TAMPA - When it comes to the question of how long to breast feed a child, there are cultural norms, traditions, and practical considerations. But there is no definite answer.
An arresting image on the cover of Time Magazine shows at slim blond woman with a 3 1/2 year old boy attached to her left breast. The cover has exposed some firm beliefs about how long it's appropriate to breast feed.
"I think it stops at 12 or 18 months. That's where you stop and draw the line," said a woman with a British accent to a CNN interviewer.
"When they can walk and they talk, they can go to the refrigerator. It's gross," said another.
Even the ladies on The View took their shots joking that the breastfeeding boy looked to 32 years old.
"This is insane" said Whoopi Goldberg.
Not everyone is so quick to judge.
Catherine Hammer, a member of Tampa's La Leche League who is still breast feeding her 2 year old son, can't say how long is too long.
"It continues as long as mom and baby are comfortable. The big sea change that could happen would be that what I'm doing doesn't have to be what you're doing," said Hammer.
The magazine article behind the cover is actually about attachment parenting, a somewhat controversial practice that usually involves close physical contact between mother and child, sleeping in the family bed and breast feeding on demand -- for as long as the child likes.
"The kids who are most attached early on and learn the concept of trust. These children grow up to be the most independent and naturally secure children," claims author William Sears who pioneered the practice.
There are few studies of children who breast feed beyond two or three years old, but it's well established that breast feeding is good for babies and for mothers, reducing their risk of breast cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Some, including TV's Dr. Drew Pinsky, say it's irresponsible for Time Magazine to highlight a practice so rare.
"It (breastfeeding) is healthy for the child, but to look at these sort of extreme opinions about it, might turn people off to the whole thing," said Pinsky.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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