The latest Time Magazine cover features a picture of a young woman breast feeding her almost four year old child. This cover created controversy among people for and against lactating for longer amounts of time. The woman in the photograph, Jamie Lynne Grumet, says she did it to begin a conversation about breastfeeding and attachment parenting.
Although attachment parenting may be new to some people, Dr. William Sears wrote the book on it in 1992. It is a method of parenting followed by millions of people in the United States. Unfortunately, it is a method that many people who do it, don’t talk about. When one talks about co-sleeping, another tells about a case of a child being smothered to death. When a mom is in the mall feeding a young child from her breast, inevitably someone will pass by and make the comment, “Isn’t that child a little old for that?” Therefore, many believers just keep their beliefs to themselves.
Parents who breastfeed past infancy and choose to co-sleep with their children are not all hippies and new age drifters. They are parents oftentimes juggling careers and famlies just like you. Although the cover of Time Magazine turned off many pro-breast feeding moms because it is quite ridiculous seeing a child standing on a ladder to drink from his mother’s breast. Even Grumet admits that breastfeeding is done snuggling with your child. A cover with a child in a woman’s lap, however, would not have generated as much controversy or sold as many magazines.
Here’s some food for thought, why do you think baby teeth are sometimes referred to as milk teeth?
Here are the facts, breastfed children get fewer ear infections, fewer childhood lymphomas, are less likely to get diabetes, lowers the risk of SIDS, protects against many diseases (such as pneumonia and meningitis), protects babies from stomach upset and raises a child’s IQ (Ten Reasons to Breastfeed, How Human Milk Protects Babies from Illness). Babies exclusively breastfed for six months are 43% less likely to become obese as children and if they were breastfed for more than a year, they are 72% less likely to be overweight (mymidwife.org). Breastfeeding also benefits mom by lowering her risk of certain forms of cancer (Babies First).
Dr. Sears stated that children raised with the attachment parenting philosophy are less likely to become bullies. Many grandmas will tell you not to pick up a crying baby because you’ll spoil him or her. Babies are programmed to cry to communicate their needs. If a parent does not meet those needs the baby cannot trust that those needs will be met. Babies and children have a strong need to feel safe and secure. Secure children are less likely to act out and try to dominate others by bullying because they are OK with who they are. Do not misunderstand, however, meeting needs is quite different than overindulging. Giving a child everything they want whether or not it’s in their best interest to have it, is spoiling a child. Picking up a crying baby is meeting the needs of your baby. If your 3 year old is having a fit at the checkout aisle because she wants candy, giving her the candy to get her to stop crying is overindulging the child. Helping her to teach herself how to calm down by talking to her or holding her is attachment parenting. Discipline can work hand in hand with attachment parenting techniques.
Many say that if you co-sleep with your children, they’ll never get out of your bed. The bittersweet truth is that children raised in a safe, secure home where their needs are met, actually develop more independence as they age because they trust their environment. Gaining independence and autonomy is a natural and healthy stage for children to go through although it may twinge mom’s heart strings a little to not to be needed as much. Ultimately though, we don’t want to raise A Nation of Wimps, we want to raise happy, productive and self-confident young men and women. Feeling secure from birth is a great start.