Disney and Similac Team Up to Undermine Breastfeeding for Moms

4 Oct

I was alerted to a press release on Twitter discussing a partnership between Disney and Similac.  The release states:

We are very excited to introduce a brand new Similac partner opportunity — Pediatric Kits! It’s just announced but we’ve already brought in Blairex and Olan Mills as new partners. Similac will be delivering over 2 million Ped Kits to OB/GYN offices all over the country this year. That’s a great way for the right brands to meet new moms and their little bundles of joy! It’s been an amazing few years working with Abbot Nutrition. We’ve seen the Similac program double in terms of new partners and we’ve been a part of helping monitize the initiative with over a million dollars in new revenue.

Also, this just in: we’re pleased to announce the recent signing of Disney as one of our newest Similac Co-op partners. Look for exclusive Disney offerings in our Similac Discharge kits beginning this Fall.

Reading this, I am absolutely horrified.  First of all, the so called “Pediatric Kits” are nothing more than items designed to undermine breastfeeding.  These kits are given out with coupons and formula and bottles so that mothers have them within ready access.  If something is difficult with breastfeeding and the mom does not have the help they need to breastfeed, these “kits” come in handy.   The middle of the night desperation is exactly what the formula companies are banking on.

The partnership idea is particularly gross to me because these companies add something else to the kit – something that is appealing to an even wider group. Breastfeeding mothers who would otherwise refuse the kit, may take it because of cereal, clothing, or Disney coupons or samples (things that have nothing to do with breastfeeding).  Once that kit is in the house, the undermining of breastfeeding happens.

Finally, it is clear that this is all revenue driven because the release discusses the money that they are making!  These kits are not about helping out new moms, they are about selling a product.  The only way to sell formula is if people are not breastfeeding.  A way to stop people from breastfeeding is to market formula in sneaky and underhanded ways like giving out “pediatric kits” in hospitals full of formula and coupons to Disney.

I wish companies like Disney would support breastfeeding.  Breastfeeding lounges in hospitals sponsored by Disney or other companies could be an interesting thing.  The company could promote their brand, while giving much needed funds to help breastfeeding mothers.

Food for thought.



35 Responses to “Disney and Similac Team Up to Undermine Breastfeeding for Moms”

  1. Nicole McKay October 18, 2011 at 12:57 am #

    Big companies don’t see breastfeeding as big business – yet they overlook the things a mother may need for breastfeeding. Like you mentioned in your post, increasing nursing rooms, or maybe even breastfeeding goodie bags that include local LLL resources, nursing pads, teas to enjoy…

    Disappointing to see that partnership. Breastfeeding mothers are undermined so often. All you have to do is look at the number of moms and babies who leave the hospital breastfeeding and then follow them up 1-3 months later. All those samples in easy reach can be tempting, feel like it is easier, yet there is no warning as to how it will impact milk supply, possibly change the latch or create other problems.

    Thank you for bringing this to light and continuing to educate breastfeeding mothers.

    • jexalt October 21, 2011 at 8:22 pm #

      Thanks for your comment! I love the idea of breastfeeding goodie bags. A nice water bottle – or tea – comes in so handy when you settle in for a long nursing session!

  2. Nancy F IBCLC October 18, 2011 at 1:25 pm #

    How sad, who would think that Disney would need to stoop so low. Another one bites the dust…

    • jexalt October 21, 2011 at 8:23 pm #

      I am pretty disappointed. My daughter loved the princesses as a girl and my son is going to be Buzz Lightyear for Halloween. I feel very duped.

  3. Suzy Provine October 18, 2011 at 4:44 pm #

    The link for the press release isn’t working for me. Would love to read it for myself before sharing.

    • jexalt October 21, 2011 at 8:24 pm #

      They took it down. I find that interesting in and of itself…

  4. Caroline October 19, 2011 at 1:17 am #

    >These kits are not about helping out new moms, they are about selling a product.

    So true.

    > Breastfeeding lounges in hospitals sponsored by Disney or other companies could be an interesting thing.

    Wonderful idea!

  5. jexalt October 21, 2011 at 8:24 pm #

    Thanks for your comment!

  6. Natalie October 23, 2011 at 11:55 pm #

    The one negative nursing experience I’ve ever had happened in Walt Disney World. Just shameful.

    • jexalt October 25, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

      😦 What happened?

  7. Tangie May October 24, 2011 at 2:31 am #


    • jexalt October 25, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

      It is disappointing!

