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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 (2,707 Responses)
  1. Rick

    Frankly at some point this becomes depraved and perversely sexual. 3 is definitely past that point and I think the woman should be seeking psychiatric help.

    May 11, 2012 at 17:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bobox

      Sexual? For a three year-old child?? Only in this perverse country.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:26 | Report abuse |
    • phoenix86

      Agreed. But she needs to get back into show-biz, and this is a way to help her cause.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:26 | Report abuse |
    • jymsis

      When are women going to stop pointing fingers at each other and start supporting each other. This "you don't do it the way I do it" bullcrap is harmful to mothers everywhere. I'm ashamed of us.

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

      Touche! Well said!

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

      If you remember being breast fed at all, you are a freak and so is your family

      May 11, 2012 at 17:30 | Report abuse |
    • KLee

      No kidding! For the love of God if you insist on breast milk past the age of 1, pump it! This almost borders on incest for crying out loud. I get shivers just looking at that picture. And God help that boy as he grows, the entire world knows about this now and he is going to be teased and tortured over this, did his mother ever think about that? I had a friend years ago that I had to severe the friendship because she was still breastfeeding her child at 5 1/2. She was dating a man, and said he broke up with her because she had a child. UM HELLO he probably broke up with you because when he spent the night, he had to sleep on the sofa because you're almost 6 year old was in your bed with his mouth on your t*t! Gag me!! lol

      May 11, 2012 at 17:31 | Report abuse |
    • poorkid

      In about 10 years poor young Grumet is going to be going through hell. This piscture is never going to go away, he will forever be standing with his mother's t-t in his mouth.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:35 | Report abuse |
    • GOP Hate America

      it always boils down to it being sexual in this country...doesn't it? Americans are so stupid your lust for guns is so much more normal

      May 11, 2012 at 17:37 | Report abuse |
    • Raul

      we are afraid of nature, you prefer milk full of stress, hormones, salt, ammonia, blah blah, I'm sure someone around you died of cancer, better find out how you can be FREE AND INDEPENDENT, enough to get into what does not our business, so you want our tax dollars are spent on this? let the woman kill the child if she wants, not your business!! or anyone else! make your business not the other! FREE AND INDEPENDENT.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:40 | Report abuse |
    • Whatever

      My wife breast fed my son all the way up to 3 years old. He is rarely sick and I can only remember twice, once with the flu for a day and another time with the chicken pox which cleared in less than 48 hours. He scores in school are in the top 10% of our state, is currently in advanced classes and tests at college level. You can't convince me that breast feeding is bad.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:41 | Report abuse |
    • Maria

      Thank you for proving that men should not have a voice in this discussion.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:48 | Report abuse |
  2. Emily

    Quick - someone buy that woman a breast pump!! For the love of God please do it soon!!

    May 11, 2012 at 17:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Illinois Mom

      My thoughts exactly! You know something is seriously wrong with her! At 3 years old, surely he is drinking from a cup, right? So why not pump and put the milk in the cup for the kid. She's an idiot and is victimizing her own child!

      May 11, 2012 at 17:40 | Report abuse |
  3. Pedro Sanchez

    If that was my mom I'd breastfeed til I was 30!

    May 11, 2012 at 17:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • LL

      Awesome. Kidding aside, though: keeping a kid in your bed, having him/her remember breastfeeding AT ALL strikes me as disorienting and foolish. Development is a series of waves/stages, and my view is you're unnecessarily prolonging sensorimotor and stunting some of the most basic stuff that comes online at preop. Besides that, whoever pointed out these kids are going to get mercilessly bashed (and DON'T say that doesn't matter) is on target.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:40 | Report abuse |
  4. Bob

    I'm all for breast feeding; my wife breast fed my 3 daughters. This woman, however, is using her child in this photograph to get attention, plain and simple. The shame here is not that she is still breastfeeding, it is that she has victimized that child by choosing to put this photo in front of the entire country. No matter what that kid does in life, that picture will follow him.

    May 11, 2012 at 17:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jymsis

      You're right.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:28 | Report abuse |
    • mama2009

      Agreed!

      May 11, 2012 at 17:36 | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Spot on. She is free to breast feed and advocate for it. By putting her child on the cover of TIME like that, she has failed to take her child's life into consideration of her behavior and failed him. The child isn't old enough or mature enough to make a competent decision about whether or not to pose on the cover of a magazine sucking on his mom's breast, and so it shouldn't be done. I wouldn't call it child abuse, but she certainly isn't doing her child any favors.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:38 | Report abuse |
  5. SkyDotCom

    That TIME picture -especially the kid's expression- is just priceless!

