When Do You Turn Off The Tap?

Men, you are excused from this discussion if it’s gonna skeeze you out. That’s the last warning you get.

There’s a story being bandied about the Mommy Blogs about this woman, because she continues to breastfeed her six year old son.

Allow me to repeat that.  He’s Six. Years. Old.

Of course, this brings out the breastfeeding militants, who are quick to point out that “In Mongolia, the majority of children are breastfed into the childhood years,” and “It’s said that the best wrestlers were the children who were lucky enough to be breastfed the longest as well.”  Ok, maybe.  But most Mongolians don’t have refrigerators or multivitamins.  This woman is in England. Her kid takes time away from playing with his Nintendo DS to answer questions from the reporter.  They’re obviously able to afford food.

Those same breastfeeding advocates called me “ignorant and absurd” when I asked why this mother couldn’t pump the milk for her son? Why must this six year old suck the milk from her himself? (yes, I’m obsessing over the age.  Did you SEE The picture??? Here it is. Seared into your brain, isn’t it?)

I’m willing to admit and accept that breast milk has benefits beyond infancy.  Current guidelines advocate a minimum of 6 months, and up to 2 years of breastfeeding. Some studies say that benefits could extend even longer.  And if science backs it up, I’m all for providing the nourishment for as long as it takes.  Age 6? Fine. 8, 10, 12? Maybe.


My problem exists with the actual distribution method.  This woman isn’t pumping the milk and storing it in a pitcher in the fridge.  The boy is crawling into her bed a couple times a week, suckling on one breast while his 5 month old brother is suckling off the other!

Some have proposed that the boy is looking for comfort, but the mother admits that he can find comfort in hugs.  What it comes down to, it appears, is that this mom simply can’t say “no” to him.  And that’s a prescription for a whole lotta trouble on down the line.

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22 Responses to When Do You Turn Off The Tap?

  1. Joy says:

    I think this is horrifying and I also feels it’s very close to child abuse.

  2. Jenny says:

    That is disgusting!!!!!!!!!! My opinion I think the age to stop breastfeeding is around 2. If they continue on after that, its fine…but until 6? Holy cow! I’m kinda grossed out by that picture and is speechless over it!! LOL

  3. SKL says:

    Yeah, I think that there’s a line beyond which there need to be boundaries. And I think that unless the child has significant developmental delays, 6 is past the age at which a little boy doesn’t need to have close contact with what’s beneath Mommy’s shirt.

    I do think this is somewhat cultural. But even in cultures where extended breastfeeding is the norm, I’ve never seen it done past age 5. And in that case, it’s just kind of what everyone does (and not a whole lot, either). There are also places where women never cover their breasts in public. That doesn’t mean women in England don’t need to cover their breasts.

    So what’s happening with this little boy? If the mom is pushing this, this could be considered child abuse. If she’s merely “allowing” it, then I wonder why this child wants to do this? Even when moms let children wean themselves, it is extremely rare for them to want to breastfeed much into the preschool years. Makes me wonder if this child has some emotional problems or something. And if so, breastfeeding is not the way to deal with that.

    I don’t really have strong views on what the “absolute cutoff” should be for breastfeeding. My mom did it up to age 2 when she could, stopping when the child was verbal enough to bring it up around other people. I don’t think it would bug me to see a 3-year-old breastfeed (after all, most of them are still in diapers nowadays). But much beyond that, to me, it would seem more of a perversion. My daughters are around 4, and if one of them had more than a passing curiosity about breastfeeding, I’d think there was something underlying it that needed to be worked out. And no, I wouldn’t allow them to try it.

  4. Joy says:

    What else that really bothers me when looking at this photo is the look on the mother’s face like that’s a normal photo to take. We can get arrested taking a bathtub shot of our 6 month old yet this is okay???

    And what about that poor infant who needs mom’s attention and nutrients more now and isn’t getting much more than an extra hand holding him up there and some leftover love. The 6 year old is in the “hug” hold.

    • SKL says:

      I also wonder about the little one getting the one-on-one time that he needs. Of course, the photo was probably a publicity shot and maybe the little one is treated relatively normal most of the time.

      That’s one of the few things I somewhat regretted about having two infants at the same time – there was so little opportunity for me to give each of them individual cuddles. (Breastfeeding wasn’t really an issue since the girls were adopted when they were almost ready for cow’s milk.)

    • Laura says:

      For the record… according to the Daily Mail article, the boy “only” breastfeeds once or twice a week, and only in the morning, so theoretically, the younger one isn’t being deprived of nutrients.

