Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

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At what age is breast no longer best?

By now you’ve probably seen the controversial Time magazine cover featuring a beautiful young mum breastfeeding her nearly four-year-old child. The cover was obviously intended to shock people. It’s very sexualized; mum wearing a skimpy tank-top and doing a model pose with her hand on her hip. The three-year-old son looks considerably older than his age. But, this is what sells and this is what gets people talking about “attachment parenting” and this is not what I want to focus on today. This cover made me question the appropriateness of breastfeeding such an old child. It’s difficult for me to really say as I don’t have any children myself. I did a little bit of research and according to La Leche League (the breastfeeding gurus) “A mother and her baby should breastfeed for as long as they wish to breastfeed”. In nutrition we are taught that infants should be exclusively breastfed for up to six months of age and breastfeeding should continue for one year and beyond. Basically, it’s whatever works best for the mother and child. Just because it’s the norm to stop breastfeeding by about one year, and just because people are often uncomfortable about seeing an older child breastfeeding, doesn’t mean that it’s inappropriate or detrimental to the child. I would love to see some long-term psychological and physiological studies about this subject. Although it would be extremely difficult to avoid confounding variables as I’m sure there would be many more differences between women who breastfeed their toddlers and women who don’t.