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?
About this blog
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.
About Brandi Pearl Thompson and Chattanooga Real Estate
That is the nastiest thing I have ever seen. When your child is old enough to come and pull your breast out and talk to you why your breast in his or her mouth is a big problem.
I'm not sure what all the fuss is about. It's a woman's body and that's not even a real person yet. We have no right to tell her what to do with her body. Wait... that logic only applies to the children we can't see! I KNOW the majority of you who have a problem with this are pro-choice. So please... spare us your judgemental tone.
Damn I wouldn't wish to remember the image of my mother breast feeding me. This is ridiculous, a mother's milk helps a baby get strong when the child is strong enough with a well developed immune system that doesn't require a mother's milk it time to transition the child into the next phase. This is just a ridiculous internal wish of hers which if adopted more in any society will bring about a huge heap of issues.
A child's immune system isn't fully developed until around age 4, which happens to be the average age a human weans. Hmmm....interesting isn't it?
Sadly this makes women just look like cows. 🙁
Moo MOOOO!!!! (sip sip) MOO (thanks mom)
No, no, no.
If it was up to men, we would breast feed until we are 80
yes, there is no need to stop. keeps us happy and well balanced.
Next she is going to teach him how his dates should perform if he pays for dinner and a movie.
This is about her and her cause, not the kid.
You're a fookin kook amd I truly feel sorry for your kids because they are going to have a long tough road of disappointment ahead of them. You're setting them up to become depressed at an early age when they cant handle the real world.
Yeah, Are you serious? We should just let kids cry it out and give them formula from day one. That way they learn from an early age that no one really cares about them. What a great way to raise an empathetic well-adjusted kid.
Sorry, but I wouldn't want to be that kid in fifth grade when someone brings that magazine to school. That crap will haunt him for the rest of his life. All breast feeding aside, this was a stupid stunt by a mother who must have no clue how this will screw up her kids life.
Robnoxious – I agree with you. This was a stupid stunt by the mother in the picture. The reason why I am trolling this chat page, though, is to respond to the many (male) readers who seem to think that breastfeeding into toddlerhood is morally and medically wrong or that attachment parenting is adequately summarized by this TIME cover photo.
Whatever. Hey, it might keep him from being gay!
This is so wrong on so many accounts
My mother did this and i hate her for it. I got made fun of constantly growing up and to be honest im pretty effed up in the head now. I have trouble dealing with real world problems and am on lots of medications to help. Parents i beg u not to do this to your children.
Im sorry for you, this is definitely awful for children
I call BS on your post, WFE. Even if true, are you really going to side with your bullies on this one? Should parenting decisions be made based on what bullies will or won't do?
I dont personally care whether you believe me or not, i know the truth and theres no way of proving anything to you. Im also not siding with my bullies, im giving my honest opinion and reactions from someone whi has firsthand experience. Whether bullies (who are awful) agree or disagree i dont care. Stop your ridiculous defense of this because of self pride.
I dont expect a response bc when someone such as yourself is proved a fool they typically never respond.
I am sorry you were bullied. I am sorry that you were breastfed when you didn't want to be. I am not sure what either of these things has to do with attachment parenting or the WHO recommendation that children be breastfed (supplementally) into toddlerhood if mother and child are game.
That's right, Pipy. I am trolling here, because the frat boy crowd is out in force this evening. Join me. Hey – your screen name might even be adopted by Pwned. He's looking for new ideas, I gather
In nature, animals are pre-programmed to know when to move on to the next stage of parenting. The goal is to raise an independent strong creature who can survive on their own. The initial stage of breastfeeding conveys colostrum to the child to assist the immune system as well as providing basic nourishment. Then you move on to other substances such as water, juice, etc that are recommended by the pediatrician. Once the child can walk they need a portable container which can be a bottle up to a sippy cup. At this stage they are uncoordinated but you will know when they can handle an open container and then utensils. It's a step by step process of liberation FROM the mother. You have to prepare the baby bird to fly. You have to let them go – that's your job as a mother.
Htler was breastfed until he was 12.....enough said.
Pwned – yeah, that post was made already. It was ridiculous then, too. Hitler wore hats, too. If you wear a hat, are you then Hitler? Try thinking a little before you post next.
How bout u address the post directed at you aboce socialclown? I said it in jest, guess you were too busy breastfeeding your 10 year old to learn about sarcasm.
Thanks for clearing things up, Pwned. I thought your Hitler joke was offensive. Now I see that you intended it to be funny. I am laughing. Not.
I expected hate filled comments on this topic, and sure enough....
Bad Parenting in America is validated by justifying everything. When most people should be concerned about this particular photo, instead we have all these people on this blog justifying it. Breast Feeding is not the issue here... this boy (obviously too old) breast feeding is. The Cover is offensive and unattractive in the way it is displayed.
