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?
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Three years old? Crazy. My kids were on the bottle till one years old. After that, no bottles...straight from the cup with solid foods at that age.
Breasts were made for feeding babies. Just because you feed your child in an inferior fashion, doesn't mean that your opinion is relevant to other women.
Realitycheck – the article asks for our opinions and Ranz gave one.Get off your high horse.
Dear fantasy check: you should look in the mirror before critiquing other people's advice!
@ reality check...you are right, but I don't see any babies in that photo
Hey reality check, get over yourself. Breasts were meant to feed your INFANT. There are plenty of healthy oprions once your child gets past a certain age. Sounds more like YOU are the one with weird attachment issues who wants to self-aggrandize yourself as amother because you probably have no other achievement in life (You get a star, you produced a child, so did those 16 year olds on Teen Mom). Guess what your child is going to end up with Mommy issues and never end up being able to achieve anything in life you weirdo.
I see a baby who is under age three and a mother.
The fact remains that bottle feeding IS inferior and is advertised as INFERIOR. That isn't an opinion but fact based on studies.
Our children are well educated, independent, with plenty of friends. Do you need to know their degrees as well? As for us...the parents, there are 5 degrees including doctoral, between the two of us. Now, state your education since you attempted to disparage ours.
Unless you were taking a drug that was harmful to them or had a physical disability you shortchanged your children. Babies breastfed for 6 months usually gain 7 points on their IQ. As an infant gets older & becomes a toddler the milk changes with the child to stimulate brain growth. The most intelligent child in our house breastfed for 4 years on the advice of the pediatrician. Another child who could read the Emperor's New Clothes at age three said that sibling is so smart it is "scary". Yep, at 190 it is scary. Scary for you Ranz. Looks like your family could use more intelligence points.
LOL I'm calling BS on ThePerfectFood
It's none of our business how long she breastfeeds her son. Yes she put it out there in the public eye and it will be criiqued, but the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding through a child's second year of life and states that humans generally breastfeed 2-7 years. THIS IS SCIENCE BASED. America is behind and does not support mothers.
Here is a list of benefits for breastfeeding a toddler:
Yes I am currently breastfeeding a 15 month old.
"Science-based" breast feeding 2-7 years you say? Great, that means you approve of sex at age 12, right? Well, there's more to it than simple science, biology.
I don't care one bit whether you breast feed your kid for 6 months or 6 six years. However, cover up. I don't want to see your breasts flopping about.
My mom breast fed me until I was 24.... NO BIG DEAL.
I can't find anything on WHO's website that states that. It says "Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond."
Kate, I don't want to see your bottles! So, please only feed in the privacy of your home.
As for children having children at age 12, that is idiotic. Even if a girl hits menses, her brain isn't ready for childbearing and both need to be considered. If you don't want to nurse your children for years, don't.
gee, longshot, that is sure making a leap of logic, eh?
My mother never breastfed me. She said she thought of me as a friend – Rodney Dangerfield
the WHO recommends that people breast feed to the age of 2. THAT is science based. the fact that many people breast feed from 2-7 is NOT science based...it's just what people do. The American Heart Association recommends an hour of physical activity a day and also states that many Americans are overweight or obese. It doesn't make it a scientific recommendation to be overweight or obese.
IMO, according to Erikson's Stages of development, this sort of breastfeeding will delay a child's psychological development. They'll be stuck in the Autonomy v. Shame or Initiative v. Guilt portion much longer than they need to be.
But truthfully, I really don't care...she is obviously doing this for attention. Americans have the right to raise their children as they see fit within the constraints of the law. I don't think she's a great parent, but there are far worse out there.
are you kidding me that this is science? First off its way too early of a study to see what the life long impacts will be on the child and second of all you are teaching the child to depend on their parents way too much and arent allowing them to start to learn independence. Instead you are promoting codependence which will affect not only your life but your childs life.
