By Holly Ife, Herald Sun
EXTENDED breastfeeders have a message for those shocked by Time magazine’s cover of a mother breastfeeding her three-year-old – it’s not weird, it’s healthy, and it’s happening in Australia.
Los Angeles mum Jamie Lynne Grumet, 26, is on the Time cover breastfeeding son Aram, 3. An interview on attachment parenting also covers breastfeeding her adopted son, Samuel, now 5.
The practice has drawn criticism as unnatural or perverse, but local experts and parents have hit back.
Renee Kam, of the Australian Breastfeeding Association, said breastfeeding three-year-olds was normal in many parts of the world.
“The World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, and then breastfeeding until at least the age of two,” she said.”In Australia, less than 10 per cent of mothers are still breastfeeding by the age of two. People don’t see it here, so they are shocked by it.
“People say it is for the mother’s gratification but in fact it is just the opposite. You can’t force a child to breastfeed.”
Ms Kam said the benefits of long-term breastfeeding included enhanced cognitive development for the child and less risk of breast and ovarian cancer for the mother.
Parenting expert and author Pinky McKay breastfed each of her five children for about two years – one beyond the age of three – and said they weaned when they were ready.
“It is a very personal choice and these mothers should not be ostracised or criticised,” she said.
Nutritionist and author Dorota Trupp still breastfeeds her only child, son, Sol, 2 1/2.
She plans to continue until Sol is old enough to discuss weaning, which she anticipates will be when he is 3 1/2.
“Health-wise, my child gains a lot of benefits from it; he has strong and robust immune system due to the antibodies I pass on. He has a higher chance of developing a strong mind … because he gets a steady supply of essential omega 3 fatty acids.”