Avoiding Booby Traps and Whipping Up Pumpkin-spinach Purées: A Critical Narrative Analysis of Pediatric Nutrition Birth through the First 12-Months
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With attention to parenting, mothering, and fathering in the academy and attention to pediatric nutrition in the sciences, this study meets at their intersection. Using a critical approach to study narrative, this inquiry examines pediatric nutrition instruction birth through 12-months that is targeted to parents. The aim of this study is to examine how pediatric nutrition instruction construct master (dominant) and counter narratives that determine what constitutes good parenting. Critical narrative analysis reveals that the maternal role is foregrounded and positions mothers as responsible for pediatric nutrition decisions based on expert recommendations. The master narrative, moderate naturalism, limits good decision making to breastfeeding in the first 4-6 months. The focus on breastfeeding within moderate naturalism highlights the postfeminist-individualization of the maternal role to self-educate about nutrition, self- diagnose breastfeeding problems, and self-govern the body. The totalizing role of mother is evidenced in the social expectations related to education, health enhancement, risk aversion, and cultivating a healthy eater. The two counter narratives, synthetic acceptance and strict naturalism, are in dialogue with yet resist the master narrative. First, synthetic acceptance resists “breast is best” constraints on feeding by legitimizing formula feeding as acceptable but inferior. Mothers within synthetic acceptance enact totalizing motherhood through feeding education, control over the scene and feeding process/products, and formula-matching. Synthetic acceptance simultaneously seeks legitimization through maternal storytelling and delegitimizes itself through guilt discourse. Second, strict naturalism resists motivations for feeding choices and the characterization of the apolitical mother in moderate naturalism. Within strict naturalism the maternal role is politicized. Paradoxically, maternal feeding responsibilities reify traditional gender roles and promote domesticity, but they do so in a way that empowers women to enact environmental advocacy. Strict naturalism features mothers who are health literate, environmentally-active, equipped to make homemade organic baby food, and pursue environmental advocacy. By politicizing motherhood, counter narration has the potential to shift from post-feminist-individual frameworks within moderate naturalism to feminist-cooperative frameworks in counter narration. Practice-based recommendations are made to redress the totalizing implications of pediatric nutrition instruction on mothers, limitations on legitimate feeding choices, and neglect of paternal roles.
Spradley, Elizabeth (2013). Avoiding Booby Traps and Whipping Up Pumpkin-spinach Purées: A Critical Narrative Analysis of Pediatric Nutrition Birth through the First 12-Months. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from