A Breastfeeding Education Activity Package for Grades K-12


Students will be motivated to choose breastfeeding (when and if they have children) as it is the optimal form of nutrition for humans in most cases.


Breastfeeding is Best examines cultural attitudes relating to breastfeeding locally, nationally, and on a worldwide basis. Breastfeeding is the "norm" in many countries yet it continually needs to be promoted. There are many factors that can cause a woman to give up on breastfeeding or to avoid the experience altogether.

Lessons 1 and 2 examine disadvantages and advantages of breastfeeding in developing countries. Students are also required to examine personal attitudes as well as those within their own families.

Lessons 3, 4, and 5 recognize that there are many factors that lead a person to choose breastfeeding versus bottlefeeding. Social factors can enhance or inhibit one's decision to breastfeed, as can the nutritional, health, economic, and political implications of breastfeeding.

Lessons 6 and 7 look at breastfeeding basics such as how do you hold the baby, how do you know you are producing enough milk, how do you eat properly, etc. This final unit promotes a real understanding of the "how-tos" of breastfeeding.


Breastmilk is the optimal food for infants in most cases.

Before You Start:

This unit is a culmination of all the previous lessons on breastfeeding. It is very specific in order to help students truly feel knowledgeable and skillful. Included in these lessons are ways to reach out to the community at large to further promote breastfeeding and to break down some of the barriers that may exist which negatively influence a woman's choice regarding breastfeeding. Through this community involvement, students can develop positive attitudes related to breastfeeding and influence others to be accepting of breastfeeding.

It is hoped that they will be able to influence more people to choose breastfeeding, to continue to do so for an increased duration, and to effectively bring about change to increase sensitivity towards the promotion of breastfeeding at home, school, or in the workplace.

1-2. Around the World Social Studies, Global Studies, Health, Nutrition, Language Arts, Home Economics
3-5. So Many Decisions English, Consumer Health, Language Arts, Art, Social Studies, Math, Home Economics
6-7. Basics of Breastfeeding Nutrition, Health, Child Development, Family Life, Art, Home Economics

Resources for Breastfeeding is Best

  • Curricula
    • Great Beginnings: Nutrition Curriculum for Pregnant and Parenting Teens. University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, April 1991.
    • Choosing a Healthy Start (Nutrition for Pregnant Teens). Nutrition Branch, awaii State Department of Health, July 1992.
    • Sound Nutrition for Teenage Mothers-To-Be: Florida Nutrition Education and Training Program. Tallahassee, Florida 1991.
  • Pamphlets
    • "Breastfeeding: Getting Started in 5 Easy Steps." Childbirth Graphics.
    • "Nutrition and Successful Breastfeeding". Hawaii State Department of Health, August 1991.
    • "Have You Thought About Breastfeeding Your Baby?" New Hampshire WIC Program.
  • Booklets
    • Breastfeeding. Ross Laboratories. Columbus, Ohio 1991.
    • Gerber Breastfeeding and You. Fremont, Michigan 1990.
    • A Guide to Beginning Breastfeeding. Women's Health Services. Albany Medical Center, Albany, New York 1992.
  • Video
    • "Feeding Your Baby" part I - Breastfeeding. Mead, Johnson & Company. Evansville, Indiana, 1991.
    • "A Healthier Baby by Breastfeeding" Childbirth Graphics. Waco, Texas, 1990.

Breastfeeding is considered the "norm" throughout most of the world.

Lessons 1 & 2 Social Studies, Global Studies, Health, Nutrition, Language Arts, Home Economics


Advance Preparation:

  • Call a local WIC agency for some statistics on breastfeeding.
  • Choose countries for a mini-research assignment.
  • Photocopy "My Attitudes About Breastfeeding".
  • Contact various people to serve on a panel to discuss human milk versus formula.

