Time’s Breastfeeding 4-Year-Old Made Famous By Attachment Parenting Has ‘Self-Weaned’ – Finally

1_1200521v1_cnnRemember when mom blogger Jamie Lynne Grumet posed for the cover of Time magazine breastfeeding her 3-and-a-half-year-old son and the Internet exploded? Good times. You probably never really want to hear about her family’s eating habits again, but I thought you’d like to know that her son has “self-weaned.” He’s four.

Her first adopted son just weaned as well. He just turned five. I personally don’t really care how long someone decides to breastfeed their child – because it’s none of my business. I do think it was an interesting decision to pose her damn near grade-school aged child, on the cover of Time magazine. The pose was bizarre, and the whole thing just reeked of an “Attachment Parenting” PR stunt. Well, whoever thought of it is genius because it worked. I had no idea what Attachment Parenting was before I saw it.

I’m an advocate of breastfeeding. Well, let me clarify – I’m an advocate of women feeding their children in whatever way they see fit, which means I clearly support breastfeeding as well. I did it with my first child. I plan on doing it with my second. My first weaned at about 9 months which was fine with me because he was getting a lot of teeth and he was a biter. Also, it was impossible to keep up with his demand because I was back to working full time.

But I digress. Back to this cover and Attachment Parenting. We pretty much all do it. Have you read the “eight principles of Attachment Parenting?” Prepare for pregnancy, feed with love and respect, respond with sensitivity, use nurturing touch – I’m pretty sure we’re all doing that. Somewhere along the lines “feeding with love and respect” turned into “breastfeeding until your child knows his times tables.” I don’t get that. What’s the point? I hate to say it, but at times it feels like these mothers are doing it to make a statement more than anything else.

Remember Mayim Bialik’s divorce? One of the first statements she made about it was to ensure the public that it had nothing to do with her Attachment Parenting practices. Um, okay. I’ll bite. I’m sure not sharing a bed with your husband since your children were born didn’t affect your relationship at all. If he’s a eunuch. If not – I call bullshit. And if I hear that bogus the average global breastfeeding weaning age is four argument again I’m going to freak. Can someone please find me a source to back up that claim?

Anyway, I’m glad her child finally weaned. He can go to first grade without crying for the boob. Success!

(photo: Time.com)


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  • Dr. Vicki

    Interesting. I am a family doctor and strong supporter of breastfeeding and helping women reach their breastfeeding goals, be they 4 months or 4 years. I encounter so much uncertainty and doubt about parenting in my practice, people rarely feel able to follow their instincts. It’s unfortunate that people such as yourself ridicule women for following their instincts, just because their beliefs don’t align with your own. After reading what you’ve written, I certainly wouldn’t consider you to be ‘a breastfeeding advocate’. There is ample research available on the natural history of breastfeeding and weaning practices worldwide if you care to educate yourself.
    As moms, we are all fighting for the same things – happy, healthy children – and we all go about it in different ways. Lets focus on supporting each other in our shared quest rather than tearing each other down because if our differences

    • http://www.facebook.com/houde.veronique Véronique Houde

      I don’t know… yes, people have “instincts”, but people also have issues and fears, and sometimes, certain parenting practices have less to do with instinct and more to do with compensation, trying to be “better” than their parents, wanting to keep wanting to keep your children young as long as possible, etc… Although I am also very open-minded, I have an extremely difficult time accepting that breastfeeding at 4 years of age is REALLY in the best interest for the child. Although I don’t know anyone personally who has breastfed so long, my (perhaps biased) judgement makes me believe that these moms do it more for their own needs as a mom than for the nutritional and attachment needs of the child…

