Feeding practices, healthcare and kinship during the first year of life

Cecilia Anne McCallum, Vania Bustamante

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This paper reports a study of how babies are fed during their first year of life as practiced by families living in a low-income neighborhood of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil and served by the state's Family Health Program. Two families were followed up over a year using the Bick method for the observation of mother-infant relationships. The results showed that although the families appreciated the recommendations of health professionals regarding the need to practice exclusive breastfeeding until the child reached six months, in practice during their first few weeks of life the babies were started on complementary food in addition to breast milk. The mothers made decisions regarding feeding the babies taking into consideration the following: The opinions of a selection of relatives; food availability; ideas about what is suitable for the developing baby; and finally, their observations of the child's responses. The results show that food is part of the mutually imbricated processes of the social construction of the person and the constitution of kinship ties. The conclusion reflects on the implications of these findings for health practices.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEstudos de Psicologia (Campinas)
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Healthcare
  • nutrition
  • Kinship structure
  • Mother child relations


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