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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. Dr. Ben

    I'm a pediatrician. I tend to follow the American Academy of Pediatrics for the advice I give parents – not the advice of the Dr. Sears Corporation who use guilt, not research, into making you think his way is best. The AAP understands the needs of American women and American mothers. Breastfeeding until three isn't harmful, nor is it necessary (and completely not feasible for the majority of mothers.) We need to stop this judgmental approach to child rearing. I have lovely families in my practice who have done an attachment approach and I have lovely families who have done a structured, scheduled approach. Guess what? The kids are fine. The biggest failure with attachment parenting is letting the kids do whatever they want, which will without a doubt create an out of control teenager. Kids still should be taught boundaries and structure.

    May 11, 2012 at 12:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tanja Canada

      Agreed! Well said.

      May 11, 2012 at 13:07 | Report abuse |
    • Grondahl

      I'm glad the AAP understands the needs of American women and mothers. I hope they also consider the needs of American children, equally so. Why, in your opinion, is there less of a push here than in other countries to breastfeed past six months of age? Why the discrepancy between AAP recommendations and WHO recommendations?

      May 11, 2012 at 13:11 | Report abuse |
    • Priscilla

      A breastfed kid doesn't just do what they want when they want... What gives you the idea that they do?! I am big on AP but I dont let my two year old run rampant on me or anyone else! So for you to make that comment is ludicrous! You can still teach boundaries and structure and nurse at the same time til the child weans him/herself!

      May 11, 2012 at 13:13 | Report abuse |
    • Baby Nurse

      Very well said!!! I can remember 36 years ago reading a book by Dr. Spock and saying to my husband I thought Dr. Spock was too "out there" for me and I knew that wasn't the way to do it. I feel the same way about Dr. Sears. Although that's my opinion only, kids need structure and balance in their life. Kids without this are the kids who have horrible temper tantrums and being some of these out of control kids we see in the school systems now. Again parents need to do what works for them which would always be my advise.

      May 11, 2012 at 13:13 | Report abuse |
    • AC

      Very well put!

      May 11, 2012 at 13:17 | Report abuse |
    • MesaMom

      Thanks Dr. Ben, well said. As for Grondahl, other countries are A LOT better for maternity leave/bonding time.

      May 11, 2012 at 13:19 | Report abuse |
    • sosakey

      I am not a doctor, but I know if that kid go to school eventually and still breastfeeding, he will become a bullying target by the whole school.

      May 11, 2012 at 13:19 | Report abuse |
    • papapdx

      Just some background...I have raised a family (two girls and two boys). We have always used a scheduling model that was promoted by Gary Ezzo and Robert Buckham. We have had relatives that used attachment parenting so we know both sides of the equation. Even though we have a very structured pattern of life we also have a very nurturing and accepting environment in our home. We always had the understanding that we are raising children to be adults not just raising children.The question to ask is...what skills, understanding, knowledge, etc do you want to impart on your children in order for them to be functional adults.

      A lot of attachment parenting seems to me to be parents raising children for the adult's emotional wants rather than what's best for the child. My wife breastfed all our children (some out of philosophy and some out of the financial benefits) until they were 1 year old. All our children now can make decisions for themselves, have care and concern for someone other than themselves and are functioning members of society. A lot of our friends that used attachment parenting promoted by Sears cannot hold down jobs, still living at home, whiny and selfish. What kind of kids do you want?

      May 11, 2012 at 13:26 | Report abuse |
    • Penny

      I breast fed all three of my children. I was told that it was the healthiest way to nourish them. I was also told that when they began getting teeth, I should begin weening them. I was also told that if they could stand, they were too old for breast feeding. I remember when I was 3 (I am now 51). Especially in this case where the child is a male, I wonder what psychological effects this may have due to his memory? If the child is eating healthy foods and drinking plenty of healthy liquids, I believe this is pushing the limit!

      May 11, 2012 at 13:27 | Report abuse |
    • Assman

      If only the kid was flashing the good old thumbs up in the cover picture this discussion would not be happening. You just know he's thinking it though!

