Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Small , Meredith (1999-05-04), Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent, Anchor, Retrieved on 2011-06-29
Folksonomies: parenting pregnancy babies infancy parenthood

Memes

29 JUN 2011

 Infant Behavior as a Key to Human Behavior

Staring at that skull, I was struck by the fact that this ancient child was somebody's baby long ago. Perhaps she was sick, or maybe he e was accident-prone, or perhaps this baby was some predator's dinner. Standing there, I could picture him or her long ago, I, smiling, laughing, and reaching out to grab a mother's breast. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. From a biological point of view, the Taung child represents a specific stage of development for Australopithecines, our ...
Folksonomies: evolution infancy instinct
Folksonomies: evolution infancy instinct
  1  notes

There are secrets to why humans are the way they are in how our children behave.

29 JUN 2011

 Altricial Versus Precocial Infants

Not all babies are the same. Human babies are rather helpless, interested mostly in food, sleeping, eating, defecating, and comfort. Compare human babies with newborn deer. When fawns are born, they immediately stand up and soon are able to run away from danger. Scientists call these two types of babies in the animal kingdom altricial and precocial. Altricial infants are born helpless, usually after a short gestation or pregnancy, and their brains tend to be not quite finished. Precocial babi...
Folksonomies: evolution babies infancy birth
Folksonomies: evolution babies infancy birth
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Two evolutionary strategies for animal infants, born ready versus born helpless but capable of growing into a more advanced state ultimately.

29 JUN 2011

 Martin Cooney's Invention of the Incubator

In 1896, inventor Martin Cooney designed the incubator, a device veloped to aid premature babies. Cooney was the first to advocate separation of infants from their mothers as a medical procedure for the health of the child. In a bizarre combination of medicine and sideshow. Cooney gathered hundreds of premature babies (they were easy to obtain because doctors assumed premature infants would die), put them into incubators, and exhibited them at various expositions and fairs in Amer¬ ica and E...
  1  notes

He displayed the premature babies in a sideshow to prove its effectiveness in keeping them alive, but also kicked off the practice of separating Mothers from babies at birth.

29 JUN 2011

 Lack of Evidence-Based Child-Rearing in Society

s any new mother or father knows, nothing so invites advice as a new baby in the house. Other parents. Grandma, the lady next door, a stranger on the street, the family physician, and stacks and stacks of child-care books are happy to give directions about the "correct" way to care for an infant. What most parents do not know is that these various tidbits of advice, and even the consensus "rules" of parenting that have such an aura of credibility, are, for the most part, based on a mix of tra...
  1  notes

There are many cultural norms, folk wisdom, and "common sense" ideas about how children should be raised, but there is very little research to prove what actually works.

29 JUN 2011

 Differing Definitions of Intelligence in Children

;ct. What parents want even influences the very ways they label children. Sara Harkness and Charles Super found that when parents in three cultures were asked about intelligence, their views of what constitutes a smart child differed.^^ In America, an "intelligent" child is one who is aggressive and competitive; in Holland, die intelligent child is one who is persistent, strong-willed, and demonstrates a clarity of purpose; for the Kipsigis Africans, the most intelligent child is the responsi...
  1  notes

Three cultures and their definition of what fosters intelligence in a child.

29 JUN 2011

 No Such Thing as "Universal Culture"

As the pop pundits keep reminding us, we are becoming a global culture. We share the same TV shows and movies, drink the same Coca-Cola, and shoot the same Kodak film. But this "global culture" is highly superficial—^it is only the gloss of popular culture, apparent only in what people over the world would like to buy. I am guessing that those boasting of an electronic superhighway where "anybody" can be connected to "anybody" have not traveled much in the third world; they are blinded by t...
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Pundits keep reminding us that culture is becoming homogenized, but tell that to the third world inhabitant living without electricity or internet.

