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Parent Irate After SIL Uses Her Breastmilk To Treat Their Child’s Ear Infection Without Permission

Person holding a bottle of breast milk
Sutthiwat Srikhrueadam/Getty Images

When it comes to children, people have all sorts of ideas about how to take care of them properly in regard to their diets and medications.

While some parents are more focused on receiving medical advice only from pediatricians, others are open to other methods.

But the most important thing is that a child receives the treatment that their parents are comfortable with, not what another parent from another household suggests, stressed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor SILbabysit had to go back to work while their daughter was still healing from an ear infection, and they were relieved when their sister-in-law offered to babysit.

But when they returned, the Original Poster (OP) was shocked at the home remedy she had used for the ear infection, without checking with them first.

They asked the sub:

“AITA for banning my Sister-in-Law (SIL) from babysitting after she put breastmilk in my child’s ears?”

The OP’s sister-in-law (SIL) babysat their daughter with an ear infection while they worked.

“I have a seven-year-old daughter, Rose. Rose is prone to ear infections.”

“She had a double ear infection recently and couldn’t go to school on Friday because she had a low-grade fever.”

“I had to go to work and couldn’t get a babysitter, so my Sister-in-Law (SIL) offered to keep her for me.”

But then the OP found out their SIL had used a questionable method for the infection.

“Everything seemed to go well until I picked Rose up and my SIL told me she had put breastmilk (she has a 12-week-old) in Rose’s ears to help with the ear infection.”

“She even offered to send some home in a dropper bottle so I could keep giving it to her.”

“She claims it’s a great remedy and that Rose was already starting to feel better.”

“She also said she does it with her other kids (this is her fourth kid) and that she recommends it to her patients’ parents all the time (she’s a pediatric nurse).”

The OP was furious and put a stop to their SIL’s babysitting.

“I couldn’t believe that she did this to my child without asking.”

“Also, as I said, she has four kids. I’m sure she already has children’s Tylenol or Motrin in the house. If she didn’t, she could’ve let me know and I could’ve sent some over.”

“I yelled at her for it, we argued, and I told her she would no longer be able to babysit/be around Rose unsupervised.”

The family lashed out at the OP for their reaction.

“Now Rose is upset that she can’t go to her auntie’s house anymore and my brother called me to say that I upset his wife, she was just trying to help, and that I overreacted.”

“This is a woman putting her bodily fluids in my child’s ear. I think I have a right to be upset.”

“It seems that everyone is against me on this so I wanted to know if I was the a**hole for banning her from babysitting or being near Rose unsupervised.”


Fellow Redditors weighed in:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some were appalled that a nurse had recommended breastmilk to treat an infection.

“Maybe ask your nurse SIL or any of these commenters for a single supporting study. I am a nurse. Breastmilk is not an antibiotic.”

“Your SIL put her own bodily fluids in your kid’s ear without permission.”

“Even if you wanted to do it with your own breastmilk (at least then there’s some argument about similar familial antibodies, etc.), it’s not going to ‘cure’ any infection, it’s breastmilk. Breastmilk is not some magical fix-all.” – plantslave

“First, h**la respect for most nurses. They’re overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated.”

“That being said… not every nurse actually knows what they’re talking about. One of my friends who’s a nurse went anti-vax. I think it’s the step of trusting your own anecdotes and thinking that it is better than the actual science performed in the area.”

“I have no doubt she believes it. But she’s demonstrably wrong. What she’s doing is potentially harmful and if she hasn’t caused any harm I’d wager it has more to do with luck than she knows what she’s talking about.” – Mericlese

“You might want to report her to the licensing body for administering therapy without consent. It might also be worth mentioning how she regularly makes this recommendation. You’d be doing her patients a favor.” – rusty-roquefort

“I once had a consultant doctor tell me doubling up on my contraceptive pill was okay to do if I was having heavy periods. I was young, and so I believed them, and they prescribed me it.”

“Ended up in the hospital with other doctors horrified at the prescription I was given, especially considering other medications I was on.”

“Don’t think medical personnel are infallible. They don’t know everything (this is only one of my stupid doctor stories).”

“And OP is NTA for setting a boundary of what goes into their seven-year-old kid’s body. At the very LEAST, the SIL should have asked first.” – unicornhair1991

“OMG (Oh my god), if I was a parent of one of her patients, I would complain to the nursing board and whatever hospital she represents.”

“As a nurse, she should know that at any time, she could have an illness/virus with little to no symptoms showing up at that time or been recently exposed to a virus that she could have passed to your daughter.”

“You should ask your brother or SIL how would they feel if their baby was teething and you chewed any solid food so that it was soft enough for baby to gum it down?!”