      May 11, 2012 at 13:40 | Report abuse |
    • rachel

      Priscilla

      Maybe you can answer my question. My question is, if you want to continue to give your child the nutrients of breast milk past the infant stage, why not pump and put the milk in a sippy? As others have stated, memories start forming around the age of three. Wouldn't it be traumatic to remember feeding directly from your mothers breast? And, if they are starting pre-school, couldn't it be cause for other children to make fun of them for it? I just wouldn't want to cause my child that type of emotional damage, or potential emotional damage. Of course, we as adults know it's not a sexual thing. But, kids aren't going to be dealing with adults making fun of them, it would be other kids. They don't understand that it isn't sexual, and could tease a child who is still breast feeding directly from their mom's breast. This kid on the cover of the magazine is really in for it, because there is a picture of him doing it that has been distributed all over! Think about when you were a kid. Would you have wanted a picture of you sucking on your moms boob being seein by everyone in your class?

      I understand the benefits of breast milk. What I don't understand is why it has to come directly from the breast. Nobody has ever been able to answer that question for me. It seems it has more to do with the mothers need to bond with the child in that way, than it does with what's best for the child. If breast milk is what's best for the child, why can't it come from a cup? What's the harm in that?

      May 11, 2012 at 13:45 | Report abuse |
    • Ertem Tuncel

      First of all, when the majority of the public sees the woman on the cover as a "weirdo" and the whole picture as "disgusting" and "nothing short of child abuse", I do not see how in the world we, breastfeeding parents, are the judgmental ones. We are not calling formula-feeding parents irresponsible, lazy, or terrible. It is a personal decision. But we hear stuff like "You should breastfeed in private!", "You should stop after the baby has teeth!", "Co-sleeping? You are going to kill your baby!" all the time. It is us who are judged constantly, not the other way around.

      Second, I do not agree that it is not feasible for majority of parents. My wife, who is a working mother, breastfed our daughter until about 4 years old, and is still breastfeeding our son, who is almost 2. Many states have laws guaranteeing the right to take time off from work and pump. If the public pressure and ignorance on breastfeeding went away, and if the formula companies stopped practices such as bombarding you with free food when you have a new baby, I believe more mothers would breastfeed.

      Third, attachment parenting (AP) and structured and scheduled parenting are not mutually exclusive. You are contradicting with yourself when you say you have lovely AP families with fine kids and "The biggest failure with attachment parenting is letting the kids do whatever they want, which will without a doubt create an out of control teenager. Kids still should be taught boundaries and structure." Where in the world did you get the idea that AP kids do whatever they want? Did you follow one of those "lovely" families' "fine" kids until he/she was a teenager? Guess what? We have many AP friends with fine kids also, and those fine kids become fine teenagers as well.

      Finally, bravo for TIME magazine for at least trying to educate the public.

      May 11, 2012 at 13:48 | Report abuse |
    • Jo Ann RNC, MSN, IBCLC, PNP

      I have been in the "cradle" of lactation as a consultant trained at UCLA and internationally board certified. I came into this field of lactation to promote the benefits of lactation and breastmilk . I did work with Dr. Sears group in the middle '80s in preparation for his book. I have seen this beautiful, normal , done since the dawn of man, approach nutiriton become a hated hot political issue that divides even professionals in the field. Women become militant and many I am sure have seen this as another "formula" or man intrusion to breastfeeding. It is not. I left my last position because I was not "Baby-friendly" enough for my work palce. I saw close to 20,000 mothers in 17 years and never once did I see a mother fail at breastfeeding. Those that want to, do and those who do not, don't. But, then there are those who become so militant about breastfeeding they sacrfice their own child's well-being to meet their own "militant" needs! I found myself referring many of them to social services or mental health. WHAT IS IMPORTANT HERE IS THE CHILD"S WELFARE. What is absolutely normal for most in this country has gone off the rails. I saw my own co-worker order her then 5 year old in a community lunch room over to her and forced him to breast feed. He was embarrassed. That my friends is mental illness. Let this "war" go on unmonitored we will be allowing many children born under this approach to become dysfunctional. Now, enter the mental health professionals...please... Also there has been no studies on mothers who continuously breast feed up to 15 years as my former co-worker, what prolonged exposure to prolactin levels have on your brain...Professionals please?

