How old is too old to breastfeed? Valley doc says do what works for you

Posted: Updated:
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- It just went on sale Friday, but Time Magazine's latest cover was spawning conversation and stirring up controversy all over the country before it even hit newsstands.

The photo shows Jamie Lynne Grumet, 26, a stay-at-home mom in Los Angeles, breastfeeding her 3-year-old son. The story is on Dr. William Sears and "attachment parenting," and the photo has sparked a variety of reactions covering the entire spectrum between supportive applause and those who think it goes too far.

Dr. Susan Wilder, a family practice doctor with LifeScape Premiere and a mother herself, sat down with Kaley O'Kelley to discuss the Time cover.

"[Breastfeeding] is wonderful. It's great if it works for you," Wilder said, explaining that there's no one-size-fits all set of rules when it comes to parenting.

"You just do your best," she said. "If there's one thing I've learned in 20 years as a family physician, it's that today's dogma is tomorrow's dog you-know-what."

The thing about the photo that has people talking is the age of the child. He's almost 4 years old. Some say that's far too old to be breastfeeding. Others disagree -- vehemently.

"All animals wean their children at a certain point," Wilder said. "That is the goal of parenting, to eventually wean our children and help them be independent, and that pendulum goes back and forth and back and forth."

Wilder went on to say the issue at hand should not be competing with others to be some random standard of "mom enough." We should simply focus on loving our children the best way we know how.

"Whether you love your kids by cuddling with them and reading that story for the thousandth time or by whipping out a breast when they come off the school bus, if that works for you and that's how you want to show your love to your children, that's fine," she said. "But if that's how you're going to compete against the other mom down the block, that's when it gets unhealthy."

Wilder said there are definitely significant benefits to breast feeding, but also said it's not for everybody and certainly not mandatory.

"It's very much possible to raise a very healthy, happy child without doing it," she said. "So, if it doesn't work for you, don't lay the guilt trip on yourself."

Bottom line? Wilder says the Time cover is not a big deal and is firm in her believe that parents need to do what works best for them and their children.