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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 (2,706 Responses)
  1. flanative32

    if a child can walk up to you and ask for your breast, i think that is too old. but it's my opinion. If you want to breast feed your child until he/she is 3 yrs old or more DON'T FORCE it on the whole nation.

    May 11, 2012 at 16:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • flanative32

      meant to say do it at home in private! Don't force it on the rest of us!

      May 11, 2012 at 16:19 | Report abuse |
    • KixStar

      You know what? By you eating out in public, you're forcing it on the rest of us. I think you should eat in the privacy of your own home also.

      May 11, 2012 at 16:29 | Report abuse |
    • Michele

      No one is being FORCED to breastfeed their child. Bottom line is this: Don't want to practice attachment parenting and extended breastfeeding, don't do it, but don't force YOUR views on those who do.

      May 11, 2012 at 16:51 | Report abuse |
    • Diana

      KixStar, don't you get it it is disgusting? Or you really do not get it...?

      May 11, 2012 at 16:57 | Report abuse |
    • gary

      Kixstar are you really that dense? When I eat in public I don' t do it with my junk hanging out.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:01 | Report abuse |
    • jac

      This matter is none of your business!!

      May 11, 2012 at 17:21 | Report abuse |
    • Scott Bradley

      LOL..KixStar...You are pretty dense like the above poster said. Your comparison is imbecilic. Perhaps I should bring my girl to blow me under the table when I eat also.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:29 | Report abuse |
  2. dwight

    This story is a lie. Her breast are too small.

    May 11, 2012 at 16:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • flanative32

      LOL!

      May 11, 2012 at 16:14 | Report abuse |
    • urthlvr

      Not true. Breast size has nothing to do with the ability to nurse your child. Breastfeeding until the child is 5-6 is biologically normal. And for those who says "when a child can ask for it" I ask them, did you ignore your baby (under 1 yr) when he cried out in huger? NO! A baby is asking for it when they cry because that is the only way they have to communicate.

      May 11, 2012 at 16:26 | Report abuse |
    • dx2718

      Nah, breast size varies a lot while you're nursing, depending on whether you're full or empty. Clearly the kid is finishing a drink, rather than starting one.

      May 11, 2012 at 16:28 | Report abuse |
    • Walker

      Per urtlvr – Breastfeeding until the child is 5-6 is biologically normal. Yes, for cavepeople. We've evolved. The longer they breastfeed, the more therapy they are going to need later. Especially if they are 5 or 6. But maybe someone like you wants to have a mommas boy suckling at the teat until he's 40. Not too different from some of the millenium kids I know...

      May 11, 2012 at 16:33 | Report abuse |
    • samuraikatana1

      urthlvr- Can you please do us all a favor and grow a sense of humor?

      May 11, 2012 at 16:52 | Report abuse |
    • Michele

      Walker, the child will not breastfeed until he's 40. In fact, he won't breastfeed after he enters school. Extended breastfeeding is accepted in every culture except for ours. I don't call that "evolution", I call that "devolution". Giving one's child a secure base is the foundation of a well adjusted and happy person. Both my children were co-sleepers, extended breastfeeders, and homeschoolers - and both are successful and well adjusted adults today.

      May 11, 2012 at 16:55 | Report abuse |
    • Moose Man

      @Walker, What do you mean we have evolved from Cavemen? If you look at people's health since bringing all the breads and sugars into our diets, we are not that dissimilar from our Cavemen ancestors. Perhaps we should look at de-evolving on a number of things like synthetic foods like shortening and vegetable oils, and go back to foods our ancestors ate, including for small children breast milk. Everyone talks about how fat our kids are getting, so everyone is talking low fat meals, when all we need to do is go back to natural, like breast milk which is the most nutritious food for humans ever known. Just because they go to what you say is too old, that they would need mental help is absurd. You can get mama boys from formula just as quick. We as a living organism of Earth have distanced ourselves too far from what is natural, and when faced with natural, think it's unnatural.

      May 11, 2012 at 16:59 | Report abuse |
    • urthlvr

      Objectifying women's bodies is not anything I find funny. I have yet to meet a teenager who still wants to nurse and my own child self-weaned at 2 3/4 yrs. At almost 5 she is a confident and independent child. I also don't helicopter. I work in a university where I see that all too often.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:00 | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      "Extended breastfeeding is accepted in every culture except for ours. "

      well you are going to have to cite a source for a claim like that.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:26 | Report abuse |
  3. curt

    I think its kind of gross that the kid is going to remember what his moms boobs like his entire life.

    May 11, 2012 at 16:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • curt

      Look like... I mean gross or the kid.