  8. kelly October 24, 2011 at 3:26 am #

    I think they are great. Not all moms breastfeed and they come in handy.

    • jexalt October 25, 2011 at 12:05 pm #

      Kelly, I agree. Not all moms can breastfeed. If someone cannot breastfeed, they will purchase their own formula and bottles. When someone wants to breastfeed and is having difficulties, having a kit like this around, can cause a lot of problems.

  9. miriam October 24, 2011 at 6:57 am #

    Fyi- If you have never been to either Disney park in the US, let me tell you from experience-ONE nursing room per park. Not a plastic chair in the bathroom or any other accomodation and when I wrote after a trip to Florida they were not so receptive. I explained how they need chairs in the bathrooms at least bkz the park is HUGE and you need a map and your five month old is screaming….. They just reminded me of their lovely nursing area (it is very nice if you can find it)

    • jexalt October 25, 2011 at 12:06 pm #

      Doesn’t sound fun at all!

  10. tresa gielen October 24, 2011 at 9:18 am #

    really disgusting money making disney !!!! this is almost as bad as the USA selling fanta to NAZI germany.
    promoting formula feeding to an age-group that can actually drink normal breastmilk or cow milk, multimillion dollars are clearly way more important than brainy,healthy kids. DISNEY DICKHEADS

  11. Meg October 24, 2011 at 8:03 pm #

    One of the nice things about going to a birthing center was a lack of this kind of commercial push. The midwives did essentially give me a “breastfeeding goodie bag” when we left — yummy herbal tea for me, a shirt & bottom cream for baby.

    • jexalt October 25, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

      This sounds so good, Meg! I wish there was more of this!

  12. Karisa Prestera October 24, 2011 at 10:10 pm #

    I think you should present Disney with the Idea of breastfeeding lounges. That’s great! However, I don’t think there is any need to feel DUPED by Disney. Both Disney and Similac are GIANT corporations. A corporations goal is to make money and corporate partnerships are a fabulous way to make money. Its nice if they can help people along the way, but that’s not always the goal. I’m willing to bet Similac believes they are helping people with their products. Even if they don’t believe that, its possible they’ve convinced the executives in charge of partnering at Disney that they ARE. While it may seem like Disney is pushing an anti breastfeeding agenda its more likely they are just looking for new ways to make money. If you were Disney and your goal was making money, why would you NOT partner with Similac….Maybe, Since Disney is run by men they THINK they are helping women and we are the ones who have to let them know they are not.

    • jexalt October 25, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

      I have no doubt that making money is the objective. Disney will make money no matter who they are partnered with. I wish they would consider their partnerships more carefully.

  13. Cass October 25, 2011 at 1:16 am #

    The Disney parks are incredibly supportive to breastfeeding mothers, something I rarely find vacationing in this country, and they are protected from harrassment so long as they’re there. You can choose to breastfeed in the nursing lounge or out in public no questions asked. Food for thought. They might be selling a product, but so is every single person sending you stuff for your newborns, so how Disney is so much worse than the rest is beyond me. Some of us (myself included) will never be able to breastfeed. I hate this fact, but it is a fact. Some of us do need help when our children are just born and hungry. This helps women like me.

    I understand breastfeeding isn’t getting the acceptance it deserves, and it should without reason, but to go the fully opposite route and make it difficult for those of us with medical conditions that prevent breastfeeding is rather hypocritical.

    • jexalt October 25, 2011 at 12:10 pm #

      No one is preventing people with medical conditions from formula feeding. People who are formula feeding will formula feed whether they have a kit or not. The lack of a kit does not prevent people from feeding their kid whatever they want.

      The presence of the kit can undermine breastfeeding.

  14. nikki October 25, 2011 at 1:27 am #

    I think it is great that they offer these kits to new moms. I am 100% pro breastfeeding but sometimes it doesn’t work out and other times it isn’t an option. I don’t think people are going to be drawn away from breastfeeding because they picked up a package with freebies at the Doctor’s office. If you can’t breastfeed or you choose not to you shouldn’t be judged and you should have the best alternative options presented and available.

    • Suzy October 25, 2011 at 11:59 am #

      Unfortunately, research shows that these gift bags from the formula companies do actually affect how long a woman continues to breastfeed. Surprisingly, it doesn’t even matter if the formula samples are removed from the bag. Just the presence of a gift with a formula company’s name on it reinforces the idea that formula is an acceptable alternative and that the hospital endorses it. This has been proven to shorten the length of time that a woman breastfeeds her baby.
      Gifts from a business that can negatively affect a baby’s and a woman’s health have no place in a hospital or a doctor’s office.

