Why This Mom Has Got to Stop Breastfeeding Her 5-Year-Old in Public

little girlA mother of four has just stepped into a mondo controversy. Sharon Spink breastfeeds her daughter. Not seeing the controversy? Well, Sharon's daughter, Charlotte, is 5 years old.

Still not seeing the controversy? Maybe you're a to each his own type of person? Well, it would be a lot easier to agree with you if not for this one thing: Sharon Spink breastfeeds her 5-year-old in public.

A lot.

She admits it's not about nourishment, and yet she says she won't wean because it would be like taking away her daughter's teddy bear, and she'll do it just about anywhere. As Spink says of her extended breastfeeding:

I've breastfed in the hairdresser's, supermarket, and church before. I've even breastfed Charlotte in front of her school friends. Children don't judge. It tends to be adults who do that. But thankfully their parents are all very supportive.

Children don't judge? Since when?

We could get into a long debate about extended breastfeeding and whether or not it's necessary, but the Internet has already taken care of that for us. Spink is being flamed in comments across the interwebs at the moment, and a few experts have even joined in to comment on potential psychological harm to a 5-year-old who is being breastfed.

But the real issue here isn't how long a mom should breastfeed necessarily so much as the decision to do so in public with your school-aged child.

More to the point, it's realizing that what parents do in public with their children -- be it breastfeeding or general helicoptering or what have you -- could have possible detrimental effects on a child's well-being. It may not affect a baby, who has no clue what's going on and whose friends are just as clueless.

But what you do with your school-aged kids in public, in front of their friends, sure as heck affects them and can affect them for a long, long time.

Kids do judge. In fact, surveys have shown that parents of kids as young as 3 are dealing with bullied children. One study out of Brigham Young University found that the "mean girls" phenomena starts as young as 4.

Five-year-old kids are certainly old enough to notice what their friends are up to, and to start seeing things as "different." They're old enough to judge one another's differences.

Certainly we should stand up for what we believe in -- some little 5-year-old brat doesn't get to change the way you parent just because they're a bully.

But it behooves us as parents to look at our own choices and really weigh out whether or not they're in our children's best interests.

A mom who is breastfeeding her 5-year-old may be able to claim that the child enjoys it. But she can't legitimately say the child needs to breastfeed on demand, when they're out and about, anymore. That's where the tough choices have to be made, where a mom has to truly put her child's needs first.

What do you make of this? When do you feel kids are too old to nurse in public?


Image via jessicalsmyers/Flickr

bullies, breastfeeding


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EmilyKC EmilyKC

Ummm yeah.... Honestly, it's a free world and what this woman wants to do is totally up to her. It's just not something I would ever do. When ever I hear of these stories it seems to me that these mother are just looking for attention. JMO

Sarah... SarahHall58

At that point it's sexual abuse. If your child has teeth, can chew a steak, and goes to school breast feeding is NOT needed. It's sexual abuse.

Movie... Moviebuff

Any age past 9 months is sexual abuse.

Kattey Kattey

I think this woman is an attention whore and Moviebuff has serious issues.

the4m... the4mutts

Sexual abuse? Really? Because she gets her jollies from it, and flicks the bean thinking about it later? Grow up.

Yes, this practice is odd to me. I think children should be completely weaned by age 2. But that's just me.

My sister in law nursed her daughter until she was 5. Usually, it was at night, or nap time, and never in public. The only reason my niece stopped, was because she found out that MY kids around her age weren't doing it, and I was nursing a baby at the time. She didn't want to be like the baby. She wanted to be a big girl.

I don't agree with this woman letting a 5yr old nurse on demand. But I agree even less that it is sexual abuse

nonmember avatar Holy cow

The ignorance in these comments is amazing!!!!! The world health organization recommends a 2 year minimum. My child didn't eat solids until 14 months, never took a bottle, I guess my choice was "sexual abuse" or let him starve?! WOW. breastfeeding at that age is about comfort and attachment. Worldwide, up to SEVEN years old is normal. After that children tend to lose the physical ability to suckle correctly and wean if they haven't by that point. There are ZERO recommendations as to when to stop breastfeeding. ALL professional recommendations are "as long as mother and child are comfortable with the relationship"

nonmember avatar ClassyGurl

Oh come on! Quit defending it by saying it is normal "worldwide". Nations in poverty? Perhaps. Civilized countries such as the USA? No. It is detrimental to a childs development (emotionally) to continue having them to be so dependent. Usually, it is the mother that is unwilling to let go.

nonmember avatar blue

@Holy cow - There is a HUGE difference between a 14 month old who doesn't each much solids, and a KINDERGARTNER. Actually, there are recommendations when to stop breastfeeding. (Even psychologists mentioned in this article.) The MOTHER doesn't want to stop breastfeeding and admits the kid doesn't need it. That is the issue. This child does not need to breastfeed anymore, them mom just doesn't want to stop. It's sick, at that point and it is abuse. When it becomes all about the mom wanting to do it, and not the benefit of the child...it's disgusting.

bugaem bugaem

well that is just gross to me, sorry but breastfeeding a 5 year old?? or until they are 7?? referring to holy cow's comment above. that is gross and does sound sexual. i have a six year old. i can't even picture it in my head. breastfeeding is ok until they are 1 year old, or maybe 2 if i'm being extremely receptive to modern day tendencies to breastfeed long term. But breastfeeding longer then that sounds to me like people may have some mental issues. call me judgemental, but it sounds sexual and gross to me.

Senia... Seniahmom

Long term breastfeeding is not a modern day tendency.

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