Breastfeeding: How Old is TOO Old?

The newest edition of TIME Magazine is sparking a debate. The cover shows a mother breastfeeding her 3 year-old son, with the title "Are You Mom Enough?" That depends on who you ask.

Sirena Sigears at Mercy Medical Center says most of her patients breastfeed, if they can, for 6 months to a year. She says breastfeeding is very nutritional for children, and hopes the magazine article doesn't cause negative attention.

"It concerns me that it's going to put the wrong angle or the wrong view of breast feeding out there," she said.

Sigears says breast feeding is extremely nutritional, and it's up to the mom to decide how long.

"As long as mom and the baby are comfortable. If mom wants to breastfeed, and her choice is up till two years of age, that is absolutely fine. The WHO, the people who set the guidelines for breastfeeding, say that breastfeeding can occur from 2 years to 7 years of age, and the child will naturally wean itself," said Sigears.

Megan Schetteler, a mom here in Sioux City, said her kids did just that.

"I breastfed both of my children and they both weaned at about 7 or 8 months, and I thought that was kind of time, they are starting to use sippy cups more often and I just thought it was kind of natural progression in their development," she said.

The Centers for Disease Control's breastfeeding report card for 2011 shows more than half of Iowa mothers breast fed for the first 6 months. While mothers in Nebraska and South Dakota were slightly less at 44%. All three states then drops to less than 30 percent for 12 months.

Sirena says that most mothers stop breastfeeding because of their work schedule, but she says a good option for them is to pump, and store their milk.

And no matter what you think of the mother on the cover of TIME magazine, Sigears says it all comes down to motherly instinct.

"Our support behind that is, whatever that parent is comfortable with. The quality of the breast milk is always there, it is a supple and demand basis, so the more that baby breastfeeds or the more that toddler breastfeeds, the more that milk is going to continue to come in," she said.

We wanted to hear your thoughts on this topic, so we asked for your opinion on Facebook.

Samantha Hamrick says, "I think by 1 they should be done ON the breast. But if a healthy mother wants to still pump and give her child breast milk to drink (it is, after all natural and healthy) for as long as they want, I'm definitely ok with that!"

Yvonne Dixon writes: "It's up to the parent to decide."

And Roberta Derochie says: "At least by 1. But some babies may take a little longer. But not till 4!!!"

If you'd like to weigh in, you can go to our Facebook page at