29 JUN 2011

 Sleeping Arangements Across Climates

Anthropologist John Whiting found a simple association between climate and parent-child co-sleeping (among other behaviors).^ Evaluating 136 societies for which he had information. Whiting outlined four kinds of typical sleeping arrangements for a household: mother and father in the same bed with baby in another bed; mother and baby together and father somewhere else; all members of the family in separate beds; and all members of the family together in one bed. The most prominent pattern acro...
  1  notes

Climate seems to predict where the child sleeps in relation to the parents.

29 JUN 2011

 Objections to Cosleeping with Infants

The fear of overlaying haunts many parents in Western culture today. Most believe it is possible to roll over and squish a baby or suffocate it under a mound of blankets. But as infant sleep researcher McKenna notes, babies are born with strong survival reflexes, and they will kick and scream before they let anything clog their airways. The simple evidence that most babies around the world today sleep with a parent and they are not dying from suffocation should be enough to convince parents t...
  1  notes

The fear of overlaying and religious objections to parents cosleeping with their babies.

29 JUN 2011

 The Paradox of Crying Babies

Crying is the earliest and most compelling of infant signals," writes Ronald Barr, and surely there is no sound on earth more piercing than the cry of an infant. The ability to cry was hard-wired into human babies long ago as a potent signal to get adult attention. Like other primates, human infants needed to be able to send a message of distress to motivate action on the part of someone more able. The same kind of vocal signals are found in Rhesus monkeys, for example, which have very distin...
  1  notes

The alarm compels the mother to care for the child, but it can also push them to abuse it.

29 JUN 2011

 Crying as an Evolutionary Strategy

Crying evolved to serve the infant's purposes: to assure protection, adequate feeding, and nurturing for an organism that cannot care for itself. By definition, crying is designed to elicit a response, to activate emotions, to play on the empathy of another. The "other" is usually the mother or father or a related caretaker. The caretaker has also evolved the sensory mechanism to recognize that infant cries are a signal of unhappiness, and thus be motivated to do something about it. This ki...
  1  notes

Infants cry to motivate mothers to care for them and to promote continual feeding that prevents the mother from ovulating.

29 JUN 2011

 Temperament in Babies as an Evolutionary Adaptation

It might also be difficult to extend the categories of temperament across cultures when the categories mean different things in different environments. For example, "difficult" babies in Western cultures are those who do not sleep for long periods and those who cry. Under a different caretaking package, these reactions would not even show up. More important, there is no reason to assume that what is "bad" in one culture will end up "bad" in another culture. Dutch researcher Marten de Vries fo...
  1  notes

Difficult babies in Western cultures are better able to survive harsh conditions in Third World cultures.

29 JUN 2011

 The Evolution of the Breast

About sixty-five million years ago, at the end of the Mesozoic era and the beginning of the Cenozoic, the niche once dominated by the dinosaurs was available for other creatures. The opportunistic could move into that niche now empty of large reptiles, and prosper in their place. Among these creatures that flourished were small egg-laying animals. group that had been around for at least a million years and that sported specialized patches on their chests. Sitting on their eggs, the mothers of...
  1  notes

...and, therefore, the evolution of the mammal.

29 JUN 2011

 Cross-Species Milk

Our notions of mother's milk come from what we see, and for most of us the milk we see is cow's milk, a brilliant white liquid. But milk from other species looks quite different—kangaroo milk, for example, is pink. But whatever the hue, breast milk is species-specific; that is, the composition is finely tuned to the particular growth and maturational needs and digestive system of the young of each species.^ ^ For example, cow's milk is higher in volatile fatty acids than human milk, and hum...
  1  notes

A comparison of the milk produced by females of various species, its nutritional content, and what that tells us about their lifestyle.

