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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. CMax37

    So breastfeeding is the only way to become close to your child? By this equation, fathers are nothing more than sperm donors because we clearly can't have a strong bond with our children.

    May 11, 2012 at 08:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • babs

      sperm is very high in protein

      May 11, 2012 at 08:25 | Report abuse |
    • reality check

      Yes, father's do have a special bond with their children, but the mother/child bond is unique.

      May 11, 2012 at 08:32 | Report abuse |
    • Jo Dee

      You clearly have not read the article nor do you understand the tenants of either attachment parenting or even biology. Women's bodies are designed to breastfeed. This is not a threatening relationship to the father. There are many other things, including baby-wearing, that a father can do to be included as an active role in the child's life. Breastfeeding is one part that lasts a small portion of a child's life. My child was exclusively breastfed until 15 months when he self-weened but his father could not be replaced by anyone. My husband spent time with him, bathed him, played with him, changed his diaper, etc. I could never replace his father.

      May 11, 2012 at 08:33 | Report abuse |
    • jens

      Under the tenets of attachment parenting, both parents can attach. Dads can wear baby and be nurturing. CNN has responded in the way Time would like you too in that it makes breast feeding the bad guy. Yes, only mams can breast feed but both parents can raise their children attachment style. Lets all celebrate happy families and nurtured children.

      May 11, 2012 at 09:04 | Report abuse |
    • N. Smith

      2 things are obvious from this photo. Time magazine put this on it's cover to sell more magazines,
      and this particular woman, standing there hand-on-hips (looking more irriated than anything else) has managed to take what's suppose to be a "bonding between mother and baby" and turned it into something that resembles nothing more than a chore...
      looks like junior is a tad too old to be breastfeeding–if he's old enough to eat solid food,then it's time to put the milk machine away. Wait till this toddler gets older and his freiends decide to have a little fun with this photo,all at the poor kid's expense.

      May 11, 2012 at 09:14 | Report abuse |
    • Don

      Jo Lee, well said. I love when parents let their children make decisions like they are adults. Be a parent! I wish I could kick this kids ass 20 years from now.

      May 11, 2012 at 23:57 | Report abuse |
  2. April

    The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding exclusively for 6 months, and then continuing to breastfeed until the child is two years old (with solid food added in after age 6 months). Before I had children, I never could've imagined nursing that long. I ended up breastfeeding both of my children until they were 15.5 months old. Neither one of them got sick or had a single ear infection until AFTER they weaned. That said, they weaned themselves at that age. And so, we were done. I can understand breastfeeding to age two, and maybe a few months longer as the child weans, but over age three it starts to become more about the mother not wanting to let go go of a mother-infant/toddler relationship. I feel sorry for this child on the cover who is going to grow up with this picture in his history.

    May 11, 2012 at 08:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Leslie

      Well said April!

      May 11, 2012 at 08:45 | Report abuse |
    • Daniele

      I agree with you 100%.

      May 11, 2012 at 08:50 | Report abuse |
    • Daniele

      Most of the reason why kids are getting sick, for example: ear infections, migranes, asthma, is due to the chemicals that are in our foods. Food dye which is made from petroluim, perseratives, artificial flavorings, and pesticides all contribute to the health of your child. We chose the Feingold Diet: http://www.feingold.org. It's a healthier way to live. When I met my husband he had a lot of migranes. When I started cooking for him they disappeared. You really have to be careful what you put in your bodies. The difference is night and day.

      May 11, 2012 at 08:53 | Report abuse |
    • white

      Agree April

      May 11, 2012 at 09:00 | Report abuse |
    • AM

      Once they get teeth...USE A BREAST PUMP!

      May 11, 2012 at 09:31 | Report abuse |
    • RE

      April, I love your synopsis of this photo. It is really disturbing to know that something so personal will follow him the rest of his life and he will have no control over. I can see it now "Breast Boy" is now 25!! Poor Kid

      May 11, 2012 at 14:27 | Report abuse |
    • ash

      Well stated.Couldn't agree with you more.Inspite of all my mental cultivation to appreciate breast feeding, this photo looks pervese.

      May 11, 2012 at 21:25 | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      April
      Thanks the portriat of the 36 month old kid is going to haunt him in school. This is 2012 and the kid should have been wearing pj's and not facing camera or smiling. Cover the face with a bonnet. My sympathy for the kid ,six years from now when in 4th grade and the time mag cover is observed by classmates, then imagine 8th grade etc.

      May 11, 2012 at 23:49 | Report abuse |
  3. boarddog

    I am a 49 year old father. The breast feeding doesn't bother me at all. The age does though. 3? Really? Is mommy still wiping his little behind too? I've seen first hand what excessive coddling past 2 can do.
    My opinion

    May 11, 2012 at 08:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • reality check

      Our youngest was nursed until just before her 4th birthday. A few years later, she was diagnosed with a series of stomach issues that nursing kept stabilized. Her many specialist stated that her extended nursing was helpful to her well-being.

