Why it’s OK Coco Austin Still Breastfeeds Her 5-Year-Old

The famous mom was bashed on social media for her decision. Here, a fellow extended breastfeeding parent defends her choice for her daughter.

An image of Coco Austin.
Photo: Getty Images.

Being shamed for how you feed your child is practically a rite of passage for parents. You're criticized if you breastfeed in public, you don't breastfeed "long enough," or if you breastfeed for "too long." See Coco Austin, who defended her decision to continue breastfeeding her 5-year-old—which, for the record, is something no parent should have to do.

Austin shared a photo of herself snuggling up with her daughter in an Instagram post, which she captioned, "Who's kids also hang on the boob like Chanel? I feel forever bonded with this child."

While Austin received several positive comments from fellow extended breastfeeding parents, she also got some flack. "Time to let go.... That's just gross at this point... She must be 96 months old too," one commenter wrote. But here's the thing: A random stranger on the internet is neither qualified nor entitled to weigh in on a parent's feeding choice.

After the Instagram post, Austin opened up about her decision to continue nursing. "Chanel still likes my boobs," she told Us Weekly. "It's a big bonding moment for a mother and your child."

And she's right: While breastfeeding is certainly not the only way a parent can bond with their child, it is a pretty great way to sneak in some quiet moments (particularly with a wiggly toddler, who may only settle in for some snuggles on rare occasions!). Again, it's not to say that parents who don't breastfeed have any less of a bond with their kids, but for some parents? That snuggly exchange of nursing is priceless, and it's something we don't necessarily want (or have) to give up when our babies turn into toddlers.

Like Austin, I'm one of those moms. During those excruciatingly difficult early days of breastfeeding twins, I told myself I'd try to keep nursing for a few months. A few months turned into a year, which turned into "well, we've made it this far, let's just go for a few bonus months." And then the pandemic hit: Milk wasn't always available at the grocery store, so I kept going, and it kept working. Then I got vaccinated against COVID-19, and the peace of mind being able to hopefully pass some antibodies on to my toddlers provided was amazing.

Like many parents, I've found myself unintentionally practicing extended breastfeeding. It works for my family. My pediatrician has never expressed any downsides to this. My kids are great little eaters who still get plenty of nutrition from solid food. In short, extended breastfeeding via our bedtime nursing sessions is working for us—and if there's one thing I've learned from my breastfeeding experience, it's that how you feed your children is an intensely personal choice. What works for one family won't work for another, and there's nothing wrong with that.

The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for up to 2 years or beyond. And after a desperate situation that followed a formula milk shortage in 2022, leaving many parents scrambling to feed their babies, the American Pediatric Academy of Pediatrics changed its breastfeeding guidelines from one year to two or more, reflecting the WHO standards. They also state that nursing for a year or longer is perfectly fine as long as it is mutually desired by parent and child. There's no official age when breastfeeding is discouraged by expert groups —and so there's no reason not to keep breastfeeding if it's working for a specific family.

The "right" age to wean is different for each child and mom, though if you're concerned that it may be harder to wean an older kid (fair!) or have questions about the impact of nursing beyond a certain point, a conversation with your pediatrician might be in order. Because there's no real guidance where this magical stopping point is concerned, it's really all about figuring out what is best for your individual situation.

To that end, plenty of fellow extended breastfeeders weighed in to support Austin on her Instagram post. "My son [does this] all the time. He was breast feed until 3.5," one commenter wrote. Another added: "Mine did for the longest time! I breast fed my daughter too! It's a wonderful bond."

And yet another commenter weighed in about the criticism Austin received. "I'm reading so much hate in one post why?" they wrote. "Her child their life."

The bottom line is that fed is best, and if being fed includes breastfeeding, then it's really no one's right (or business) to pass judgment.

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