Guest Post: Another Response to Dr. Stoppard

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By Rachel Cadger

From ‘Dr’ Miriam Stoppard’s article in the Mirror newspaper…

There’s no keener fan of ­breast-feeding than me. I always advocate breast milk as the perfect food for babies from birth to weaning.

Which is why you accept financial incentives from Nestle to offer breastfeeding advice, yes? (An ‘in a nutshell’ look at the history of the boycott.)

 For years, we’ve followed the World Health Organization guideline that where possible babies should be breast-fed for six months.

WHO recommend EXCLUSIVE breastfeeding for the first 6 months, but also state they RECOMMEND breastfeeding up to 2 years ‘AND BEYOND’.

Recently, the Institute of Child Health put forward the case for mixed feeding from four months.  I’m with them. Many mothers wean their babies around four months anyway and in the Third World it’s often an economic necessity.

Mixed feeding has unreversable effects on the gut flora of infants. It is especially important for mothers in Third World countries to breastfeed for as long as possible, due to poor water sanitation. Any money Mother spends on infant formula would be better spent on food for herself and her family, surely?

Plus breast milk often doesn’t deliver the iron needed for a six-month baby.

Which is why it is recommended to start weaning normal, nutritional family food- not jars, baby rice, etc etc. Formula fed infants absorb LESS iron than those who are breastfed.

But if you’re a mum dedicated to ­breast-feeding, when should you stop?

As a mother of 3, when it is right for you and baby. As a breastfeeder, when my baby has decided he no longer requires/wants my milk.

I’ve spoken to breast-feeding consultants who say breast-feed for as long as possible, quoting the nourishment and protection of breast milk throughout toddlerhood.

These people are qualified to pass on these FACTS

For me, the line was crossed when I saw a cover of Time magazine showing a mother standing breast-feeding her four-year-old child who was standing on a chair to reach his mother’s nipple.

THIS IS JUST OPINION

This mother belongs to the school of extreme parenting where mums breast-feed into late childhood, let their child sleep with them and, as babies, carry them everywhere in a sling.

EXTREME Parenting? As opposed to just detaching yourself from you child as much as possible? Evolutionary and Attached parenting are more better ways to describe this. The effects of detached parenting for convenience is already showing in our societies today. But that’s another issue.

The mother on the Time cover believes in letting her child decide when breast-feeding should stop.   I’ve never heard anything so irresponsible.

Why? A natural weaning age is around 3-4 years old for many children.

No young child should be asked to shoulder the burden of such a decision.

A child will clearly tell you what they want and do not want. At 12 months old my son already shakes his head when I offer him breastmilk.

If you subscribe to that, which other decisions would you let your child make? To go to nursery or not? To get up in the morning or stay in bed? It’s clearly wrong.

Tit for tat and desperate comparisons…

This doesn’t bother advocates of extreme parenting.

It’s not called EXTREME parenting. If offering the comfort of attachment is considered extreme and leaving your child to self soothe and comfort is considered normal is it any wonder more and more children have issues with behaviour?

They know that it would be an unusual child who would reject the breast their mother is offering them.

It’s not unusual, any child will clearly communicate to you if they want milk or not. Many infants self wean earlier than 2 years, many self wean after two years.

No. This is about mothers who desire to keep their child dependent on them.

Women are naturally nurturing to their children, it is only CONVENIENCE AND SOCIETY who tell us it is ‘desire’ to want to look after and nurture our children.

A parent should be encouraging a child to be independent.

Yup, my one year old is currently trying to escape the living room, he co sleeps and breastfeeds. I think most would say he is pretty independent.

Extreme parents say it protects their child from “the pain of weaning”.

Why force a child to be unhappy?

Far from it being upsetting, most babies offered a mixed diet are happy about it.

Because they have no choice.

My guide is the appearance of teeth.

Some babies are born with teeth, others at 6 weeks, and some, like my son, way past 12 months.

Nature arranges for them to erupt when a baby needs food that has to be chewed.

My guess evolution plays a part in this…

That should be when breast-feeding is gently suspended.

*applauds* Brilliant example of a so called health professional offering financially influenced OPINION and trying to dress it up as something it’s not. Sadly, unlike many news stories papers like The Mirror like to publish this will have had an impression on a young mother who is currently struggling with infant feeding choices. The damage has already been done. No one here needs to be told that ‘breast is best’ (stupid phrase), what we do need is truthful advice and information about infant feeding and support for everyone. But do not bring ‘extreme’ parenting into this argument. It’s invalid, insulting and ill-informed. Ok, I’ve finished.

About Rachel: I’m Rachel, stay at home mum in the UK, to Jay (8), Holly (6) and Oscar (1). My days are filled with tidying child/man generated mess, ignoring the mess, rescuing my cats from having their tales pulled and refraining from reaching for the wine. Due to past negative experiences I’m an advocate for information and support for all aspects of birthing, infant feeding and parenting/mothering choices. I tirelessly moan about the way breastfeeding and attached parenting is portrayed in the mainstream media.

Comments

  1. Jespren says

    *clap clap* you mentioned my pet peeve with these type of anti-normal term breastfeeding peoples, the ‘normal’ age which the milk teeth (MILK teeth) erupt can vary from prenatally to past a year. If MILK teeth are the indication for solid foods then some babies are ready when they are born and others not til after their first birthday, that kind of variation makes the appearance of milk teeth highly irrelevent to when weaning should occure.

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