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Curriculum + Pricing Growth Tracker
Baby growth - environment and culture

Impact of culture and environment on the baby’s growth.

by Dr. Jaideep Gupta

NOV 29, 2020

Arnold Gesell, America's premier pre-WWII paediatrician, conceptualised motor growth in infancy as under biological regulation on the basis of thorough observations. However only middle-class European American infants were analysed by Gesell. Subsequent studies carried out on infants from various cultural groups strongly questioned the biological determinism of Gesell.

For example, when compared to middle-class European American infants, African, Iranian, Dutch, and Balinese infants were found to differ in terms of phases and timing of motor development. Culturally informed evidence shows that psychomotor growth in children is not guided solely by biological factors, but rather is systematically influenced by culturally different child-rearing activities. They do not demonstrate the motor advances of peers raised using traditional African practises while African children are raised according to European American practises. Also domains of child development under obvious biological influence are plastic to parenting and culture, within limits.

Infants do not grow up, however and adults do not parent in isolation but in several contexts, and community is one notable context of infant growth and parenting (Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 2006). Culture can be conceived as distinctive patterns of standards, ideas, principles, conventions, attitudes, and symbolic representations of life that are shared by a collection of individuals, endure over time, direct and regulate daily living, and constitute valued competencies transmitted to new members by experienced members of the social group. Culture (although notoriously difficult to define). Thus every culture is marked by deeply ingrained and generally accepted ideas about how one needs to feel, think and behave as a functional member of the culture, and is distinct from other cultures.

In essence, societies recommend and forbid others from such values and habits in their members. Culture is distributed by two major currents. First, thematicity is the replication through systems and contexts of the same cultural concept and has particular significance as a behavioural organiser (Quinn & Holland, 1987). Second, the dominant majority opinion on such cultural problems is normative. Different societies have different views and participate in different normative behaviours (but are not necessarily normative in another culture). Repeatedly encountering thematic and normative cognitions and practices helps to organize children’s development around culturally acceptable values.

Therefore the expectation that particular groups have different views and act in distinct ways with respect to their parenting is fundamental to a philosophy of culture and cultural conditions whether specific treatment facilitates the successful transmission of cultural values (Bornstein & Lansford, 2010). Cultural values provide guidelines as to how parents handle children and how children should act towards adults, as well as the socialisation objectives of children. Personal choice, for example, is deeply rooted in the ideals of freedom and liberty in the United States, is closely related to how people think of themselves and make sense of their lives, and is a constant and important construct in the United States. Parenting Americans. Children of parents who act in culturally normative ways are likely to encounter similar ideals that reinforce their child-rearing experiences in contexts beyond the family (e.g., in the community).

One key objective of the cultural approach to infant growth and parenting is to analyse and compare culture-common and culture-specific modes of growth and caregiving. Its fundamental duality is demonstrated by language. From the viewpoint of an inborn and universal acquisition device, an evolutionary model posits a language instinct (most infants can learn to speak), but diversity of environmental feedback plays a strong role in the acquisition of each particular language (infants in different language communities learn to speak the language of their community).

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