Nope, really none of our business. The issue to me is the picture on the front cover. This kid will be teased for years! Poor guy. Also, I tried sleeping with my child and husband. Didn't last long as spoiled intimacy. She says sleeping with her child doesn't affect intimacy with her husband? So they're having sex with the child in the bed? At what age are adults arrested for this? In my view she's on her way!!
I am a mother of three. I do not support breastfeeding or bottlefeeding past 12 months. Time to grow up and start drinking from a cup. If it is that important to receive breast milk..pump it and put it in a cup. It is the nuritional value of the milk not the concept of drinking from the breast. I think people who breast feed loss sight of the purpose of breast milk. Yes, she did put it out there to be critize and make everyone's business when you splatter a front cover page of Time. Get real! There are many, many other ways to raise a well adjusted and confident child.
From the WHO: http://www.who.int/features/qa/21/en/index.html
Yeah, I can see the lifelong effects already. The child who doctors recommended for extended breastfeeding until age4 with a 190 IQ scored perfect 800 & high 700s for SATs & then passed the CLEP test for English 1AND 2 simultaneously before entering college. Also the most independent child I have ever seen. Very successful in personal relationships too after getting to a school that had intelligent people to date.
In Native American culture children as old as 8 often nursed after a younger infant. Nursing frequently(12 times a day) stops the brain from releasing the chemicals for ovulation. That means no baby.
I went without a cycle for 2 years after a birth. Not quite as smart as the other child, this one could add 3 four digit numbers with decimals the month after starting kindergarten without being taught. Carried all the numbers into the correct columns. Even put the decimal in the right place. I wound up with 3 boxes of oranges, because I promised to buy them if the child could do the addition.
what the heck? in nature, things stop breast feeding as soon as they're capable of walking on their own basically. This is disturbing...and so is that pic!
Primates, like mountain gorillas, nurse for years.
D, don't know what "nature" you've been observing, but I'm a country girl and many, if not most mammals are born able to walk. They sure keep nursing for a good while beyond that.
lol...I stand corrected. I live in a major metropolitan area and have no idea in truth haha, just speculating I suppose.
as hot as she is...that pic is still disturbing though nonetheless
I wish my mom breast fed me till I was six... also this is non concern, this is private
Um, nope ... not private. You see the picture on the cover of Time, right? Put yourself out there, expose yourself to well deserved ridicule.
It is a private decision even if viewed publicly.
I got NO problem with it
Is it OK if the kid jerks off while he is breastfeeding?
Anything past a year and a half old...smacks of perversion and incest.
Incest? Something is wrong in your thinking.
gawdammed I'm an idiot
Yes Don, you are an idiot. Primates feed their children for years as well. Evolutionarily speaking, they are our closet relative.
yes incest, certain types of intimacy are not appropriate for your children, its ok to hug and hold and even kiss your kids, but we all know that theres types of hugging and holding and kissing that would be inappropriate, there is nothing wrong with breastfeeding, however once the child has long since past the point where he needs it, it approaches something else, there is such a thing as too much closeness with your child, and just because it feels good to her and he doesnt know any better doesnt make it ok
reality check – just because evolution wise they are our closet relative... they are just that, relatives. Behavior of mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, etc should not be used as the yardstick for human behavior. In this specific case, however, I agree that if both parents agree, breastfeeding her son is her business not mine. On a side note, she does have a nice rack
ya seriously, chimps commonly engage in cannibalism, infanticide and sister rape, very commonly, maybe you aspire to be like them, us humans do not
@Don Hurley, Are you sure you are not projecting?
Nice t i t s.
Yessssir. I wish I could have a sample of that sweet milk.
no child should be breastfed long-term. there is no good reason for it and it is not at all healthy for the child long-term. proponents for it obviously don't realize that what they're doing is going to have a serious negative impact on the children later in life. i know a few people who breast longer than necessary and they all have freakish emotional dependency on their parents – especially their mothers. one even to the point that he essentially runs to/calls mommy/daddy for every little thing in his life to have mommy/daddy advise him on what he should do. there's momma's boys/girls, yes, but the extent of these people's dependency on mommy/daddy is really disturbing. i dated a guy years ago who'd been breastfed until he was about 3 and the guy could barely do anything nor make any type of decisions on his own – he was constantly running to/calling mommy/daddy for advice and assistance. his older siblings were exactly the same way. it was disturbing how dependent they were on their parents.