      May 11, 2012 at 08:33 | Report abuse |
    • JungleQueen

      I hope she's still wiping his bottom as most, I say 'most' not all 3 year olds, are typically still in diapers. I don't even trust my four year old to clean himself properly much less my three year old twin boys. There's a lack of coordination unfortunately = /

      May 11, 2012 at 08:34 | Report abuse |
    • A. Goodwin

      Reality – Its always nice to hear of others who breastfed their children longer than the norm. My daughter just turned 4 – she weaned about 6 months ago. I would never tell my friends or family this (with the exception of my husband who was very supportive) – many people have a warped sense of what nursing an older child is like. For us, it was simply a comfort thing – she only nursed one time per day while getting her down for bed.

      She is a healthy, happy, independent, above average (in intelligence) child. I do not regret our decisions – I only regret society's perception of it.

      May 11, 2012 at 08:43 | Report abuse |
    • Julie

      I certainly hope parents are still wiping the little behinds at 3 years old!!!! Otherwise that will be some very messy laundry.

      May 11, 2012 at 14:47 | Report abuse |
    • cbtx67

      The Indian client I work for still wipes her son's tushie and he is six.

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

      Pretty gross huh? Would you breast feed your moms teet at your age? Pretty perverted isn't it?
      3 is too dam old

      May 11, 2012 at 18:35 | Report abuse |
  4. cptpooppants

    W T F ???

    May 11, 2012 at 08:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. thisplanethasgonenuts

    I am of the belief that when your child is old enough to go outside and play and socialize with other children – the breastfeeding stops. I mean, no breastfeeding mother wants to deal with the question: "can Bobby stay for dinner?"

    When a child is old enough to get his or her nutrition from other sources, the breastfeeding becomes being about the mom and her needs. Yes, women in other countries do it – out of necessity, for survival. They also walk and don't drive Land Rovers. How about we try that one while living like them?

    May 11, 2012 at 08:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • whorhay

      My Daughter, 2 3/4 yrs, still nurses. But she's not nursing as her main source of sustenance. She gets to nurse once a day right before bed time. And even that's not 100%, at this point it's a privelege and if she takes too long getting ready for bed she loses the opportunity, and if she doesn't bring it up herself by asking we don't volunteer it.

      May 11, 2012 at 08:58 | Report abuse |
    • ChopperPapa

      " at this point it's a privelege and if she takes too long getting ready for bed she loses the opportunity"

      By this statement you are admitting that it has nothing to do with health, as some pundits claim. For you it is a means of controlling your daughter's behavior.

      May 11, 2012 at 11:58 | Report abuse |
  6. Beth

    I am an advocate for breastfeeding and breastfed both of my children. However, I think there is a time when a child should no longer be "latching on". I understand the excellent health benefits from breast milk, but after a child reaches a year old why not pump and put it in a sippy cup which is developmentally appropriate? Breastfeeding is a personal choice and I am in no place to judge, but what upsets me most about this photo is the exploitation of the child. Be an advocate for breastfeeding, but don't use your child to make a statement. This child will forever be linked to this photo.

    May 11, 2012 at 08:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • reality check

      Why pump it and use a sippy cup and do the extra washing because you can't understand the difference between breasts for food and comfort v. sexual objects.

      May 11, 2012 at 08:34 | Report abuse |
    • Betty O.

      I breastfed my daughter for 2 1/2 years, she's now seven and doesn't even remember it so I'd say it's safe to assume she's not traumatized even after seeing pictures of herself nursing as a wee one. It was for her, because she needed that extra nutrition as a smaller child, and it was for me because every year of breastfeeding decreases your chance of breast cancer and she's my only kid. I wen't with the WHO recommendation of two years, it was not her only food source, of course, but it supplemented her nutrition needs more adequately than formula or cows milk could. My kid got the croup when she was 2, and the pedi accredited her breastfeeding still to her speedy recovery. Breastfeeding not only nourishes your child but also gives them needed antibodies from the mother to fight off infections and viruses. These properties can be lost when reheated, so it's always better straight from the tap. And not to mention, if you haven't pumped for awhile, or ever, the idea of pumping for a sippy cup at for your one year old is laughable.

      May 11, 2012 at 08:59 | Report abuse |
    • Think a little

      Reality Check you intentionally misread and judged what Beth was saying just to start an argument, right?

      Beth, you're right. At some point the breast feeding must stop. The child needs to learn to use a cup. In fact, there really is no need to even pump at that age. The child can get all of the nutrition he needs from regular foods. But, if the mother chooses to continue to breast feed into an age when the child can remember it and is not concerned about her child's psychological well-being that is certainly her choice. However, putting her child on the cover of Time suckling on her breast is absolutely disgusting.

      May 11, 2012 at 09:00 | Report abuse |
    • TX mom

      I totally agree with you that the photo is exploitative of the child. Was dismayed to see it.

      I nursed my three kids until about age 1 and longer, even working fulltime, pumping day and night. I was committed and enjoyed it and was a proud nursing mother. For each child the weaning process occurred naturally and gradually to satisfy our family situation and the child's natural inclinations to wean.

      I am a big proponent of nursing and its health/nutritional benefits and in my opinion there is no "right" or "best" time to wean. 6 mos, 18 mos? two years? Depends on the family.

      However the point of breastfeeding is to nourish a child's body for growth and development. Before they reach three years of age a healthy child without special health concerns should be meeting the bulk of their nutritional needs from a healthy solid diet.

