Infant feeding practices of African-American, adolescent mothers in Baltimore: An ecological, multigenerational perspective

M. Bentley, M. Black, L. Gavin, Laureen O'Donnell Teti

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

The early introduction of semi-solids and non-milk liquids among African-American infants has been well documented. Several studies report the addition of semi-solids as early as 1-2 weeks of age. This study investigated, through ethnographic, repeat depth interviews with teen mothers and grandmothers of infants, the determinants of such feeding practices and the inter-generational factors involved in infant feeding decision-making. Nineteen adolescent mothers were recruited from Baltimore City WIC programs. The teen mothers were interviewed in their homes during four separate visits and the grandmothers twice. Ethnographic field guides focused on questions about what, why, and how infants were fed, and on the "ethnotheories" of parenting and infant care in this population. All interviews were taped and transcripts were analyzed using text retrieval software. Results confirmed that it is the cultural norm to feed cereal in the bottle and to feed other semi-solid foods within the first month of life. All but two of the grandmothers played the dominant role in deciding what the infant should eat and the timing of the introduction of solids. This pattern occurred both because grandmothers had extensive physical access to their grandchildren and because of the teen mother's dependence upon the grandmother. The use of qualitative research methods, with a multigenerational focus, provides a rich description of the context within which infant feeding decisions are made.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalFASEB Journal
Volume12
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 20 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics

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