      May 11, 2012 at 13:50 | Report abuse |
    • drinker75

      Time was trying to cause controversy and sell magazines, nothing more.

      May 11, 2012 at 13:51 | Report abuse |
    • LikeToRead

      @Grondahl – The statement is "...recommends babies be breast-fed exclusively for the first six months of their lives. " The key being "exclusively" That should not be taken as only breastfeed for 6 months. At 6 months, you begin introducing solids, so, that would not be exclusively breastfeeding. BUT the recommendation DOES mean for the first 6 months ONLY breastfeed, and do not use formula or feed solids. That's the point of the AAP recommendation.

      @Priscilla – There is nothing in anything that anyone said that, "... breastfed kid(s) ... just do what they want when they want.". The statement is about Attachment Parenting. Breastfeeding a 3 year old is just one aspect of it and the hot topic because of the Time photo. Which has made the focus only on the breastfeeding of a 3 year old.

      May 11, 2012 at 13:53 | Report abuse |
    • Rachel

      Attachment parenting doesn't go hand-in-hand with letting kids do whatever they want.Please don't perpetuate negative stereotypes. Aside from that, I agree that parents need to do what works for them and their families. This country is far too judgmental of ALL

      May 11, 2012 at 14:00 | Report abuse |
    • Bette-Jean

      I nursed both my sons, the first for 15 months, weaning him to a cup and then the second for 13 months or less, also weaning to a cup. While nursing I never had a period, which was nice. A three year old nursing? I don't think so. Do such mothers share their breasts with their husbands as well? I probably sound old-fashioned (I'm 75+), but the woman nursing her son on the cover of Time seems a bit of an exhibitionist to me. She's combining a maternal function with a sexual suggestion, the latter of which hasn't been missed by some respondents.

      May 11, 2012 at 14:00 | Report abuse |
  2. marina

    i nursed my babies, and quit at 1 yr.
    The woman on the cover of the magazine is a weirdo.

    May 11, 2012 at 13:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Priscilla

      grow up and quit judging!!

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

      Way to keep the debate a smart one. Here's a tip. If you want to look remotely intelligent in a conversation, calling anyone a weirdo is a poor move. Who are you to say?

      May 11, 2012 at 13:26 | Report abuse |
    • Amber

      Nope, she's a weirdo. And I can say it, b/c i'm a mom who breastfed both her kids until they were one...i would have kept going but Nature had its course. If the kid is THREE, running around, talking, eating regular food, watching TV, and potty trained, that is WAY too old to be breastfed. Period. It is wack-o!!

      May 11, 2012 at 13:53 | Report abuse |
    • mparr22

      Agreed, weirdos.

      May 11, 2012 at 14:02 | Report abuse |
  3. momnmo

    "palintwit

    I predict that someday soon the Sarah Palin family trailer will become as big a vacation destination as Graceland. It will be called Sarahland. Teabaggers, birthers and evangelicals from the four corners of the bible belt will make the pilgrimage, gladly paying $25, $35, or more for the chance to tour Sarah Palin's trailer and to go out back and see the actual outhouse where she took her morning dump."

    YUP! Our first BIG shindig will be when Obama is THANKFULLY booted out of office! I'll send you a T-shirt "Greetings from Graceland! We can now tighten our bible belts since we took the big Obama dump"

    May 11, 2012 at 13:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mark

      You've kind of got a Sarah hang up there don't you..... Just saying get over it already

      May 11, 2012 at 13:08 | Report abuse |
    • Kim A

      Thank you for your comment. Now go away!

      May 11, 2012 at 13:09 | Report abuse |
  4. palintwit

    "Enforced"? You're as big an idiot as Sarah Palin.