      Still doesn’t make it right.

      • Sue says:

        If he’s only doing it twice a week in the morning then he doesn’t need it at all and the mother can’t say no or likes it when he does it.

  5. Sue says:

    I am speechless! I think mom has some issues! I also feel bad for the 5 month old b/c he needs the nutrients more. Sorry, that’s what I think. I also wonder if she thoroughly cleans her breasts and nipples after feedings to ensure germs aren’t being spread unnecessarily. Ugh, I have to stop!

    • Phyllis says:

      I’m with you on this Sue! This isn’t a child issue it’s most definitely the mother’s issue. I’m wondering what type of life she’s had that really makes her think this is good for her 6 yr old son. Infants, toddlers, certainly. School age children???? ABSOLUTELY NOT!

  6. Jason says:

    Ok so I know we were excused from this talking point, but I feel that you all need a man’s POV. Honestly, I think that this is wrong on so many levels. You know every other mother in the animal kingdom ween their young long by the first year. I don’t understand where people get it in their head to do something like this. I also think if she was only looking out for the good of her children then she would pump her milk so that way when the 6 year old says mom i’m thirsty she can say go get some milk out of the fridge, after all you are a big boy now. Ugh I think this makes me sick like the rest of you.

    • Laura says:

      Thank you for braving the topic, Jason. When I told Steve about this, I laughed out loud at how fast he was trying to leave the room!! going “EEW! EEW! EEW!” all the way!

  7. Ellen says:

    I read somewhere that you give your child only the first 16 months breast milk. After that age, children have build up enough antibodies and the breast milk will do not much for you. So, from nutrients perspective, it is not the reason she should give it to him. It makes me think she just use that argument as an excuse. She cannot say no to the boy, because she does not want to say no. The child is way to much “dependent” on her.

  8. Morocco says:

    I’m not a man and it grosses me out!

  9. Nikki says:

    This is wrong. Wrong in the fact that once a child is able to ASK for it, it’s time to put the booby away! Not only is it just plain gross, germs and all, but this is seriously going to hurt his credibility on the playground. Can you even imagine the taunting he will get. Even 5 and 6 years can be mean.

    I tend to lean towards the fact that this is more about her than the child. I don’t think some women can let go. Can you imagine her when he goes on his first date, or gets his first job, or leaves the house for college! Good heavens, I feel bad for this boy. She is doing way more harm than good!!!

  10. Joy says:

    This just reminds me kind of the talk on FB yesterday and the woman suing McDonald’s because they “lure” her kids to want to eat there and then she has to tell them no. Seriously? What’s wrong with people and this whole not being able to tell your kids no? Man, mine would have hated me then. I told them no plenty and *gasp* I even spanked their ass occasionally. They both grew up pretty much productive member of society and OH MY GOD…they even ate Happy Meals now and then.

  11. pammywammy says:

    That is just not right in so many levels.I have a 3 1/2 year old grandson and a 7 year old nephew.The things they come up with,I cant fathom what she is doing!
    I knew a women who lived in my town,whos 5 year old son would walk up to her,lifting up her shirt and wanting mommys milk.She would sit and let him.I actually got a sick feeling in my stomach.I couldnt watch.She said that where she came from they did that.She was from Africa.They moved here as her husband was a doctor here.It was so natural for them.But in my culture this was not a norm.It did bother me.
    As I raised two boys of my own.And by age 2years or even younger,I took my baths with doors closed.For children need to learn boundaries in my opinion.
    But each to their own.But in my opinion its NOT right!!!

  12. SKL says:

    One wonders how this became a news story in the first place. She says he never wants to breastfeed anywhere except at home, in privacy. Then why does the whole world know about it now? I can only assume this mother is being paid for this in some way. And if it weren’t already perverted, that makes it disgusting.

  13. Karen Joy says:

    This absolutely grosses me out! Everyone has said what I think already.She’s getting something out of this,has nothing to do with the boy.Though it will when the teasing starts..poor kid.

  14. mssc54 says:

    I’m 56 and I still like to breast feed. Of course my Mrs. hasn’t had any babies for over 21 years so its more like a pacifier for me. 😉

  15. Jenny says:

    This is Vicki on Jenny’s computer-

    I read this article in the UK mail.com paper last week and I thought that this is totally rediculous or horrifying as Joy called it, Its just not right.

  16. I know for a fact that is is getting aroused.She may has a slight mental inbalance,looking at her pitcure,she seems to have road the little yellow bus.Let’s all pray for the kid. PJ

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