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May 10th, 2012
04:37 PM ET

Breast-feeding: Too much of a good thing?

It's hard to avoid staring at the cover of Time Magazine this week. If you're on social media like Twitter and Facebook, the widely shared image may have arrived on your screen before you ever saw it in the supermarket.

The provocative cover shows Jamie Lynne Grumet, a 26-year-old mother from Los Angeles, breast-feeding her son. This isn't your typical mom-and-baby shot: Grumet's son is 3. In case you were wondering, Grumet told CNN's Erin Burnett that her son is actually breast-feeding in that now-iconic image.

Grumet said her own mother breast-fed her until age 6, and Grumet still remembers it. "I'm proud of her," Grumet said.

The picture promotes an article about the growing popularity of "attachment parenting", a theory first advocated by Dr. Bill Sears and his wife, Martha, in their 1992 best-selling guide “The Baby Book.”

The Searses argue that co-sleeping, “baby wearing” (where the baby is attached to the parent with a sling) and extended breast-feeding will help parents respond better to the individual needs of their babies.

Celebrities such as Mayim Bialik of "The Big Bang Theory" are also promoting ideas about attachment parenting. Bialik said on Friday that she still breast-feeds her 3-year-old son. "He's not done breast-feeding, and I'm not ready to tell him not to," she said.

Many moms and dads have strong opinions about these practices, especially the breast-feeding advice.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies be breast-fed exclusively for the first six months of their lives.

"We don't all nurse older kids," Bialik said of mothers who subscribe to attachment parenting ideas. "But the notion that a child's voice matters, that every child is different, that's the basis of attachment parenting."

Heather Curtis, wife of Fark.com founder Drew Curtis, told CNN's Geek Out that she practiced breast-feeding for an extended period, carried her babies in slings and practiced co-sleeping, as Bialik did. So did Caryn Rogers, a science writer for the Preeclampsia Foundation.

"I didn't really choose to eschew conventional care so much as chose to get what I believed was the most evidence-based care," Rogers said.

Grumet said that sleeping with her baby does not affect intimacy with her husband.

Watch: Breast-feeding cover-mom defends pose

"I think intimacy is extremely important in a marriage and I think a strong marriage is going to be a great foundation to show your children how to be raised confident and happy and I had that with my family, too," she said.

Time: Extended breast-feeding is more common than we think

CNN.com readers expressed mixed views on the subjects of the best age to stop breast-feeding and the appropriateness of the Time cover in general. See what they said.

We want to know what you think.  Is it OK to breast-feed well past toddler-hood, or is it too much of a good thing?


soundoff (2,703 Responses)
  1. Kathy

    I breastfed my first exclusively until I went back to work at four months. I then fed her in the morning and at night until nine months. She was mellow and a great sleeper. I quit my job with my second. He never slept from day one. He only liked me. He would not go to anyone else and was always unhappy. I breast fed him until 17 months, it was the only time he calmed down. I have friends and relatives who had a hard time breast feeding and gave up. I believe everyone should do what they are comfortable with. Every mom and every child is different. We should accept everyone's choices.

    May 13, 2012 at 21:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Hope

    I breasted my first for two and a half years. I have six children,and number two through five were breast fed for 14 months each. My sixth child was difficult to feed, and I had developed hypothyroidism a year before she was born. So after breast feeding for 7 years of my life I was unable to make enough milk for my last baby. She lost weight, and I needed to give her formula. It isn't poison. She thrived. I think breast feeding is best, but it was developed for a reason. I believe modern women rely on it too much, but I am not comfortable saying nasty things about mothers doing what they feel is best for their children. Breast feeding isn't easy, but there are great benefits to the child. I don't agree with the Time cover because of the child. The mother failed to consider the future desires of her child. I liken it to stealing from him.

    May 13, 2012 at 23:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Josh

    Only for adults.

    May 13, 2012 at 23:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. luke

    I saw that picture and thought that she is selling her child, not the art of breast feeding. It is a cheap and reckless picture of
    some kind of urban dump diver. Breast feeding my memory and witness other mothers is that is a private and tender moment or
    moments. The baby is shielded with a soft receiving blanket and in a quiet place, if possible and all is calm. The baby is ready for
    sleep and the mother has fulfilled another day of growth for her baby. If I saw a mother like this picture in a park, mall, or waiting, I would call the PD because of indecent exposure. There is no reward for exposing children or adults to this lack of proper care for a baby. Along with the nursing mother, her nutrition should be at its best. The mothers I have seen for the past 50 yrs have been discreet and confident in the care of the nursing baby. The picture leaves alot to be desired on the part of pediphiles who look for this kind junk. It should have been handled in better, tastefull way.

    May 13, 2012 at 23:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sciguy73

      Indecent exposure? Are you for real? Get over it.