      May 11, 2012 at 16:15 | Report abuse |
    • curt

      *or=for

      May 11, 2012 at 16:16 | Report abuse |
    • dx2718

      Boys tend to like boobs their entire lives, so I don't see this as a problem.

      May 11, 2012 at 16:29 | Report abuse |
  4. wcb2001

    Holy COW! This kid is gonna have explaining to do when he gets to middle school.

    May 11, 2012 at 16:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Becky

      That's my thought. This poor kid will never live this photo down once he gets older.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:27 | Report abuse |
  5. yeslioness

    I admit I breastfed my daughter until her 2nd birthday. Though I never breastfed her in public after one year of age. That was my personal choice....However, this 3 yr old boy did not get a choice whatsoever when his mom forced him to pose on the front cover in what I consider a very distasteful pose. I think she was thinking more of the shock factor instead of thinking about protecting her son from public scrutiny. Who exposes their children to the public eye like that? A very foolish and selfish woman, that's who.

    May 11, 2012 at 16:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ajk68

      Agreed. She's marked that child for life.

      May 11, 2012 at 16:37 | Report abuse |
    • w.s.

      I agree completely.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:16 | Report abuse |
    • kisha

      i totally agree with you. who brestfeeds their child at three years old. this boy looks like he can eat a whole chicken. I mean, disgusting pose I have ever seen!!!!!!!!!! I think mother's just don't know when to let go of something. I have friends that are in thier late 20s and thier parents treat them as if they are still kids. One told me that her mother said she could not leave home until she said it was okay. I mean, give me a break. My mother made me independent at the age of five! she was a single parent and my brother and I had to grow up very quickly. Don't get me wrong, our childhood was wonderful, but my mother never never ever tried to hold us back from growing up. This lady just did this to get attention, we all know that. I just feel sorry for the kid. He may end of hating her for it in the future

      May 11, 2012 at 17:33 | Report abuse |
  6. kdf

    after 6 months is too long... 3 months is enough

    May 11, 2012 at 16:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Guest

      just because you said so? What makes you an expert?

      May 11, 2012 at 16:35 | Report abuse |
    • Rachel

      Serioulsy? 3 months is long enough. Why do all doctors say 6 months plus+++++++

      May 11, 2012 at 16:36 | Report abuse |
    • kdf

      exactly! That is my opinion. I do not know why they bother creating articles like this as it will not change the opinion of ANYONE! You will do what you want, but why subject your kid to it?

      May 11, 2012 at 16:37 | Report abuse |
    • Rachel

      clearly I am not serious. Babies should be fed as long as possible! God made us that way and it is healthiest for baby

      May 11, 2012 at 16:37 | Report abuse |
    • Neal

      I agree, my three boys were breast fed until they could hold a botlle, then my wife used a breast pump for awhile. I have read and seen woman breast feed toddlers and think these woman like the suckling on their teets more than anything else.

      May 11, 2012 at 16:43 | Report abuse |
    • Michele

      kdf, your claim of six months being too long goes against the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics that a baby be breastfed for his or her first year.

      May 11, 2012 at 16:57 | Report abuse |
    • Michele

      kdf, it really sounds as if you have your own agenda promoting organic foods over breastmilk for baby. There's nothing wrong with organic foods - we eat organic exclusively in this house, but breastfeeding for the first year is what is recommended by the AAP.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:01 | Report abuse |
    • kdf

      and do you always do what your doctor says? A doctor may have a degree, but he does not know everything, just as I do not know everything. It is a personal choice, and I get it, but we are a developed country with more to offer our kids in nutrition and balance.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:07 | Report abuse |
  7. Barbara

    This sicko woman should be ashame of herself. Her son is going to be teased by many of his peers.

    May 11, 2012 at 16:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Linda

      Breastfeeding is a normal and healthy part of childhood development. In many countries women breastfeed as long as possible, sometime until the child is 5 just to ensure the child receives the proper nutrition. Breast milk is the best possible source of nutrition for children. There is nothing sick about breastfeeding a child, or doing it in public. it is a phobia imposed by our own culture which dictates that it's somehow dirty or has a sexual overtone. As for the child, he's only 3, if his peers start to tease him, he will choose to stop.

      May 11, 2012 at 16:31 | Report abuse |
    • kdf

      In the world we live in today, the bullying will not stop. The oh so wonderful internet will let this picture live on and on and on and everyone will know who he is.
      When the bullying becomes to much and the kid commits suicide in his teens, mommy derest needs to be charged for it.

      May 11, 2012 at 16:46 | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      " In many countries women breastfeed as long as possible, sometime until the child is 5 just to ensure the child receives the proper nutrition"

      another one making this claim. citation please?

