Into the Mouth of Babes

So, in my last post, I was totally making up the part about extended breastfeeding and hunter-gatherer societies. Well, maybe not totally. I did take a bunch of anthropology classes in college…

But, now there’s a real, evidence-based article to justify my mildly-informed opinion. Love it when that happens. In the latest and greatest installment from the continuing coverage of the TIME cover story on attachment parenting, the Scientific American blog has summarized research on breastfeeding among primates and across human societies: Out of the Mouth of Babes | The Primate Diaries, Scientific American Blog Network. (Check out the link to view a hilarious spoof of the TIME cover. It’s worth it.)

Turns out that a predictive model based on comparative primate studies suggests that the natural age for weaning humans is three. (Forgive the creative grammar. My husband’s out of town, and I’m staying up late on-line, and I’m tired!)

Cross-cultural studies corroborate this:

“The worldwide trends therefore seem to be relatively straightforward: most humans tend to wean at a similar stage in their life history as other primates, which works out to about three years old based on our relatively large body size. This weaning age can then be adjusted based on the environment or traditions in a particular culture. However, Western nations appear to be an outlier to what is otherwise a natural behavior for our species.”

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