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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. dude

    My mom did the same thing with my little brother. It was weird, but it didn't seem to effect him adversely.

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

      What is the purpose of this, putting this stupid picture on this liberal magazine cover? Dumb and boring. Do they have ugly asinine children running Timecreep magazine?

      May 11, 2012 at 18:15 | Report abuse |
    • Jim H.

      Is she intimate with her husband while breast feeding?

      May 11, 2012 at 18:18 | Report abuse |
    • Cooze

      Hey, Ann, if we took this same picture – only this time both mother and child are holding a piece – would it be more palatable for a 'conservative' publication?

      May 11, 2012 at 18:19 | Report abuse |
    • Aezel

      Lol U MAD Ann? Yeah who cares what psychologists and experts say on the matter, you must be smarter right?

      Go f*** yourself you dumb b****.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:25 | Report abuse |
    • felix in mass

      Oh Ann, the conservatards I know are usually feeding their 3 year olds McDonalds at this point, and then helping the US reach our obesity records.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:25 | Report abuse |
    • Rosa

      Did he marry your sister ?

      May 11, 2012 at 18:30 | Report abuse |
    • frankblour

      Other than that he is unemployed, friendless and still lives with your parents.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:35 | Report abuse |
    • Syd

      Jim – to answer your question: her husband gets the other one. Simple.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:46 | Report abuse |
  2. Esteban

    Who cares what this women does really....

    May 11, 2012 at 18:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Andrew

    Brest feeding until age 6?? Who is getting their needs met?

    May 11, 2012 at 18:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Sally JPA

    Poorly researched article, CNN. The APA actually recommends exclusive breastfeeding for at least six months, and then breastfeeding for a a year–and then until mother or child desire to stop. The WHO recommends breastfeeding until at least two years. Humans historically breastfed until babies were 4-5 years of age–so if you think this idea is pervy, you can count all your ancestors beyond two to three generations back as pervs. Children who are old enough to have food as well as breastmilk still get a bunch of antibodies for wellness, as well as the comfort of the connection to their moms. The picture on the cover is poorly done (he looks older because of the height on the stool, it isn't set up to look nurturing, etc.), but the mother breastfeeding her 3-year-old is not wrong. (And I don't have kids–I've just bothered to, you know, develop a researched opinion.)

    May 11, 2012 at 18:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • reality check

      Bravo!

      May 11, 2012 at 18:15 | Report abuse |
    • DMC

      They used to wed at age 12 back then as well.

      I wouldn't use ancestors as a guide for current day behavior, lest you get into a tough spot.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:16 | Report abuse |
    • drinker75

      If getting adequate nutrition is an issue I would imagine prolonged breastfeeding would be common. In our country, it's unnecessary.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:20 | Report abuse |
    • gah

      breastfeeding past age 2 isn't a "social norm," like it was with our ancestors so that is why it makes people uncomfortable (same with marrying at age 12 like another poster said – society now has age of consent when it didn't then)
      personally, i don't care what she does. it's certainly not bad for the child's health. in my case as a mother,once my children started cutting teeth (which for them was later, at around 1 year) i didn't want to take any chances if you know what i mean.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:29 | Report abuse |
    • Dood

      I think the poorer nations like Africa still breast feed their kids until that age or else they'd starve. I'm conservative/libertarian but I'm not puritanical when it comes to this stuff. God made "milk bags" to feed kids. She's feeding her kid. I don't know at what age it becomes weird, though. Does he come home from Kindergarten and sit on her lap with a bag of Oreos and suckle?

      May 11, 2012 at 18:34 | Report abuse |
    • Syd

      The WHO recommends breastfeeding for the first 2 years as this is a method of birth control. Breastfeeding can suppress ovulation and thus serve as a form of birth control. When you breastfeed, the same hormones that make milk, called prolactin, also suppress the release of hormones that cause eggs to mature and become fertile and the lining of the womb to nourish fertile eggs.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:40 | Report abuse |
    • M

      Thank you, Sally JPA. I breastfed my daughter until she weaned herself. All babies will do that. She was 3 years and 2 months old. After about 2 years of age, she was down to 1 feeding per day and then all of the sudden, she stopped and never thought about it again. What a blessing I have to know she did it on her own time...