If you read closely, onebro5, you will find that most people have a problem with the photo. The problem is that the photo has nothing to do with attachment parenting and everything to do with selling TIME magazine. If you want to understand AP, then pick up a book on the subject. If you want to understand the benefits of breastfeeding beyond 6 months, and yes, even into toddlerhood, then pick up a book on the subject. If you just want to reach snap judgments on attachment parenting based on a silly cover photo, then by all means, get down in the sandbox with Truth and the like.
Breastfeeding is one thing, but this is gross. The fact that he's 3 is just disgusting. And that she was breastfed until she was 6 is extremely disturbing.
Why is it gross? There are numerous health studies showing the health benefits of nursing well past infancy. A child's immune system isn't fully developed until age 4, which is around the average age a human is meant to breastfeed.
You know what I think is gross? Cow's milk. Now that's some disgusting stuff, but no one thinks twice about shoving that down down their kids throat. But a human child drinking what humans his age are biologically designed to drink is wrong? That makes no sense.
The cover is all about her, she could care less about her kid. She is the adult, or not.
This is perhaps the one intelligent thing you have posted, popeye1128.
It is just normal to see a woman breast feeding her baby in public or watever. I prefer to see that, insted of two unshaved man kissing each other in public, that is desgusting and is not normal, please don't try to be polical correct!
That ain't no baby!
Who am I to judge? Everyone needs to do what they feel is best for their family, right?
The media sure is making a big deal about it though.
The mother is making a big deal out of this. Me thinks she loves the attention she is getting. What an ugly sick sight.
theres nothing wrong with a woman breast feeding her child. would you be offended if a chimpanzee or gorilla were feeding her young? cause its the same thing were all great apes
Its not the fact that shes doing it dipshlt, its the age.
No animal breastfeeds their babies at age three other than needy attachment moms who recreate themselves as iconic mothers when they are unsuccessful in the real world or can't face going back to work.
Some women just LOVE attention. A lot! She's getting her 15 minutes of fame.
It is entirely her personal choice, but for the sake of her son she should have kept in a private family matter.
get a grip people! I breast fed my daughter till she was almost 3... no big deal. She is uber healthy ( 6 yrs now)
Starting at 1 year we added regular food in addition to the breastmilk. The bottom line is screw society.. do what will give your child the best health and immunity.
Yes because you know exactly how your chilld will turn out in the future. I smoked crack yesterday and Im fine! See, no harm done!
I am betting that you didn't immunize them as well.
Society sucks! The old days were so much better. Disease and pestilence rule.
I'll breastfeed my children until 10 if necessary. Im normal, atleast thats what my mother tells me because I still live with my parents at age 35. Who said not working and living at home was a bad thing?
Pwned – very funny. You are not actually SocailHistory. I am. Also, it would be kind of hard for me to breastfeed my son. I am his dad. Let me guess, you have a perverse response to this. Please, post as SocialHistory.
Im social history too! Will the real social history please stand up?
Go ahead, Pwned. To quote another rap song – "the fake can't create." If you were proud of your posts, you'd post under your previous screen name.
We all know what you mean about breast feeding your son.
That was funny, Pwned. That took you, what, 14 minutes?
LOL. I just have to laugh, a 26 y.o mom breast feeding her 3 y.o son.
That kid is going to hate her when he's older. If she actually cared about intimacy and personal connection she wouldn't be using her son to get publicity. Way to achieve the opposite.
Good points, TheRationale. The problem most of the hateful posters are having, though, is separating this silly photo stunt from the issue of breastfeeding and attachment parenting. The latter can be good (medically etc.) even if the former is questionable.
it is the mom's and only the mom's business. I don't care what they do. Stop pitting women against each other.
I agree it is the family's business.. but when they put a picture on the cover of a national magazine showing it (choosing the only one from the photo shoot of the ones online that make the child look uncomfortable) and in prominent print on the cover ask "ARE YOU MOM ENOUGH" then it becomes the business of every woman who chose not to nurse her son in public until almost 4 years of age (since the implication is that you aren't then "mom enough") and anyone else who is concerned about using a minor child's controversial image to advance what is the mom's cause, not his.
OK 3 years old may be a little old I fed my kids until 20 months they were eating solid food and getting a drink from me before bed.when they quit. They also used a sippy cup before they quit . I did not need to feed them that long 18 months would have been a fine time to quit but I never gave my kids a pacifier or a bottle to suck on to misform their mouths. To see a kid sucking on a pacifier like it is the end of the world is much sadder than breast feeding a kid, which is compleatly normal.
Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!