      Weaning does not have to interrupt the emtional/psychological bonding process; who started that myth? Love and comfort and security does not have to come from the breast.

      And further when the breast is used as a reward as mentioned by some other posters then I feel something is a bit off –

      May 11, 2012 at 09:35 | Report abuse |
    • Sonia

      Betty – I think it's safe to say your child's photos weren't splashed all over the cover of a national magazine. Regardless of whether or not this little boy remembers breast feeding, as some point one of his friends will connect this photo to him. And the merciless teasing will ensue. I breast fed my children, and fully believe breast milk is the best choice for babies, but I believe this mom is exploiting her son to promote her own agenda. Look at the smug look on her face? As if challenging us to find fault with what she's doing. Once a child is introduced to all foods, there is no longer a need for breast milk. Also, there's a way to nurse your child in public, discretely, without showing your boobs to everyone around. I dunno . . . this cover irks me.

      May 11, 2012 at 10:27 | Report abuse |
    • ChopperPapa

      reality check – comfort for whom?!?!? Please don't hide behind some obscure notion that breastfeeding a child (note I didn't say baby) somehow gives him comfort in between his playing with friends, video games, or immersed in television. The point is obvious, breastfeeding a child with a full set of teeth and eating solid foods is little more than providing comfort to the mother in that she maintains those feelings of being needed as she was during the child's younger years.

      God help these moms when their children get to middle school.

      May 11, 2012 at 12:03 | Report abuse |
    • Common sense

      @reality check because there is more to child development than just coddling. We are supposed to be teaching our children to live independently in this world. So learning to use a sippy cup is a step in that development. It is not abandoning your child, it is not barbarian, it is parenting. You may choose to do things differently, so be it, but don't act like we are all bad parents for our choices. I am a loving parent to my kids without strapping them to my chest 24 hours a day.

      May 11, 2012 at 12:19 | Report abuse |
  7. Jodi

    As a mother of 3 I ahve breastfed all of them. All of them stopped at a different time. My middle child breastfed until 3 and a half, and the other two had stopped by 14 months. I think the kids will stop when they want. You should do what feels right to you. Only the parent knows what is best for their child. People need to make their own choices an how to raise their kids and not worry what other people think about it.

    May 11, 2012 at 08:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JungleQueen

      I breastfed exclusively all 3 of my babies for 9 months, and then they started to wean themselves. I was able to breastfeed all three for 2 years(my twins and my oldest are a year a part)before they finally weaned themselves for good. Unfortunately, too many people are worried about what everyone else is doing instead of what they should be doing. Different children have different needs. What's good for us, may not be convenient or good for another. Thankfully I live in a parent friendly, breastfeeding friendly, baby loving area where people are just happy to see a parent even giving two craps about their child. So the real issue is, what's it to anyone else what a parent does to care for their child? We need more love and less meddling. I can think of a lot of sights much more offending then a woman's breast being used to nurture her baby. We're adults, maybe it's time for us to act like it.

      May 11, 2012 at 08:31 | Report abuse |
  8. mizelenas

    I must be old school. Although I breastfed my daughter for a short time (my decision), I did it in the privacy of my home. I didn't want strangers gawking at my baby & breast for godsake. This issue has gone too far already. Breastfeed all you want but please cover up! What's going to be the next topic: daddy's wiping 8 yr olds rear?

    May 11, 2012 at 08:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • dom625

      I completely agree with you. Breastfeed all you like (though three years old is quite ridiculous–and flaunting it on the cover of a magazine is totally uncalled for) but be discreet and respect the people around you.

      May 11, 2012 at 09:06 | Report abuse |
  9. SokrMom

    Breastfeeding, for whatever length of time, is never a bad idea. This is the only natural perfect food for young humans that children will ever eat. But appearing on the cover of a national magazine breast-feeding your three-year-old son is a VERY bad idea.

    May 11, 2012 at 08:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JCB

      I agree completely with this statement

      May 11, 2012 at 09:36 | Report abuse |
  10. skeptical

    The picture is exploitive of the child. He looks way older than three, too. I'm all for positive parenting, I wore my child until my child needed to explore the world more, my child slept in my room until it became disruptive to my child's sleep, and my child breastfed until my child needed other sources of food (which was way before age 3). The trouble with "methods" of parenting are that the parents often forget to adjust for the child's needs, but continue as a way of serving their own needs.

    May 11, 2012 at 08:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • TX mom

      Well said! But then I am the first to admit that I just don't understand the whole attachment parenting "method".

      May 11, 2012 at 09:38 | Report abuse |
    • Daniela

      Amen -this is definitely exploiting the poor child. I can't believe this...

      May 11, 2012 at 19:09 | Report abuse |
  11. Gail

    I am all for breastfeeding; I feed all four of my kids that way. Beth is right, though, you must help them make developmental steps toward independence. I began weaning my babies at 6-8 months with water in a sippy cup. Eventually they were just breastfeeding at bedtime. By fourteen months, they were off the breast even though I wanted my youngest to continue since he was the last baby we would have. It is better for them to progress. We all miust make hard decisions as parents, when to end breastfeeding is one of the easier ones. You cannot rush a mother to make the decision but, for the child's sake, by two, he or she should be independent enough to drink from a sippy cup. Mom's also need to make that emotional disconnect so that when kindergarten comes, it is not as hard. Each major childhood milestone will be difficult, especcially if it is the last child but for the development and emotional benefit of all, they have to be done.

