Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

Breastfeeding Moms Breastfeeding Moms

"Breast-feeding a 3-year-old is normal, anthropologist says"

Posted by   + Show Post

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/story/2012-05-11/breastfeeding-rates/54909940/1

Breast-feeding a 3-year-old is normal, anthropologist says

Despite a breast-feeding brouhaha kicked off last week by a Time magazine cover photo of a mom nursing her 3-year-old son, that's actually the norm worldwide, experts say. But in the United States, breast-feeding children that old is practiced among a tiny sliver of mothers.

Sponsored Links

Some online are calling it "perverted" and "dangerous" to nurse a 3-year-old, but "it's normal for our species," says Katherine Dettwyler, a professor of anthropology at the University of Delaware in Newark.

"It's not perverted, it's not sex, it's not women doing it for some perverse need," she says. "It's normal like a nine-month pregnancy is normal."

Dettwyler, who has published studies on breast-feeding, found that most children around the world are breast-fed for three to five years or longer.

That's a sharp contrast with babies in the United States. Numbers for 2011 show that about three-quarters of American babies are breast-fed at birth. By 6 months old, 44% are still being breast-fed, and by 12 months just 24% are, says Laurence Grummer-Strawn, chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's nutrition branch.

The number of moms who breast-feed two years and beyond in the United States isn't known because the data come from a survey done of 18-month-old babies. But Ruby Roy, a pediatrician at La Rabida Children's Hospital in Chicago, says that it's more common than might be believed, and that moms are just hiding it.

"There's so much negative social attitude that we just can't know," Roy says. "But I have had many women in my practice tell me that they are breast-feeding to two or three years. They're doing a night nursing before the baby goes to bed, or in the morning — but they're not going to tell anyone."

The World Health Organization recommends breast-feeding "up to two years of age or beyond." The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that "babies should continue to breast-feed for a year and for as long as is mutually desired by the mother and baby."

When Dettwyler studied 1,280 U.S. children whose mothers nursed them for more than three years, she found they were "perfectly fine and they didn't need therapy and they didn't think they were having sex with their mothers."

The children were nursed between three and nine years, with half being weaned between ages 3 and 4. The mothers tended to be middle- and upper-class women, the majority of whom were highly educated and worked outside of the home.

"This is not the stereotype of the Earth Mother nursing the child until he's 5, and she also grows her own cotton and weaves her own diapers," Dettwyler says.

Multiple studies show that breast-feeding is beneficial for both mother and infant. Breast milk contains immune factors that protect children against infection while their own immune system is still developing.

There also appears to be a programming effect on the body such that babies who nursed have lower rates of disease long after they are weaned.

Overall, studies have shown that breast-fed babies have lower rates of ear infections, eczema, diarrhea, lower respiratory tract infections, sudden infant death syndrome, obesity, leukemia and childhood diabetes.

Mothers who breast-feed have lower rates of breast cancer and ovarian cancer, says Grummer-Strawn. The longer they breast-feed, the lower their rates, he says.

It's also possible that we evolved to nurse children until they're around 5 or 6, says Dettwyler. Breast milk is one of the only sources of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids that build brain tissue, she says.

It isn't until age 5 or 6 that "95% of brain growth has been reached, and that's also about the time that the child's immune system is ramped up to full production," she says.

by on Jan. 25, 2013 at 10:51 AM
Replies (21-27):
Cynthje
by on Jan. 25, 2013 at 8:11 PM

when i had H1N1 i was advised to pump my milk and give it to the kids in my family, my now 5 year old son got it and so did my at the time 7 and 11 year old nephews, it was so that they could get the antibodies..nobody thought anything strange of it at all here, the kids liked the sweet milk LOL

ApachePunk
by on Jan. 25, 2013 at 9:20 PM
1 mom liked this


The milk would still be beneficial that way, but not custom ordered like when baby/child is actually at the breast. When the child is at the breast the milk is made to meet the nutritional needs and needs for anti-bodies and such because of contact with the childs saliva. IE if they're sick with the flu, the body will produce milk with specific antibodies for the flu. So just throw that science in their faces and keep nursing!! lol

Also I have no luck pumping past the age of 1. This is fairly common.

Quoting Mrsfarr:

My husband and I agreed we wanted our baby to breast feed for as long as possible. I had a "moment" a few months ago where I was worried about someone trying to report me for putting a boob in my 2-3 year old's mouth and my husband had the ingenious idea to jut pump and give it to her in a sippy cup. No one would think it was anything other than cow milk.
Now I don't have to worry about that, if it's anthropologically normal. I can science anyone who has anything to say.



mamabens
by Miranda on Jan. 25, 2013 at 10:34 PM
1 mom liked this

Only problem with that is if you haven't been continuously pumping all along chances are you will no longer respond to the pump by then. Also, it's much esier to just let them nurse, 2-3 minutes here & there vs pumping, putting it in a cup giving it to them & hoping you have some available when they want it.  Plus if you're like me & don't respond teo the pump to start with that's not even possible. lol

Quoting Mrsfarr:

My husband and I agreed we wanted our baby to breast feed for as long as possible. I had a "moment" a few months ago where I was worried about someone trying to report me for putting a boob in my 2-3 year old's mouth and my husband had the ingenious idea to jut pump and give it to her in a sippy cup. No one would think it was anything other than cow milk.
Now I don't have to worry about that, if it's anthropologically normal. I can science anyone who has anything to say.


 BabyFruit Ticker


catholicmamamia
by on Jan. 25, 2013 at 11:02 PM

Great article.. thanks for sharing! 


              ♥♥ Join us in  
Crunchy Moms  -  make friends and share advice
             on breastfeeding, babywearing, bedsharing, and natural living! ♥

luna321
by on Jan. 25, 2013 at 11:46 PM


Me too!!!- Only "yeah of course" was my exact first thought- followed by "I'm gonna show this to my aunt"-I'm staying at her house right now and she keeps dropping hints that I should wean my 2 year old soon

Quoting mamabens:

THe smartass in me wants to say "DUH" lol



JTE11
by Member on Jan. 26, 2013 at 12:58 AM
2 moms liked this

I'm glad this article exists, so I can show people if they get really stupid about me BFing my two-year-old, but I don't care what they think. Never did. I know I'm not abusing my DD, it's ridiculous. The baby I nurse today is only one day older than the one I nursed yesterday and amazingly that has been the case since she was born. There's not going to be a day when she wakes up and her meter will say "too old now". When she's ready, I'll be ready. Until then, nurse on, mommas, nurse on.

Rhodin
by Bronze Member on Jan. 26, 2013 at 11:00 AM

I felt like a hero making it 15 months (and 2 months into my second pregnancy) with my oldest.  If I can get to age 6, it'll be a miracle.

Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)