Coco Austin Defends Decision to Let 5-Year-Old Daughter Breastfeed
"It’s a big bonding moment for a mother and her child."
This proud mom is standing up for a controversial parenting practice. During an interview with Us Weekly, Coco Austin defended breastfeeding her five-year-old daughter. Austin shares daughter Chanel with her husband of 19 years, actor and rapper Ice-T. Continuing to breastfeed her child past an age some people deem unacceptable is something that Austin is passionate about and has spoken out about in the past. Read on to see what she had to say about her decision in this new interview and to hear why breastfeeding means so much to her.
Austin sees breastfeeding as a bonding experience.
Us Weekly interviewed Austin in a video about her parenting dos and don'ts. When she was asked about breastfeeding past the "proper age" of around two years old, she said, "I never understood that. You want to know something? Chanel still likes my boob and she's five years old … It's a big bonding moment for a mother and her child. A lot of people are like, 'Oh, you're not getting the nutrition after two years old. Why do it?' And I'm like, my child's eating steak and hamburgers, she just likes a little snack every now and then and more of the bonding between the mother. Why take that away from her?"
Austin also noted that breastfeeding helps Chanel sleep: "It's not like she's getting a meal from it, but she's getting her little snack and it's soothing her to sleep." Chanel even spoke up about it herself in the video. "You know what?" she said, suddenly arriving on her mom's lap. "Boo boo makes me sleep."
She doesn't care what society thinks.
Austin pointed out that if she lived outside of society, she would still want to feed her child, so she keeps that mindset and doesn't change her behavior based on what other people think. "I don't want to deprive her of something she wants just because society says she needs to stop after two," Austin said.
She also said that the U.S. is not the same as everywhere else. "Europeans, they stop around seven years old," the former Ice Loves Coco star said. "They kind of go when the child doesn't feel the need to do it anymore, and that's how I feel."
Breastfeeding rates in Europe differ greatly from country to country. For example, Ireland has a particularly low percentage of babies who are ever breastfed, while Sweden has a particularly high one, according to a 2018 report from UNICEF.
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Austin says other moms have supported her.
Austin has posted about breastfeeding on Instagram multiple times. In 2020, she shared a photo of Chanel breastfeeding and wrote, "I've been getting a lot of props in the breastfeeding community and get tons of emails from woman/moms appreciating me bringing light to the subject." She added, "At this point in nursing its just for comfort and believe me the girl loves meat so its not like she isn't eating real food…Thank you to all that understand my view."
As reported by Us Weekly, Austin also responded to a commenter who asked what would happen if Chanel still wanted to breastfeed at age 12. "I think she will stop before then," she wrote. "Europeans ween around 7."
Ice-T has weighed in on the subject, too.
When Austin spoke to Us Weekly about breastfeeding in an interview in 2019, her husband also shared his thoughts on the topic. "What I think confuses people is they [see pictures] and they think Chanel doesn't eat food," the Law & Order: SVU star said. "And she eats cheeseburgers. She only breast-feeds … like, when she cries [and] she just wants to get close to her mama. She throws the boob out and … holds on. She's not doing it for nourishment. This chick eats chili fries, OK?"
Coco has spoken out about other highly debated parenting topics.
In the video, Austin points out that she and Ice-T are not "a traditional married couple." So, when it comes to things like Chanel's bedtime or where she sleeps, not all parents would agree with their choices. Because Austin and Ice-T are part of the "night entertainment world," Chanel is sometimes up late with them and sleeps in until 11 a.m. "Of course, that's going to change this year because she's going to start school," Austin said, to which Chanel responded, "I always wanted to go to school!"
Austin also shared that Chanel frequently sleeps in her and her husband's bed. "We call our bed our family bed," she said. "We have Chanel and all four dogs."