    May 11, 2012 at 08:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • S

      The World Healthy Organization recommends breastfeeding for a minimum of 2 years. There are numerous studies showing the benefits of brestfeeding past infancy. Sounds like you just didn't want the burden of breastfeeding any longer. What a shame.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:42 | Report abuse |
  12. babs

    disgusting!

    May 11, 2012 at 08:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Dan

    Kind of hot picture in a strange way.

    May 11, 2012 at 08:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Sianna

    I breastfed both of my older children for three months. Breastfeeding, where I come from, wasn't talked about or pushed in the 90's. When I had my youngest child almost three years ago, I was a much more informed (not to mention much older!) parent. My goal for nursing was to make it to a year. Proud to say I did it! When she was 13 months old we moved from Alaska to Texas, taking her from family she saw on an almost daily basis, to a brand new environment with people she had never met. So I thought, I'll give her the comfort of nursing for a few more months. Fourteen months later she finally self weaned. That's right.. my goal of 12 months turned into 28 months. She's a wonderfully smart, beautiful, empathetic, compassionate almost three year old. She is a little (read a lot!) more clingy than my older two children, but I chalk that up to the fact that everyone in her life dotes on her. I don't, even for a minute, regret a single day of nursing her. Am I a proponent of nursing? Absolutely!! It's what's most healthy for the baby. Do I judge mom's that choose not to breast feed? Nope. Not my place. I would never (never, ever, ever) put my child on the cover of a magazine in such a memorable and "shocking" photo. Kinda odd, if you ask me.

    May 11, 2012 at 08:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. carolina shaver

    I don't think it is appropriate for a child that old to breast feed. For the first year or so it is the best option. By two a child should be using a sippy cup.

    May 11, 2012 at 08:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • reality check

      Breast cancer is on the rise because of people like you. Breastfeeding for three years significantly REDUCES the risk of breast cancer.

      May 11, 2012 at 08:58 | Report abuse |
  16. Concerned for child in pic

    I feel bad for the boy in this picture. This will be what he is 'known for'.... for the rest of his life. Poor thing!! I

    May 11, 2012 at 08:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • reality check

      No, he won't be known for that. If he is, he associates with bizarre people. Even children understand that breasts are for babies. It isn't until they are adults that those same children seemingly become stupid. Oddly enough, those same adults that are horrified by nursing, are the very ones that point out the beauty in a nursing calf, kittens, and etc. The hypocrisy is astounding.

      May 11, 2012 at 08:54 | Report abuse |
    • Sonia

      Reality Check, I don't know what world you grew up in, but most kids look for any reason to tease another child. You think this little boy won't be teased as an adolescent or teen because of this photo? Come on!

      May 11, 2012 at 11:02 | Report abuse |
    • Sonia

      Also, animals don't generally nurse their babies for 3 or more years.....

      May 11, 2012 at 11:03 | Report abuse |
    • Changer

      Just so you know. Average worldwide weaning age is around 4.2 years, US has some of the shortest lengths of breastfeeding. Other pimates will typically breastfeed for 6 times the gestational period, so in humans that is around 4.5 years.

      Just because it isn't right for you doesn't mean it isn't right for them it is their life, don't be 'big brother.'

      May 11, 2012 at 12:31 | Report abuse |
  17. Michelle

    All 4 of my kids self-weaned at different times, 12 month, 15 months, 17 months and 2 1/2. I never forced or even encouraged them along (to continue or to stop_, I let them decide for themselves when they were done and that was it.. The nutritional benefits of breastfeeding actually peak in the 2nd year of life – we were created to breastfeed past infancy, I have no idea why we should let a society that makes such a natural act dirty have any impact on doing what is right for our children.

    May 11, 2012 at 08:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Jane

    That kid is NOT 3.

    May 11, 2012 at 08:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Deb

      I read the article and if I remember correctly, he will be four in a month or two. He looks like it's torture, not even snuggling with his mom – arms straight down to the side. He knows.

      May 11, 2012 at 08:54 | Report abuse |
  19. Kimka

    Women breastfeeding their kids at 3 is not a big deal to me. I didn't nurse past 15 months or so, but to each her own. What gets me is the way the child is dressed- in camouflage, just like a little soldier. Now I've never understood the desire to dress little boys this way (in case they need to hide from the enemy on the way to the playground?), but I wonder if Time did it to create the juxtaposition with the nursing. Quite the contrast in my opinion!

    May 11, 2012 at 08:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Kate

    I think extended breastfeeding is fine, I sure did it. But once a baby no longer depends on breastmilk as their sole source of nutrition, it's a comfort thing, and can wait for the comfort/privacy of home. They're not going to suffer having to wait like a 6 month old would, and can surely understand when mom makes boundaries on when the milkies are available and when they're not. While I wouldn't shun anyone who breastfeeds a 3 1/2 year old, doing it in public, no less a national magazine cover with the intent to expose, is just plain wrong. Hopefully his schoolmates don't blackmail later on.