      May 11, 2012 at 17:28 | Report abuse |
  8. Guest

    OK folks–here goes...the worldwide average for weaning a child is four years old. That is a fact. In other countries, those being in Western/Eastern Europe, Asia and most countries in the Third-World– women were not seduced during the 1950s to eschew breasfeeding and pick up a bottle of formula to feed their babies at the encouragement of their doctors–little did American mothers they know at the time that their doctors were receiving kickbacks from the formula companies (these are the same doctors who had a cigarette in their face while they saw patients). They said formula was the "modern way" to feed babies, and many women bought that notion. Why in the name of God would you give a baby formula when the best thing on earh for a child is produced out its mother's own body? Why do you think babaies get colic many times when they drink formula? Formula is expensive, breastmilk is free. I ignored the sidelong glances of many family membersy, certain friends and acquaintances and anyone else when I chose extended breastfeeding for my son. Yes, I got sick of it, but being a single, working mother who dropped her kid off in the morning and picked him up in the evening, I wanted him to be as secure as I could possibly make him in light of this reality. I would breastfeed him in the morning before dropoff, when I picked him up, and at bedtime. He grew to be a flexible, secure, healthy and happy baby and then little boy. At twelve years old, he has zero cavities in spite of his love of sugar, and zero allergies in spite of the fact that his father is allergic to everything under the sun. And we have four cats, to which his father (who doesn't live with us) is severly allergic. When my son grew older, I only nursed him at bedtime, and eventually when he was four, I explained it was time to let go of the breastfeeding because the milk was gone and it was time. He was sad, and so was I (him more than me, trust me, I was ready), but he adjusted quickly and that was that. We did not breastfeed in public past two, and I have to say I find the photo on the magazine cover rather vulgar as it implies something that extended breastfeeding isn't. Less than 1% of American women breastfeed past one year old. Many don't past six months. In an age when children are historically under more stress than ever, why would you shut down a very natural function sooner than is necessary, simply because our society is so ill that it has taken something so basic and twisted it into a public display rather than an intimate and healthy exchange between mother and child? I have no regrets about extended breastfeeding, and frankly, I feel sorry for mothers who are so uptight and misinformed that they would rather conform to what society expects, rather than what is best for their baby.

    May 11, 2012 at 16:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ethics Board

      Best thing on earth huh?

      The evidence would not necessarily agree with you.
      http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/tp/brfouttp.htm

      May 11, 2012 at 16:22 | Report abuse |
    • kdf

      How is breastmilk best for your baby after 6 months... there is no more nutritional value than making baby food from organically (or home grown) grown foods. And please... even when 3rd world countries breastfeed their kids till they are 4, they are still not healthy and they do that because they do not have a choice. There is no food!
      The 1st week after birth is the only nutritional value your kid will get, after that it is just the cheap way of feeding your kid.

      May 11, 2012 at 16:25 | Report abuse |
    • Love'm mammies

      I think you have absolutely done the best thing for your child.No wonder he's healthy – and no wonder most kids are ADHD and the affliction is on the rise. You should be proud of yourself!

      May 11, 2012 at 16:31 | Report abuse |
    • Love'm mammies

      In one study, researchers showed that children with ADHD were breastfed less often as infants than were the control children. They assume that the high levels of DHA in breast milk could be responsible for better performance later in life since infants are inefficient at converting polyunsaturated fats from other sources into the valuable omega-3 fat DHA that is essential for brain development. Even the duration of breastfeeding has been associated with higher intelligence and higher academic achievement in later childhood, and with higher levels of high school attainment (Horwood and Fergusson, 1998). A study published in 2002 also showed a significant association between intelligence levels in adults and the duration of their breastfeeding as infants (Mortensen et al., 2002).

      The take-home message from these reports is to breastfeed your children and maintain adequate levels of DHA throughout childhood to encourage the best potential for successful academic performance and to reduce the possibility of learning and behavior problems.

      May 11, 2012 at 16:34 | Report abuse |
    • Ethics Board

      Yep, that's the problem with one study... it's one study. A single study rarely prove sanything, unless one's opinion is favored by the study... then no other research is needed because one's point is "proven". Systemic reviews are far more helpful, and sometimes meta-analysis (but those can be very biased, just like individual studies)

      May 11, 2012 at 16:42 | Report abuse |
    • ajk68

      I think it's a stretch to claim breastfeeding is linked to ADHD. It's more likely genetic factors. Three of my children have ADHD – they all breastfed until the milk tasted bad to them (normally because another sibling was on the way). One of the children we needed to supplement with formula to put some weight. She is this least ADHD of the bunch (and I mean bigger than Brady).