    May 11, 2012 at 13:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Syd

    This isn't that new...A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Page 223: http://books.google.com/books?id=Y-FZ9gRwMTYC&pg=PA222&lpg=PA222&dq=a+tree+grows+in+brooklyn+gussie&source=bl&ots=-5FphUP-G0&sig=WeojYMuoKKVFyz2Zl4Z9OpOb1jc&hl=en&sa=X&ei=JkatT6HcEqLY0QGfz7W-DA&ved=0CFwQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

    May 11, 2012 at 13:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Debi77

    I will willingly admit to bf my child until he was 2 and weaned himself. I was able to lactate and bf was easier and cheap so no lofty AP reasons for me. This pic is wrong for the child's future razzing sake alone but why stomp around regarding a 3yr old bf'ing when Lynn Stuckey set the bar with her 8yr old.

    May 11, 2012 at 13:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Kim A

    That mom is from Los Angeles in the Granola State... land of the fruits, nuts and flakes!

    May 11, 2012 at 13:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. mckillio

    I'm a guy so take this with a grain of salt. But I would stop breast feeding when they start having teeth.

    May 11, 2012 at 13:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Priscilla

      Some babies are born with teeth.. what do you have to say about that?!

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

      Totally dependent on the child. My son had a jaw disorder, so my wife suffered with the pinching, biting, and poor latch until he self-weaned at about 18 months. My daughter is 19 months old, has most of her teeth, and nurses (from what I hear) perfectly. You can coax good habits from them from the very beginning with experience and support behind you.

      May 11, 2012 at 13:15 | Report abuse |
    • AC

      LOL, that has got to be the most sensible, practical male response to the topic I have ever heard. I'm surprised you're the first one to bring it up.

      May 11, 2012 at 13:16 | Report abuse |
  9. Doc ps

    If you want to do it in private...do whatever you wish. Just don't make a big deal about it after the age of 1.5 in the western world.

    May 11, 2012 at 13:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. znhcats

    Growing up I always grateful that I was breastfed by my mother, I infrequently get sick. But the down side is, according to my mother, breastfed kids don't like cow milk. Barely can I finish 1/2 glass of milk if there is not a chocolate milk.

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

      Um...I was not breastfed and I can't stand cow's milk.

      My daughter WAS breastfeed – loves cow's milk.

      You have one person's observations, only. Only trying to clarify that your's is not necessarily the norm. Breastfeeding has nothing to do with whether or not someone will like milk as an adult. And it is certainly not a strong enough argument to NOT breastfeed...

      But thanks for adding meaningful content to the conversation at hand.... :-\

      May 11, 2012 at 13:34 | Report abuse |
    • punkyou79

      I wasn't breastfed because my mother had medical problems at the time of my birth. My brother was breastfed and drinks about a pint of whole milk a day without chocolate and loves it.

      May 11, 2012 at 13:38 | Report abuse |
    • punkyou79

      And despite not having been breastfed I am an incredibly healthy person who is almost never sick aside from a very occasional cold.

      May 11, 2012 at 13:40 | Report abuse |
  11. Dr. D

    I am also a pediatrician and follow the AAP guidelines for most things. How is it that in one context we call what is on the Time magazine cover parenting but in another it would be sexual abuse? Yes, she is a weirdo.

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

      How is it sexual abuse, exactly...doctor.

      May 11, 2012 at 13:29 | Report abuse |
    • srl

      What respectable pediatrician calls a mother a weirdo? Do you not have a more professional way to word your opinion of her? Are you really a doctor? I'm glad you are not my daughter's pediatrician if so.

      May 11, 2012 at 13:42 | Report abuse |
    • srl

      Also, I do agree that the boy looks way too old to still be breastfeeding, however, Time magazine used this for shock value to raise the debate on how American's view breastfeeding. It makes me cringe every time I hear the word 'sexual' attached to the breastfeeding debate. Neither mother nor child finds anything sexual regarding breastfeeding when they do it. It creates a stigma for our culture when we say such horrible things about the natural way to feed a baby/toddler.

      May 11, 2012 at 13:47 | Report abuse |
    • julibear

      I think Dr D has a point. What if the genders were swapped, or the two were not related? Its perverse but true. Breastfeeding is great, dont get me wrong, but I think after age 2, its really more about the mother. Attachment parenting makes it all about the parents, not the child's development. Also, Dr Sears is basing his theories on anecdotal evidence at best. He grew up with no father and an absent mother and became a childhood specialist espousing the exact opposite of his own upbringing and had 8 kids. Good life experience but hardly a scientific basis for these theories.