    May 11, 2012 at 08:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Deb

      I read the article and he is home schooled. Otherwise, going to school would be a living hell. And then people would be up in arms because he was bullied. All because his parents couldn't figure out that making such a statement is fine for them, but not fair to him.

      May 11, 2012 at 08:52 | Report abuse |
    • WhatNow

      Deb...Exactly.

      May 11, 2012 at 09:37 | Report abuse |
  21. ohioan

    sensationalist photos like this only hurt the cause for breastfeeding. I have 4 kids and each one was different. I've completely formula fed one, breastfed for 6 months then formula, breastfed for a year, and pumped and fed for 15 months the 4th(cleft palate, couldn't suck to nurse). They're all healthy. My biggest push to breastfeed was it's CHEAP! Formula is expensive. Not everyone qualifies for WIC (we didn't). Had I known the expense when I had my son, I'd have breastfed him too.

    May 11, 2012 at 08:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Seaturtle123

    When a child can get down off your lap and go play with friends...it is way past the time for breastfeeding to be over! This can do more damage than she knows. Does she go to pre K and nurse at snack time???!!!

    May 11, 2012 at 08:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kate

      just because a toddler is breastfeeding doesn't mean it's exclusive. when my boys were toddlers, nursing was saved for before naps/bed, and a few other private times at home when they wanted the comfort. They were drinking out of sippy cups an eating table food by 6 months. It's not all or nothing, and my boys learned the boundaries of when/where it's appropriate and when it's not.

      May 11, 2012 at 08:55 | Report abuse |
    • reality check

      Our now 16 year old doesn't ask to be nursed. She nursed almost until her 4th birthday. She is a confident, bright, very social young woman and captain of her Cheer squad. Her mother's breasts, for having nurse for that amount of time, are also greatly protected from breast cancer. That's right, the longer a woman nurses, the greater the protection from cancer.

      May 11, 2012 at 09:01 | Report abuse |
    • dom625

      If it's comfort the kid is looking for, snuggling is just fine. Allowing him to latch on and nurse is just plain unnecessary.

      May 11, 2012 at 09:10 | Report abuse |
    • WhatNow

      dom, I'm with you. We need to teach other forms of comforting.

      May 11, 2012 at 09:40 | Report abuse |
  23. A mom

    Yeah, that's just creepy. Mom, let it go. He's not a baby anymore. I don't think Time went too far. I think shedding light on this problem is a good idea. Mom's who can't let go are creating children with no self confidence.

    May 11, 2012 at 08:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. jojo man

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQ7vJoS4Duo&w=640&h=360]

    May 11, 2012 at 08:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Chrytan

    I breastfed my son until he was 27 months old and then he weaned himself down to just at bedtime at which point I gave him the last little push to stop. It was time. Some cultures breastfeed longer and I don't have an issue with it at all. I think mothers need to trust their instincts and their children's stone aged instincts to know when the time is right. I don't have a problem with this or any mother nursing a 3 year old. My son remembers nursing and it is kind of fun that it isn't only me that does remember this special time. I do, however, object to the photo. As other posters have noted, this kid will get a lot of teasing as he grows up because of this picture and the way they have posed him on the chair is just pointless and stupid.

    May 11, 2012 at 08:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Steve

    If they are old enough to ask for it, then they shouldnt be getting it! This isnt a starving nation where we dont have many alternatives for the love!

    May 11, 2012 at 08:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kate

      and the alternative is.... breastmilk from a likely sick/filthy farm animal?

      May 11, 2012 at 08:56 | Report abuse |
  27. mcmorin

    I consider myself to be a fairly open minded dude. My wife breast fed all of our children while they were infants, but that picture totally weirds me out.

    May 11, 2012 at 08:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Ellen

    Most children will try to wean themselves after a while. I nursed my first until she was a year and my second until she was 15 months. Both lost interest on their own, and I didn't force the issue. But that was the right choice FOR ME. It's not for anyone else to say what is right or wrong with a person's parenting, as long as there isn't abuse.

    May 11, 2012 at 08:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Mom

    I'd love my 2 year-old child to stop breastfeeding! Next month, weekend at Grandma's- self-weaning isn't working. But unlike an infant, she only nurses before falling asleep. Although I'm really happy that I chose to nurse (my daughter has never been ill), I'd never "display" us in public. This little poor boy will forever be linked to this photo.

    May 11, 2012 at 08:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • anna

      If you would love to stop breastfeeding for heavens sake just do it!

      So if she cries for a couple of nights that isnt going to kill her.

      May 11, 2012 at 08:58 | Report abuse |
    • mouselol

      If your child is only breastfeeding at night to get them to go to sleep and you want it to stop, so stop. Simply tell her it's time to be a big girl and no more boob and stick to it. Change the routine to reading a story while snuggled up in your arms in a rocking chair. While yes, it may take a month or so to adjust and yes, she will protest, but she will get over it.
      I stopped breastfeeding with my daughter at 19 months because I went back to work and the contstant engourgement at the end of the day was too much to take, and there were times she would drag the boob pillow down the all and yell "bee!" because she couldn't say booby yet, and I simply told her "no more booby". They will adjust.

