Word that a new study has found that children who were breast-fed for longer ended up smarter and richer will be welcome among one group of mothers in particular, those who practice the “attachment parenting” style that supports a longer-than-average time before weaning. (The study looked at babies who were breast-fed for at least a year, versus those who did for less than a month; some attachment-parenting adherents breast-feed their children for far longer.)
Those mothers — and the man who introduced the world to attachment parenting, Dr. Bill Sears — were the subject of a 2012 TIME story which, controversially, ran with a cover image of real-life mom Jamie Lynne Grumet breast-feeding her 3-year-old son. And, as the story explained, even as some criticized Sears and his ideas, at least one of his pieces of advice seemed to be permeating society: breast-feeding was more common than it had been in decades.
As TIME’s Kate Pickert put it:
Fans and critics of attachment parenting can agree on two things: there has been a sea change in American child rearing over the past 20 years, and no one has been a more enthusiastic cheerleader for it than Sears. Slings and carriers, like the kind Sears sells on his website AskDrSears.com, are now on every list of must-have baby gear. Breast-feeding is more popular than at any other time since the baby-formula boom of the 1950s. And despite public-health warnings against it, in 2005, according to the CDC, 19% of 2-month-old babies slept in beds with their mothers, a phenomenon almost unheard of 20 years ago.
“So many of the ideas of attachment parenting are in the culture even if you don’t believe in Dr. Sears per se,” says Pamela Druckerman, author of Bringing Up Bébé, a new book on French parenting, which Druckerman says demands far less of mothers than its American counterpart. “This is a new common sense.”
According to a 2014 CDC report, about a quarter of U.S. babies were still breastfeeding (though not necessarily exclusively) at 1 year.