SOUTH BEND—It’s a magazine cover creating controversy and sparking debate across the country. We’re talking about the cover of Time, set to hit stands May 21.
It's raising a question among parents, doctors and critics: How old is too old when it comes to breastfeeding your child?
This cover has some people up in arms, others aren't fazed by it. But everyone agrees this unusual cover has sensationalized the most natural way of nourishing a child.
"It is a shocking picture," said Amy Murray, a nurse and lactation specialist at Memorial Hospital in South Bend.
It went viral in the matter of minutes. This controversial magazine cover captures a 26-year-old California mother breastfeeding her 3-year-old son.
"It’s not a maternal image where you see the swaddling in a chair or something,” said mother of 4, Cat Malooley. “It’s very much posed to be in your face."
It's called extended breastfeeding.
"Now it's more and more common that people are breastfeeding at a year and beyond," Murray said.
Murray sites the Surgeon General's list of the proven benefits of breastfeeding. But we asked – when is a child too old for it?
"So how long people breastfeed is up to every mother and baby pair, every family to negotiate for themselves," Murray said.
Murray said worldwide the average age of weaning a child is about 4 years old, but said this image sparks a debate in the U.S. because it's not the norm.
"You shouldn't be breastfeeding a 3 year old," said Chelsea Cameron from South Bend.
"I think 3 or 5 or 6 is probably not something I would personally choose," Malooley said.
"3 is too old in my opinion, definitely too old," said Callie Gates from South Bend.
Some say how a mother shows her love for her child is an individual choice.
In this case, cover model mother Jamie Lynn Grumet said she was breast-fed until 6 years old.
"I thought it was odd but I respect people's decision to do what they want," said another South Bend mother.
Critics of extended breastfeeding said the over-nurturing may have a negative impact on the child.
"I feel like the kid might have problems in the future because of that,” Gates said.
Murray said there's no proof that extended breast-feeding has any negative ramifications on the child, and from her experience she hasn't seen that take place.
She said the real issue is that less and less children are breastfed these days, and if anything this should teach mothers the benefit of nurturing their child in that way.