      May 11, 2012 at 18:19 | Report abuse |
  12. Kim R

    Everyone has a right to do what they want with their children within reason. I just wonder who this type of parenting really helps: The kids or the parents?

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

    Look at her... I would like her to breastfeed me.

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

      Ha Ha – spot on!

      May 11, 2012 at 13:30 | Report abuse |
  14. Husband of woman on cover

    I don't have a problem with it. Just save some for ME!

    bitties aren't too tig, but supple and flavorful.

    May 11, 2012 at 13:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. rosie

    Ok she needs to stop. After a year it is a bit much and YES women do get turned on by the sucking. Sorry but it is true.

    May 11, 2012 at 13:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Angelique

      I didn't – but keep telling yourself that?

      May 11, 2012 at 13:27 | Report abuse |
    • drinker75

      Wow....I agree 3 is too long but the rest,,,,,wow

      May 11, 2012 at 13:53 | Report abuse |
  16. Jen

    And TxMom, I see you responded before I had a chance to clarify. I couldn't care less what moms choose to do. I'm not an extended breastfeeding mom (both girls breastfed just past one year). I'm just responding to those people that judge those moms. We can all judge each other for something. I'm far from perfect just like everyone else. I do things for selfish reasons – but I own up to them and don't try to portray it as being best for my children. What bothers me is moms that aren't honest about why they do things (and I do think you were honest). I was just pointing out that moms that say extended breastfeeding is gross sometimes have no problems with other things that are not typically the 'best' for your children. It's hypocritical. And yes! We are all in it together. Formula feed, breastfeed, breastfeed indefinitely, give your child a pacifier, let them carry a blanket around until they're five. Whatever. Just because we wouldn't choose some of those things ourselves doesn't mean we have to jump all over each other. I had already put this in other posts but just wanted to clarify it to you.

    I don't think I was embarassing myself. I conceded that my statement was too sweeping and apologized.

    May 11, 2012 at 13:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Toni Fless

    All animals know when to wean their babies. Why have humans lost this instinct? I can see it a poor starving nation, where there is little food, but not in civilized countries. Breast milk is the best for your baby, but 3 yr olds ?//

    May 11, 2012 at 13:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • pleasedotell

      I was thinking the same thing. Even if we sync animal baby years to ours, the max is still a year. Elephants who use the same years as us rarely go past a year. Women in developing countries do not even go past a year.

      May 11, 2012 at 13:58 | Report abuse |
  18. Santex

    If Dolly P was my ma I would want to still be breast feeding today!

    May 11, 2012 at 13:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Ashleigh

    What difference does it make what ANY of us thinks? The decision to breastfeed or not and at what age to stop should be made based on one factor and only one factor – the opinion of the mother. That's it. Not the general public, not the media, not people in the grocery store or the mall, not by grandparents.. not even by doctors or by the father. It's is now and should always remain the choice of the mother and the rest of us should butt out offering unsolicited opinions, suggestions and comments.

    May 11, 2012 at 13:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Kelly Heckman

    The picture on the cover of TIME is the most disgusting thing I have ever seen. Nothing short of child abuse if you ask me. Why is the Mom standing in a sexy pose? Completely disgusting.

    May 11, 2012 at 13:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cheryl P

      Amen to that.

      May 11, 2012 at 13:54 | Report abuse |
  21. sosakey

    If this kid still breastfeeding when go to school, he will be a bullying target by the whole school and will have a bad school life and the whole school will call him something breastfeeding mama boy forever

    May 11, 2012 at 13:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • myohmy

      This child will be home schooled.

