Time's breastfeeding cover stirs parenting debate

May 11, 2012 5:36:15 PM PDT
From playground to playgroups, mothers throughout the Bay Area are buzzing over the controversial cover of the latest Time magazine, which shows a woman breastfeeding her 3-year-old son.

The 26-year old mom from Los Angeles who struck the provocative pose for the cover of Time magazine said she herself breastfed until she was 6. In fact, she says she was influenced by her father, a UC Berkeley-trained nutritional scientist.

The photos in the magazine have sparked a spirited debate. The cover was a topic of discussion on morning TV shows. "If you can spell milk you should not be breastfeeding," said Elisabeth Hasselbeck, one of the hosts of "The View."

It has also received a lot of attention on social media platforms and it was Google's number one search term.

The mother in the picture, Jamie Lynne Grumet, has a blog called I am not the Babysitter. It got so many hits on Thursday, it crashed.

Some Bay Area moms said they weren't disturbed about the fact that the woman is breastfeeding her 3 year-old son. What they thought was misleading was Time magazine's attempt to make him look a lot older.

For the cover photo, the photographer decided against having mom and child sitting down to breastfeed. Instead, the boy is standing on a chair wearing military style cargo pants.

"I think it's slightly misleading because the boy looks a lot older than he is," said Bonnie Wild, a San Francisco mother.

Marketing experts say the shock value will help Time magazine sell a good number of copies.

The magazine article talks about parents who take the recommendations of well-known pediatrician Bill Sears too far.

Sears coined the term "attachment parenting," which refers to creating a greater bond between the mother and the child by breastfeeding longer, and doing things like carrying the baby instead of using strollers and allowing the baby to sleep with the parents.

Heather Fraser, a lactation consultant, said, "It helps to make them feel very secure and feel safe and loved and anybody is going to blossom and reach their full potential under those circumstances."

"As mothers we have to do what we feel is best for our kids and really just block out a lot of the other noise that we encounter," said Emily Callahan, a mom from Marin County.

"People get caught up in these mommy wars of deciding that you have to be on one side or the other and I think really to each our own," said San Francisco mother Jennifer Ruskin.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends women breastfeed for one year. The World Health Organization says it should be at two years.


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