      May 14, 2012 at 00:35 | Report abuse |
    • melissa

      I agree that it was inappropriate and distasteful! My first thought was OMG what about the sick people in the world who are turned on to this type of thing, did the mother not think ahead for one minute about how she was violating publicly her child!? TIME magazine should be ashamed of printing something that is so distasteful, she could have tried to cover his face like you would a baby. I would think the breastfeeding is more for HER comfort than for his, at his age there is no reason that he needs the nourishment from breastmilk. Maybe she's to lazy to go throught the struggle of weening him, regardless its sick and she should be ashamed.

      May 14, 2012 at 01:59 | Report abuse |
  5. Joan Hunter

    I breast-fed two babies! Key word there – babies! And, I'm completely in favor of breast-feeding – it's much better for the baby and the mother as well. This isn't any different than a 3 or 4 year old still carrying a bottle or having a binkie. Just a perfect example of taking the easy way out and never telling your child "no"!

    May 14, 2012 at 00:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Caroline

    I loved breast feeding both my children, but age 2 was the limit. They shouldn't be able to remember it! Was she thinking about how he will feel some day seeing this picture? He'll never live it down.

    May 14, 2012 at 01:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Ann

    Whether to breastfeed is a mother's personal decision, but one that has significant health implications. In today's world of skyrocketing obesity, our children need every nutritional advantage they can get. It is unfortunate that the media has chosen to highlight nursing beyond infantcy rather than the health benefits of nursing a child for even a short period of time. When my first child was born, a nursing mother told me the fastest way to fill a room was to bring in a baby and bottle; and the fastest way to empty a room was to have a mother start nursing her infant. This very true statement is a testament to the ignorance and discomfort Americans have toward breastfeeding. The Time magazine wasted an opportunity to educate the public and chose instead to sensationalize the topic of breastfeeding.

    May 14, 2012 at 02:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. nana

    I brreastfed all four of my children. The longest time was for 2 years. I was always descreet. Remember, we are not in this world alone and I was respectful of others. Reality is in the eye of the beholder, and if there was any chance of upsetting someone, I covered up or went to another room. Regardless of how we ourselves feel, we need to take in consideration the feelings of others. We are a social society. The picture on Time? Unnecessary, offending to some, a conversation piece, but definitely not an advocate of breastfeeding. Someone needed attention, and they sure got it.

    May 14, 2012 at 04:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. jony

    Shock breast feeding has nothing to do with motherhood and everything to do with liberalism

    May 14, 2012 at 06:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. KD

    Rob,
    I will NEVER apologize to "S" for her insulting comments that we don't love our children because we don't breastfeed and we disrepecting them!!! My friends and family couldn't believe a human being like her would even say/post such ignorant comments like that! Like I said, I didn't have a medical condition BUT my son was losing weight because he wouldn't latch, very common in pre-term babies. So instead of starving him, I pumped and formula fed him until I couldn't keep up witht the demands of pumping, I was drying up and was so exhausted I didn't know what to do. Not to mention that I am a working mother who only had 12 weeks of leave where as S is probably a SAHM!!! So I will never every apologize to her for what she said and how she disrepected the mothers who formula feed! She can kiss it and she is the one who needs to apologize. You two belong in the same boat!!

    May 14, 2012 at 10:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. goldenchild20k

    Well OF COURSE he's actually breastfeeding in that image. What else would he be doing?

    I'd like to know why it's anyone else's business how long someone breastfeeds for, and seriously what is the purpose of asking people what they think? That only gives people the impression that their opinion is somehow relevant to any one else, and when it comes to breastfeeding, the only opinions that count are those of the mother and child involved. Everyone else is just rudely interfering in a private relationship to which they were not invited. Mind your own business people.

    May 14, 2012 at 13:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Jamie Lynn Grumet

    I've said it before and I'll say it again, My milkshake brings all they boys to the yard.

    May 14, 2012 at 14:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Jeff W

    Lets be real. Nothing wrong with breast feeding, we are suppose to breast feed our children. Mrs.Grumet has open her son up for ridicule. What is he going to do in first grade, given the fact that Mrs.Grumet has herself been breast fed till the age of 6. Aram will be ridiculed in school by his friend, this image will be on the internet long after Aram is off to college and beyond. IMHO Mrs Grumet and Time to have the audacity to say " Are you Mom Enough?" I have seen Mothers do far greater things for their kids, from being a single parent and work two jobs to provide for their kids. I have seen my mother, pregnant with her fourth child, answer the door as two men came to the house to tell her my father, her husband has been killed in a bombing. I seen her fall apart at night and wonder what she was going to do. I seen her rise up to the challenge and raise four great kids, and watch them strive to be the best possible human being that they can be. I have seen Mothers this past weekend walk for Breast Cancer, some walking for their moms, some walking for themselves. They are far stronger, and More than Mom enough to accpet Mrs Grumet's and Time Magazine's Challenge. Those are the Women who truly are Mom Enough, Not Women like Mrs Grumet. Where is the Time Article on them?
    And Personally, given the gravity and impact on this Past Sunday, This Article was both in bad taste and timing.

    May 15, 2012 at 00:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Pat Robertson

    As I am the final arbiter of ALL things, I say that we should rebuke this women and all like her as is written in the Bible.

    May 15, 2012 at 10:08 | Report abuse | Reply
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