      May 11, 2012 at 14:21 | Report abuse |
  22. rachel

    Nobody has ever been able to answer this for me, so maybe someone here can. I understand the benefits of breast milk. It is, obviously, the most beneficial food source to babies, and even up to toddler age. My question is, once they are old enough to drink from a sippy, why not pump and put breast milk into a sippy cup? I know there is nothing sexual about feeding your child from your breast. It's just that I have a thirteen year old son. He has seen older children (toddlers) being breastfed by their moms. He has commented that he is so glad I never did that to him! It seems that it would have almost been an embarrassing, if not traumatic, memory for him had I breastfed him to an age that he could remember. Sure, most of us won't remember much, if anything, from ages three and four. But, if you advertise it, like this woman on the cover did, or they find out about it, wouldn't it be extremely embarrassing for them? Why not prevent that by putting the milk in a sippy cup? What's the harm? They are still getting all the nutrients from your milk, without the embarrassment of physically taking it from your breast. I just don't see the point in feeding directly from the breast once they are old enough to drink from a cup. I am not trying to be judgemental, I really just don't understand why a sippy wouldn't be used at a certain age.

    May 11, 2012 at 13:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Grondahl

      I'm making an assumption here, and feel free to correct me if I'm wrong: You never pumped. The logistics of pumping while breastfeeding, maintaining a steady supply of milk, and still feeding the child is something of a nightmare (full disclosure: I'm a dude, so this is all secondhand). I've never heard a mom say "You know what's great? Pumping." It's something you have to do because you don't have the better option, not because it's enjoyable.

      The embarrassment factor will be a purely social construct. In most other countries, this would be met with a shrug. Maybe the question isn't "What's wrong with this?" but "What's wrong with us?"

      May 11, 2012 at 13:36 | Report abuse |
    • Krista

      Pumping only and then putting into a sippy cup is not always feasible for one. Secondly, the woman's body works in some very interesting ways we don't completely understand yet. Physical touch is important for some mother's in order to keep their supply up. The action of the child latching on and suckling are very different from the mechanical squeezing and sucking of a breast pump machine (which are typically expensive items to purchase or rent for extended amount of time).

      A child will learn to be embarrassed by the things their parents are embarrassed by. If it embarrasses you, then don't do it, because you're child will certainly be embarrassed.

      Other mom's that choose to breastfeed longer and not embarrassed by this, and their child will not be either.

      The point is that it's a personal choice. It does not harm you nor the child for another mother to make this choice so it is not something we should infringe upon.

      I hope that clears some of your questions up...

      May 11, 2012 at 13:41 | Report abuse |
    • SEN

      There is nothing wrong with pumping & feeding your child milk from a cup if that is what YOU want to do. Did you breastfeed? Did you experience problems with it? For the first 13 weeks of my child's life I had to pump and feed him through a tube taped to my finger because he would not take to my breast OR a bottle and this took almost an hour not including the time to pump. I was very thankful for a wonderful lactation consultant that helped us establish breastfeeding so I wouldn't have to do this for much longer. I didn't have time to constantly pump and I couldn't use formula due to a sever dairy & soy allergy. I was able to introduce a sippy cup at 4 months and once I did, I NEVER thought of weaning him. Just because a child learns to drink from a cup does not mean that child does not have a need to nurse.
      Please, before you pass judgement on someone, educate yourself and try to walk at least a few steps in their shoes.

      May 11, 2012 at 23:15 | Report abuse |
  23. shelle

    Oh wow, this kid is screwed. Yes, animals breastfeed beyond the age that humans typically do. Many animals also thrown their own feces so I hardly see how it would be beneficial to use them as the behavioral compasses. Humans are not animals and it is inappropriate to ignore the psychological implications of breastfeeding at age three. Children start to form memories around that time. It is perfectly natural and healthy, both physically and emotionally for a baby to be breastfeeding. It is not appropriate for a three-year-old child to be breastfeeding.

    May 11, 2012 at 13:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Akira

    Why would a mother need to breastfeed a child who's already old enough to feed themselves? I'm not understanding that.

    May 11, 2012 at 13:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Whipped Cream

    Does that boy have a stiffy?

    May 11, 2012 at 13:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Blue 19

    I'm not for public breastfeeding but I am rather fond of the containers.

    May 11, 2012 at 13:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Ouch! - But Thanks

    "Attachment Parenting" for me meant my mother attaching a paddle to my ass on various occasions. No fuss, no muss, no books.

    Worked for me. Thanks, Mom – and Happy Mother's Day.