      May 11, 2012 at 16:43 | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      In countries where there is not enough for children to eat.. The child benefits from their mothers breast milk..In countries where children are fed well, breast feeding after 6-12 months is not needed.
      In our culture continuing to breast feed is totally for the emotional needs of the parent or the child. And since our culture thinks of the breast as a se*ual object.. Nothing good can come from a child who breast feeds beyond the time it is necessary.
      Especially not a boy child.

      May 11, 2012 at 16:47 | Report abuse |
    • ajk68

      Breastfeeding is very healthy but is probably not enough to live off as the child gets over about one year old.

      May 11, 2012 at 16:47 | Report abuse |
    • Jake

      .... I noticed you are divorced, could possibly be because you are an impractical weirdo.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:02 | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      "the worldwide average for weaning a child is four years old. That is a fact."

      citation?

      May 11, 2012 at 17:29 | Report abuse |
    • MauiMomma

      Thank you for trying to explain the history and facts about breast feeding. It is interesting to see that the angry, judgemental, and ignorant comments are coming from people who do not breast feed their children, or who were not breast fed for any significant amount of time. My son turned one this week – he has been very healthy and happy.

      Love your children

      May 11, 2012 at 17:32 | Report abuse |
  9. Melissa H.

    There is nothing "Extreme" about nursing your child. Time magazine is just trying to create controversy and sell magazines with that cover. I nursed my two older children until about the age of 2 and I am still nursing my 18 month old about three times a day (nap times and bed time). I plan to continue to do so as long as she wants to keep nursing. There is nothing wrong with this style of parenting. Mothers need to stop attacking one another, after all we all want the same thing in the end; happy well adjusted children. How a mother chooses to raise her child is her business and no one should be attacked or made to feel guilty.

    Also, it really bothers me that people are so disgusted about the idea of nursing a child beyond the age of 3-6 months. I believe the decision to wean is between mother and child and no one else. People need to stop acting like breastfeeding is some perverted act if it is done longer that 6 months of age. There is nothing wrong with nursing longer and it needs to stop being sexualized. There is nothing sexual about nursing your child. I am tired of men making comments about how they will be more than happy to nurse on this mother. Absolutely disgusting and degrading.

    May 11, 2012 at 16:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • joey

      "I plan to continue to do so as long as she wants to keep nursing. There is nothing wrong with this style of parenting."
      Dont you think that is a bit extreme..? I know it natural but keep it private...its only natural to take a slam in the toilet, everyone does it but do it privately. What if she was 18 years old and not 18 months..still stuck to the nip while on the way to college? Poor kid will never learn how to take care of herself...you're only hurting her.

      "I am tired of men making comments about how they will be more than happy to nurse on this mother. Absolutely disgusting and degrading."
      SO whats your point...shes unattractive?

      May 11, 2012 at 16:33 | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'There is nothing "Extreme" about nursing your child"

      there is when you are still nursing at 3, 4, or 5 years old.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:31 | Report abuse |
  10. Mia

    Kids get rather sadistic when they get their teeth and bite down to watch their mothers squirm in pain, why would anyone do this? My nephew would get this evil expression as he chomped on my SIL, she had to stop when he drew blood.

    May 11, 2012 at 16:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Michele

      It's really up to the mother to stop a biting habit before it becomes habit.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:03 | Report abuse |
  11. jamison

    GOT MILK!!

    May 11, 2012 at 16:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. 15MinOfFame

    Her Facebook page has a delicious recipe for Mojitos. You think she drinks and breastfeeds?

    May 11, 2012 at 16:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Love'm mammies

    The kid is going to love and respect women. I'm sure he won't be gay!

    May 11, 2012 at 16:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ajk68

      For all their problems, I don't think gay men don't respect women. Often they are more respectful of women than heterosexual men.
      I think one of their problems is that they don't know how to relate to women on a romantic level. They are very good at being friends with women. On the other hand, all the gay guys I know have had bad relationships with their fathers and/or other male role model – often having been molested or abused in some other way.

      May 11, 2012 at 16:57 | Report abuse |
  14. 15MinOfFame

    Read her blog, she got items #8 and #19 wiped off her bucket list. She wanted to be known in the media. She got succeeded. Poor kid. He will be forever known as the (@)-baby.