Pwned – will you ever grow up. By the looks of it – no.
I'm always hoping to see evidence that Americans are evolving... then I read these posts, so judgemental. There is no harm being done here folks, just a mother who is doing what she believes is best. Live and let live.
I used to beat up kids like this, and for good reason too!!
You sound very well-adjusted Lol.
I I wish Salma Hayek was my mother 🙁
Dude posters – I know it's hard to wrap your minds around a breast as something other than a sexualized body part, but please, try to expand your minds a little here.
I'm in my late 50's and I still breast feed.
Thats a lie. On a serious note, I was breastfed until 9 and I have every intention of doing the same to my children. My mother (their grandma) will help out also if necessary since we still live at home.
Pwned, you are so funny? How long did it take you to think of adopting my screen name? By the looks of it, over 10 minutes. Why not post under your actual screen name? I guess I won the open debate with you, and all that is left for you to do is to discredit my screen name by posting your ridiculous nonsense under my screen name. Go ahead. All it confirms is that you are a coward and an imbecile.
My only thought looking at the cover: I call sloppy seconds
Who's the pervert?
Weird... but who am I to tell someone how to raise their kid? To each their own.
If I were her kid, I'd be breast feeding until I was 25.
It's only those with 'filthy' minds who considers breast 'feeding' 'a sexual' act. However, everybody 'should' knows that wives breasts are also for their husband's enjoyment..."Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love." Proverbs 5:19 YES.....God is so Good, He supplies our every need! : )
When should a mother stop breastfeeding? Well before a boy's old enough to remember it into adulthood. Once you become sexually aware, those memories of you sucking on your mother's breasts are too likely to turn to sexual memories and then guilt will follow. Unless your mother was really ugly, then you can just drag her along to your highschool baslketball games and use her to hydrate during timeouts.
While I was breast fed until I was 9, my father taught me about anal and my mother taught me about eating fish.
Pwned – I guess you like my posts so much that you decided to duplicate my screen name. I won't respond in kind, as I don't care to be associated with your Hitler jokes. Be a man, use your own screen name.
"And today our guest is ....uh...well whatever her name is, you just know her as Dairy Queen. We have managed to hook up a machine to her and let you watch us make soft serve right here on TV. Ahhh modern technology. Because as ewe all know, mother's milk soft serve is much better for us than all those nasty chemical additives. Hook 'er up, Maestro! Time's money and she ain't free ya know!"
insane smh. These women have some need not being fulfilled when they need to insert a defenseless child to make them feel more needed. Let your children grow up nut jobs! Have another child if you have issues.
It's NOT just baby 'boys' who breast feed, duh! I'm guessing baby 'girls' don't count....what a bunch of &*^%$!!
Once you have teeth, off the breast period.
This has got to be an American mom.....can someone say "attention seeker"??? Poor kid....
when I was 16, my neighbors visited, and wanted a "snack, she was 5 I was 16, I don't think it affected her but scarred me for life.
I played with my neighbor. we rolled, we laughed, we are kids, when we were done, I want to get a drink of water, I have a 5 year old requesting my breast, and I'm only 16
At least he is bonding to a MILF.
Why is this even a big deal? Oh right, because Americans are puritans and confused about the functions of breasts. Nursing at 3 is fine. This picture is a bit odd, but if you are sexualizing it then it's you who are dirty, so grow up.
I wonder what the comments would be if she was a robust black woman.
You just love those counterfactual conditionals, popeye1128.
And when was the last time any of you read "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" there is an excellant example of breastfeeding; and then stopping when the child was getting to old. I've not read it in years and the memory still makes me laugh. We've become, as a general society, less tolerant of old practices, and mothers who have the opportunity to extend the physical closeness of their children, that nurses are telling new mothers that babys should sleep in cribs face up, no blankets, pillows, baby toys, etc., due to the slight chance of crib-death. Where has the physical comfort, the touch of a parent, the kiss on the head gone? To the suspious minds who think that any of our humanity is all really a subversive effort to abuse our children.
Why do they insist on calling this child a toddler,,, Toddlers are defined as children at the stage where they are learning how to walk....one to two years of age. this kid is a preschooler too old to nurse.
Not a toddler when I imagine I am him. Never had the thought with a baby nursing. I wonder what the comments would be if she was a robust black woman instead of a good looking white woman.
My rule of thumb is that it is time to stop breast feeding when the child starts getting erections while feeding.
I can see that you have thought a lot about this, revolting peasant, while reading "books" one-handed.
Congratulations, revolting peasant – you've managed to sexualize both the mother and the child in this one. Pwned – are you taking notes here? Are you going to be outdone by revolting peasant? Hey – maybe you could take his screen name too?