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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. joma14

    "Hey, Ma. Can we just stay home and watch a movie? some popcorn?

    May 11, 2012 at 18:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Robb1371

      Not tonight sweety...I've got a headache.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:49 | Report abuse |
  2. Breast is best, anytime & anyplace

    From Time Magazine:

    "In 2008 the American Academy of Family Physicians did its part to try to destigmatize nursing toddlers and older children, applauding the WHO guidelines even as it acknowledged that extended breast-feeding “is not the cultural norm in the United States and requires ongoing support and encouragement.” The group added: "It has been estimated that a natural weaning age for humans is between two and seven years. Family physicians should be knowledgeable regarding the ongoing benefits to the child of extended breastfeeding, including continued immune protection, better social adjustment and having a sustainable food source in times of emergency. The longer women breastfeed, the greater the decrease in their risk of breast cancer. There is no evidence that extended breastfeeding is harmful to mother or child."

    And it’s good for kids too, packed with nutrients and more fat and calories for older nursers. That’s the amazing thing about breast milk; it evolves to meet the needs of the child it’s nourishing. ..."

    Read more: http://healthland.time.com/2012/05/10/extended-breast-feeding-is-it-more-common-than-we-think/

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

      I breast fed all of my children, but like most moms, the emergence of baby teeth ended that phase of their development. Ouch! In this photo however, it is obvious that this child is 10-15 pounds overweight, and no longer needs the calories from breast milk. So I'm puzzled as to why breast feeding is continuing.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:38 | Report abuse |
  3. Mick

    "When he's fifteen, ask him if he likes this picture"

    Son (at fifteen): "Mmmmph mmphhh – what? Mmmmphhh mpmmh"

    May 11, 2012 at 18:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ca Ed

      by the age of 15 he will be so beat up by the bullies, all he will want to do is stay home with mom.
      OR
      he will be the baddest a55 around and nobody will say boo-b to him.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:37 | Report abuse |
    • Southerner01

      At 15, his friends will be asking for a turn!

      May 11, 2012 at 18:55 | Report abuse |
  4. Gloria

    Since we are getting N A T U R A L how about time post me and my man Hangin Lowe in the act creating one of those little suckers? Following that issue should be about gay rights showing two guys in the pony ride position/ Oh, excuse me...my N A T U R A L too much for you? Then keep your crap to yourself and I will keep mine to myself. Oh..wait...I'm kind of liking letting my trash just hang out there without restraint. Hmmm...how do you like it? LOL- this is very freeing- keep your kids away from me – I may get too N A T U R A L.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dennis

      Gloria, it's too early in the day to be so drunk

      May 11, 2012 at 18:33 | Report abuse |
    • Ca Ed

      depends, what time zone are you in?

      May 11, 2012 at 18:38 | Report abuse |
    • Mad Jack

      It's five o'clock somewhere, and the only way I'm going to deal with this N A T U R A L idea is with a perfect manhattan, straight up.

      This woman is nuts. Wait until the kid turns 16 and reacts to a lifetime of seeing this photo – he won't be able to decide just what to do next.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:49 | Report abuse |
  5. Juicy Hudson

    This is the funniest story I've seen in a long time. The woman on the Time magazine cover is semi-hot. Which doesn't hurt, does it?

    May 11, 2012 at 18:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Dennis

    HE IS GOING TO LOOK STUPID WHEN HE DRAGS MOM TO MEETINGS AT IBM SO HE CAN BREAST FEED AT AGE 76

    May 11, 2012 at 18:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • joma14

      I'd hire him. Meetings are usually boring..

