There was a feature in The Mirror this weekend about a UK mother who is still proudly breastfeeding her six-year-old, complete with photos of her breastfeeding the six-year-old girl and her 18-month-old son at the same time. She’s convinced herself she’s breeding healthier, taller, super-children because of it.
44-year-old Denise Sumpter says she will continue to breastfeed her daughter, Belle, until Belle is ready to stop. She says Belle still asks to feed if she is tired or simply wants some bonding time with her mom. From The Mirror:
”I’ll feed Belle as long as she asks,” she says. ”I don’t know how long that will be. It will be the same with Beau. I don’t think there’s anything weird about it.”
”I feed both children on demand whenever they want it.”
“Belle is a head taller than most of her classmates and has rarely been ill.”
I seriously doubt a six-year-old in the public school system still needs her mother’s antibodies to keep her healthy, but Sumpter insists she does: “My children have hardly been ill. Beau came down with something the other day and because I nursed him through it he was better in 24 hours. I’ve had similar with Belle.” She seems to be making excuses for the fact that she doesn’t feel like setting boundaries for her child and letting go of that bonding time. I wonder how she would feel about seeing a six-year-old drinking from a bottle? Well, according to her, Belle doesn’t even know what one is:
”Belle understands not everyone breastfeeds as long as her, but she’s proud of it. She’ll pretend to breastfeed her dolls. The other day at playgroup Beau picked up a toy bottle and didn’t have a clue what it was. I was proud of that.”
I breastfed both of my children for almost a year. I consider myself very pro-breastfeeding. I just don’t think this woman is considering that her daughter will be in middle school in a few years, and maybe posing in The Mirror breastfeeding her isn’t the best idea. If the world doesn’t know that you’re breastfeeding your child until she’s seven, do the benefits cease to exist? Sumpter insists they don’t feed in public anymore — she says she stopped that when Belle was five.
She’s essentially still soothing her daughter with her boob, which is her decision to make as a parent. I just doubt that she’d be as proud of sending her kid to school with a pacifier and a blanket. We all understand that there are boundaries and that part of parenting is teaching our children those. Why wouldn’t that apply to breastfeeding, too?
Sumpter insists extended breastfeeding “turned out to be one of the best things” she could have done for her family. Good for her for proudly advocating for something that she believes in, I’m just not sure I’m sold on it being the “best” parenting decision.
(photo: siSSen/ Shutterstock)