British baby business Tommee Tippee UK has issued a public apology after an article on its Parent Room help section provoked a backlash for insinuating formula is better than breast milk.
Criticized for hitting the wrong tone and failing to fact-check, the article states “baby formula will give your little one all the nutrients they need to grow and thrive, without you having to go through any pain or awkwardness that breastfeeding can sometimes bring“.
The article comes as a surprise considering the progressive work Tommee Tippee has created that encourages more mothers to breastfeed.
The Drum breaks it all down:
What did the article say?
The article in question appeared on Tommee Tippee’s Parent Room, a section of its website dedicated to providing “balanced information for all parents“.
It has been criticized for preying on a number of fears and insecurities breastfeeding people have and for insinuating formula milk is better than breast milk for babies and mothers.
The article stated that baby formula gives babies all the nutrients without the pain and awkwardness of breastfeeding, that newborns can go longer between feeds, and that it gives women more dietary freedom as breastfeeding moms “must avoid fish that are high in mercury and limit their alcohol and caffeine consumption“.
How has Tommee Tippee responded to the backlash?
It has issued a public apology on its website and on its social channels, which reads: “Hands up, we’ve made a mistake. We’re genuinely very sorry for an article that was published on our website before being reviewed.
“We truly do not stand by some of the information in here, and apologize for the error that meant it was published before tone and fact-checking.
“We support all parents, however they feed their baby. But we wholeheartedly agree and follow the WHO guidelines that breast milk is best for baby.“
Despite the apology, some continue to criticize the brand for stating it does not stand by some of the information, questioning its sincerity.
“‘Some of the information’, which bits specifically?“ replied a Twitter user. “You knew what you were publishing. Someone in your company read that, wrote that and okay-ed it. And that representative works for you. You’re just sorry you got caught and dragged for it.“
Hands up, we’ve made a mistake.
We’re genuinely very sorry for an article that was published on our website before being reviewed.
— tommee tippee UK (@tommeetippee_UK) July 15, 2021
Why does this matter?
From breastfeeding to post-partum bodies, maternal mental health to discrimination, 2021 has seen some bold brands finally reflect the realities of motherhood in their advertising.
Breastfeeding moms, in particular, have felt ‘seen’. Part of the reason breastfeeding rates are so low in parts of the world is that public discussion about how hard it really is has been discouraged; in Scotland, rates are much higher because the Scottish government has invested in support for breastfeeding, and has publicly committed to reducing the drop off in breastfeeding rates in the weeks after birth by 10% by 2025.
Tommee Tippee was ahead of the curve in February with a global campaign designed to demystify the complex realities of breastfeeding for new and prospective moms.
‘The Boob Life’ is an unapologetic celebration of real moms, their bodies and their choices. It wanted to push its first-ever breast pump and looked across the social media spectrum to see what moms were talking about online.
Tommee Tippee has been therefore dealt with a case of ‘practice what you preach’ in concerns to the published article. Considering the work it has put in this year to encourage more women to breastfeed, this article undermines some of its progress.