Breast-feeding, Bottle-feeding and Dr. Spock: The Shifting Context of Choice*

Authors


  • *

    This paper began as a PhD term paper, which was then invited for presentation at the University of Regina in 2003. I would like to extend my thanks to all those who helped me develop it into its present form, including Dr. Judith Golec, Dr. Alison Hayford, Dr. Herb Northcott, the CRSA Editor and the anonymous reviewers. This project was supported by a doctoral fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. This manuscript was submitted in April 2004 and accepted in February 2005. Contact: sknaak@shaw.ca.

Abstract

Dans l'environnement d'aujourd'hui, l'allaitement naturel représente à la fois un exemple médical idéal pour l'alimentation infantile et un exemple moral idéal pour les soins maternels. Le caractère moralement chargé de ce discours rend la notion de choix dans l'alimentation infantile particulièrement problématique et lourde de difficultés. À partir d'une analyse de contenu historique d'éditions choisies de 1946 à 1998 du célèbre manuel de soins de l'enfant du Dr Spock, l'auteure de cet article explique le processus par lequel le discours du sein contre le biberon s'est transformé au cours du dernier demi-siècle et comment ce change-ment a influé sur le contexte du choix à l'intérieur duquel les mères doivent décider comment nourrir leur enfant.

In today's environment, breast-feeding represents both a medical gold standard for infant feeding and a moral gold standard for mothering. The morally charged character of this discourse makes the notion of choice in infant feeding particularly problematic and fraught with difficulty. From an historical content analysis of selected editions from 1946 to 1998 of Dr. Spock's famous child-care manual, this paper explicates the process through which the breast versus bottle discourse has shifted over the last half-century, and how these shifts have shaped the context of choice within which mothers must make their infant-feeding decisions.

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