Activities: Lesson 1

  • Have each student go home and ask if (s)he was breastfed or bottlefed. Find out if parents were breast or bottle fed. Make a graph with results. Was breastfeeding more popular among the students (when they were infants) or the adults (when they were infants).
  • Contact a local WIC agency to see if they have any statistics on breastfeeding among other cultures? Other countries? Is breastfeeding on the rise? decline? Have the numbers of mothers choosing breastfeeding increased or decreased over the years.
  • List some advantages of breastfeeding in developing countries:
    • always the right temperature... does not need to be heated
    • sanitation is sometimes poor... breastmilk does not need to be mixed with water
    • it can help space pregnancies cutting down on over-population (not 100 percent reliable contraception especially when other foods are given to baby)
    • breastfed babies are less likely to get diarrhea or respiratory illness
    • breastmilk (even among malnourished mothers) is more likely to help a baby achieve normal weight for age
  • List some possible dangers that bottlefeeding may create in developing countries.
    • There is a lack of cleanliness and clean water. Infection may be given to baby from unclean bottles as well as from germs in the water which is mixed with powdered formula.
    • Many mothers in poor countries cannot read so they may not follow instructions correctly on quantity of powder to use to prepare formula milk.
    • In addition to not being able to read, poverty may influence a mother to use less formula (powder) in order to save money. This would cut down on the nutritional value of the formula.
    • Cost may be a large deterrent to bottlefeeding. Breastfeeding is free.
    • Refrigeration is a problem in developing countries. Once formula is mixed, there may not be adequate refrigeration to store it properly.

Lesson 2

  • Cultural beliefs affect peoples' decisions regarding breastfeeding. Assign various countries to students to study the attitude of breastfeeding in countries around the world.
  • Read the news article, "It's Natural, and Now It's Legal in Florida", about breastfeeding in public. How does one's culture support or discourage breastfeeding? Debate both sides of the issue about Florida's ruling that allows a woman to breastfeed in public.
  • Pass out the student worksheet, "My Attitudes About Breastfeeding". Allow time for students to read statements and respond. Discussion should follow. (It will probably be a lively debate. Allow for individual differences and help students find ways to accept differences.)


Invite a panel to discuss breastfeeding versus bottlefeeding. Include members from La Leche, formula representatives from Similac, Enfamil, etc., Cooperative Extension agents, pediatrician, allergist, etc. After the panel has concluded, students can write an essay supporting bottlefeeding or breastfeeding. They should include information presented by the panel to support their position.

Choosing to breastfeed is a decision that must consider social, economic, nutritional, and health implications.

Lessons 3, 4, & 5 English, Consumer Health, Language Arts, Home Economics, Art, Social Studies, Math


Advance Preparation:

  • Call a WIC nutritionist to determine an average amount of formula consumption per day for a 1-3 month old infant.
  • Gather addresses of companies who produce formula.
  • Borrow a breast pump (hand or electrical) to demonstrate its use on a breast model from Childbirth Graphics, Ltd.
  • Make arrangements for industrial arts/technology department to print a local directory of agencies that help promote/support breastfeeding.
  • Photocopy community project list.

Activities: Lesson 3

  • Collect pamphlets about breast- and bottle-feeding from doctors, childbirth-educators, WIC agencies, State Departments of Health, La Leche, Cooperative Extension, etc. Distribute pamphlets to students so they can read them. Ask them to list advantages and disadvantages of each. Which had more advantages? Did the advantages outweigh the disadvantages? If you were choosing to nurse a baby, which would you choose and why?
  • Write to some infant formula companies that produce pamphlets on infant nutrition. After reading them over, decide which one gave the most accurate information. Was there a hidden message in the pamphlet? Look at some parenting magazines. Is formula advertised? What message(s) is (are) given?

Lesson 4

  • Calculate the cost of using formula versus breastfeeding for one week, one month, four months, six months, and a year. Is the savings worth considering?
  • Divide into groups of four or five. Choose one item per group that one might need to purchase for a new baby. Do a consumer product comparison and select a particular model. Defend why a particular model was chosen. Products could include: cribs, strollers, breast pumps, car seat, infant carrier, changing table, etc.
  • Bring a breast pump to demonstrate how it works using a breast model (available through Childbirth Graphics, Ltd.). Brainstorm advantages and disadvantages to using a breast pump to express milk. Examine some difficulties women experience if they are attempting to express milk and return to work (unclean facilities, no way to store milk at correct temperature, negative attitude of fellow employees, not enough breaktime, etc.). How could some of these difficulties be addressed to help the nursing mom continue breastfeeding while working? Should employers provide time for employees to continue breastfeeding?