29 JUN 2011

 The Adverse Health Effects of Formula Feeding

More significantly, the breast—bottle controversy has moved far away from the question of what is best for babies. The decision for substitute milk is influenced by the pressures of corporations, their advertising, and their lobbies. The money game behind the production of formula has overpowered what might be best for babies here in first-world countries and for babies more at risk in third-world countries. It takes about $1,800 a year to feed an infant some kind of powdered or canned form...
  1  notes

Formula feeding results in unnecessary expenses for poor people when a free alternative exists as well as having a deleterious effect on infant health that results in many deaths each year.

29 JUN 2011

 The Invention of "Insufficient Milk Syndrom"

Even when women do decide to breast-feed, they sometimes feel they are thwarted by their own bodies. "Insufficient milk" is cited as a major reason women in the West terminate breast-feeding after a few days or weeks. The syndrome is fascinating because it is a clear example of a disease being "invented," defined, and then perpetuated by culture at large. In only about 5 percent of the cases is there something making it physically impossible for a woman to breast-feed. Before bottle-feeding c...
 1  1  notes

A problem that did not exist before the introduction of bottle-feeding.

29 JUN 2011

 The Cultural Bias of the "Growth Curve"

A more flexible construct of normality also has practical applications. As all parents in Western culture know, there is a "normal growth curve" against which all infants are compared when they are brought in for visits to the pediatrician. This standard is used to evaluate babies' growth, and if die baby falls drastically below die curve, pediatricians recommend intervention. But pediatrician Glen Flores, who codirects the Pediatric Latino Clinic at the Boston University School of Medicine, ...
  1  notes

Infants are compared to a growth average, but this average is based on on white, Western infants, other breeds of humans fall beneath or above the curve, resulting in their being considered "abnormal" when they are not.

29 JUN 2011

 Using Evolutionary History to Guide Us

Obtaining a more broadly informed view of parenting means examining parenting styles not just cross-culturally but through evolutionary history as well. Underneath the cultural twists that skew our behavior lies a natural biology, a human nature, that evolved a certain way for good biological reasons. Organic beings are, of course, subject to natural selection, and the path of evolution is not a perfect path. Contrary to popular belief, evolution does not select away all the defects and save ...
  1  notes

Natural selection is not a perfect sieve and we must remember that, as adaptable beings, we are born with the possibility of taking many different adaptive paths.

29 JUN 2011

 Weening Among Human Ancestors

Archaeologists have discovered that since the Pleistocene, humans lave always suckled infants for several years. Using biochemical analysis given human population when its children moved from breast milk to other foods. In one group of skeletons from South Dakota dated between 5500-2000 b.c., children were apparently depending on food other than mother's milk by the time they were twenty months of age.^' Recorded history also tells a similar story. Middle Eastern groups in 3000 B.C. were brea...
Folksonomies: evolution breastfeeding
Folksonomies: evolution breastfeeding
  1  notes

A survey of ancient cultures and estimates of when they weened their children onto other foods.

29 JUN 2011

 Instinctual Breastfeeding

From an evolutionary point of view, it would seem that last-feeding should be one of the more instinctual behaviors, like eating or sleeping or sex. In most mammals, if mothers don't know how to offer their milk or babies don't know how to suckle, the infant dies. If die purpose of reproduction is to pass on genes, it would seem that feeding would be one of the more hard-wired biological behaviors. In explanation, Wiessinger offered this story: A female gorilla, born and raised in a zoo, gave...
  1  notes

Breastfeeding is instinctual, so that separating the mother from the infant can prevent it from happening, but there is a cultural aspect to it as well for primates.

29 JUN 2011

 The Mother-Infant Dyad

In a more evolutionardy appropriate infant-caretaker scheme, the infant is a social partner, part of a dyad. Both mother and infant are interested in being in equilibrium, that is, in a stable and contented state. This goal is adiieved by mutual regulation, by reciprocity, and by keep¬ ing tabs on each other. This system nicely describes the infant-caretaker pair, and as I have presented in Chapter Two, there is a great deal of evidence that infants and those who love them are attuned to eac...
  1  notes

There is a reciprocal relationship between mother and baby and dysfunction occurs when one side does not reciprocate.