      May 11, 2012 at 18:42 | Report abuse |
  5. pop CHEESE

    This picture doesn't look offensive... But the mom is pretty.

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

      This so called "MOM", is a radical sicko, ugly to boot.

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

      """This so called "MOM", is a radical sicko, ugly to boot."""

      What in the world is your problem?

      May 11, 2012 at 18:30 | Report abuse |
  6. Jenny

    It is not the breastfeeding I have a problem with. It is the fact that she has set her kid up for years of ridicule from peers. . Good luck paying those therapy bills for the bullying your child is going to have.

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

      i agree. broadcasting this photo to the world clearly demonstrates that her choices are about her, and not the welfare of her child.

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

      Yeah, cause 3-year old's throughout the nation are patiently biding their time.

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

      I could not agree more with this statement. She has a right to her opinion but her child isn't old enough to form his own. Now he will be stigmatized for life.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:25 | Report abuse |
    • Norm

      Cooze we live in the age of the internet now. When this kid is 15 I guarantee his peers will find this. If you think otherwise you are stupid and foolish.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:26 | Report abuse |
    • Dood

      Norm is right. This will catch up to him and he'll never live it down. If not kids then the media will do a follow up and rehash it all.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:36 | Report abuse |
  7. Mother Who Breastfeed 13 months

    I do believe in the importance of breastfeeding and generally believe "to each his own" on this issue. And in a 3rd world country where resources are scarce I can understand prolonged feedings. However, did Mom do any emotional harm to Kid in the sense not that she breastfeed a lot longer than most Moms, but plastering this Kid all over the world in a parenting style not commonly accepted by most? How does this Kid deal with this now?

    May 11, 2012 at 18:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • pennylane

      I think you're being a hypocrite, is the emotional well being of a third world child any less important than that of a child in our prim and proper society...???

      May 11, 2012 at 18:21 | Report abuse |
    • Bleu

      Here's a thought, why not teach your kids not to ridicule others.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:22 | Report abuse |
    • drinker75

      Pretty sure she meant that 3rd world children may have less nutritional resources.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:23 | Report abuse |
  8. Jeff

    i thought the cans dried up after a few years.....

    May 11, 2012 at 18:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike

      Normally, they "dry up" when they stop being used.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:31 | Report abuse |
  9. BlackDynamite

    "Oh, you're breast-feeding..........how old is he?"
    "42 months."
    "............That's 3 and a half........."
    "Yeah........."
    BD

    May 11, 2012 at 18:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Cooze

    A nation of prudes and warvangelicals.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Polopoint

      Or a nation of 'anything for "art" – come'on kids'

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

      I couldn't have said better....

      May 11, 2012 at 18:18 | Report abuse |
  11. Kenny

    She can breastfeed me until I'm 30.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. JLT

    It must be uncomfortable for you to sit in a primary schools desk with a primary school student sucking your breast. Do the other students line up for equal time on your breast? The reason we are questioning why our society is so messed up is ????? Grow up people!! Unfortunately we have made our society broken.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Polopoint

    This kid's going to have issues.

    Starting in a couple years – when he begins school.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. pop CHEESE

    The picture of mother breast feeding maybe offensive to women who have small boobs or have no boobs but can't grow boobs any bigger.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. G

    That cover makes me wish I was 3 years old again!

    May 11, 2012 at 18:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Frank Lis

    I'll have some of that...

    May 11, 2012 at 18:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Dizzyd

    I might have agreed with a lot of you on this, but then you turned troll and started attacking other women for being fat and not following society's dictates of what's acceptable re: a woman's body. Way to show the sisterhood...LADIES!

    May 11, 2012 at 18:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. pop CHEESE

    A woman who have flat chest like a man. She may find this picture very offensive. Because every mom want to have boobs like her.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • cutedog2

      I gather you are in the men's stall enjoying the picture. What a moron.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:20 | Report abuse |
  19. LakeRat1

    Oh my! The comments are either carefully screened, or y'all are a lot better disciplined than myself!