      May 11, 2012 at 12:10 | Report abuse |
  30. Somerville

    Why not let mothers decide what's best for their children and resist the inclination to be so judgemental about those choices?

    May 11, 2012 at 08:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Me Too

      Because mothers don't always act exclusively for the benefit of the child. Some cling to their children instead of the other way around. See comments by Reality Check, who seems to promote breastfeeding for the benefit of the mother not the child (she keeps commenting about the reduced chance of breast cancer for nursing mothers).

      May 11, 2012 at 09:43 | Report abuse |
    • Me Too

      And this picture on the Time magazine cover seems to indicate that this mother has placed her own interests above those of her child. Most people wouldn't argue against the physical and emotional health benefits of nursing up to a certain point (I'd say generally age 2). However, there seems to be a question of the emotional health benefits FOR THE CHILD after that. At some point, it becomes a question about who is actually benefiting.

      May 11, 2012 at 09:54 | Report abuse |
  31. Ethics Board

    Ha ha. Breastfeeding is a bunch of junk. The only thing it good for is a cheap source of food for infants, as formula can be quite expensive, but all the other science just isn't there. As for the 3 year old breastfeeding, you better believe that kid is going to have parental issues in the future.

    Co-sleeping increases the risk of SIDS, there's enough evidence for that. If someone wants to co-sleep, that's cool, but if the baby dies because of it, they have no one to blame but themselves. Same if someone wants to not have a booster seat for there child, or a fence around their pool or any other number of safety measures. Just because you can teach a person how to be a good parent, doesn't mean that they actually become one.

    May 11, 2012 at 08:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • reality check

      Actually, co-sleeping, reduces the incidence of SIDS especially if the baby sleeps on Momma's chest.

      Breastfeeding also reduces the likelihood a woman will have breast cancer. It's protective. While not a guarantee, if a woman nurses for three years, there is a 50% reduction in the likelihood she will develop breast cancer.

      May 11, 2012 at 09:04 | Report abuse |
    • Ethics Board

      Really? Maybe to should read the AAP statement or read about the "Back to Sleep" Campaign. Or you could just pretend science doesn't exist too.

      May 11, 2012 at 09:06 | Report abuse |
    • Brad

      Actually, if the mother is healthy, eating healthy, then breastmilk is far better for an infant than formula, and the science proves that. It's not just about the nutrients in the milk either, the milk builds up an infants immune system, formula does not, at all. Babies are born with very little immunity to disease, so yes, breastmilk is extremly important. Maybe you should go back and read some good science, not the junk science you are spouting.

      May 11, 2012 at 09:13 | Report abuse |
    • whorhay

      What kind of "science" ae you talking about? Every serious article I've ever read has demonstrated real health benefits for breastfeeding when the Mother's body is capable of producing milk properly. Baby formula is so expensive because it's still largely experimental, the companies are constantly trying to improve it so that it matches breast milk as closely as possible in nutritional content. If you do a side by side comparison of children that are breast fed and bottle fed you'll likely see that the breast fed kids are healthier all around. My daughter has never had the rolls of fat that you see on little kids all the time.

      Bottle feeding is the equivilant of grain feed lots for cattle. It contains a lot more carbohydrates than they would otherwise eat and they fatten up and stay that way longer. My daughter has been long, lean and relatively strong since infancy, in fact we've had trouble finding properly sized clothes as she needed longer pants and shirts but most sizes that were large enough were too large around the waist and such. Bottle feeding also leads to the child slamming down food faster than their stomach can handle it which results in them spitting up all the time. My daughter has only ever spit or thrown up when she was actually sick.

      Co-sleeping increases the risk of SIDS when your studies don't factor out drunk or drugged parents. In otherwords idiot parents are more likely to kill their child when not exercising appropriate caution. It's not really an issue of co-sleeping being bad or good.

      Child seats and booster seats are a good point though. Many parents want their child to reach and pass milestones as soon as possible, it's a kind of achievement system, bragging rights kind of thing. Similiar to how every parent wants their kid crawling, walking and talking earlier than their friends kids. So what happens is as soon as a kid reaches any one of the criteria for being allowed to take them out of a safety seat, or turn their seat around, they do it. Our Daughter still rides in her appropriately sized safety seat that is rear facing. We could have turned her around already but it still safer for her to be refacing and she can still sit comfortably that way.

      May 11, 2012 at 09:21 | Report abuse |
  32. WhatNow

    As my 81 year old mother who raised four kids says, "when they are running around and picking their own nose, they are old enough to feed themselves". We should encourage independence.

    May 11, 2012 at 08:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • reality check

      The dairy council has brainwashed you. Please look up the percentage of lactose intolerance. The reality is that lactose intolerance is the NORMAL state and tolerance to Dairy is the anomaly.

      May 11, 2012 at 09:06 | Report abuse |
  33. BeBe

    It is society that has turned womens breasts into something other than what they are intended for. If most people pass a calf nursing from its mother in a field along the highway, they oooooh, and awwwwe at how cute it is, but find it shameful when a human mother nurses HER baby. Breast are made for feeding our babies, not for the amusement of men. No one thinks twice about seeing a woman in a shirt that barely covers her, but see if covered by a child's nursing lips and find that repulsive? Get back to the basics, folks...breasts are FOR feeding children, as long as they need it.

