Breast versus bottle: The feeding of babies in English and Swedish picturebooks

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Breastfeeding is a natural act, and humans have evolved to feed their babies in this way. However, it is generally not depicted in English-language picturebooks. In this article, I analyse how babies and toddlers are fed in picturebooks and explore why bottle-feeding is the prevalent method, and then I compare this to Swedish-language picturebooks. This analysis suggests a number of salient points and areas for further exploration. First of all, breastfeeding of babies and toddlers mainly only is depicted in books that are either about new babies or that are about breastfeeding, and even when breastfeeding is seen in these works, the mother’s breasts are often scarcely visible. The reason that breastfeeding is not often depicted in children’s books seems to be because society is uncomfortable with seeing breasts except as sexual objects, and also because formula-feeding is more prevalent in western society today. Breasts appear to be too sensual to be seen carrying out their primary evolutionary function.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • breastfeeding
  • picturebooks
  • artificial feeding methods
  • breasts

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