29 JUN 2011

 Shortening a Baby's Crying Duration

What seems to work best is simple human contact. Peter Wolff long ago demonstrated that picking up a baby works better than anything else to stop any baby from crying. In another study, infant researchers BeU and Ainsworth showed in the 1970s, with a sample of twenty-six infants, that consistent and prompt response by the infant's mother is associated with a decrease in the duration of infant crying. Urs Hunziker and Ronald Barr recently took this idea even further when they experimented with...
  1  notes

Nothing works better than carrying the baby and responding quickly to its needs.

29 JUN 2011

 Physiological Effects of Cosleeping with Infants

when they are more used to sleeping alone, sleep differently when with when they are more used to sleeping alone, sleep differently when with their mothers. The babies seem to spend a greater percentage of their sleep time in levels 1-2 and less time at the deeper levels, exhibit more REM sleep, and are awake longer. In other words, they are more often moving among sleep levels, and they sleep lighter. Christopher Richard, Mosko, and McKenna have also found that most co-sleeping pairs spend ...
  1  notes

How cosleeping effects an infant's progression through sleep, with the mother guiding it through the cycles.

29 JUN 2011

 Mother-Baby Social Play

But there is more to the interaction than a matter of adults putting on i a show. When babies and adults interact, they are partners in an interactive social dance in which they jointly regulate each other, and this dance is essential for the baby's social and psychological development Renowned pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton noticed in his practice that babies and mothers seem to follow a typical pattern of play, a synchronized score that moves from attention to nonattention with both partne...
  1  notes

How babies actively seek to engage with mothers socially, connecting with them.

29 JUN 2011

 The Importance of the Mother-Infant Bond

In the 1960s a slow revolution in birthing practices began in Western culture. As a result of the influence of John Bowlby's attachment theory and Harry Harlow's infant monkey experiments, the medical establishment realized the importance of physical proximity on the bonding process and babies were not necessarily removed to the nursery. The feminist movement in the 1970s, which helped women assert their wishes, furthered that revolution as it gave female nurses and mothers the support to dem...
  1  notes

Mothers separated from their babies are more likely to abuse them, while bonded infants are more responsive.

29 JUN 2011

 How the Mother-Infant Bond Grows Over Time

Evidence that there is some sort of heightened awareness by mothers, caused either by biology or emotions, is seen in a mother's ability soon after birth to recognize her infant by smell and voice alone. In several studies, mothers who had spent only a few hours with their newborns were able to smell out their babies when comparing their shirts with the shirts worn by other babies. Mothers are also pretty good at hearing their infants. Women with new infants in wards usually sleep through the...
  1  notes

Mothers grow more attached to their babies as their interactions grow so that the mother can better identify her baby and respond to its cry.

29 JUN 2011

 Effect of Human Brain Size on Labor and Bipedalism

The real obstetrical dilemma came long after Lucy and her colleagues became extinct, when there was a sudden upsurge in brain expansion. About 1.5 million years ago, die adult hominid brain went from the Australopithecine size of 400 cubic centimeters to 750 cubic centimeters in a species called Homo habilis, the first member of our genus. In other words, the brain just about doubled in size. A mere million years later. the hominid brain doubled once again until it reached its present average...
  2  notes

Painful labor is a compromise between our large brain size and the ability of a woman to give birth mechanically.

29 JUN 2011

 Social Rules that Provide for Fathers

In all human cultures there is some sort of father in the typical family, either the biological father or a male maternal relative, who acts in ways that all societies would agree are paternal.^ ^ Anthropologists suggest that biological fathers in particidar have an important parenting role in societies where family life is strong, women contribute to subsistence, the family is an integrated unit of parents and offspring working for the same goal, and men are not preoccupied with being warrio...
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Laws certifying marriages and punishing infidelity create a social environment where fathers can know the children they are raising are their own and provide for them.