    May 11, 2012 at 08:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • BeBe

      I don't find the act of breastfeeding in public or private shameful, but displaying this child's picture on the cover of the magazine is just wrong. The mother is making HER point, but the magazine should have used more discretion.

      May 11, 2012 at 08:56 | Report abuse |
    • PumpNDump

      Honey, cupcake she's breastfeeding a 4 year old, or didn't you get the memo? Nobody has an issue with breastfeeding up to a certain point. But that is creepy.

      May 11, 2012 at 09:02 | Report abuse |
    • Ethics Board

      A 3 year old cow is not attached to its mother's utters.

      May 11, 2012 at 09:03 | Report abuse |
    • reality check

      But we aren't discussing bovines but primates. Through the third year is NORMAL. Now Ethics, go get educated and develop scientific and learned ethics over touchy feely trailer trash ethics.

      May 11, 2012 at 09:08 | Report abuse |
    • Everyone's an expert

      Uh, BeBe ... breasts are for more than breastfeeding. Perhaps you've experienced some of that heightened sensual pleasure from having them stimulated? Or are you too pristine for that?

      "reality check" for someone supposedly defending science you: 1) are totally misinformed about the copious amounts of research which support the positive benefits of breast feeding; and 2) should know that a cow has an "udder" not an "utter."

      And for every "the parent knows best" ... you are aware of the sad number of parents who have abuse and neglected their children, sometimes to death, right? We should all just turn away because they "know best"? You may believe your Johnny/Janie are perfectly well adjusted but we aren't taking your word for it because you have an obvious bias from your point of view. That is why - are you listening reality check? - empirical research, where large samples of diverse populations are examined are needed to draw generalizable conclusions.

      That sort of research has more than validated the benefit of breastfeeding during the first two years but there is no such support for the "extended version" nor the system of "attachment" parenting.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:13 | Report abuse |
    • Everyone's an expert

      Sorry ... the "udder/utter" should have been for Ethics Board.
      But reality check, you're over stating your case as well.
      Where is the evidence for 3 years of breasfeeding?

      May 11, 2012 at 18:15 | Report abuse |
  34. kc

    Wow! I have been reading some of these responses. I bottle fed my children and they all turned out fine! It is kind of hard to go to work and breast feed children until they are 3 and 4 years old or go anywhere for that matter. Even animals wean their young sensibly for survival. Not only is it not neccessary, but I really find it offending because I have seen it done. I do not appreciate someone dropping their breast to a toddler in the middle of my dinner. Sorry in advance if I have offended anyonte. This is my opinion.

    May 11, 2012 at 08:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • P.J.

      Never apologize for your opinion.

      May 11, 2012 at 09:09 | Report abuse |
    • The Writeswift Blog

      KC, assuredly your kids are fine, smart and healthy children, and you and all other mothers who for whatever reason never breastfed need not feel ashamed or defensive or offended in any way; but it is a scientific and medically proven fact that babies benefit from breast milk during the first few months of life. And this cannot be ignored or put down as hogwash. This is why nature set it up this way. It is too bad there are other mothers out there who make you feel bad for not breastfeeding. I breastfed mine but knew of several mothers who had so much trouble with it that they didn't do it. I am just glad I was able to.

      May 11, 2012 at 12:37 | Report abuse |
  35. unknown11

    I would have to say that the fact that the mother chose to put her child on the cover of a magazine eliminates the idea that this has anything to do with the best interrests of the child. At that point we are looking at psycological issues in the mother.

    May 11, 2012 at 08:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • PumpNDump

      She's VERY messed up. That's obvious.

      May 11, 2012 at 09:01 | Report abuse |
  36. Satan

    Breastfeeding is abnormal for all involved in this day and age. No child should ever be denied the right to immediate adaptation into society. This poor child is now tainted for it's life. Breastfeeding is wrong and immoral!

    May 11, 2012 at 08:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lindalou

      Talk about going completely the other way...there's a compromise in there somewhere.

      May 11, 2012 at 09:06 | Report abuse |
    • MamaBee

      Oh my. I'm not really sure I want my child to be adapted to the deep fried twinkie and plastic "cheese" society you seem to be describing. Why is the most nutritional food choice for infants and toddlers immoral? Should I not feed my kids vegetables either? Because, you know, that is another way the human race has been sustaining itself all these years. Where on earth do you even get these kinds of ideas?

      May 11, 2012 at 11:22 | Report abuse |
  37. Oh Come On

    Mommy, can I suck your....I mean, can I have some lunch?

    May 11, 2012 at 08:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. PumpNDump

    It's creepy and pathetic to be breastfeeding a 4 year old child. CREEPY. It's rediculous to breastfeed a child past the age of 2. The American Pediatric Association defines extended nursing as breast-feeding infants beyond their first year. There is absolutely NO peer reviewed published research data on medical and health efficacy of extended breast-feeding and any suggestion otherwise is ludicrous and not supported by any statistical/empirical data. It has everything to do with these women being seriously psychologically messed up and wanting to keep their little future failure children locked to them.

