Ice-T and Coco Austin face backlash over 3-year-old daughter being breastfed — but an expert says she’s ‘lucky’

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Ice-T and his wife Coco arrive at the 54th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California February 12, 2012.  REUTERS/Danny Moloshok   (UNITED STATES) (GRAMMYS-ARRIVALS)
Ice-T is standing by wife Coco Austin's decision to keep nursing their daughter. (Photo: REUTERS/Danny Moloshok)

Coco Austin is getting heat on social media for continuing to breastfeed her daughter, who will turn 4 years old in November. Her husband, rapper and Law & Order: SVU cast member Ice-T, however, has her back.

Speaking to TMZ, the 61-year-old star defended his wife from mom-shamers who claimed that 3-year-old Chanel was “too big for breastfeeding.” The criticism — and a fair amount of praise from fellow pro-nursing moms — came after Austin recently shared photos of her breastfeeding the toddler during a flight. The little girl “still wants the boob,” the model told her fans.

According to Austin’s post, nursing is “more of a comfort thing” for Chanel, who eats solids and only feeds before naps and at night. Ice-T echoed that sentiment in his TMZ interview.

“[Critics] make it like the baby only eats, breastfeeds,” he said. “Every once in a while, you know what I’m saying, she wants to get close to her mom, so that’s what they do. She eats food. She eats f***ing cheeseburgers.”

Despite the criticism from some commenters, Leigh Anne O’Connor, a board-certified lactation consultant and La Leche League leader, tells Yahoo Lifestyle that Chanel is “lucky to have her parents following their instincts.”

O’Connor says it’s “totally appropriate” to breastfeed a toddler, whether for nourishment or comfort, but claims that “Western culture, and particularly the U.S., is very judgmental when it comes to breastfeeding in general, let alone the biological norm.

“Labeling a toddler ‘too old’ is an unfortunate symptom of our current culture,” she adds.

According to World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, “exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to 2 years of age or beyond.” But as O’Connor notes, attitudes in the U.S. appear to be more conservative about prolonged nursing.

By contrast, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) put it this way in its reccomendation: “Exclusive breastfeeding for about the first six months of a baby's life, followed by breastfeeding in combination with the introduction of complementary foods until at least 12 months of age, and continuation of breastfeeding for as long as mutually desired by mother and baby.”

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