      May 11, 2012 at 18:33 | Report abuse |
    • joma14

      With stories like this, life is just too damn easy for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:36 | Report abuse |
    • Leigh2

      LOL

      May 11, 2012 at 19:00 | Report abuse |
  7. susaninglis

    Meh, there are a b'zillion parenting strategies out there. This is one. Eventually the child will push the boob away. You know, when friends come over... or when thier Mom is the only one in lunch room with a boob out. Hehe.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Capt. Zeb

    No wonder she is screwed up

    May 11, 2012 at 18:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Bookenz

    Once they have teeth stop breast feeding for gawd's sake.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mary

      My child started teething at 3 mos, far too early to wean, and this is according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the World Health Organization. Who is anyone to tell anyone else how to fee their child? Show my studies that prove that extended breastfeeding harms children. As soon as you start looking, you'll see that there are significant benefits. Lower risk of cancer, obesity, diabetes, etc. The benefits don't just suddenly stop at age 1. But people don't want to actually read about it, they'd rather just REACT in the US.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:55 | Report abuse |
  10. Tracy

    This is right up there with the bird feeding mom.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. fireundkrash

    We're one of the only cultures in the world that's afraid of breasts.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Capt. Zeb

      Who's afraid of breasts, I suckle on them all the time. But not for dinner.

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

      Capt. Zeb .
      You are correct, not appropriate for dinner.

      However, very appropriate as an appetizer or dessert.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:41 | Report abuse |
    • worktolive

      Has nothing to do with being afraid of breasts, but for goodness sake show some modesty and a little bit of class. You don't have to flaunt yourself breastfeeding a child that should have been weened 2 years earlier on the front of a magazine. Come on ladies-this looks sick to me.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:44 | Report abuse |
    • Erick

      I've got no problem with exposed breasts but encountering the sight of child that's old enough to walk around just sipping from the tap is unsettling. Kids at 4 or 5 start to get interested in the opposite sex, awkwardly enough (personal experiences). I believe that sucking a mother's breast is sending some mixed messages of what's acceptable for a boy to do with his mom and for a boy to do with potential love interest.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:45 | Report abuse |
  12. Oedipus

    I'm jealous!

    May 11, 2012 at 18:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Willy Brown

    She's a pervert

    May 11, 2012 at 18:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Ted Ward

    Time must be desperate for readers. What's the big deal here? What? Is someone now going to agitate for legislation regulating nursing and lactation? Forget it. The kid looks fine with it. If my mom looked like that I'd a nursed until I was ten!

    May 11, 2012 at 18:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Capt. Zeb

    Then again, what is the price of milk today? Something a cow does anyways?

    May 11, 2012 at 18:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Mimi Adams

    UGH.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Erick

    The measuring stick should be how well adjusted to life your child is and whether or not your child evolves into a gracious and functioning member of society. If s/he does, then the parent has succeeded. I don't know that sucking on your mom's breast for five years is going to help accomplish that, but, hell, I guess it can't hurt.

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

    I'm sorry, but when a mother is still breastfeeding a child at 2+ years old, this is no longer serving a purpose for the child, this is an attempt to fulfill some need or emotional instability that the mother has. If you feel breast milk is still important at that age then fine, PUMP it and put it in a CUP. There is absolutely no benefit to a child of this age to continue to suck on his mother's breast. This child is going to suffer from this as he gets older. He's completely recognizable and will forever be "that kid". I wish the mother thought of him more than having her 15 minutes of fame. Sad.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Capt. Zeb

      3 years ago, a woman sued a school, cause they refused her from coming in and breast feeding her 16 yr old. Look it up.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:37 | Report abuse |
    • Natalie

      Exactly!

      May 11, 2012 at 18:45 | Report abuse |
    • Bob Zanis

      There's got to be positives and negatives to her doing this, but it wouldn't surprise me if this kid at age 3 has a higher IQ than others his age. I can see how people find this odd, so do I, but I haven't given this much thought so my opinions on this now would be presumptious and ignorant. How many people do we know personally that has breastfed beyond our confort zone? How many people were never breastfed? Compare and contrast the two... I'd say almost certainly feeding naturally from your mother is better than from a cow or synthetic.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:50 | Report abuse |
  19. Jenny

    Funny how all the guys love it. Let's put some fat lady on there with big hangers and suddenly they won't be such supporters. Bigger issue for me is showing the kid's face. You as an adult, want to make a statement, fine, but leave your innocent kid out of it.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Robin