“Basically what your SIL did is in the same category as what I mentioned above and in the same category, in my honest opinion, as family and friends kissing infants on the lips/face/hands.”

“And that category is: Exposing someone else’s kid to your bodily fluid.” – Puzzleheaded-Desk399

Others agreed with the family that the SIL was helpful and the OP had hugely overreacted.

“Wow. So you have a pediatric nurse who loves your child, is willing to babysit, and you are going to give that up and damage what I assume was a perfectly good relationship because she did something completely harmless trying to help your child? You might want to rethink this.” – Murky_Statement_9460

“So… why are you p**sed off?”

“A pediatric nurse who you know and trust enough to watch your daughter, who happens to be your SIL, treated your daughter’s ear infection utilizing a long-known treatment methodology that doesn’t have side effects.”

“You can give your daughter Tylenol and continue treating her with the breastmilk. Your daughter will feel better MUCH sooner that way.”

“Having had an ear infection in adulthood, I had forgotten how excruciatingly painful they actually are. A couple of my kids were unmedicated births and the pain was up there with that. 8/10 to 9/10 on the pain scale. Tylenol doesn’t help that much.”

“If I’d had access to breast milk to treat my ear, I’d have used it in a heartbeat. Instead, I used antibiotics that wreaked havoc on my stomach… and Advil.”

“You have the right to be upset, but I honestly don’t know what you are upset about here.”

“Apologize to your SIL and take this as a learning experience.” – Adventurous-Try1728

“YTA. You put your daughter in her care, she cared for her. Feel free to disagree with your SIL, and you’re entitled to your opinion that it’s gross. But that’s a far cry from ‘you’ll no longer be able to babysit or be around her unsupervised.’ That puts things at a level that’s pretty off track in my opinion.”

“Are you concerned there was something pervy about it? Like she clearly thought it was a good remedy, she was very transparent about it, and by placing the child in her care you did leave some decision-making authority up to her.”

“If she had fed her something you think is gross or not age-appropriate, like blue cheese for example, and she thought it was okay, I feel like that’s a similar scenario.”

“If she said, ‘I won’t respect your preferences going forward,’ that’s when you ban her from being around your child, not when she just didn’t know you wouldn’t be okay with something she thought would be okay.”

“I think you need to look past whatever ick reaction you’re having and realize you’re coming down extremely harshly on someone that your daughter and partner both want in your life.” – FreshForged

“YTA. You overreacted greatly. Yes, she should have asked, but honestly, she is a pediatric nurse and did something that is widely recommended by the entire pediatric world, worldwide. It is ancient and well-known to help against infections.”

“Did you know they’re even researching how to use breast milk to help cancer patients go through their treatments better? It’s amazing stuff!”

“Anyway, your reaction plus your Tylenol comment put you in the YTA corner. Tylenol is symptom relief, but it doesn’t treat infections. Breast milk does. I would think if your child is so prone to ear infections, you’d try anything to help stop them. I certainly would… Especially if my pediatric nurse sister recommends something. And again, she should have asked before doing anything, but she tried to help. In a very helpful way, by the way.”

“Breast milk is not dirty, it’s used to feed babies. So don’t put it in the same box and poop, pee, vomit and blood. Those are biohazards, breast milk is not. It’s so far from that, it’s a whole other category. Or you can just put the food label on it.” – 2tinymonkeys

“You and your SIL seem to have different boundaries. My two SILs are like sisters to me (I only have brothers) and we have a very close relationship.”

“Reading your text, was like ‘Nice SIL. She most likely wouldn’t do this to every kid and only did it because she treats Rose like her own kid.’ Loving and treating a nice like an own kid is a family goal for me.”

“Instead of being mad, I would explain to her why you are mad at her and that you have different boundaries.”

“You can compare it to drinking from the same glass or giving a kiss on the mouth. For some families, this is totally normal, and for others, this is disgusting.” – NixKlappt-Reddit

The subReddit was just as divided on this situation as the OP and their sister-in-law appeared to be. While some thought that the sister-in-law had been helpful and agreed with her claims about the use of breastmilk to treat infections, others sided with the OP and found consent to be the most important factor here.

At the end of the day, this all could have been remedied with a simple phone call or text in which the sister-in-law discussed this with the OP first, and if the OP really had not been okay with it, then the sister-in-law wouldn’t have done the very thing that led to this big argument.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan has been a part of the George Takei family since 2019 when she wrote some of her favorite early pieces: Sesame Street introducing its first character who lived in foster care and Bruce Willis delivering a not-so-Die-Hard opening pitch at a Phillies game. She's gone on to write nearly 3,000 viral and trending stories for George Takei, Comic Sands, Percolately, and ÜberFacts. With an unstoppable love for the written word, she's also an avid reader, poet, and indie novelist.