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NEW YORK (Reuters) - An American mother shown breastfeeding her three-year-old son on a controversial cover of Time magazine that has sparked a national debate about attachment parenting defended the practice on Friday, saying it was a personal choice.
Jamie Lynne Grumet, a 26-year-old mother from Los Angeles who herself was breastfed until she was six, said extended breastfeeding and attachment parenting has benefited her family.
"I don't feel like it takes away from my personal life. My relationship with my husband is very, very important to me. It gives my children a strong bond too," she told the "Today" morning program.
The provocative photo of Grumet feeding her toddler son Aram who is standing on a baby chair to reach her exposed breast has caused a media uproar.
In a Today poll of 122,000 people who were asked what they thought of the cover, 27 percent said it was great but 73 percent they really did want to see it.
Attachment parenting involves prolonged physical bonding with a child through extended breastfeeding, carrying and sleeping with the baby as well as responding to the infant's cries.
The phrase was coined by Dr Bill Sears, a 72-year-old pediatrician who wrote "The Baby Book." Critics of attachment parenting say it takes motherhood to the extreme and is not good for the child.
But Sears denied it is harmful and said the style of parenting produces a happy, healthy, well-connected baby.
"I've never yet seen an attachment parenting baby who has become a school bully," he told the "Today" show.
Grumet, who also has a five-year-old child, said she knew the breastfeeding Time cover would create a media craze.
"It is a big commitment and it is not right for everyone. You need to do what is best for your baby and for your own family," she said.
Grumet added that she hoped her son's fourth year will be his last breastfeeding.
Reporting by Patricia Reaney; Editing by Christine Kearney