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October 2022

Genet Soc Gen Psychol Monogr. 1988 Aug; 114(3): 377-408.

Maternal handling and motor development: an intracultural study.

Hopkins B, Westra T.

Department of Educational Sciences, Faculty of Human Movement Sciences, Free University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Citing a distinction between informal and formal routines used by mothers in handling their infants, we examined formal handling routines, in which the caregiver acts in a pedagogical manner; these routines are widespread in many non-Western countries. We hypothesised that formal handling serves to facilitate gross motor development during early infancy. To examine this hypothesis, the effects of a Jamaican formal handling routine on a broad range of developmental outcomes was examined. Results showed that the effects were specific to early gross motor development and in particular to postural control along the vertical axis of the body. Information is also provided on other aspects of Jamaican child care. It seems that the handling routine forms part of a folk (developmental) medicine system and may serve not only to promote child health but also as a sort of developmental neurological examination.

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