      I believe in breastfeeding, and have a 2 month old who drinks my milk from a bottle. I did this because my daughter and I had a very difficult time with the actual breastfeeding – between my anatomy, her strong-willed personality and her newborn jaundice, I made the personal decision to start pumping and giving her the milk through the bottle. This requires a lot of work, as I have to pump and give the milk, but I made this choice because I do honestly think that breastmilk is better for my child than formula, and wanted to give her the best chance healthwise as possible. This has made us closer because there’s no frustration involved in using my breast. I honestly do not believe that this makes us less bonded, I don’t personally see how using my breast instead of a bottle in my hand would mean that she would be less attached to me. That’s why I kind of call bull on the whole breastfeeding as an attachment tool. I think it has more to do with the cuddling, the availability of the mom, the time spent together, etc than with the boob itself. Therefore, do you need to give your child your boob when they’re 4 to be that close? Probably not. Anyway, I could be wrong, of course, and I don’t mean to judge anyone in a mean way…

      I do want to specify that although I chose to pump as an alternative to breastfeeding, I have absolutely no issues with women using formula, as I know many people who do and that has its advantages in and of itself. We all make our decisions, and I really do try to stay out of other people’s business as much as possible and trust them to make their decisions wisely. However, when people flaunt the fact that they’re breastfeeding their children, I sometimes feel as though they’re just looking for a reaction (positive or negative)…

    • Gigi

      This comment strikes me as very defensive. Parenting choices differ, and depend on each child and family situation. However, trying to stigmatize a parenting style like you have done above does not validate how you have raised your child. It only pits mothers against each other. You have made it a point to say you have not (nor do you know anyone) who has breastfed a four-year-old. I don’t know what it is like to bottle feed a child so I would never comment on it. If you listen to the majority of breastfeeding advocates they are trying to make what has been long repressed normal. They are trying to validate their choices in a bullying culture which mocks (like this very article) and dishonors something very normal all over the world.

    • Bluebelle

      THIS ^ comment is defensive.

      As an aside posed to everyone: For something as personal as choosing how to feed a child where so many different factors influence the decision (belief in certain parenting styles, biological capabilities, location, class, culture, work schedules, personal preference, working with a teething little Jaws-like creature, and so on and so forth), I really think it’s important to firmly believe in your decision, believe the idea of “different strokes for different folks,” and understand that keeping your decision to yourself will not cause the world to fly off its orbit. Breastfeeding/not breastfeeding shouldn’t be a catalyst for a battle in the cosmic Mommy War.

      Did the kid eat when hungry? Did he go to bed full? Is he not emaciated? Excellent. High five! You have done your job for the day no matter how you’ve accomplished it. Now go treat yo’self to something you love… like bad TV, Ben and Jerry’s, and expensive craft beer. You’ve earned it.

    • Sarah

      How is that comment defensive? She is saying to belittle someone else doesn’t help promoting something different and is only making it worse for EVERYONE. We shouldn’t have keep quiet about our choices, it shouldn’t matter one way or another.

    • Bluebelle

      I think you guys might be using the word defensive wrong, then. Maybe you mean antagonistic? Combative? Maybe even belligerent?

    • sarah

      The original comment I see as being defensive of her choices, so she is trying to knock people who do differently. I am with you Bluebelle, though, it is about raising healthy happy kids and doing it the way each parent sees fit.

    • http://www.facebook.com/houde.veronique Véronique Houde

      I’m ont knocking people doing “differently”, I’m raising the question as to whether mothers who breastfeed older children do it for reasons other than those advocated by attachment parenting – whether they are secretly scared of their child growing up, whether they are overcompensating for something, etc. and hey, you can’t always agree with all parents, and with all parenting practices. As long as you’re respectful when discussing these things on a forum, I don’t see why having a debate is such a bad thing. This is what we come to these places for, no? ;)

  • Sarah D.

    Wow. Judgey-judgey on the AP parenting. I’ll note that most people who do AP will tell you upfront that not all of the suggestions work for everyone and that you practice what parts work well for you, your partner, and your kids. Even Dr. Sears points out that if something isn’t working, you take it out because you want a happy family not a bunch of unhappy people trying to follow rules. I’d point you to Kveller.com for some actual responses from Mayim on her divorce, as well (sorry, that was incredibly judgemental to throw in there. What does her divorce have to do with the Time mother weaning? Seriously). Also, even the Time cover mother has stated she felt they decided to use that pose to be controversial – not an AP stunt, but a Time stunt. You still don’t seem to have a grasp on what AP is – Time is not a source, but there’s several good books on the subject (Dr. Sear’s Attachment Parenting book comes to mind, but there’s others. I’d recommend Beyond the Sling by the aforementioned Bialik, as well).