    May 11, 2012 at 17:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Say No More

    I was wondering how long before this photo was up on the CNN main page. CNN, you are part of the problem!

    May 11, 2012 at 17:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Herman Cain

    Sign me up!

    May 11, 2012 at 17:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. WhackyWaco

    I fully support breastfeeding, but animals wean their young at an early age.

    May 11, 2012 at 17:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. John Thomas

    This is way absurd and beyond a point for the society to determine. An average mom breast feeds until the child is about 2 years. Beyond that something is seriously wrong.

    May 11, 2012 at 17:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • John Bohrmann

      Two?? No way, try 12 months, tops. Average is probably 6 months or less for actual breast feeding.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:43 | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      2 years is average?! Are you kidding? I don't know about other places in the world, but it is far less than that in the USA. Here about half of the babies are weaned at 6 months, and very few go longer than a year.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:44 | Report abuse |
  10. Earl C

    What msg des this send to this tyke? I would hope he's weaned before he becomes sexually active.

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

      Why, didn't you want to suckle when you first had sex?

      May 11, 2012 at 17:35 | Report abuse |
    • Illinois Mom

      He's already sexually active! You saw the pic! LOL!

      May 11, 2012 at 17:37 | Report abuse |
  11. JD

    That kid is going to be tormented endlessly when he gets older, and it will be entirely his mother's fault.

    May 11, 2012 at 17:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mama2009

      You arde so right!

      May 11, 2012 at 17:37 | Report abuse |
  12. kaneda

    Yummy!

    May 11, 2012 at 17:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. johnnieg

    Cant wait till fathers day

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

      lol! I just pictured the Family Guy episode where Peter nurses Stewie when I read this comment...

      May 11, 2012 at 17:47 | Report abuse |
  14. Juls1314

    For a mother in a 3rd world country, breastfeeding is the only means to feed her child. For anyone else, solid food is recommended for the best nutrition.

    May 11, 2012 at 17:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • LP

      Simply not true... breastmilk is the most complete food for human infants. It is rich with vitamins and immunity, as well. Solids should only be introduced as breastfeeding decreases.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:37 | Report abuse |
    • DP

      You made that up.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:55 | Report abuse |
  15. Snotty Kid

    Someone needs to tell this fat kid to drink water instead. Zero calories

    May 11, 2012 at 17:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Anomic Office Drone

    I'm all for breast feeding, but for the sake of the child, stop when they're old enough to remember it.

    May 11, 2012 at 17:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. aj

    breast feeding provides the required hormones, nutrients, digestive bacteria, and countless other benefits to the development of a healthy, intelligent human being. Babies of any species needs to feed all the time because their tummies are very small. Women have a right to feed their babies when and wherever they have to. Human rights above all else!

    May 11, 2012 at 17:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. iconoclast1

    Is 56 considered too old to breast feed? LOL

    May 11, 2012 at 17:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. spenteco

    All that sucking screwed her voice up and her head.

    May 11, 2012 at 17:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Burbank

    This photo is inappropriate on the cover of a magazine sold in grocery stores everywhere and the woman is obviously an exhibitionist. Also, as one newcaster pointed out, yesterday what about the poor child when he grows up? This photo could dog him for the rest of his life, not to mention being horiffically teased in school.I think Mom needs therapy for narcissism issues. She must want all eyes on her all the time!

    The least they could have done was use a female rather than a male child nursing. This photo has far too obvious sexual overtones, it's borderline p*rn.

    May 11, 2012 at 17:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Male chauvinist pig

    Ohhhh to be 3 again.

    May 11, 2012 at 17:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Snow

    A person who looks at this picture 5, 10 or 20 yrs later and calls this grown child names because of breastfeeding at 3 is the one who needs to grow up. How the heck do people make the jump from breast feeding at 3 to psychologically scarred kid or to a society being smothered with breastfeeding?

    May 11, 2012 at 17:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • cbtx67

      I agree Snow, that kind of thinking is outdated and harmful. I know because of the stigma of if you saw a mental health professional that "everybody" would know and nobody would marry, hire, trust you prevented my family members with ocd and bipolar from getting the help they so desperately needed. It left a trail of broken relationships and isolated family members to this day. Grow up people, do you really know many people from high school? I only know one and I havent spoke to her in 24 years.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:40 | Report abuse |
  23. nyumbu

    Who the heck wants to grow up remembering doing that at 6, thats the age your schoolmates are bugging you if you still wet yourself...this is 100x more embarrassing for the kid.

