The Time magazine cover photo this week of a mom nursing her 3-year-old son sparked a huge online debate. But experts say breast-feeding children that old is quite normal for moms around the world. “It’s normal like a nine-month pregnancy is normal,” one anthropologist tells USA Today, noting that most children are nursed for three to five years.
Jamie Lynne Grumet, the 26-year-old California mom at the center of the controversy, told ABC News she fully expected the controversy but thought that “somebody has … to start the dialogue.” ABC News’chief health and medical editor says that while it obviously isn’t a rule, breast-feeding older children has been “a big clue into a dysfunctional family relationship.”
Still, the controversy surrounding the cover masks the most important breast-feeding issue and that is the fact that moms in the United States are generally abandoning it too early, notes the Associated Press. By the time they reach their first year, fewer than 25 percent of children are getting breast milk, which is “a public health issue, because breast-feeding brings so many benefits to babies,” writes the AP’s Lauren Neergaard.