch On NYC nursing initiative in early September, which will encourage hospitals to keep formula locked away so it will need to be signed out by nurses like medication. Moms who want to formula-feed will still be able to, but they will first receive a talk outlining the benefits of nursing. The hope is that this voluntary program will promote breastfeeding as the default option and make it a bit harder to reach for formula.
At NYU Langone Medical Center, which has already implemented the program, breast-feeding rates among new moms have increased from 39 to 68 percent. The program has also drawn praise from the The National Alliance for Breast-feeding Advocacy. However, some critics say the program is heavy-handed and lays on the guilt for moms who choose not to nurse, or who are just having problems getting it down. 27 of 40 NYC hospitals have already eliminated gift bag freebies from formula companies.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first six months of life, since studies have shown it bolsters the immune system and decreases the chance of obesity later in life, among other benefits.