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Supernanny and Extended Breastfeeding

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

First I've got to comment that it seems weird to me to call it "extended breastfeeding" when the point I'm going to make is about a 14 month old, (I wouldn't consider it "extended" until you're past 2 years...) but I guess that's what she considers it.

What am I talking about? Well, it looks like the season finale of Supernanny is going to feature a family where the mom (SHOCK AND HORROR ALERT!!!) is nursing her 14 MONTH OLD. (OH MY WORD!!! CAN YOU IMAGINE??!!! I mean geeze...the mom must be familiar with the WHO health guidelines or something...)

Anyway, that's not what the fuss is about. Apparently in the previews for the show, there's a scene where Jo is lecturing the mom and makes a comment like "That baby is FOURTEEN MONTHS old!" Another comment, seemingly in regards to baby wearing has Joe stating that the baby is attached to the mom "like a koala."

Based on those two snippets, I'm seeing message boards and blogs starting to feature an absolute tirade of "we must contact the network!" and "We must protest this show!" and even "How do we do a nurse-in against a TV show?!"


First, let's get one thing straight. The show hasn't aired yet, all we're seeing are clips that are specifically designed to get people to talk about the show and watch the show. It's called marketing and the producers of reality TV shows are very good at it.

It would seem that coming from the standpoint of saving our energy for the battles that need fighting and of appearing intelligent and informed rather than reactionary and hormonal, it might be a good idea to let the show actually air and to see what really happens before we get our collective panties in a wad.

While it's more than possible, based on the Supernanny's track record, that the show will go exactly as theorized (more on this in a minute) there's also the possibility that the clips have been put together for the sake of gathering attention.

Any family that shows up on Supernanny is already having problems. Usually BIG problems. Whose to say that the clips aren't more like this..

1.) Mom is nursing her 14 month old looking embarrassed and hiding under a blanket because her husband or her in laws constantly belittle her for it. This is part of why mom is under such stress and has a hard time parenting well.

2.) Mom is a baby wearer (yay) but has gone overboard and wears her 14 month old 8 hours a day. This is giving mom actual back problems and is delaying the ability of the 14 month old to walk, to have time to sit, to play, etc...

3.) Supernanny's quotes are that mom needs to let up on the baby wearing and let the child explore and play and develop.

See how the same two scenes could come from a single set of clips? Now I'm not saying that this is what happened (in fact it probably isn't) but the point remains that we need to chill out and remain watchful so that we can react when there is actually something to react to.

Now, that said, if you want to get all lactivisty (ha! ya like that word, don't cha?) on Jo, then go ahead and go after her for her book. It's chalk full of outdated breastfeeding advice just like many Peds and mother in laws like to give.

Check out these gems...

Page 21
“if you give a breastfed baby a bottle at 11 PM, she can hold out until 4 AM before she needs another.”

Umm...ok. I thought we'd moved past the point of thinking that all babies were exactly the same and that they MUST sleep for five hours straight or they are dysfunctional. (Note, this advice comes in the section for dealing with children younger than six months.)

Page 127
"Four to five months is the right sort of time to start your baby on solid food."

Ok, so this advice isn't AWFUL, but it does demonstrate that she's not up on the current accepted guidelines that say breastfed babies should not be introduced to solids until six months.

Page 130
"After six to eight months, your baby needs more nutrients than bottle milk can give her. By carrying on feeding around the clock, you may be filling her up so much she doesn't have an appetite for the solid food you're introducing."

Multiple medical associations and sources state that breast milk (or formula) should make up the MAJORITY of nutrition until 12 months. Solids should simply be a complimentary food source and are mostly for practice.

Page 130
"More often, a breastfed baby will continue to want a 'feeding' even when your supply is next to nothing... what she wants is the continued comfort of the breast, not the milk itself… She’s using the nipple as pacifier."

What's her point? ;)

(Want to share your displeasure with the breastfeeding advice in the book? There's a 3 minute activist email over at ProMom.)

Now let me state that I'm actually a fan of Supernanny in terms of dealing with older children. She clearly knows jack about breastfeeding and I've seen her push moms to let children under a year old "cry it out" but when it comes to toddlers and older, I generally think that she's got some pretty sound advice. I like that she's anti-spanking and we have a "naughty spot" in our house...and I applaud the fact that she won't hesitate to call parents on the fact that their kids problems are often due to the parents not giving them the attention that they need.

So anyway, I'll plan on watching the show on Monday (as will many of you, I imagine) and will get a blog post up about it after it runs. Sure would be nice (hint, hint) if someone with a DVR (hint) would tape the show (hint, hint) and upload relevant snippets (hint) to YouTube so that folks could see them.

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  1. Blogger So Not Organized | 9:08 AM |  

    This is my first post here, so let me start off with I wholeheartedly agree this post.

    That said, I know the AAP and WHO guidelines about the feeding of babies, but I wonder what the British guidelines are (if any)? I just wonder if her advice about solids and scheduling are a part of their culture or if she's just working on outdated knowledge?

    Either way, I'll have it on my DVR (but I don't know anything about getting on YouTube) so that I can watch what Super Nanny has to say.

  2. Blogger analisa_roche | 4:13 PM |  

    I am a huge fan of the show and her techniques. I love how gentle she is with older children and how she calls the parents on their lack of discipline. I've never seen her deal with babies, though. Thank you so much for the 3-minute link, I will certainly take action!

  3. Blogger Jennifer | 8:47 PM |  

    To note, I've just posted my comments on the episode here. Let's move the comments and converstion to that thread, ok?

  4. Blogger donna | 2:38 AM |  

    hi all, i have a 14 month baby, still being breastfed. She's i believe the benefits of breastfeeding is higher in the second year and those benefits are HUGE! if babies were meant to drink formula milk or cows milk then mothers wouldnt produce milk would they?! its rediculous.breast milk was designed for our children and every attempt should be made to take advantage of that. Formula was invented for emergencies, it just became popular in the 50's and its stuck! What on earth would women do if there was no formula milk? Anyway, I think u should carry on as long as u can as the benefits are huge to mother and child. Stick it to the nanny! haha. she probably has no children of her own anyway.

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