    May 11, 2012 at 18:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. TPN51

    I'm 61, wonder if she would let me suck on those puppies?

    May 11, 2012 at 18:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • joma14

      are you tired of your own?

      May 11, 2012 at 18:21 | Report abuse |
  21. buffiesguy

    I have a sister who was/is a breastfeeding fanatic. On one occasion, I remember being in her presence and seeing one of her children walk up to her – lift up her blouse – bare her breast – and indulge in breastfeeding. My sister, bless her soul, really believed she was being a great mother.

    I disagreed then, and disagree now. "To Everything, There is a Season . . ."

    May 11, 2012 at 18:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. FRANCES CLARKE

    ALTHOUGH THERE IS NO NUTRITIONAL REASON FOR A TODDLER TO STILL BE BREAST FEEDING AT 3 YEARS OF AGE, FOR THIS CHILD AND MOTHER THERE IS OBVIOUSLY A PSYCHOLOGICAL ONE. BUT OF ALL THE THINGS IN THIS WORLD TO BE MONDAY MORNING QUARTER BACKING ABOUT, I THINK A MOTHER JUST TRYING TO DO THE BEST SHE CAN TO BE THE BEST MOTHER SHE CAN BE, FROM ALL THE WISDOM SHE CAN GARNER, IS REALLY NOT ONE OF THEM. WHERE IS THE MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACKING ABOUT J LO AND THE AMOUNT OF TIME SHE WORKS AND HOW MUCH SHE IS PAYING HER NANNY TO BRING UP HER CHILDREN? I DO NOT STAND IN JUDGEMENT OF HER EITHER BECAUSE I'M SURE SHE THINKS SHE IS TRYING TO BE THE BEST MOTHER SHE CAN. THIS COUNTRY WOULD BEST BE SERVED BY WORRYING ABOUT THE MOTHERS THAT NEGLECT AND ABUSE THEIR CHILDREN, NOT THE ONES THAT ARE TRYING THEIR HARDEST TO DO THE RIGHT THING. HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY AMERICA!!

    May 11, 2012 at 18:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Pfft

    That kid looks older than a 3 year old....Or she is like what 4 ft. tall...Well, lets hope she pops the teet out before he goes to college....It could be awkward having his contemporaries hitting on her with that thing still in his mouth.....Honestly, I think its more a mental thing with the mother. Emphasis on mental.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Ellison

    Flat Chest Ladies calm down.....

    May 11, 2012 at 18:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. joma14

    Ok; is this Obama's fault? Or Romney's? Or the Taliban? Come on you spinn-masters, don't miss an opportunity. Don't let us down!!

    May 11, 2012 at 18:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • 1twinsfan

      This one looks like a Ron Paul to me however; if anyone is getting too thrilled by looking at the "naked lady" then it's clearly a Santorum.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:29 | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      I think it's obama's fault. 😉

      May 11, 2012 at 19:22 | Report abuse |
  26. Donna

    That is a totally disgusting cover.... Time magazine.... glad I don't subscribe

    May 11, 2012 at 18:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • joma14

      so disgusting! the only thing more disgusting would be twins!

      May 11, 2012 at 18:23 | Report abuse |
  27. justme

    I think alot of times these parents feel guilty of not being there with their kids and having someone else raise them, basically and then they over do it. I myself did breast feed my daughter until TWO in private!!! Geez!...... Also, babies are babies and sleeping with them in my opinion is absolutely OKAY!!!! If they were screaming and scared for some reason, in my bed they went. My first one I fought it because the books told me it wasnt good and so I thought they were right, WRONG he was a terrible sleeper forever. My second slept in a crib next to us and by two she has her own room and she wanted her door shut after l left her room and I did the same with my third. THe last two were raised more secure than my poor first one. These are just my opinion!

    May 11, 2012 at 18:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. ---

    Sheesh! Now every Male is going to want to suck on boobies. Oh wait.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Tom

    ....and we wonder why the country is soooooo screwed up!

    May 11, 2012 at 18:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • joma14

      because... why?

