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U-M PSYCH 250 - Personal and Indian-American Cultural Values Shaping Infant Sleeping Arrangements and

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Patel 1Personal and Indian-American Cultural Values Shaping Infant Sleeping Arrangements andFeeding PracticesDevelopment Psychology 250 Interview Project #1By: Krupa Patel October 1, 2020Section 009The Morelli et al. article titled, “Cultural Variation in Infant’s Sleeping Arrangements: Questions of Independence,” discusses how culture can play a crucial role in shaping how children are raised by affecting parenting styles and environmental interactions. In this particular study, eighteen Caucasian, middle class mothers living in Utah and fourteen Mayan mothers living in a rural Guatemalan community were interviewed on different topics related to the feeding practices, sleeping arrangements, and bedtime routines of their children (Morelli et al., 1992, 604). I was also able to interview Kayla (pseudonym for anonymity), a 49-year-old Indian-American, upper class, mother of two daughters and one son, ages twenty, eighteen, and sixteen, respectively, in order to learn about the choices she made and why she made them (InterviewPatel 2Notes). Kayla was born in Piplag, India, a small village town, before migrating to Chicago, Illinois at the age of ten where she grew up. She was raised bilingual speaking both English and Gujarati, and she was taught to practice the Hindu faith. Through co-sleeping habits, consistent breastfeeding, and pre-bedtime routines, I concur that infant caretaking practices in Indian-American culture integrate both Mayan and Utahan beliefs. The interview with Indian-American mom, Kayla, revealed that child raising practices significantly align with Mayan family practices because of cultural traditions that play a crucial role in shaping infant development. My own virtual parenting experiences have integrated my ethnic Indian culture, however, to a smaller extent, since I’ve grown up with more prominent exposure to Western culture. The study by Morelli et al. shows the many differences between how American parents choose to raise their children compared to the choices the Mayan parents make. Regarding sleeping arrangements, all fourteen of the Mayan mothers reported sleeping in the same bed as their child for at least the first year of their child’s life. The Mayan mothers who were interviewedsaid that their reasoning for sleeping with their children was to develop a special bond and to make them feel secure, close, and comfortable (Morelli et al., 1992, 608). In the interview, Kayla echoed the reasoning of the Mayan mothers in the article stating, “It was important for me to sleep with each of my babies to build a strong, close bond.” (Interview Notes). Kayla emphasizedthat it is not abnormal in the Indian culture to sleep in the same bed as your child for the first few years of their life; I discovered a cultural aspect of dutifully attending to your child’s needs most conveniently by your side, especially during the night.Patel 3On the other hand, Utahan mothers disagree with the co-sleeping concept. In Morelli’s study, fifteen out of eighteen of the Utahan mothers interviewed said that their child slept in the same room as their parents, in a bassinet or a crib, but none in the same bed (Morelli et al., 1992,606). Kayla reported that as a new parent, she noticed a decrease in fussing throughout the night with her child having skin-to-skin contact in the same bed. An interesting revelation was that Kayla’s first born slept in the same bed as her for the longest period of time (2 years), while her youngest child was moved to his own room after a couple of weeks, where he could sleep alone without being fussy (Interview Notes). Furthermore, while Kayla’s pattern of caretaking typicallyfollowed Mayan patterns for her first child, she leaned more towards the Utahan parenting patternof encouraging independence and ability to separate from parents in her third-born child as evident in the example of sleeping arrangement (Interview Notes).After interviewing about sleeping arrangements, the Mayan mothers, the Utahan mothers,and Kayla were all asked about feeding practices that they each used for their children. The Mayan mothers reported that feeding their child at night wasn’t an issue at all, because they simply had to move to make the breast accessible (Morelli et al., 1992, 607). In complete contrast, the Utahan mothers reported that seventeen out of eighteen of them had to stay up through most of the night to feed their children. Just like some of the Utahan and Mayan mothers,Kayla chose to breastfeed all of her children, due to both the cultural expectation of motherhood and the health benefits that she had read about (Interview Notes). Since Kayla’s own mother breastfed her, breastfeeding was seen as more of a family or cultural tradition. In terms of feedingPatel 4caretaking practices, Kayla was more like the Mayan mothers, because she had to simply expose her breast to feed her children in bed, while the Utahan mothers had to stay up in the night in order to feed their babies.The Morelli et al. study also discusses the lack of bedtime routines and security objects inMayan families. Out of the fourteen Mayan mothers, none of them reported reading or singing to their baby before bed (Morelli et al., 1992, 611). Moreover, Mayan culture displayed that there was no bedtime routine that needed to be completed before the child was put to sleep. On the other end of the spectrum, Utahan mothers usually have bedtime routines and objects to facilitate the transition to sleep. Out of the eighteen mothers that were interviewed, ten of them told the interviewer that they sing a song, read a story, or complete some kind of pre-bedtime routine (Morelli et al., 1992, 608). All of the eighteen children are also changed into pajamas and brush their teeth before bed. The study even noted that five out of the eight kids who fell asleep alone used a blanket or a security object of some sort.This time, surprisingly, the interview with Kayla showed very similar answers to those of the mothers from Utah. Kayla stated, “I would feed and burp my children, give them a bath, and either read a book or sing to them before they fell asleep each night” (Interview Notes). Kayla also noted that each of her children had a bedtime security object, which was a soft baby blanket. Kayla emphasized that her practices influenced her infants’ temperament of being easy, relaxed, and peaceful. The ability of her infants to self-soothe depended on a consistent bedtime


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