Biological Anthropology Section
Central States Anthropological Society
Cosponsored - Oral Presentation Session
Biomedical researchers have raised concerns that parents’ inability to recognize “healthy” infant and toddler growth poses a barrier to the seeking treatment for undernutrition or stemming the development of overweight and obesity. Relatively little anthropological research, however, has examined the factors influencing caregiver perceptions of infant and child growth or assessed what they view as “normal” patterns of growth. Using comparative quantitative and qualitative data from caretakers in the United States, Ecuador and China, this paper explores how mothers and other caregivers define ‘normal’ infant and child growth, tests whether this definition is sensitive to child growth trajectories or other measures of infant health and development, and uses longitudinal models to examine whether these perceptions shape subsequent feeding and caregiving practices.