Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- Time Magazine’s May 21st issue shows a woman breast feeding her three year old son. The image has sparked a lot of debate and it hasn't even hit news stands yet.
“That kid is too old. That’s traumatizing. He’s going to have problems when he is an adult,” Sarah Santana told NewsChannel 9.
Leslie Kalil said, “Sales will probably increase due to that magazine cover and it’s a topic that I think needs to be discussed. I think we’re kind of uptight in this country, so maybe we need to loosen up a little bit.”
Breastfeeding mom Kate O'Hara isn't surprised by the backlash, but she's hoping a provocative magazine cover doesn't overshadow the benefits she experienced breastfeeding a child well past the age of two.
"It’s fine for instance for a man to view pornographic images of the breast, but as soon as they are looked at as a feeding device, they are somehow offensive. So, I think we need to change the way we look at breastfeeding in our country,” O’Hara said.
"Who is really benefiting from this? Is this the mom's thing?" asks Erin McClorey. "If he could get it from something else that is more fortified, has better vitamins, better fat, better everything that he needs. That is just disgusting."
Pediatrician Bob Dracker says there are plenty of health benefits for breast fed infants, but moms need to be sure toddlers have a balanced diet.
"Many women, beyond a year of age may have more difficulty in producing not only sufficient volumes of breast milk, but sufficient quality of breast milk because we do notice that caloric density and fat content does go down once you get beyond nine months of breast feeding,” Dr. Dracker said.
The World Health Organization offers guidelines for breastfeeding up to the age of two, with supplements necessary after six months of age. Dr. Dracker estimates that less than five percent of the moms in his practice breast feed beyond a year. Advocates hope a controversial magazine cover simply keeps people talking about the topic.
Biology Professor Melissa Fierke says, “There are societal expectations and unfortunately I think those have been skewed away from what is best for our children at some particular points and I think this is one of them."
Breast feeding isn't the focus of the May 21st issue of Time Magazine. The headline "Are you mom enough?" refers to a practice called "attachment parenting," which follows several principles promoted by Dr. Bill Sears. Some advocates endorse extended breastfeeding, home birth, and co-sleeping.