There are moms who volunteer to make a hundred cupcakes for the school bake sale. There are moms who coach the soccer team when no one else steps up. There are moms who lose sleep making sure their child has the best art project at school. And there are moms who breastfeed their kindergartners. No parent is perfect, and striving to meet the needs of children can get hazy along the way. For mothers who are fans of attachment parenting, however, a solution to almost any child’s meltdown is always readily available. Despite its many consequences, women continue to breastfeed their children into their elementary years with strong refutations against those who disagree, believing that it is a good way to raise a child providing comfort, confidence, and love.
Breastfeeding an infant is natural, it provides health benefits, and it is a form of bonding between mother and baby. These advantages can carry a child through their first year of life, but when they are able to eat solid food or comfort themselves, a mother might feel unwanted. This is where attachment parenting comes from. Sleeping alongside your child, known as co-sleeping, and homeschooling are characteristics of the attachment parenting lifestyle taken on by many modern day parents, but a recent addition has heads turning. Breastfeeding children well past the normal age is becoming more and more popular, thanks to women believing that it will answer all of their problems as a parent and more. A May 2012 cover of TIME magazine left 26 year old mom Jamie Lynne Grumet under scrutiny, depicting the woman breastfeeding her preschool aged son. She states that she, as a child breastfed until the age of six, had a very secure feeling of confidence and love throughout childhood and strives to pass that nurturing environment on to her two children. Grumet is not alone in her thoughts and actions. Australian mom Maha Al Musa publicly spoke out in May of 2015 about her experiences with extreme breastfeeding, arguing that because her six year old likes it so much, she will continue as long as needed. Her daughter Aminah although young and naïve about the subject spoke to an interviewer and said “I might stop when I’m eight,”. Psychologists, health care providers, and parents around the world are scratching their heads. Stemming from attachment parenting, extreme breastfeeding has proved to have more negative outcomes than positive ones. What mothers are not realizing is that this attitude towards raising their children, while designed to strengthen bonds and nurture them is actually harming them and damaging their futures.
Child development is a highly studied area, with new findings and theories being proposed every day. Like any field of study, there are controversies and different ideas, but there is also common knowledge. Children develop the ability to self soothe within the first few months of life, and continue to learn throughout their toddler years. It is one of the first personal abilities children will have, and is therefore vital in development. At three months old, it is acceptable to breastfeed an infant and rock them when they are inconsolable. At five years old it is not. Extreme breastfeeding has proven itself as a way for mothers to give themselves a purpose when their preschooler skins their knee, no longer a way to provide food for their baby. If a child from a home where extreme breastfeeding can be found has a meltdown in a public place such as school, they know no other way to calm down. Mothers seem to forget that they will not always be there for a quick feeding session to stop the tears. At that age, it is unhealthy for a parent to suppress their child’s ability to self soothe and grow into themselves.