OK, so I didn’t watch 20/20’s episode on Extreme Mothering. I was interested in the breastfeeding portion, but I knew the stance they would take, so I didn’t even bother watching.
It almost humors me that people are so against “extended breastfeeding” when they know absolutely nothing about breastfeeding period. Breastfeeding is a wonderful experience and the American Academy of Family Physicians, the World Health Organization and UNICEF all recommend a MINIMUM of 2 years of breastfeeding. That’s just the bottom requirement. It’s like getting a D, you just passed.
The mother featured in the 20/20 episode was breastfeeding her 6 year old. Her older 2 children also breastfed for about that long as well. All 3 kids are great, outgoing kids. Nature supports breastfeeding until about 8 years of age, so this mother/child relationship still has a few good years in it.
Nature supports extended breastfeeding for many reasons:
1. The natural age of weaning is approximately 2.5 – 7 years of age with 4 as the median age.
2. During childhood, the child’s immune system is still developing, thus the antibodies in mama’s milk offer immunity support during these years.
3. Between the ages of 5 and 8 a child’s milk teethfall out, permanant teeth come in and the jaw line changes in such the child loses the suckling reflux necessary for nursing.
4. The brain is still developing and breastmilk offers the best balance of fats needed for this development.
There are many great reasons to breastfeed period, other than the ease of it — healthier child, lower cancer rates for mom and child, great bonding experience, higher child IQ, lower rates of diabetes, fewer ear infections, etc. Plus, breastmilk is great for curing many common ailments like pink eye, cold sores, diaper rash, ear infections, etc.
So really people, if you don’t know your facts, don’t comment on how breastfeeding past a certain age or milestone (like you must stop when a baby gets teeth — that is just ridiculous!), because the facts just are not on your side. Now you may not like it or agree with it, which is fine, but that is your opinion and nothing more. My daughter weaned at 28 months when I was halfway through my pregnancy with my son. My husband was like all the naysayers, but once he saw what great benefits it had for our daughter, he is now a lactavist! We will also let our son wean himself when he and I are ready.