    May 11, 2012 at 13:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Momof3Kids

    My pediatrician told me to breastfeed my son as long as he would do it when he was born because he is allergic to the milk protein casein (found in cow and other animal milk). So I went off dairy for almost three years and nursed him as much as he wanted until just before his third birthday when he decided he was done.

    His current doctors say this decision of extended breastfeeding probably made him the strong healthy kid he is today in his teens.

    May 11, 2012 at 13:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. regenab

    Bascially the pic on the cover of Time is trying to sell more magazines. It is publicity plain and simple. They got exactly what they wanted which was a big buzz over the article. I feel breastfeeding is a personal decision/family business. If you want to breastfeed your child to Age 4, why is it any of my business. Hey that is your kid and your body, do what you want. I personally was only able to breastfeed my twins for the first 2 weeks then had to switch to formula feeding due to a medical issue with me that was causing my milk supply to diminish. My girls are perfectly healthy and normal for almost 4 year olds. Again this was a decision my husband and I made based on my supply and health issues so he could help out more. It was no one elses business, I did what was best for my kids and my family. Everyone needs to just take a breath here and realize what is good for one family may not work for another. Stop sticking your noses in where they don't belong, breastfeeding is how you raise your children (attachment parenting style) are a personal choice and everyone needs to back off.

    People should focus there energy on trying to help prevent child abuse and neglect where their efforts are needed rather than telling someone they are crazy for breastfeeding past the age of 2.

    May 11, 2012 at 13:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Ethics Board

    People can do whatever they want. But to say that breastfeeding is the most amazing thing since sliced-bread compared to formula is not true.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17764214

    May 11, 2012 at 13:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. pchow

    where does the line start????????

    May 11, 2012 at 13:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. h0rnd0g

    I believe that in order to get a true and accurate account of how Attachment Parenting works and its benefits, before making any decision, I need to breastfeed off the woman on the cover of Time magazine. I wonder, will she let me attempt such a feet in order to further advocate her beliefs in Attachment Parenting?

    P.S.- She's hot!

    p.p.s.-Her son is a lucky S.O...B.

    May 11, 2012 at 13:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. J

    Attachment parenting is not about not setting boundaries–that is a common misconception. It's about *listening* to your children, and learning to understand their needs, and teaching them to help communicate them without using coercion or manipulation. Each parent and child is DIFFERENT, and the idea is learning how to find what works for *your* family.

    May 11, 2012 at 13:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ed

      Of course, but how do you get from that to breastfeeding a 3-year old?

      May 11, 2012 at 14:01 | Report abuse |
  34. Cheryl P

    The mother is obviously getting more out of this than the son. This strikes me as more than a little pervy. He's definitely too old to be breast feeding. Maybe she ought to register as a sex-offender.

    May 11, 2012 at 13:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. mrmath2u

    The Fire Sign Theater mocked the idea 45 years ago in "Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him", Side 2. Or should I say "Side 5".

    May 11, 2012 at 13:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Staci Garcia

    Hmmm...I think this is more about mama than it is about the child. Time to start lettin' go mom, I promise, he'll be fine and so will you!

    May 11, 2012 at 13:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Nick

    Breastfeed or don't breastfeed. Do it until the baby is 6 months or until their 5 yrs old. I don't care and it's none of my business. But please don't just whip out your tata in a restaurant or public place without using some discretion and covering up with a blanket or something. Yes, it's one of the most natural things but so is sex and I don't want to see people doing that while I'm out eating or shopping.

    May 11, 2012 at 13:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • pleasedotell

      LOL!!!!

      May 11, 2012 at 14:01 | Report abuse |
  38. Casey

    This is completly unsat. For those who made the argument that this is a nutrition issue, I really don't believe that is valid. Where is the trade-off risk between nutrition and potential Oedipus complex?

    May 11, 2012 at 13:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. bertha59

    I know women who breastfed their child well into the toddler years. What I know of these relationships 20 years later is that the mother keeps a tight leash on the adult child and the child becomes dependant on the mother. I think this is a dysfunctional relationship.

