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ABC’s SuperNanny’s Negative Take on Breast Feeding

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Supernanny needs a “time out” of her own. In Monday’s season finale she sets out to fix the Walker family. One of the alleged chief problems, a 14 month old who, god forbid, is still breast feeding.
The Supernanny says to the mom: “So it really is in your court because I can help you either way. But the decision has to be yours.”
As it turns out, mom wants to wean. She says, “I want to do it. I want to go ahead and try it…I’m ready to wean Alyssa (spelled?). I’ve been wanting to do it for months. I just don’t know how to do. I don’t know how to do it on my own.”
Once the mom says that, the Supernanny’s true feelings come through: “I’m glad that you’ve come to that decision because it show me that you’re ready for personal growth which is good and there will be much benefit for you and Alyssa.”
I could deconstruct this episode for the rest of the night– the negative portrayals of extended breastfeeding, co-sleeping and sling-wearing. But bottom line, I think it’s a shame that the show’s producers depict breastfeeding as something to be avoided. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for at least one year, and as long after that as the mom wants. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for two years. Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has set a goal that by 2010, 25% of all moms still breastfeed when their baby is one year old. (Healthy People 2010). As for the babies themselves, some anthropologists think children would self-wean somewhere around 3 and 4 years old.
Beyond this, the show completely ignores the health benefits that come from breastfeeding. Instead, Supernanny turns breastfeeding into something that is simply about the mother-child bond. She asks the mom, “Is the reason you’re still breastfeeding her an emotional one?” The mom answers, “It’s just the feeling of, you know, we love each other, you know.”
Yes, weaning is emotional. I was weepy when I weaned our first son at 11 months and I get teary just thinking about weaning our second son. But come on, Supernanny, you could have at least tipped your hat to the mom for keeping at it for 14 months. It’s no small feat.
Of course whether or not to breastfeed is a matter of personal choice. Breastfeeding works for some women, and not for others. But it’s too bad that Supernanny and ABC didn’t celebrate this mom’s choice, and instead presented it as an obstacle to family harmony.
Go to your “naughty mat,” Supernanny. Good riddance until next season.
And moms if you want some real advice on weaning, try Kellymom. There’s good information about the benefits of extended breastfeeding too.

8 Responses to “ABC’s SuperNanny’s Negative Take on Breast Feeding”

I missed the actually show, but did see the previews. The previews alone made me mad. I love your comments on the show. 100% agree!

I watched the show and like you, I was shocked at Supernanny’s stance on breasfeeding and I have no desire to watch her show again. I agree with everything that you wrote. I nursed my son until he was two and I am proud and happy that I did. It is one of the most natural and beautiful things in life I will do it again with any future children. Who in the world is supernanny to interrupt that special relationship between a mom and her baby? did she ever breastfeed anyway? she would know better if she did.

The Mom said she wanted to wean her daughter. What is wrong with that? I believe Jo Jo was applying the correct advice for that particular situation.
If breastfeeding is a matter of personal choice then why should Super Nanny Jo be looked down on for helping a woman who clearly wanted to wean her toddler?
I don’t believe that Jo Jo did anything wrong.

Thank you for your post. I was so angry after seeing this episode. It’s a NEGATIVE portrayal of both breastfeeding and extended breastfeeding. It was insulting to all who practice attached parenting. My husband also felt upset and advised that the British Nanny and her “sensibilities” should go back to London. I still breastfeed my 17 month old and she is VERY independent. Plays with others, etc. JoJo missed the mark. Terrible.

I agree with you 100%. Also, as a mom who nursed 2 babies to almost 2 years old, ‘super’nanny missed another point. Sudden weaning is not a good route for the emotional health of baby and mom. I weaned my second daughter suddenly, and the abrupt hormonal change sunk me into an immediate depression. I can’t describe in words how horrible I felt. To this day the sudden weaning is my biggest regret, not the actual weaning. I felt at the time I didn’t know how or think it was possible to wean gradually. My baby responded ok, but I was a wreck. Shame on ‘super’nanny. She has lost a viewer in me.

I don’t understand why people have such a problem with Jo’s advice here. Clearly, extended breastfeeding WAS holding Mrs. Walker back. Her child was not behaving in an age appropriate fashion and it was hindering Alyssa’s independence. Over 1 year, children do not need breastmilk for nutrition, and I while I know this is not PC, I believe extended breastfeeding is often about the mom being unwilling to let go, not about the needs of the child. Clearly Alyssa’s independence improved after weaning and being in her own crib. In America we value independence in people, and weaning and separate sleeping quarters help foster a healthy independence in kids.

I am so thankful you addressed this episode. I’ve been breastfeeding my beautiful daughter for the past thirteen months. Jo seemed to imply there was something dirty and inappropriate in the mother’s continuation of breastfeeding. She made some derisive comment about how the baby was always attached to the mother’s breast. She made me feel as if I am in need of intervention just for feeding and bonding with my daughter. I have officially watched my last episode.

Pheobe, your personal opinion is not backed up by science, so if I were you I would refrain from putting across your PERSONAL opinions as fact.
Toddlers benefit greatly from bfing, not just emotionally, but nutritionally also.
Why would you think that cows milk is needed for a baby over 12 months and not human milk.
Educate yourself.

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