Sharing food with infants in Hadza communities in Tanzania
By analyzing mealtime interactions of Tanzanian Hadza infants with their interactional partners, we explored how two foundational schemas, namely giving/sharing and autonomy are realized and fostered in infants. We focused on three aspects of the mealtime interactions, namely how the infants’ share was protected, whether independent eating was fostered by the infants’ interactional partners, and how infants were encouraged to share food. To answer these questions, we also considered the settings that were created for infant eating, persons involved, and characteristics of the foods. Hadza infants (N = 24) between the ages of approximately 6 and 27 months were video recorded in mealtime situations. The videos were analyzed qualitatively and revealed the following patterns: First, infants’ shares were protected by eating meals in secluded places or providing infants with separate dishes. Second, independent eating was situational. It can be limited according to the child’s interest in the food or by the interactional partner. Some caregivers subtly enhanced independence by appearing unaware of infants’ signals. Third, sharing was encouraged and supported when it occurred spontaneously. Infants were also asked to share and occasionally tricked into sharing. Tolerated scrounging seemed to be generally accepted by both infants and caregivers. However, we also observed conflicts in competitive situations and somewhat overwhelmed infants. These results are discussed in light of hunter-gatherers’ foundational schemas and livelihood changes observed in the Hadza.
CitationAbels M, Osokina M, Kilale AM. Sharing food with infants in Hadza communities in Tanzania. Infant Behavior and Development. 2023;70
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