The Short of It
A British mom is defending her decision to breastfeed her 6-year-old daughter after news stories about the practice sparked intense debate.
Not only is Denise Sumpter breastfeeding her school-age child, Belle, but she also nurses her 18-month-old son, Beau. She plans to do so for years to come, and she doesn't see anything wrong with that.
"I'll feed Belle as long as she asks. I don't know how long that will be," she says.
Sumpter is going to leave the decision of when to wean up to her daughter, and then eventually, up to her son. But no matter when it happens, she admits she will feel sad.
For now, the mom-of-two claims Belle enjoys being breastfed and that her breast milk still benefits the child in many ways, from keeping her healthy to boosting her performance in school.
"There are things I get out of it—like calm, happy children—but I can say with certainty I've done this entirely for the benefit of my kids," she says.
Clearly Sumpter is confident about her choice. But after sharing her story with a British newspaper, she found herself at the center of a passionate debate about nursing older children.
On social media, some have come out in support of Sumpter, saying it should be a personal decision when to wean a child. Others have blasted the mom for what they see as weird behavior that could have serious social consequences for Belle.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusively breastfeeding a baby for the first six months of life. Continuing to nourish baby with breast milk after a year is called extended breastfeeding. According to the Mayo Clinic, this practice does offer some benefits for a child, including balanced nutrition and increased protection against illness. It's worth noting that worldwide, most children are weaned between the ages of 2 and 4.
Still, those who feel a 6-year-old is too old to breastfeed may have some valid points. I'll admit, I have a 6-year-old daughter, and I can't imagine pulling her off my breast so she could catch the school bus. It definitely wouldn't be for me.
In the end, each family has to make the right decision for them on when to stop breastfeeding.
What is your take?
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