    May 11, 2012 at 13:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Celine

    This photo is less about breastfeeding and more about a mother using her child as a prop. I think they missed the mark on this one!! I dont care when you choose to stop nursing but using your child in this manner is terrible. If the mother and TIme Mag had done a tasteful photo which shows the bond between mother and child during nursing perhaps they could have shown reasons for their beliefs on breastfeeding, instead they chose to have this child forever known as the child hanging from his mothers breast...

    May 11, 2012 at 13:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ed

      This kid will have to spend the rest of his life living this picture down. Wait until he's 16 and the boys on the soccer team find this picture. That should make interesting locker room conversation. He's going to be furious with and embarrassed by his mother until he dies.

      May 11, 2012 at 13:59 | Report abuse |
  41. no fool

    What happened to my post?

    May 11, 2012 at 13:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Ed

    I think this is more about some weird sort of sexual pleasure for the moms than good parenting. How do you get from "listening to your children's needs because each is different" to breastfeeding a 3-year old and/or even older?

    May 11, 2012 at 13:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SEN

      Really? I pity you, your offspring you may have and anyone that you have a relationship with.
      Breastfeeding is one of the most natural acts a mother can do for her child. Health benefits have been proven to pass from mother to child through breastmilk From antibodies which protect an infant at birth...to the exclusive nutrients in mother's milk which have been shown to prevent a number of childhood diseases...the benefits don't stop when the child reaches a particular age.

      May 11, 2012 at 23:23 | Report abuse |
  43. John

    What's the future hold? Calling mom up and saying, "Hey mom, I'm gonna drop by and feed before work?" That's a joke, btw.

    May 11, 2012 at 13:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Don Hurley

    I find the photo perverted, given the age of the kid.

    May 11, 2012 at 13:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Curious

      she is kinda hot tho –

      May 11, 2012 at 14:01 | Report abuse |
  45. Curious

    If you're old enough to ask for it – I'd say your too old. Every seen the movie Grown-ups?

    May 11, 2012 at 13:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Joe

    My ex breastfed our son (without my prior knowledge) when he was almost five, after our daughter was born and she was lactating again....

    May 11, 2012 at 13:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. unowhoitsme

    The mothers are doing it for THEMSELVES and not the child. Call it quits at one year. The immune system is established by then. The rest is SHOW TIME.

    May 11, 2012 at 13:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. That Guy

    Solution to this problem: Birth Control!!! Stop having these things/babies and this would not be a problem!

    May 11, 2012 at 14:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. inked117

    i think its ridiculas, breast feeding past 2 years of age? its not bad your right and theres no harm, but its certanly not a good thing as well. why and how are you suppsoed to tell your kid after a certain age that your breast milk is dried up into powder and its time to switch regualr carton milk? dont you think your child will be harrased and embarresed later on, yes because you hled onto your child for long. thats a little close. look at PRIMATES, COWS, HORSES OR any other mammal do they string there young on a few years of breast feeding.? no so why would you its not bad like i said but its cernatainly not mandatory. but only till hte child is past 6 months. not 1-8th grade. thats more likea dirty joke and very out of the ordinary.

    May 11, 2012 at 14:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Pamela Reznick

    I breast fed all three of my sons. When the first was born, I had to have a card put on his bassinet in the hospital "feed on demand". When the 2nd was born, they expected you to nurse 6 wks. When the 3rd was born it was 6 mos. I was never an "earth mother" but nursing is a partnership between the mother and the baby..when it doesn't work or when one wants to quit, you do. My first nursed for almost 2 yrs saying "it hot" and he quit. The 2nd one nursed till he was almost 4..but it was his pacifier..and he nursed thru my pg w/the 3rd one but I told him the milk was for the baby. The 3rd one quit exactly after one yr and I was grateful..I didn't want to nurse as long as the 2nd one had.
    It's not like this is a public display..each baby is different and each nursing experience is different. It worked for me, it doesn't work for everyone. The kiddos that nurse longer are the exception, not the rule. Ridiculous of TIME to do a story on this. Mothers have been nursing babies throughout time and what about the "wet nurses?" you don't see that any more in the USA! Today, we would be horrified by such..

    May 11, 2012 at 14:00 | Report abuse | Reply
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