There are different personal and cultural values that shape the mode of sleeping arrangements as well as breastfeeding habits across different parts of the word (Morelli et al., 1992). These infant sleeping and feeding trends are also different based on the beliefs of the individual parents. Notably, all the cultures have an explanation as to why they have a particular feeding and infant sleeping practice that is different from another. Specifically, there are those who choose to sleep with their infants on the same bed while others prefer to have their children sleep on a different bed but in the same room. From both sides, there are justifiable grounds for their actions. To establish the values and trends, I interviewed a woman named Clara (not her real name) who confined to me how she used to treat her children, how they slept and number of months that she breastfed them.
The responses that Clara gave were typical of US parents as opposed to the Mayan parents. In this regard, Clara's children slept in a crib, which was in the same room where she slept with her husband but on a different bed. Notably, US parents prefer that their children sleep in different beds so that they can learn to be independent (Morelli et al., 1992). Mayan parents, on the other hand, embrace their children so much. As a result, they prefer that the children sleep on the same bed with them so that they can protect them. From the interview, Clara claimed that she did not want to accidentally hurt her children by sleeping in the same bed with them. Additionally, she justified her reasons by stating that children who slept with their parts become so dependent such that they cannot do something for themselves. It is because of those reasons that her responses depicted that of a typical US parent.
There is a link between Clara's practices and ideas concerning infant sleeping arrangements and her developmental goals (purpose for decisions) for the child. In this regard, the reason as to why she wanted her child to sleep in a separate bed was to ensure that the child becomes independent at an early age so that when the child grow up, he would not be relying on his parents. The other reason as to why she wanted her child to sleep separately is that; it was probable that he could be hurt if he slept on the same bed with her parents. As such, he preferred that her child sleep on a different bed. Clara's beliefs were that if she slept with her children when she is sick, she could contract the disease to the child. From this culture was at play as well as personal values and beliefs.
With regard to breastfeeding, there is a link between Clara's practices and ideas concerning infant feeding and her developmental goals for her children (Goals can include both behavior/character goals and health/survival goals). Clara breastfed her child for a couple of months because the formula milk had many nutrients and vitamins and would be very good for health for the baby. Notably, the reason that Clara did not breastfeed her children for long was her love for work. When she was advised about formula feeding, she decided to use it rather than breastfeed the child. Additionally, her child could sleep after he had fed on formula foods. In this regard, her developmental goals for her children were to make her children become independent and learn from an early age to live on their own. . From the responses, there seemed to be a relationship between Claras practices and her cultural background. In this regard, she claimed that she did not want to treat her children the way that she was treated by her parents.
Morelli et al (1992) found out that US parents' children sleep in a separate bed away from their parents. In this regard, these children learnt to be independent from a very early age. This is contrasted with the Mayan children who sleep on the same bed with their parents. However, there are some differences in terms of bedtime routine. In this regard, due to the fear of sleeping alone, US children always took objects with them before they went to sleep. The purpose of these objects is to provide comfort and security so that the children could fall asleep. However, this is not the case in Mayan families as the infants have the security of the people that they sleep with. Mindell et al (2010) characterized cross-cultural sleep patterns and sleep problems in the predominantly Asian and predominantly Caucasian countries. Morelli's article, on the other hand, explored the middle class US and highland Mayan parents sleeping arrangements during the first 2 years of their children. The Mindell et al. (2010) article used an internet-based expanded version of the Brief Infant Sleep Questionnaire while the Morelli article used studies that were done by other people. The findings will be different considering the time difference between the eras when the two studies were done.
Mindell, J. A., Sadeh, A., Wiegand, B., How, T. H., & Goh, D. Y. (2010). Cross-cultural differences in infant and toddler sleep. Sleep medicine, 11(3), 274-280.
Morelli, G. A., Rogoff, B., Oppenheim, D., & Goldsmith, D. (1992). Cultural variation in infants' sleeping arrangements: Questions of independence. Developmental Psychology, 28(4), 604.
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