That pesky 4.2 year figure. For many years, Ruth Lawrence has claimed in her book Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Profession, that there is a worldwide average duration for breastfeeding. She writes: “The average time of complete cessation [of breastfeeding] worldwide is 4.2 years.” (Lawrence 1994:312). This 4.2 year figure is widely cited by numerous groups, including La Leche League members, lactation consultants,
by Katherine Dettwyler, PhD
Department of Anthropology,
Texas A and M University
My research has looked at the various “life-history” variables (such as length of gestation, birth weight, growth rate, age at sexual maturity, age at eruption of teeth, life span, etc.) in non-human primates and then looked at how these variables correlate with age at weaning in these animals. These are our closest relatives in the animal kingdom, especially gorillas and chimpanzees, who … Keep Reading!!!
Last fall, I noticed Aram hadn’t nursed in what seemed like months. (I hadn’t really noticed up until that point)…
I wondered if he had also noticed, so I brought it up.
Me: Hey Aram, you haven’t nursed mommy in long time.
Aram: Yeah, I’m done.
Me: What made you decide to stop?
Aram: Because I’m done.
Me: Well, that is a great reason.
Aram: I know.
And that was that.
Although the weaning process was not very profound for … Keep Reading!!!
By Dr. Katherine Dettwyler
(shared with permission):
NOTE: Anthropologists no longer refer to any society or group of people as being “primitive” or “savage” or “barbaric” – people who have very simple technological resources may nonetheless be quite sophisticated in terms of religion, philosophy, kinship systems, art, music, etc. Therefore, please excuse the following authors for using the terminology of their day.
Examples of societies where children nurse for many years.
Ford; Clellan Stearns 1945
A Comparative … Keep Reading!!!
Brian and I went with the kids to see Disneynature’s Chimpanzee on opening day. It’s really no surprise that we loved it. We knew it was going to show the story of a dominant male adopting an orphaned chimp (which was truly beautiful). What surprised me was how eloquently the documentary covered the topic of breastfeeding. Oscar, the three-year-old chimpanzee, was shown breastfeeding with his mother throughout the day. The narrator explained that Oscar eats solid food, but is not … Keep Reading!!!