    May 11, 2012 at 17:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • andmit531

      Oh I doubt the little tyke will get teased...he's home schooled so he'll always be protected. 😉

      May 11, 2012 at 17:35 | Report abuse |
  24. mudbone9

    Lucky little baztard LOL!

    May 11, 2012 at 17:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. andmit531

    I breast-fed my first child for about two weeks and decided,"Nope, not for me". So three years later when we had our daughter, tried again because I was then a stay-at-home. Again...nope, not for me. And guess what?? Both of our children are independent who know their parents are always there for them. This didn't come from breastfeeding, carrying them around all day, or having them sleep with my husband and I. Also, they never had ear infections (in fact haven't been really 'sick' in ages), don't have allergies, they've had all their immunizations, are A/B honor students, can problem-solve on their own, have great self-esteem, aren't afraid to try new things, and oh yeah...they attend public school!

    May 11, 2012 at 17:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • WhackyWaco

      You were mistreated as a youngster and became very selfish.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:39 | Report abuse |
    • jymsis

      Thank you. I nursed my kids for about 6 weeks. I hated it. They hated it. I put them on bottles and they are fine. They know they're loved.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:42 | Report abuse |
    • jymsis

      Also,
      I wish more time would be spent talking about reading to your kids. Playing with your kids. Walking with your kids. Laughing with your kids. These are the activities of great parents.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:44 | Report abuse |
    • andmit531

      @jymsis...I completely agree!! I'd play children's tapes in the car (it's pretty sad that my husband and I still know the words to Barney songs!) , play "I spy" while driving (ie: I spy a red car), talked to my children not at them, etc...

      May 11, 2012 at 17:49 | Report abuse |
    • andmit531

      @WackyWaco...I know right!!! Damn me to hell!!! LOL!!!

      May 11, 2012 at 17:51 | Report abuse |
  26. Illinois Mom

    Ok, so she really believes breast milk is best. Fine! Why does the 3 year old kid need to suck it from her breast? Why not pump and put the milk in a cup for him to consume in the same manner (hopefully) that he injests all other liquids? Seems to me the mother has some pretty serious pyschological issues. Poor kid.

    May 11, 2012 at 17:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • LP

      What are your sexual hangups that you perceive a nursing child to be so offensive?

      May 11, 2012 at 17:46 | Report abuse |
    • Illinois Mom

      What are your pychological hangups that you need to put breast in a kid's mouth when he drinks everything else from a cup?

      May 11, 2012 at 17:50 | Report abuse |
    • LP

      Why judge? It works for them in their famiy....your discomfort with breasts may have even made you a formula feeder....what a shame that people get so Puritanical about breastfeeding. It all stems from insecurity.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:54 | Report abuse |
    • Illinois Mom

      You ask me why judge, but then you go on a judgemental rant about me. LOL! Very typical! I have absolutely no problem with breasts or breast feeding enfants. I think it is natural and very healthy for the child and mother. Additionally, if she just wants her child to have breast milk well into the toddler years, that's her choice. But if the kid is taking water, juice, etc from a cup, why not pump the breast milk and also put it in a cup? What benefit is there in a 3 year old sucking his mothers breast?

      May 11, 2012 at 18:12 | Report abuse |
  27. willy

    I know each parent has to decide how to raise their children but IMHO if the child is old enough to say "hey mom, I want a drink" it is past time to ween.

    May 11, 2012 at 17:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. rachel

    that poor kid. captured for all time in a picture that is weird. breastfeeding is not provacative, but the pose she is holding and the image looks weird. he'll be embarrassed as hell when he gets older. That pic was not necessary at all. It was done to create interest, controversy and to sell magazines. And no 3 year old needs to be breastfed or fed formula for that matter. when a kid has teeth they move to food.

    May 11, 2012 at 17:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. jj

    The breastfeeding aside, many children have died while sleeping with adults who rolled over and crushed them.

    May 11, 2012 at 17:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Breast feeding Mom

    Plzzzz.."Mother nature" tells every mom when to stop. When they have TEETH, about 1yr to 18 months old, they can eat food and bite you!!! Time to stop. The only exception is if the child was a preemie or has developmental issues, then check with your doctor. Its really that simple. If you continue after that, YOU have a problem with your baby growing up and needing you less. Seek help.