    May 11, 2012 at 16:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. nicole

    kdf- 6 months... give me a break. For some moms it take AT LEAST 3 months to get comfortable and start enjoying the whole process (speaking from experience.) Although we each have an age where it becomes a little strange to see or hear about it... each mother and child is unique. I have a sister who breastfeeds forever. Although I tease her about it (as a fun-loving sister) I respect her decision. I have two boys, one whose almost four and a two month old. The first boy stopped about ten months. I actually wished he would have kept going a little longer. I was sad to see it end. I'm hoping my new baby breastfeeds until a year....but for those of you who actually do breastfeed it take dedication from beginning to end.

    May 11, 2012 at 16:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Hawaii

    100s of millions of tax dollars to WIC for Mead & Similac corporations for "formula" when breast feeding is Healthier & Free & 15-20 points Higher IQ.

    It's is bad enough tax payers are being forced to fund someone else's Free Will Choice to Breed in Poverty, but we also have to PAY CORPORATIONS for a BAD CHOICE b/c they don't feel like breast feeding?

    How about cover THAT story.

    May 11, 2012 at 16:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • dx2718

      Breast feeding isn't exactly free; you have to increase your food intake in order to make enough milk, so while you're not buying formula, your food bill still goes up. You also have to invest in bottles, pump, and milk storage containers if you ever intend to let someone else feed your baby (whether so you can work or just take a break).

      May 11, 2012 at 16:33 | Report abuse |
    • Debbie Peterson

      hahaaaa Breastmilk IS FREE!! Your arguement is not very solid. LOL

      May 11, 2012 at 16:42 | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      Are you serious? It amps up the food budget that much? Show my the data, Einstein. You're a moron.

      May 11, 2012 at 16:57 | Report abuse |
    • lady harley rider

      @ dx2718 - I seem to remember from the pregnancy literature I read 25 years ago, it only takes 300-500 extra calories/day for the mom. That's not a huge expense. Formula is a whole lot more expensive, as evidenced by the fact that stores have to keep it locked up nowadays. It is sad that our tax dollars have to subsidize baby formula because our society has taught us that breastfeeding is unnecessary, inconvenient, or inappropriate.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:32 | Report abuse |
  17. dx2718

    My daughter weaned herself at 17 months after we switched to whole cow's milk during the day to make daycare easier (meaning, I didn't have to pump and send bottles over; the daycare provides cow's milk for free). I was sad, but now I'm breastfeeding my infant son. I figure there is no "too late" to wean; it's an individual decision; weaning should happen when either Mom or baby wants to wean, preferably sometime after one year of age (though if everyone breast feeds until age one and then switches to cow's milk, the formula companies will go out of business).

    May 11, 2012 at 16:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • franklovesfl

      My ex-sister-in-law breastfed until the kids were 8 years old. Still believe in self weening????

      May 11, 2012 at 16:54 | Report abuse |
    • kdf

      your response that you were sad when you daughter stopped breastfeed is the very clear indication that continuing past 6 months or even a year is only for the mother... not the child.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:21 | Report abuse |
  18. Lisa from Toronto

    A lot of people would accept or simply shake their heads at a provocative photo of breasts for the purpose of advertising, but there is this huge public outcry over a picture of breasts doing exactly what they are made for. THINK ABOUT IT FOR A SECOND.

    May 11, 2012 at 16:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Tony

    I'm a 74 year old male and I still enjoy feeding on a breast.

    May 11, 2012 at 16:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Love'm mammies

    Researchers showed that children with ADHD were breastfed less often as infants than were the control children. They assume that the high levels of DHA in breast milk could be responsible for better performance later in life since infants are inefficient at converting polyunsaturated fats from other sources into the valuable omega-3 fat DHA that is essential for brain development. Even the duration of breastfeeding has been associated with higher intelligence and higher academic achievement in later childhood, and with higher levels of high school attainment (Horwood and Fergusson, 1998). A study published in 2002 also showed a significant association between intelligence levels in adults and the duration of their breastfeeding as infants (Mortensen et al., 2002).

    The take-home message from these reports is to breastfeed your children and maintain adequate levels of DHA throughout childhood to encourage the best potential for successful academic performance and to reduce the possibility of learning and behavior problems.

    May 11, 2012 at 16:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Twink

    it's OVA when Little Johnny (or Suzie) can ask for it in plain language...in this case, it looks like Little Johnny could write a 3 page essay requesting it!!
    If you decide to continue breastfeeding after this milestone, then at least pump and let Little Johnny (or Suzie) drink t from a sippy cup!

    May 11, 2012 at 16:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Jeff

    I'm wondering it the 3 year old still wants his mothers milk if she pumped it out and gave it to him in a cup.

