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May 11th, 2012
01:46 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Breast-feeding toddlers

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

When we woke up this morning, “Time breast feeding cover” was the top trending topic on Google. Throughout the day, variations of that search have taken up four more of the top 10 spots.

What is it about the photo of a 3-year-old breast-feeding on the cover of Time magazine this week that’s caused such uproar? CNN.com readers had a lot to say about the subject.

Breast-feeding: Too much of a good thing?

Readers debated the proper age to wean a child off breast-feeding.

JungleQueen
I breastfed exclusively all three of my babies for 9 months, and then they started to wean themselves. I was able to breast-feed 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

P.J.
What would people say to a 3, 4 or 5 year old drinking formula from a bottle?

mab18
My baby was formula fed from day one – not by my choice, but because of health complications (to me) … Fast forward 2 1/2 years – my daughter is completely healthy, happy all the time, ahead in height and weight, and ahead of most of her "classmates" in daycare mentally. Yes breast is best, but that does not mean that formula fed babies are only going to "survive.”

Kate
Just because a toddler is breast-feeding 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.

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

Scott
I think we need to listen to nature on this one. Why would we think we are different than any other mammal that stops breast-feeding when their offspring have teeth? That's why the teeth come in, so they can eat food!

Some readers said the problem wasn’t breast-feeding but the photo itself.

Ohioan
Let's all just cut to the chase. I'm all for breast-feeding. But the TIME cover was totally inappropriate. If the mother wanted to get her point across there are other ways. The child is the victim here.

maeflowersdoulaservices
I am 100% for extended breast-feeding if that's what you choose for your family. But I have to say that this photo does not portray what real extended breast-feeding is. The sweetness of breast feeding is not in the photo. If anything I think that with a cover photo like this it will make people want to not breast-feed at all. Breast-feeding is about the snuggles and love between a mother and her child and that doesn't happen with a child standing on a chair.

Others disagreed.

Watch: 'Attachment parenting' doc speaks out

Molly
I cannot believe that so many people are so uncomfortable with the idea of a woman providing the most natural, nutritional and perfectly balanced food for the child… Please stop alienating women for doing the most natural thing since the dawn of man.

For some, it was an example of America’s unique culture.

Tom
Globally the average age of weaning is 4 to 5, meaning that some stop older, some younger. So 3 isn't too old to be breast-feeding. Seems we are the backwards culture.

Theresa
What most of the people commentating fail to recognize is that what we call "extended" breast-feeding was (and STILL is throughout most of the world) "civilized" and traditional, [and] is actually the norm and what is best for children's immune systems, bonding maturation, self esteem… Americans are prudes who only see the breast as a sex object. Pathetic.

Others took issue with the debate as a whole.

CMax37
So breast-feeding 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.

@casdesummer
At a time when children are becoming obese, in a country with rampant child sex abuse, this is an issue?

Jenny
EXCUSE ME! I am an adopted child, my mother could not breast-feed me. I turned out just fine, thank you very much. I have two boys neither of whom were breastfed. They are both in college and doing great. Breast feeding does not make you a mother. Love, nurturing, compassion are what makes a good mother.

What's your opinion of the cover? Share your opinion in the comments area below, or sound off on video via CNN iReport.


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