    May 11, 2012 at 17:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. lardoggy

    She can let that kid suck on her t i t till he is 18 for all I care,is it normal,not from were I come!

    May 11, 2012 at 17:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. foxgirl

    So disgusting!!! There is no proof that breast feeding after 6 months is even beneficial to the child. This poor child will have this picture to chase him the rest of his life. Im sorry but how can anyone have good intimacy with their partner when there 6 year old is sleeping with them ? The bedroom is for the adults, thats why children have their own rooms!!!! its a little gross when the husband and child will be fighiting over who gets to suck first, total from of child molestation , disgusting !!!!!

    May 11, 2012 at 17:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. fletch

    I'm pushing 40 and I am not done being breast fed! Is she available?

    May 11, 2012 at 17:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Michelle

    The Time article goes on to explain this kid is actually a few weeks away from being 4 yrs old. And that she has an adopted son, now 5 yrs old, whom she adopted when he was 3.5 yrs old and at that age, she starting breastfeeding him along with the biological son in the photo. I couldn't care less what a woman's breastfeeding preferences are, I am however so very tired of them using it to make a statement and get attention. She had no right to use her son this way in order to get the attention she clearly so desperately needs.

    May 11, 2012 at 17:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • drinker75

      Oh my, that's messed up.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:37 | Report abuse |
  35. drinker75

    There are always people who have to take good things to the extreme and bizarre. It's weird, it's co-dependent, it's unnecessary. That's my opinion. I breastfed but at some point you do want your body back to yourself (my kids actually weaned themselves under a year, I did nothing to encourage it.)

    May 11, 2012 at 17:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. jenkoosh

    About 20 million men will rush to buy this. It was all about money.

    May 11, 2012 at 17:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. KConor

    well in America is only acceptable
    to put a taliban death on time cover

    that is what we are
    that is what we stand for

    May 11, 2012 at 17:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Dont bother me

    I wanna suck on it too then.

    May 11, 2012 at 17:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Christina

    This woman also breastfeeds her five year old son, who's adopted. Anyone have a problem with that?

    May 11, 2012 at 17:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Just Nuts

    Would she give him formula from a bottle at this age? Seriously.

    May 11, 2012 at 17:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. downtown100

    She has a scrrew loose for sure but I WOULD -- HER

    May 11, 2012 at 17:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. whoCares

    who cares? she's just raising her son to be a tool for his future wife. sometimes, people just don't know when to draw the line. she's demented?

    May 11, 2012 at 17:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. LJ

    It's comments like these that make people say it's perverse and sexual:

    mudbone9 said at 17:33 on May 11, 2012:

    "Lucky little baztard LOL!"

    That said, IMO it's GROSS! (and I'm an adult female)

    May 11, 2012 at 17:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Curious

    I am curious to see the actual studies on "attachment parenting." Pros/Cons, findings from multiple studies. Not just based on a few mom's and 1 doctor's opinion

    May 11, 2012 at 17:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • bad idea

      I wish more parents and adults had the same curiosity.

      May 11, 2012 at 17:41 | Report abuse |
  45. WhackyWaco

    I am 66 and still want to suckle.

    May 11, 2012 at 17:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • andmit531

      Bwaahaahaahaa!!!

      May 11, 2012 at 17:52 | Report abuse |
  46. bad idea

    This attachment parenting theory is at best a well-intentioned bad idea that has been picked up by a generation of wounded latch-key kids, and at worst creating a whole generation of kids/young adults with attachment problems.

    May 11, 2012 at 17:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Fernando

    I know. I'm kind of uncomfortable about this on different levels like a lot of folks.
    But I just can't help notice that the kid looks closer to a strapping five-year-old in a Norman Rockwell painting and she looks like an NFL cheerleader.
    Does anyone know where I might be able to get some of this in bottles?

    May 11, 2012 at 17:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. the_dude

    I'd pay to do that

    May 11, 2012 at 17:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Irene

    Hmmmm?? I'm a woman and when I look at this pic...makes me feel veeeeery uncomfortable...and kinda queezy! Poor kid...on the cover of Times. That in itself is going to cause this kid a bunch of problems from the kids at school. What is that mother thinking?

    May 11, 2012 at 17:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. rnl

    you go boy!!

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