    May 11, 2012 at 16:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Roy

    I pray the mom teaches the kid to share with his friends...if so this kid might be very popular in middle school

    May 11, 2012 at 16:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Mbb

    I nursed all my children until they wanted to stop and two of them weaned themselves around the age of 4. They are all boys and are well adjusted, independent and are in wonderful, committed relationships with terrific women. We have to get over this hang up about seeing women's bodies only in terms of sex.

    May 11, 2012 at 16:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Mary

    In America or any other country where food is plentiful.. And children are not suffering from lack of food.. There is absolutely no reason to breast feed past 6-12 months..
    The image of this woman and this boy is disturbing.
    A relative of mine breast fed until her child was 3 and it was disturbing to watch the child walk up and undo her top to get to her breast.. And the day she was screaming and fighting her mom in the store trying to open her blouse to get at her breast..I felt enough is enough.. And said something. When a child is old enough to fight you and take it out themselves, they are too old to be breast feeding.

    May 11, 2012 at 16:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Debbie Peterson

      Obesity is killing Americans...the quality of that so called "food" is what is killing us.

      May 11, 2012 at 16:40 | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      Debbie Peterson

      So you think this child doesn't eat anything else and is sustained on his mothers milk??
      Not happening.. This boy is eating plenty. The breast milk is just a extra that he probably insists on at this stage in his life.~!
      And if he is like the little girl in my family, it is to get mom's undivided attention.. Can't do much else with them latched onto her breast~! They certainly are too big to be carried around.. So the mom must sit and give her attention to her child.

      May 11, 2012 at 16:52 | Report abuse |
  26. Laurie

    I have nursed six children. The shortest time was seventeen months to the longest child nursing to three years of age. It was the most wonderful thing I have done for my children to give them the best start in life. I will treasure those precious years of breast feeding my children my whole life.

    May 11, 2012 at 16:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Pitdownman

    When his friends come over and she offers cookies and milk, do the kids stand in line?

    May 11, 2012 at 16:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Mitchell

    Why did she just take off her shirt and show off what she really has.

    May 11, 2012 at 16:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. jeff

    I am 26 years old and I still remember my 3rd birthday. Thank the lord my mother didnt breast feed me past a year,otherwise I may be able to recall memories of what I feel could do serious psycological damage later in life. What is this world coming to.

    May 11, 2012 at 16:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Star

    "1. In a group of 21 species of non-human primates (monkeys and apes) studied by Holly Smith, she found that the offspring were weaned at the same time they were getting their first permanent molars. In humans, that would be: 5.5-6.0 years" Since we have to create artificial drinking apparatus (bottles and sippy cups), it seems to me that humans are meant to nurse at least until they can hold a gourd of water without spilling too much.

    May 11, 2012 at 16:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jake

      For my son, that would be when he was 1.5 years old

      May 11, 2012 at 17:06 | Report abuse |
    • Star

      Also, it would be after they can get enough liquid and solid nourishment without help (replacing human milk with cow milk – this is actually a little more odd than continuing to drink human milk). Sadly, most of us (me included) have been socialized to feel uncomfortable looking at this photo when, if fact, it is perfectly appropriatel for our species.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:27 | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      well choosing comment number 1 is easy but what about comment 3....

      3. It has been common for pediatricians to claim that most mammals wean their offspring when they have tripled their birth weight, suggesting a weaning age of 1 year in humans. Again though, this is affected by body weight, with larger mammals nursing their offspring until they have quadrupled their birth weight. In humans, quadrupling of birth weight occurs between 2.5 and 3.5 years, usually

      or how about comment number 5....
      5. A comparison of weaning age and sexual maturity in non-human primates suggests a weaning age of 6-7 for humans (about half-way to reproductive maturity).

      May 11, 2012 at 17:38 | Report abuse |
  31. Brooke

    What breastfeeding mothers do not need is a provocative photo on the cover of Time to keep controversy front and center in our culture. So what about the age! I think, all things considered, the photo was "over the top" and I am a fervent champion for breast feeding, but this photo was geared to create more controversy. It does nothing to promote breast feeding, especially here in America.

    May 11, 2012 at 16:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Paul

    Hitler was breast fed until he was five. That turned out well.

    May 11, 2012 at 16:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Michele

      George Washington breastfed to a late age as well. Look how that turned out.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:06 | Report abuse |
    • awesome

      I'm sure that all kids that breastfed until 5 will also turn out just like Hitler as well. Superb. He also enjoyed riding sleds in the snow as and adult, like many others. *gasp* What will become of us as a nation? I can see where we are headed now! Breastfeeding 'til 5, now adults on sleds. Next, German Shepherds....

