If you haven’t heard about Time magazine’s cover story on attachment parenting featuring a mother breastfeeding her 3-year-old son, you must be living under a rock. I promise, I try not to judge, but I do find it a little strange. Attachment parenting is not something my husband and I decided to subscribe to. We adopted some aspects of it, but we chose to follow our daughters lead on most things and felt she would be better off if we taught her to be more independent. As a newborn, I did wear her in a sling and a baby carrier (which we both loved), and she did sleep in our room in a bassinet until she was two months old.
This was mainly due to my paranoia that she was going to stop breathing during the night. So, for two months, I woke every half hour to walk across the room and make sure she was still alive, in addition to waking every two hours to feed her, and on top of that the fact that none of us were sleeping regularly due to her colic. I just remember continually thinking during this time that they use sleep deprivation to torture people and this definitely felt like torture.
Another aspect of attachment parenting is breastfeeding. I’m all for breastfeeding and even did it myself for six months before my daughter weaned herself due to my ridiculously low milk supply. I struggled with it for six months feeling guilty, judged and ashamed, but I wanted to continue with it because I knew it was better for my daughter. In the end, it all worked out, and she, as a four-year-old is happy, healthy and very affectionate.
I guess my main question about continuing to breastfeed at three-years-old is – are there health benefits to breastfeeding a child past the age of one? According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website, the American Pediatrics Association recommends breastfeeding until at least 12 months and longer as long as both the mother and child are willing to continue. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding up to two years and beyond, if desired. So, basically, it’s up to the mother and the child how long they continue, and it doesn’t mean you love your child any more if you continue, or any less if you don’t.
While all this is going on and people debate attachment parenting, there was another story in the news this week. One you won’t be discussing around the water cooler or see on the cover of Time magazine. It’s the story of 10-year-old Johnathan Ramsey whose body was found in March in a Dallas creek bed.
His father and step-mother admit to locking the boy in a room and starving him, feeding him only bread, water and occasionally milk for months. Police think he died in August 2011, although he was never reported missing until March when his grandfather contacted police to say he hadn’t seen his grandson in a year. Is it me, or are there more and more of these types of stories about children dying at the hands of horrendous abuse by their parents? This is the true outrage.
The reality is, as with the debate for mothers to work or not to work, what parenting technique your family subscribes to is for you to decide. And we as a society need to stop judging and making each other feel bad because of the choices we make for our families. As long as our children are safe, well fed and healthy, it shouldn’t be an issue. Let’s not forget that Dr. Sears, the pediatrician who advocates attachment parenting and is featured in the Time article, has books to sell. Bottom line. At the end of the day, when there is news of kids being locked up, starved or beaten to death, it can’t be that detrimental to give your kids a few extra kisses and cuddles throughout the day.