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Police Called on Breastfeeding Mom at Dunkin Donuts for Changing Diaper

Photo:  Attribution Some rights reserved by The ConsumeristBreastfeeding or diaper changing?

Breastfeeding or diaper changing?

I grew up near a Dunkin Donuts store, and I can still imagine the smell and taste of childhood. There was even a pond behind the store where we would catch tadpoles. Later, my memories of Dunkin Donuts involved dumpster diving for discarded food (my short, part-time stint as a freegan). It’s been twenty-five years since I’ve been inside a Dunkin Donuts. It’s a good thing I never tried breastfeeding in one, which may be more hazardous than actually eating their food.

Staff at a New Jersey Dunkin Donuts recently called the police on two breastfeeding moms.

As reported in CafeMom (via the Consumerist):

It finally happened. A friend and I were just told not to breastfeed in Dunkin Donuts because there are “other people there”. I was going to leave and just write a letter to Dunkin Donuts headquarters suggesting that they educate their employees better. The police were called, though.

The mom says she and her friend just cleaned up and left the Dunkin’ Donuts, but not before her friend was told by the police to “shut up” in front of her children.

For its part, Dunkin’ Donuts posted the following statement on its Facebook page:

We have looked into the matter concerning 2 moms at a DD store in NJ & have confirmed an employee was responding to another customer’s complaint that wasn’t related to breastfeeding. None of the DD employees challenged the guests about breastfeeding & all DDs must comply w/ local, state & federal laws w/ regard to nursing mothers. Our top priority is always to provide an excellent experience for our guests.

Despite the outrage any breastfeeding mom feels about hearing another mom asked to leave a public place for feeding her baby as nature intended (let alone involving the police), there may be more to this story.

What was the customer complaint really about?  Globe and Mail reports the mother changed her baby’s diaper at the table.

While we’d probably lose our appetite for that Boston cream donut if we watched someone remove a soiled diaper from a squirming baby on a restaurant table, we do understand the predicament the mom in question was facing. She explains that there was no change table in the establishment’s restroom…

Did this mom go too far by changing her child’s diaper in the middle of a restaurant? How would you react if you saw a parent doing this while you sipped your double-double in the next booth?

I certainly agree there are sanitation concerns in this situation.  What if the child had rotavirus, for example?  I do think the Dunkin Donuts staff could have handled the situation better by simply asking the mother to change her child’s diaper in another location, as well as remedy the situation by putting changing tables in their bathrooms.  Calling the police seems a bit extreme.

Personally, I never use the diaper changing caddies in public restrooms (did I mention I fear rotavirus?).  I would much rather change my child’s diaper in the car on a receiving blanket.  It is not that I want privacy, I just fear germs in public bathrooms in general.

Were the police called over the diaper changing incident or was it really breastfeeding?  Jezebel reports:

One of the moms, Sarah Sprague, clears things up slightly on Facebook, where she writes that police and Dunkin Donuts are now claiming her offense was changing a baby’s diaper “on the table.” She admits to doing so “at the table,” though not on its surface (here we get into some serious diaper semantics), but says nobody talked to her about it until after the fact, and all that was addressed at the time was breastfeeding.

Whatever the cause of the police report, it’s best to steer clear of Dunkin Donuts for your health anyways.


  1. I watched a mom pull out a plastic bag at the Gap in Marin, CA and have her 4 year old (approx) pee in it right inside the store! For some reason, some mothers (and I have a 3 year old) think it’s okay to take care of toilet issues anywhere necessary when the child is not old enough to hold it (or goes in diapers) until a restroom is found. Inside a store and eating establishments are not appropriate. Breastfeeding is food. If you can eat candy bar somewhere then you should be able to feed your baby there, too. But c’mon moms – find an appropriate place to deal with pee and poop!

    • Jennifer Lance says:

      I was once in a restaurant when a child had an accident all over the carpeted floor. The mother did her best to wipe it up, but I thought the staff should have been notified. I still eat at the restaurant, but I never sit at that table.

  2. You know, I have a hard time with this one… on the one hand, I have a hard time believing that the police was even called for such a ridiculous reason. Even if it was over the diaper change issue. Doesn’t the police have more important matters to take care of???
    On the other hand, I’ve certainly been at quite a few places where they don’t have anywhere to change a baby and I did use a bench or chair. Of course, I also put something under my baby (more to protect him than for the chair to be honest). It’s just that sometimes there really isn’t a choice. I would never do it on a table though – and I’ve been told by staff to do so at times.

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