      May 11, 2012 at 17:10 | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      Washington also had false teeth, was sterile, and owned other humans. Also he made made more whiskey than anyone else in this country, grew weed, and lost far more battles than he won.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:14 | Report abuse |
  33. Tavo

    Well this picture is obviously to sell magazines. I am all for breast feeding since it provides a child with necessary nutrition early in life, however a 3 year old is not a baby but every child is different. Some kids need more coddling than others and this lady also shares a bed with her husband and son. They coddle this kid in general, maybe he will be home schooled too. Nothing wrong there either, just not a lifestyle for everyone. Also just because your kid wants breast milk doesn't mean he should get it. Most mammals such horses, elk, wolf, etc half to kick the baby away and make them learn to start eating, grazing when they are hungry. Part of being a good mom is learning when to say no and letting your child mature a bit. Also, breasts are not just for nourishing babies. Evolution has made them larger and higher on the chest. Way back on the evolutionary chain we were more ape-like and so the rear end was what lured males in. As we evolved to walk upright on two legs the breast got larger since they became a focal point of the body and acted as a mating lure. Men like breast which is why that is the trait that gets passed down since woman with larger breasts get to mate more often and pass on their traits. Butts are still a big hit too!!! Got to love evolution. Same with penis size. If you cup some butt cheeks together, they look surprising like cupped breasts.

    May 11, 2012 at 16:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Snotty Kid

    I looked at her picture and decided I would like to breastfeed from her teets.

    May 11, 2012 at 16:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Joe T.

    This picture is actually gross. To have a three year old and walk up to a mother and breast feed is so ridiculous. Try drinking milk from a carton or a glass, you are a big boy now. Does he still use a pacifier to go night night? If she wants bonding try reading books with him or just playing and going for walks!

    May 11, 2012 at 16:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Jason

    My wife, under this economy situation, the only way we can keep living is you can eat anything you want, and I and our child drink your breast milk. That's the reason why you get two on your body.

    May 11, 2012 at 16:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ajk68

      What??? I hope you are kidding – I couldn't tell.
      You do realize that those calories from your wife come from what she eats, right?

      May 11, 2012 at 16:59 | Report abuse |
  37. Snotty Kid

    Anyone remember the 8 year old girl in the UK who was still breastfeeding? There are videos on the Internet...google it...

    May 11, 2012 at 16:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. gaucho420

    If you let kids do everything they want without ever suggesting change or better habits, you're not a parent and that goes for breast feeding. Its asinine to think kids need to be breast fed until 3,4,5 or 6....they'll do it if you let them, but I know plenty of folks with great relationships with their parents who stopped quite early on. This is truly babying the kid and creating mama's boys...I'm sure the girls later on in his life will realize real quick this son can't go far without his mom.

    May 11, 2012 at 16:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mary

      And I can almost assure you.. This boy will loose a few girls who see this image along the way..
      If I saw my husband in a image like this.. I know I would feel different about him..
      And his mom...
      This image is really over the top.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:03 | Report abuse |
  39. bob

    If I had kids, I'd probably try to breast feed until the child was about three. If the kid wanted milk after that,they'd have to wait until I pumped.

    May 11, 2012 at 17:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. T

    I knew someone who was still breastfeeding her son when they enrolled him in Kindergarten. This child had a deformed mouth from sucking way past the age he should have. He was also WAY too attached to his mother and had major problems going to school. The mother in this case was doing it because she was mentally imbalanced from having another child die. These women talking on here are making a conscious decision, albeit they may not be very intelligent, to breastfeed to these extreme ages. If I see you breastfeeding your three year old, I WILL stare you down. Disgusting.

    May 11, 2012 at 17:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. JackLM

    That Time magazine cover is just gross on all kinds of levels.

    May 11, 2012 at 17:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. ug

    How stupid is stupid...

    May 11, 2012 at 17:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Guest99

    What other animals breastfeed their baby after the first few months of life?? NONE. Nutritionally it is not necessary after the first 12 months of life. That's right, all you adults out there who guzzle cow milk everyday...empty calories and fat. You can get just as much and more calcium and other nutrients from green leafy vegetables.Woman who choose to breastfeed their toddlers in public deserve to be stared at. You are a spectacle!! It is inappropriate and the closest thing to indecent exposure you can get with your child. Clearly mothers who extend breastfeeding are just using it as a form of birth control and they don't want to start their period. People like this should not be allowed to have children. This makes me ashamed to be a woman. And where the hell is the father?? Seriously, guys, take your womans boobs back!

    May 11, 2012 at 17:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. lfm8543

    This cover is just for shock value. The chair, the pose, everything. Women don't breastfeed this way and TIME is just trying to ellicit more controversy. And the mom is crazy to allow a pic of her kid (not baby) breastfeeding on a magazine cover. How traumatizing.

