Time magazine's cover this week is creating all kinds of buzz. It shows a mom nursing her three-year-old son, who is standing on a chair.
The story is about attachment parenting, a practice that supports extended breastfeeding, babywearing and co-sleeping. And the cover, in particular, has definitely gotten a lot of people's attention. In online comments and elsewhere, I've seen people call the practice of nursing a three-year-old everything from disgusting to immoral.
I've breastfed both my daughters - and, considering that most people quit well before a baby's first birthday - for longer than most. I'm a huge supporter. That's why I put together a breastfeeding resources page for Go Ask Mom. I know nursing isn't easy for everybody and new moms need all the support they can get.
There are so many health benefits for mother and child. In fact, last year, when Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin issued a "call to action to support breastfeeding," she noted a study published in the journal Pediatrics that found the nation would save $13 billion per year in health care and other costs if 90 percent of U.S. babies were exclusively breastfed for six months.
With all that said, I also fully support an individual mother's decision to decide whether breastfeeding is right or even possible for her family. The way I see it: Moms have plenty on their plate and need support, regardless of their decisions on the matter.
But as the debate rages over the cover and whether nursing a three-year-old is disgusting or immoral, I figured I'd share what the experts say on the matter. Nursing to at least the first year, while certainly not the norm, is actually supported by both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization.
Here's what recommend:
American Academy of Pediatrics: Breastfeeding should be the sole source of nutrition for your baby for about 6 months. When you add solid foods to your baby’s diet, continue breastfeeding until at least 12 months.
World Health Organization: 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.
What's your take?