Lesson 5

  • Develop a local directory of organizations that help promote breastfeeding. Have them printed by the industrial arts/ technology department and distribute to obstetricians who can then pass them out to their parents.
  • Role play the following scenarios:
    • (A) Maria, age 17, knows that breastmilk would be the best first food for her newborn son José. She wants to breastfeed but worries she will not have time with her busy schedule: school, work, and homework. What advice would you give Maria?
    • (B) Kris was prepared to breastfeed when her baby was born. What she was not prepared for was the lack of support from her mom. Mom felt it was better to bottlefeed a baby and was putting a lot of pressure on Kris to bottlefeed rather than breastfeed. What advice would you give Kris?
    • (C) Tom learned about how nutritious breastmilk is for babies. He really wants his wife Sandy to breastfeed their new baby when (s)he arrives. Sandy is planning to go back to work within eight weeks and does not think it will be useful to breastfeed. What advice would you give Tom and Sandy?
    • (D) Tina had a son four months ago. She has returned to work and plans to "pump" or express her milk on her breaks. She must go into the ladies room at work and she feels embarrassed that someone might walk in on her while she is expressing the milk. What advice would you give Tina?


Choose one of the following areas to participate in a community effort to promote breastfeeding.

  • (a) Survey local pregnant teens regarding their feelings toward breastfeeding. Develop a strategy to help them become more comfortable and accepting of breastfeeding.
  • (b) Survey the local hospital(s) education department as it relates to staff promoting breastfeeding and conducting breastfeeding training. Include areas of improvement to increase the number of nursing mothers.
  • (c) Involve the student council and school administration in providing programs to meet the needs of pregnant teens. Suggest an atmosphere where a teen would be able to breastfeed her child while she continues her education.
  • (d) Create a public service announcement regarding the benefits of breastfeeding.
  • (e) Contact a legislator regarding laws that prohibit or promote breastfeeding in public. Write a letter in support of breastfeeding in public.

It takes time and practice to experience success in breastfeeding.

Lessons 6 & 7 Nutrition, Health, Child Development, Family Life, Art


Advance Preparation:

  • Order or borrow "Choosing a Healthy Start" from your state's nutrition coordinator.
  • Order/photocopy "Breastfeeding Basics," "Good Nutrition for Breastfeeding Moms" and "Nutrition and Successful Breastfeeding".
  • Develop a grading sheet for reports on aspects of breastfeeding.
  • Order slides, "Eating is Basic 2 Your Infant" and "Have You Thought About Breastfeeding Your Baby".

Activities: Lesson 6

  • View video, "Choosing a Healthy Start" by Hawaii State Department of Health. Plan a one-week menu using Food Choices for Pregnancy from Nutrition for Life 9-12 (page 55).
  • Read "Breastfeeding Basics in Nutrition for Life 9-12" (pages 67-68), "Good Nutrition for Breastfeeding Mothers", and "Nutrition and Successful Breastfeeding". Compare a one-week diet for a breastfeeding mom to a pregnant woman's weekly menu. What are some of the similarities and differences. (Similarities will include avoid drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes; and limit sugars, fats, and salty foods. Differences will include: take in additional calories if nursing; increase in number of servings of fruits and vegetables, breads and cereals; and increase fluid intake.)

Lesson 7

Divide students into groups of 2 or 3. They should do a research paper on one topic.

  • Students may use library materials, publications distributed by hospitals, and other nutrition-related agencies. Possible topics include:
    • Positions for breastfeeding
    • Recommendations for frequency of feedings
    • Breastmilk: content and quantity
    • Expressing and storing breastmilk
    • Returning to work while continuing breastfeeding
    • Healthful practices for mother while nursing
    • When nursing is not the best choice
    • Breastfeeding and contraception effectiveness
    • Weaning a baby
    • Breast care and health problems related to breastfeeding
    • The "let-down" reflex - what is it?
    • View the "Eating Right is Basic 2 Feeding Your Infant" slides from Michigan State University Cooperative Extension Service. Review advantages and disadvantages of breast and bottle feeding.


Using the "Have You Thought About Breastfeeding Your Baby" pamphlet, develop posters/pamphlets to be placed in the waiting rooms of obstetricians and labor and delivery rooms.