      May 11, 2012 at 18:25 | Report abuse |
  30. Ellison

    It's cool to be that little guy sucking mommy's boobs.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. brian

    I doubt any harm will com from breast feeding until 3 or 4. I question this lady's parenting choice of having her kids image of doing that all over the internet. Do not think for a minute that some kids in 5 or 6 years won't find it and pass it around school. The poor kid will be harrassed.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Don't embarass me mom

      Exactly. Parent however you want but don't embarass the heck out of your kid.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:27 | Report abuse |
  32. edsr of Dallas

    This is a bit much.......he is too old for this type of thing to be going on. I mean......if this continues and he turns a little older, what kind of fetish is he going to have as a young adult and will he be NORMAL? He might grab some teenage girl at age 15 and say to her....."I'm hungry...take off your blouse"?

    May 11, 2012 at 18:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Selmers

    Hey, Im all for it! In fact, do it in public, please! I will be taking photos.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. JackLM

    Gross. What kind of sick freak breast feeds a kid that old?

    May 11, 2012 at 18:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Jenny

    I'm not sure why it's anyone's business how people raise their kids, including breastfeeding, as long as the kid is safe and loved. My daughter breastfed for 8 months and then was no longer interested, and therefore weened. My son on the other hand is going on a year and weening is nowhere in site. While it seems weird of some of my friends to breastfeed to ages when the kids can actually ask for it, it doesn't make it wrong. Just weird in American culture. Breast is best and I feel fortunate that I'm able to provide that for my kid. Also, both my kids started solids at 6 months per WHO recommendation. So the idea that kids should stop breastfeeding when solids are introduced is bogus.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. dowdotica

    lucky brat!lol

    May 11, 2012 at 18:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. K2

    Is there any decency left?

    May 11, 2012 at 18:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Obviously speaking

    Looks like the old world traditions are coming back into fashion as the new order of the world happens before our eyes. Next... Your daughters will be married off at younger ages and interbreeding with be socially appraised. If you don't think the world is demoralized enough for you... Just wait for it.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Wildone

    I really don't have a problem with extended breast feeding. That said, I think it is extremely unfair and selfish to put your 3 year old child's picture on the cover of a national magazine suckling his mother. Better home school him too, because he is never going to live it down in any public school where kids bully each other for thumb sucking.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. dat

    no wonder most kids these days are big f@t pu$$ies

    May 11, 2012 at 18:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. thinquer

    This Time magazine cover is sexualizing breastfeeding (hair , makeup, yoga outfit...) to sell magazines, and this inexperienced young woman bought into it thinking she was to champion something good. Next time ask an older , wiser woman before making this kind of cover. Perhaps your mother or grandmother.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Rags

    I'm 76 years old but I still like to be breast fed several times a day. Woohoo!!

    May 11, 2012 at 18:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. leftinbrooklyn

    Get ready for a whirlwind of photoshopped knock-offs...hmmm, who should be the first person to cut & pasted over the kid?

    May 11, 2012 at 18:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Guest

    Is there no limit? We have starving homeless on the streets and seniors eating dog food. Yet we have to be exposed to this kind of garbage?

    May 11, 2012 at 18:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. jimbob

    I'd be suckin on that too! That kid is my hero.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. pg

    that kid looks to big to be still doin that

    May 11, 2012 at 18:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. larry5

    If that kid in the picture is 3 I'm a monkey's uncle.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Phils123

    I know how this will effect him 20 years from now, and its pretty obvious. He's going to be made fun of. Relentlessly. Thanks creepy hippie mom.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. smako

    If he is on solid food, he doesn't "need" breast milk. Mommy has issues, but that isn't necessarily abusive. The kid is on the cover of a major magazine, he is going to be remembered for this photo for the rest of his life. If he so much as gets a traffic ticket he is going to have to answer the breast feeding question. Mommy is hot, I want some too.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Jen

    If you as a parent either 1) think that this is completely wrong and the mother is harming the child or 2) say that extended breastfeeding is the only way to properly care for a child, you are an insecure parent. Those of us that are secure in our parenting don't care what choices others make for their children as we are comfortable with ours.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:30 | Report abuse | Reply
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