    May 11, 2012 at 08:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. white

    I don't think anyone needs to breastfeed more than 2 years.I nursed my son till he was 17 months and boy did I love it,but than the time came and I said enough.

    May 11, 2012 at 09:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. cashmeremafia

    It's natural, go for it!

    May 11, 2012 at 09:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. unknown11

    If you can chew your own steak it is time to drop off the teet.

    May 11, 2012 at 09:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. white

    btw,I don't think the picture shows any love bond between the mother and child.You need to sit down and relax with your child to nurse him/her.The poor child isn't even in a pose where he is comfy.

    May 11, 2012 at 09:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Dave

    If you want to breast feed a child that is older that is your decision and should be fine, but let it be known that in the United States of America, where we live, it will be considered weird, inappropriate, disgusting, etc... by most Americans. If that is fine with you, then it is fine with me, but I will be judging you along with the other high percentage.
    Can someone who breastfeeds older children or believes it is fine, please answer this question. Would it be acceptable to see a woman breast feeding a 7, 8, 9,... year old? If you feel differently then what is stopping you from breast feeding a 10 year old if they wanted to continue feeding? By all this rational posted there is nothing to suggest otherwise. The point is, when your child is old enough to walk, talk and feed themselves they are probably a little to old (in our culture, which again is in the USA) Please, if you child can not do these things themselves by the age of 2, have them checked out because either you are not raising them properly or the have some kind of issue. I don't mind seeing this stuff (actually I prefer it), it makes for good entertaining and gives me something interesting to talk about.

    May 11, 2012 at 09:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Brad

      I am of the opinion, F your culture, I'll do what I want, you should do what you want, and they should do what they want. Your discomfort is not my problem, it's yours.

      May 11, 2012 at 09:06 | Report abuse |
  44. Brad

    My opinion doesn't matter at all, it's between the mother and her child. She isn't doing anything wrong, and just because some people are grossed out by something natural, doesn't mean it is wrong. How about everybody mind their own damn buisness and quit judging people.

    May 11, 2012 at 09:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Lindalou

    That's just not right! Express the milk if you feel it's what a child needs nutritionally, but let the kid grow up. Trying to keep them at the baby stage backfires down the road and then you have a 37 year old kid living in the basement. Who's against weaning in these cases..mother or child?

    May 11, 2012 at 09:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. white

    I came across a verse in the Holy Quran that states "A mother may breastfeed her child till he reaches the age of two if she wills"I am not trying to start a religious debate here,but the Lord said this for a purpose.

    May 11, 2012 at 09:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. WakeUpPlze

    If you haven't breastfed your baby, spare those people who are thinking about doing it the time of reading your nonsense. Fact is...breast feeding increases infants immunities to many common ailments while going through their infant years. You can read all you want, but the true proof is in the choice you make when you make it. My two boys (both breastfed and completely done by 2 years old)...have been very healthy boys. Quite frankly, when they get sick...within 2 days...they are back to normal. I was a sicker than normal child when growing up missing sometimes a week of school at a time. So, I look at me – not breast fed...and look at both of my boys...breastfed and do my own analysis. Today, we have so many more colds that are immune to anitbiotics (because that is all they pumped us with when we were growing up)...that breast feeding increases a "natural" immunity to those common ailments. Believe what you want to believe...state your opinion as you see fit. But, please...leave your ignorance at home. Leave that to the liberal media. I am a proud husband of a wife who had the courage, and patience to do what many people thought was weird, dumb, and against the norm. There is no doubt whatsoever, knowing my family genes and heritage, that it has helped my child. Why this is so hard for people to accept, I just dont understand. Fear? Maybe. Jealousy? Probably. Last time I checked, I don't see any animals walking around with formula and bottles in their hands.

    May 11, 2012 at 09:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • WhatNow

      Other mammals wean their young as quickly as possible. Mother dogs will nip at their pups to discourage breast feeding when the pups are old enough to eat. Self reliance and independence is the goal of most mammalian mothers. Maybe we could learn something from the rest of the animal kingdom.

      May 11, 2012 at 09:13 | Report abuse |
    • dom625

      Colds are caused by viruses. Antibiotics have no effect on viruses; they work on bacteria. So of course colds are "immune" to antibiotics.

      May 11, 2012 at 09:18 | Report abuse |
    • Lindalou

      You don't see animals riding bikes either...what's your point? As soon as a kid can hold a sippy cup, EVERYTHING can be drunk from them.

      May 11, 2012 at 10:01 | Report abuse |
  48. tjarboe522

    You know, I do not see what the big deal is with breast feeding. There is a time when breasts are meant to be a sexual thing, and a time when they are not. Breast feeding is NOT a time for it to be made sexual, and to those who do, or think it does, then you really need help.

    May 11, 2012 at 09:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Keith

    When they are old enough to get it out for themselves it is time to wean them. That is my opinion.

    I have not problem with those who choose to nurse longer. Some children need it, some are more independant and don't care to nurse that long.

    May 11, 2012 at 09:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Hadenuffyet

    reverse Oedipal Complex ....

    May 11, 2012 at 09:11 | Report abuse | Reply
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