    May 11, 2012 at 17:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • joe

      When that little boy is about fifteen and his friends see the photo and say "your Mom is (was) hot," he'll be too embarrassed to go to school.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:09 | Report abuse |
  45. T

    Some people want you to think you're not a good mother and are not bonding with your child if you don't breastfeed for a long time. Well, they can't breastfeed when they're adults, so you'd best be learning how to bond with them in other ways, don't you think?

    May 11, 2012 at 17:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Breastfeeding Mom

    The World Health Organization's infant feeding recommendation

    As stated in the Global Strategy on Infant and Young Child Feeding (WHA55 A55/15, paragraph 10):

    Breastfeeding is an unequalled way of providing ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants; it is also an integral part of the reproductive process with important implications for the health of mothers. As a global public health recommendation, infants should be exclusively breastfed1 for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health2. Thereafter, to meet their evolving nutritional requirements, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods while breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or beyond. Exclusive breastfeeding from birth is possible except for a few medical conditions, and unrestricted exclusive breastfeeding results in ample milk production.

    Please note this passage

    Thereafter, to meet their evolving nutritional requirements, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods while breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or beyond

    I do not like the cover but long term breastfeeding is normal

    May 11, 2012 at 17:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ethics Board

      Sex and going to the bathroom are also normal, but they aren't on the cover of TIME.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:11 | Report abuse |
    • lfm8543

      I get that long term breastfeeding can be advantageous in poorer countries where mothers cannot afford food but it's not practical to breastfeed a child for several years in first world countries. It can even damage the shape of their mouths/teeth. I'm sorry but it becomes inappropriate when your child is school-age.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:12 | Report abuse |
    • ebf

      It really is normal. When I first had my daughter I never had a set date to wean her. It was a whatever type of thing. I never expected to nurse her until she was almost four. I assumed she'd stop on her own at a year. A year passed and I figured "eh, probably stop at 18 months". She almost weaned herself at 2.5. She was done. She was nursing like once every couple of days, if that. Then my husband, daughter and I all caught this horrible stomach virus. She wasn't keeping down solids, but she had started to nurse more often. I was constantly on the phone with the doctor, taking her in, worrying because she wasn't eating anything. When I took her in later to check her weight(she had lost some pounds in the beginning), she not only gained back the weight she lost, she gained a pound more. Breastfeeding her was what kept her out of the hospital and prevented her from dehydrating. Her pediatrician not only recommends women to breastfeed until a year(which was his original advice), but beyond because of our experience. It changed his own perspective on breastfeeding. Of course, since she pretty much nursed non-stop for a week, she didn't stop again until over a year later.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:30 | Report abuse |
  47. joe

    "Co-sleeping" was actually outlawed in Italy in the time of the Renaissance because there were so many instances of parents rolling over on the children and smothering them by accident. The Catholic church actually made it a sin to keep your children in your bed. Babies are a lot safer in their cribs.

    May 11, 2012 at 17:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Guest

      Rolling over and accidentally smoothering a child historically was often a euphemism for infanticide. Children who could not be sustained due to lack of food, etc. were sometimes killed by their own parents. While there are instances where accidental death does occur those events do not account for all of the times that have been attributed to such a phenomenon.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:45 | Report abuse |
  48. albert

    If the breast is still producing milk for that particular child, how is that no natural? Those that say we have evolved beyond that are obviously not scientist. Rather, they they have evolved away from being human. Look up love/nurturing, and try to identify with being human again.

    May 11, 2012 at 17:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • lfm8543

      Breasts will keep producing milk unless the child is weaned. You can love and nurture your child without subjecting them to ridicule by breastfeeding them when they are 5/6/7 years old.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:16 | Report abuse |
  49. Breastfeeding Mom

    There is another compelling benefit to exclusive breastfeeding: positive effects on the development of an infant's oral cavity, including improved shaping of the hard palate resulting in proper alignment of teeth and fewer problems with malocclusions. The purpose of this commentary is to stimulate further research as well as to propose the importance of breastfeeding to developing and maintaining the physiologic integrity of the oral cavity.

    Sorry your wrong about the development of the childs teeth and mouth

    May 11, 2012 at 17:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Greens47

    First off, breast feeding isn't at all necessary to raise a healthy child. It's nice, or maybe even best, but bottle feeding with formula is perfectly fine. So-called "attachment parenting" seems ridiculously narcissistic and indulgent, to say the least. All we need in this country is children even MORE attached to Mommy and Daddy than they already are.

    May 11, 2012 at 17:20 | Report abuse | Reply
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