Saturday, November 23, 2002

Breast feeding: What's your limit?

The Associated Press reports about a woman whose legal guardianship of her son was taken away because she breast-fed her son until age 8.

DeLaMar said Stuckey's most misguided decision was appearing on ABC's Good Morning America program to promote her philosophy of letting her son slowly wean himself from breast feeding. The program included footage of her breast-feeding the boy while reading to him. The appearance created "almost prurient interest" and subjected her son to stress and emotional harm, the judge said. "I hope you've learned some painful lessons," DeLaMar said.

In breast-obsessed America, we're rather militant about weaning kids at a certain age, correct? What's the U.S. consensus these days about when to wean?

I don't have kids, so have not yet had to make this decision. But after reading about the rites of breast feeding across cultures while an anthropology student, I decided that I'd probably lean toward breast-feeding longer than most women in the U.S. do. Not necessarily till my child is as old as 8, but perhaps until age 2 or 3 (if I could take it--I hear that when kids grow teeth, it gets pretty painful). The articles I read cited physical and emotional health benefits to both mother and child for those who breast-fed longer. In many indigenous cultures, the average age of weaning seemed to be about 4.

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