I have to agree. My ex-wife allowed our daughter to breast-feed until she weaned herself, when was a little over 4 years old. Her misguided idea was that it would make our daughter more secure, and I went along with it. Well our daughter, as sweet and healthy as she is, is unusually attached, "enmeshed" is the psychologist's term, with her mom. It's been more of a struggle for her to wean psychologically from her mom. She's 14 now and is still feels alienated when apart from her mom. There's a balanced way to do it, we just went too far, I believe.
I was breastfed until I was 3 and I make my own decisions without my mom's help. I have friends who were breastfed until 1 and they're highly dependent on their parents. It depends on the person and how they're raised rather than on the length of time that they are breastfed.
Sounds like you are the one with the problem.
Time should no better than to put a photo like that on a cover. That woman is obviously an attention seeker. IOn another note, is that boy 3 and that big, or is the mother that small?
Breast milk is highly nutritious and actually kids who are breast fed are shown to be more intelligent when they grow up (score hire on standardized test). The kid seems to be developing pretty quikcly.
I mean sure he'll have an Oedipus thing going on later, but everything has it's side effects right?
Also, the more offensive bit of this whole thing is the implication that mothers who don't subscribe to attachment parenting are somehow not "Mom enough." My mother raised five kids, didn't breastfeed any of us. We all did exceptionally well in school (one got perfect SAT's, several of us have advanced degrees, etc.) and are doing exceptionally well in life. I credit that to the fact that my parents made an effort to teach us to read at a very young age and spent plenty of time with us doing things that didn't involve sucking on my mother's teat. My mother was DEFINITELY "mom enough," and my father was without question "dad enough."
Breastfeeding is great. Your child will be fine if you don't. Let's stop guilt tripping mothers, they have more than enough to worry about already.
I agree with you 100% and I did breasfeed but that makes me no better a Mother than any other Mother.
Good point, Christina. Thanks for sharing.
Good luck getting him to do anything without Mommy around. Idiocy.
Our child nursed well into her third year of life. She is well adjusted, well educated, happy and independent. She had enough mommy time to offer her the security to now manage quite well without. She is the one is the group that others invite to be their group leader.
the photo makes me horn y ...is that wrong?
Me too Sarah, Lets hook up!
I love it, all for the ART, well done indeed.
I wish if that picture was taking by me.
Women who do this probably aren't getting much attention from the father of their children so they just keep bonding with the kids via breastfeeding longer than is probably the norm.
Actually, women like this are ignoring the uneducated in our culture, and feeding their children as nature intended.
This woman is a lunatic. Poor poor kid
It would seem you are the lunatic as she is simply doing what most other primates do; take care of their young, nursing them for years as G-d intended.
Breast feeding for infants...OK...breast feeding for babies...OK...breast feeding for toddlers and juveniles...I'm not so sure.
God Bless her, she is a paragon for selfless women. My older son is turning 4 years old this August and still breast feed with his 2 years old brother. Nothing uniq except she has posted her normal routine on the cover of a magazine.
Dereje, there are two issues involved in your breast feeding your four year old: first, you are experiencing some unnatural feelings from the act;, second, you are simply lazy
I don't know anything about breast feeding or until what age it is healthy to do so or in what kind of a physical stance; I don't think that's very relevant to the point there. I think the point is, was it never considered inappropriate by any of TIME's staff to display a picture like this? I mean, I always thought it would probably be kind of inappropriate to look at other people breast feeding their kids. Kind of like looking at other people while they're using the bathroom, or something like that. Not the kind of thing I'd think would be considered socially acceptable to put on the cover of a mainstream magazine like TIME. Maybe that's just me though and I'm wrong. But it does seem disgusting to me though, I'm not sure about other people.
problem is not breast feeding babies, the stupid part is the 7 yr old child
Sleeping with your baby doesn't affect intimacy with your husband? So they have sex in bed with their child? Wow...good luck to this kid's future therapist!