    If a child is old enough to tell you they are hungry, they are too old to breast feed. And putting that photo in the public domain is an outrage. Does she know what this child will go through when he goes to school? Does she care? I hope she's saving up for his therapy.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. JohnRJohnson

    This is one of the most idiotic stories I have ever seen on CNN. Who cares if some women are disturbed and ignorant enough to breastfeed their children after they're 2 years old, much less +3 years old? As far as I'm concerned, this is just a stupid excuse to show this ridiculous picture on the website.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. UncommonSense

    My problem is that this young man will never be able to avoid this picture for the rest of his life. His mom forced him into this picture and onto the national spotlight. For the rest of his life, when you google his name... this will come up.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MustReason

      Who cares? Its not like he has been accused of murder. Despite the media's efforts, this is not really a controversial issue.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:39 | Report abuse |
    • Capt. Zeb

      And bullied the rest of his life for it. But we want to place laws on others and not the source, the mother.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:39 | Report abuse |
  23. BobZemko

    Lucky kid !!!

    May 11, 2012 at 18:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. jenny maiden

    tough for the kid- he has not been given any "choice" here, and yet when he's an adult, he'll have to carry this around...and at THAT point, he may not have made such a choice. Rather unfair if you asked me. But...alas, she did not ask me!

    May 11, 2012 at 18:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MustReason

      Who cares? Its not like the child has been accused of murder. Despite the media's efforts, this is not really a controversial issue.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:41 | Report abuse |
  25. BobJones

    Sometimes you just have to laugh at the insanity. This is one of those times. Liberals, LOL!

    May 11, 2012 at 18:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JT

      Huh? Oh, you're one of those unfortunates who sees everything as some kind of political binary situation. I want you to squeeze all three of your brain cells together and read this carefully: this has nothing to do with politics. The entire world is not an exercise in political polarization.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:54 | Report abuse |
  26. MustReason

    This is another example of the media making a mountain out of a molehill and trying to insight needless controversy. There is no "firestorm" here.. your average reasonable person does not really care about the breastfeeding habits of strangers. The truth is that nobody knows what the absolutely correct approach is – even the so called experts often contradict themselves . Furthermore, specific parenting techniques may work for some, but not others, there are too many variables to make blanket recommendations. We all have to make our own choices with the best available information and not try to insist that our way is the only "correct" way.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. jimbob

    The next issue of Time will have her sucking the milk out of a man.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Soldier

    So if we as a public are to be subjected to public breast-feeding because the mother 'is not ashamed', is it alright for men to urinate in public places now? I mean, it's a natural act. We're not ashamed of it.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. G D

    It's her choice, and there are medical opinions backing it (& not). Some pretty close-minded opinions given in response. Who are we to judge her choice or others our own? Who knows precisely where the line should be drawn, but it's a personal one for sure.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. JT

    Ya, saw this in Game of Thrones. I'm sure that kid will turn out just fine.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Tracie

    let that boy go!! pump the milk and put it in a cup if you are really concerned for his health

    May 11, 2012 at 18:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. jimbob

    And finally it will have a full blown donkey show on the front page.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. gah

    i have three kids. i breastfed all three for varying lengths of time. my oldest i barely breastfed at all, and now i am ashamed to say i'm not as emotionally bonded with her as i am the youngest whom i breastfed an extended period of time (not like this lady, but much longer than i anticipated).
    i'm not advocating breastfeeding until 6, but i do think there is a link between breastfeeding and a strong bond later in life

    May 11, 2012 at 18:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Bill

    CNN. Controversy No News.

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

      Or CNN: Commentary Not Necessary

      May 11, 2012 at 18:41 | Report abuse |
  35. Tom

    The irresponsible aspect is the picture. This should be a private act between a mother and her children. The real sad thing is that she really doesn't breast feed him with him standing on a chair. This is just pure sensationalism and I have lost respect for Time magazine for it. But, ever since the advent of the internet, media has been in a downward spiral. But somehow, they could lose millions of dollars and there is always someone that is willing to pay big bucks just to have their agenda heard.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Kris

    Are you a parent? Well, you're doing it wrong. Grow up with parents? They did it wrong. Going to die alone? You're doing it wrong. Still reading this? You're doing it wrong.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Somebody

    Come on folks, this is a non-issue. Its okay for the mother, its okay for the kid. Its okay for everybody except for those who have intimacy phobias. Move beyond them. If you can except gays, you should be able to accept moms taking care of their kids.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. kingpin

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

    I'd like to read her husband's opinion...our Pomeranian in our bed affects our intimacy!