    • jexalt October 25, 2011 at 12:11 pm #

      I agree that people who can’t breastfeed shouldn’t be judged. There is research that shows that these kits do undermine breastfeeding. I think you’ve inspired a new post!

  15. Maria Lianos-Carbone (@amotherworld) October 25, 2011 at 11:05 am #

    Interesting – would love to read the press release too!

  16. jexalt October 25, 2011 at 12:15 pm #

    I can’t find the release online anymore, Maria. I wonder why it was taken down?

  17. Susan October 25, 2011 at 8:59 pm #

    I really must speak up for the formula feeders. Those KITS cost them lots of extra money because they will pay higher prices for their formula so Abbot and Disney can hand out promotional samples to undermine women who want to breastfeed from doing so effectively. Formula feeding mothers should be on the front lines objecting to having to pay for all the promotional samples that are not needed and wasted by mothers who don’t need it. In the end any small amount of promotional samples that formula feeding mothers may receive is but a pittance compared to the amount of extra money they are spending to cover the costs of marketing, distribution, and manufacturing of those kits.

  18. Mary-Jane Sackett October 25, 2011 at 10:38 pm #

    “Hospitals should be in the business of marketing health, nothing else.” (Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition bumper sticker) Any health care professional who hands out these freebies/goodie bags is an unpaid marketer for the formula companies. We should all remember, if you sell more breastfeeding, you sell less formula, or turned around, if you sell more formula, you sell less breastfeeding. So sad that HCP’s are taken in by the free dinners and giveways that formula companies offer with their “free” continuing education credits that are really a front for marketing and advertising to health care providers.

  19. edgerules October 26, 2011 at 4:51 pm #

    Well, I don’t have kids, but I think this pandering by Disney and Similac just stinks. I think it really is sad to undermine breastfeeding which everyone should know is best. I mean, if a woman is able to do it, it is highly recommended.

  20. Court November 1, 2011 at 4:49 am #

    After reading the article, I don’t see what the big deal is. They’re not saying anything against breastfeeding. And frankly, I’m sure there are mom’s out there that choose/prefer bottle feeding to breastfeeding. That’s their choices to make so I don’t see the big deal of having a nice little kit put together for mom’s who would want that. If mom’s want to breastfeed then they can simply breastfeed and not worry about taking them. The idea that it’ll “undermine” breastfeeding cause it’s in the house is just silly. As a mom you either want to stick to it or you don’t. Or for the mom’s that would simply grab one for the coupons- as this article suggests- then be “tempted” by the stuff being in the house… Uhh, take out the coupons and throw the rest away? If you’re strictly going to breastfeed anyway there’s no need to keep it in the house.

  21. sherri hargrove March 31, 2012 at 6:23 pm #

    They may not be saying anything against breastfeeding, but if you look at recent advertisements from formula manufacturers, they make it seem that the ingredients they put in formula make it on par with breast milk. There is no way to duplicate the ingredients that are in breast milk, from the immune giving properties to all the other thiings that nature has so awesomely designed to promote growth and optimal development of the human species. New moms in the hospital are so vulnerable to give up early breastfeeding when they are given freebies. When you have just given birth and are tired and your family is less than supportive and your health care professionals assume bottle feeding of formula and there is a lack of qualified support from a lactation consultant, it is too easy to give in and give the bottle. Formula companies ought not to be peddling their wares in hospital maternity wards and ob/gyn and pediatricians’ offices. If a mom wants to bottle feed formula or after a healthcare professional refers her to a lactation specialist and it is determined that she truly cannot breastfeed, then the mom should be the one to decide on formula supplementation or substitution. Some of these healthcare professionals sound so ignorant and uneducated when pushing moms to formula. some doctors even sound paternalistic and tend to undermine moms and indeed insulting to moms who breastfeed past a certain age, even to the point of harrassment of the mom. Formula manufacturing may have began as a noble cause but when the men who developed it discovered how much money they could make, then the tacit approval of formula over breastmilk began. I especially loathe them for pushing formula in underdeveloped and developing countries where women have had support systems to encourage breastfeeding since the beginning of time. Why is it that man has to undermine what the Creator has given us to sustain and thrive? Why are we always trying to improve on what is perfect? The answer is that man has been doing that since the beginning and this is why we are in trouble today because as the scripture says, “man cannot walk as to direct his own steps”.


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