    As to the extended BF? I can point you to the scientific and anthropological studies that have found the norm age of weaning for modern humans is actually more between 2.5 and 7 (at the max) years old – most stop at (gasp!) 4. Just like the time mother. http://www.kathydettwyler.org/dettwyler.html There’s your link. By the way? It is easily google-able.

    Just because people are doing something different than you doesn’t mean they’re trying to make a statement, it means they’re doing what they’ve decided to for your family. Perpetuating the whole schism between parenting decisions really adds nothing to the conversation.

  • Sarah

    This article is why I will never take bloggers seriously. You are taking a post from the DailyMail. Do you have any idea where their “source” came from? They took an article from the Today Show Online article where they ask the mother if she’s still breastfeeding. ‘”He’s done” She says with a laugh”. The DailyMail article covered in typos, grammatical errors and incorrect WHO information. But what gets me is they wrote an entire article on two words. Would you like to know what the rest of the article interview was about? Mothers dying of water related illnesses and young girls not being able to attend school because they are walking all day to find clean water sources. No mention of that by the DailyMail or you I can see. You can try to criticize these mothers all you want, but at the end of the day people need to expose this judgment for what it is: You are taking away attention for real problems and shaming mothers in your own country. There is no positive that could ever come from an article like the one you’ve just written, and I am appalled Mommyish would publish it.

  • Victoria

    OMG, let me love you. I had a friend who’s kid never “chose” to wean himself, AND HE WAS NINE. I had to end the friendship, because even though this lifestyle was duper-duper for that family, it creeped me out horribly. Call me judgmental. They didn’t breastfeed in public, or anything, just privately at home, but still. Yup. I’ll agree with the tenets of AP until it leaves the realm of common sense, and then I’m out!

    • Sarah

      Why do you think it creeped you out? There is no loss of logic of common sense, it probably worked for them. We can thank consumer marketing on this society for most of our views of normal and abnormal.

  • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Guerrilla Mom

    Guess what? You can be a breastfeeding advocate without breastfeeding your child until he’s five – so yes, I stand by my assertion that I am one. You can bond with your child without sharing your bed with them until they go to middle school. This is what I love about AP parents – they judge women and their choices all the time, yet when the tables are turned – the gloves are off. I find the hypocrisy pretty hilarious.

    • gigi

      I think you misunderstand what a breastfeeding advocate is. It has nothing to do with what you do with your own children. You could breastfeed your kid until he or she is ten and still not be a breastfeeding advocate. Again, defensiveness in your answer. No one is saying children won’t bond if you don’t co-sleep or breastfeed. Trying to use phrases like “co-sleep until middle school” is either a complete misunderstanding of co-sleeping or an attempt to be patronizing. True advocates are trying to normalize this parenting style, not force everyone to parent exactly like them. It is hard enough to be a mother without the judgment of others. Most of us would defend your choice not to breastfeed or co-sleep. We are asking for the same respect in return.

    • C.J.

      This is why I don’t like labels for parenting styles. Kids would be better off if parents just parented instead of worrying about what style is the best. I do believe a person can believe in something and be an advocate for it without taking it overboard or judging others if they don’t follow the same thing. I have a friend that had trouble breastfeeding and asked me for help. I went over and helped her. If she chose to bottle feed without asking for help breastfeeding I would have supported her in that too. That is what we as mothers should be doing for each other, not trying to push our own ideas on each other. When we use labels it turns into a judge-fest. If you don’t follow my style you must be wrong. If you look at the majority of the kids today it is evident that all these labelled parenting styles are obviously not all that great anyway. I have to agree with you about parents who follow a labelled parenting style sometimes judging others but not being happy about it if they are judged.

  • Jenna

    It wasn’t until I became a parent that I realized women are even more fixated on everyone elses boobies then guys are. Go figure.