Sleeping with babies often results in the death of the baby from being squashed by the weight of a parents' body or suffocated. Not a great form of population control but it happens.
The possibility of having sex anywhere other than your bed has never occurred to you? Wow!
Betcha Mommy is enjoying it as much as her pre schooler:-)
Underlying the uproar and interest in this cover is the fact that the "mom" is extremely attractive. Breast feeding little kids is weird but Time's choosing this MIL F is obviously very intentional and meant to sell magazines. Had they chosen a more frumpy, common soccer mom their exploring this issue wold seem more genuine but wouldn't have gotten nearly the attention.
Wean that fattie! Wean him, wean him now!
Wow, what a hottie. Can I watch?
I love the Church but if I was that little dude I would be very happy. A dream come true. Is there something about this in the Bible?
Jesus didn't get a bottle. You are only perverted. To this little child, he is only receiving comfort from his mother...nothing more.
I thought breast feeding was to give the child essential nutrients needed to grow. After a certain age the can get those nutrients from FOOD right??? Breastfeeding a three year old child because "he's not ready to stop" is absurd.
Bottle feeding gives most of the essential nutrients. Breastfeeding gives the best nutrition AND offers comfort that a bottle doesn't offer. A nursed baby must be held by its mother. A bottle fed baby is often fed by a pillow propped up to shove it in the mouth even if the baby is done feeding must continue eating as they are incapable of spitting the bottle out. No wonder there is such an issue with obesity, look at the neurosis of a child being fed as nature intended.
A mother's milk changes with age to match the nutritional needs of that individual child. Mother's milk has antibodies to fight diseases making illnesses less severe & unique chemicals our bodies make for the child that stimulate brain growth.
Also, in families who have lactose intolerance, like those of Native American descent, nursing provides rapid bone growth because the calcium in it can be absorbed. One of my infants needed calcium supplementation to treat a birth defect. To my surprise the nutritionist had the doctor give the supplement to me. I produced milk with higher calcium & it treated the problem. It was so effective The baby started getting teeth at 3 months & had 2 year molars at 10 months. The mother's body does all the work of processing the foods for the baby.
When one of my children stopped nursing the height chart was at the 90th percentile. A year later the height was down to 25th percentile. The child was diagnosed with rickets from not absorbing the 1/2 gallon of cow milk we saw the child drink each day. With due respect to the animal...Cow milk is for baby calves. A woman's milk is for baby humans.
Regardless of one's feeling about breast feeding in the toddler years, that cover is beyond disturbing.
The perfect analogy/symbol of the Democratic party - "Beautiful" big-government, posing for a photo-op, keeping its "child" on the teat as long as possible.
Thanks, Time magazine, for capturing this symbiotic relationship so eloquently!
The only reason this is "news" is because she's the stereotypical MILF / hot blonde.. If she resembled a turnip picking mother of the Ukraine there'd not be a peep
Sounds like it is the mother's need, not the child's.
Agreed! Seems like it is more for her than him.
Two words: sippy cup
In most of the world, the average age to stop breast feeding is between the ages of 3 and 5. Only in America do women stop around the 1 year mark. I just had my first kid, and I'm nursing her, but I'm not sure if I would willing to nurse for this long. It's just not for me. However, I've noticed a lot of women I know don't even try to breastfeed their babies, when it's actually better for the baby and helps mom heal after delivery. A lot of people see it as some kind of perverse sexual thing, which it's not! It's a natural thing to feed our babies this way – but our society has sexualized women's breasts so much that some women feel ashamed or embarassed about it. I think it's very sad, but it's a decision that every mom has to make for herself and it doesn't make you more or less of a good mom if you don't want to or can't breastfeed. I actually think this article did a HUGE disservice to the attachment parenting movement. These women just wanted to shed some light on the subject and about breastfeeding, but the cover once again sexualizes it and makes it seem like something dirty. Most people probably won't even read the article because of this. SMH...