    May 11, 2012 at 18:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. curious

    That cover should read "Hey mom, Got Milk?"

    May 11, 2012 at 18:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. That Girl

    Oh yes, let's generate more emotionally stunted, wimpy, selfish, disconnected yuppie larvae with this sort of "parenting'! Totally disgusting – the whole notion of this form of "parenting." It borders on obsession. Have kids if you wish, but get a life and give them one as well. Reminiscent of that In Living Color sketch with the grown man still attached with the umbilical cord, no?

    May 11, 2012 at 18:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MustReason

      Are you really that knowledgeable about parenting that you can pronounce such harsh judgements? Sounds to me like you have your own issues to work through.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:44 | Report abuse |
  41. rabs

    If women can breast feed their 30 to 60 yr old boyfriends or husbands, whats the beef with breast feeding a 3 yr old?

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

    There was a time when mothers knew what to do naturally, using her animal instincts without having to turn to books or the advice of experts. I have confidence in most moms, who breastfeed, to decide what's best as they have already made the most natural and best choice for their child. I could much more easily criticize baby formula from a can, or packaged baby foods.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JT

      Way to miss the point, Billy. The issue here is not breastfeeding. The issue is breastfeeding the kid until he's 35.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:44 | Report abuse |
    • bill

      Not 35- three.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:56 | Report abuse |
  43. Mike

    I've see more bare breast tissue on any SI Swimsiut issue or Globe Rag....And that IS all for a look at their woman's body. This may be provocative, but really.... Why don't all of you go out and do something positive for your worl and leave Lynne's alone.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JT

      Ah, another one who can't read. Try again. Have a smart person read the article to you.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:45 | Report abuse |
  44. JCZ

    SICK!!

    May 11, 2012 at 18:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. IvyL

    I don't see a big deal with breastfeeding until 3. I remember reading it in my developmental Psychology book that it is healthy for children to be breastfeed rather than those milk products from the counter. This is based on researches that professional have done in the field. And this is one of the reasons why I don't understand why people make such a big deal on it when I would do it for my children's health.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JRMartin

      A kid that old can eat regular food, breastfeeding is for BABIES only.

      May 11, 2012 at 19:08 | Report abuse |
  46. MPS

    Yet another thing, like marriage, religion, and sexual orientation that is none of my damned business. When are we going to start leaving each other alone. What the hell is wrong with us that we have to control each other. The fact that I think she's out of her mind does not give me the right to tell her that, or to tell her she's wrong. The only person who gets to weigh in on this with her is the boy's father. That's it.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Amazoine

    Best way to spoil a child. And then we have to deal with the brat you raised. Way to fail at being a mom and teaching your child self-control.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. S

    I'd rather see a 3 year old drink his mother's breastmilk than cow's milk, which humans are not meant to drink.

    May 11, 2012 at 18:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JT

      "not meant to drink". Oh? And where is this edict written? On the back of the soy wafers you scarf down, I'll wager.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:50 | Report abuse |
  49. Andrew

    I don't care if she breast feeds him or not – so what! But on a magazine in the checkout line at the grocery store? They're both standing; he's on a chair; she's wearing Spandex. Go do it behind closed doors. Not EVERYBODY cares to see it done like this. It just seems out of place – the "shock" effect. What's the point anyway? To sell a zillion magazines?

    May 11, 2012 at 18:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • toadears

      Bingo! And I'm sure she didn't pose this way for free.

      May 11, 2012 at 19:08 | Report abuse |
  50. Carl Peterson

    Are you sure this is not a young looking short guy she knows?

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