Ann Sinnott’s Breastfeeding Older Children is a must read for all breastfeeding moms and anyone interested in the topic of breastfeeding older children. It explores the psycho-social-emotional, medical, anthropological, cultural, feminist and highly personal issues of breastfeeding. It is a portable support group, a future textbook, and it’s author, a goddess of breastfeeding wisdom.
Ms. Sinnott had the idea to write about breastfeeding older children back in 1997. Thirteen years later what she has produced is probably the most needed book on breastfeeding on the planet. (At least that I have ever read). Careful research based on the exact words and experiences of thousands of breastfeeding parents has given us an invited glimpse into the world of sustained breastfeeding. And with exposure to a phenomenon many people have no exposure to, understanding, and even enlightenment can occur.
Ann Sinnott conducted a survey targeted to known breastfeeders who were breastfeeding children aged three or older or who were breastfeeding younger children but who wanted to breastfeed long term. Responses came from 48 countries, 2040 families and 4038 children, 2877 children who had or were still breastfeeding with an age range of 2 to 11 years (with most nurslings in the 2-7 years bracket). The response rate of the survey was 41%, leaving 59% of those who were initially interested in completing the survey unaccounted for. Therefore, true numbers of older breastfeeding children would have been significantly higher. Throughout the book survey respondents are quoted heavily, alongside research further supporting their words.
Breastfeeding Older Children tackles the myths and prejudices that surround long term/full term/extended/sustained breastfeeding. Issues of sexual deviance, parental emotional stability and cultural ethics are explored. The book also discusses psychologist and medical attitudes, and it makes the connection between John Bowlby’s Attachment Theory and neuroscience research findings. It presents long term breastfeeding from both a mother’s and father’s points of view as well as that of the verbal child. It looks at breastfeeding at work and in public and discusses breastfeeding as a feminist issue. It explores breastfeeding origins, the emergence of early weaning (very interesting!) and the evolution of our present breastfeeding culture through anthropological and historical lenses. At the end of the book, Ms. Sinnott takes the time to present a breakdown of the ingredients in infant formula and shed light on some very disturbing formula facts. Anyone who thinks formula is just as good as breastmilk needs to this!
There is so much information in this book I want to share with you. There is so much I have learned and been inspired by. I feel like I have found a muse. For now, what do I think about breastfeeding older children? Well, let’s just say that with science and understanding the heebeejeebees are gone. And isn’t that all most of us need?
Full disclosure: I was not paid to write this review; however, I did receive a complimentary copy of the book.