Let's HOPE it did a huge disservice.
Breastfeeding an enfant is one thing....a good thing! But, still popping the boob into the mouth of a kid who drinks everything else from a cup is just sick!
Yeah, they should have run with the photo of a really unattractive fat Walmart mom, fascinating what the reaction difference would be
HA! You're right! An overweight mother would never have made the cover. LOL!
I'm not sure which is more wacko–breastfeeding a 3-year-old or letting Time Magazine take a picture of it to use for the front cover!
While I believe the cover is unnecessarily inflammatory I do think that the dialogue it has created is positive. It has brought attention to breast feeding and has people talking about it, any press is good press. If it gets mothers or future mothers to do more reading on the subject maybe something they find along the way will further inform their decisions to regarding breastfeeding. It also helps to remove the isolation that some extended-breasfeeding mothers might feel because, as witnessed in these comments, it is a relatively taboo activity in US culture.
Any mother that allows this past one year has control issues. Mother's do it to keep the child "in need of them". In my opinion, it is mental sexual abuse.
Really? Dont you think there are more issues in our country that need attention other than this? Let's talk about the school system this child will be exposed to – I think this is more dangerous than being breast fed by mom.
Can you imagine the bullying this kid is going to get in a couple of years?......all because of a wachjob mother.
Making the boob a sexual object is the perverted part, not actually using the boob for its intended purpose when you have kids. Mommy, not daddy, not family, not others, not the general public decides when kid no longer nurses. No one is forcing anyone to embrace this, but I like that its brought out to the open to make it more normal than having people think formula and cutting back on nursing to impress others is an acceptable way to raise your children. This whole notion that kids are going to get stumped or traumatized is downright absurd, especially in lieu of the idea that we let kids watch destruction all through the media be it games, movies and such. I have to go with the topfree crowd on this, the boob was never as deadly as the bomb, but here in America we prefer bombs, and are totally afraid of the boob as its more dark, evil and deadly as any bomb we have ever dropped.
Oh please. I'd make a bet that the boob has been sexualized for as long as humans have been human.
I'm not opposed to a mother discretely breast-feeding her child in public. What bothers me is shoving it in the public's face just to get attention. Time used to be a respected news journal. Now they're just resorting to shock & awe marketing to boost lagging ad revenue.
Also, that kid looks pretty big for 3! He looks like he's ready for kindergarten.
I love how people are immediately jumping to the conclusion that extended breastfeeding will somehow lead to long term psychiatric damage when not one has come up with a well executed peer reviewed study supporting that finding.
this is not appropriate, the woman is addicted to the physical and emotional intimacy and stimulation involved in breastfeeding, it has passed the point of nutrition for her child and has entered into a semi incestuous relationship wherein she seeks to fulfill needs that should not be fulfilled by her child, its time to let go, he doesn't know better, she should.
Personally, I will not be breast feeding when my child is old enough to ask but it's her boobs and her business.
and if the father likes to sleep naked with his daughters and cuddle with them as part of attachment parenting, is that ok too?
I'd like to breast feed that.
Possibly the greatest Time Mag cover of all time; better than Gandhi, Churchill and Kruschev's shoe. Will stir things up and sell mags. Promote that editor.
If the kid can stand, they're too old to be breastfed. END OF STORY.
I don't really care how long anyone breastfeed's they're kids, i feel sorry for the son on the front of the magazine because he will be teased now because of this, sure some people breast feed longer them usual BUT they don't go out and display it publicly, so those kids that did get the extended nursing period and they parents kept it to themselves will not be getting teased, but this kid is done for. Moms breast feed as long as you want, but keep it quiet and don't be telling the world because your kids wont hear the end of it once they hit middle school.
The only repercussions I can envision are the boy getting teased at school (after he enters).