Time Magazine response


Contact: Emily Healy                 
Phone: 206-949-3076
Email: LLLemhealy@gmail.com

La Leche League of Washington's response to Time Magazine May cover

The May issue of Time Magazine features a woman breastfeeding her 3-year-old son on its cover to illustrate a story about attachment parenting. This has sparked a nationwide discussion about breastfeeding duration and parenting choices.

The tone of the headline, “Are you mom enough?” perpetuates the mommy wars and does a disservice to all families. Pitting women against one another in a competition over parenting choice distracts us from the important discussion that should be at the forefront: How does society help mothers meet their breastfeeding and parenting goals?

La Leche League believes that mothers know their babies best and are capable of making decisions about infant feeding and parenting. La Leche League supports mothers to meet their breastfeeding goals, be they six weeks, six months or six years.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies breastfeed at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mutually desired. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for at least two years, citing that children are at increased risk for illness if weaned earlier. We must focus on doing everything we can for the women who aim to reach these goals. Here in Washington, legislators have shown their support for breastfeeding. In 2009 breastfeeding in public became a protected civil right, regardless of a child’s age. Work continues in the area of workplace support for working mothers.

For many in the United States, the image of breastfeeding 3 year old is jarring. Breastfeeding beyond infancy is not a common sight in this country. The work of Dr. Katherine Dettwyler, a cultural anthropologist at Texas A&M University, shows that the normal and natural duration of breastfeeding falls between 2.5 and 7 years.

It is important to note that there is no research to support the claims that breastfeeding into toddlerhood and preschool is harmful to children. Yet, all available evidence points to a dose-dependent response: the longer a child breastfeeds, the greater the impact on the health of both mother and child.

It is for this reason that La Leche League’s philosophy states: “Ideally the breastfeeding relationship will continue until the baby outgrows the need.” Breastfeeding is more than just milk. Breastfeeding fosters healthy and securely attached children who grow into confident and independent adults.

La Leche League of Washington congratulates Dr. William Sears and Martha Sears on the 20th anniversary of their book Attachment Parenting. The Sears family has been friends and supporters of La Leche League for many years. Their work has touched the lives of countless families.