Child care decisions: parental choice or chance?

Child Care Health Dev. 2002 Sep;28(5):391-401. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2214.2002.00288.x.


Aim: A study of the context of child care decision making by inner city and suburban mothers, using parents to help develop and administer a semi-structured questionnaire.

Methods: A total of 131 mothers were interviewed (73 inner city and 58 suburban) at home.

Results: Inner city mothers were more likely to bottle feed, smoke and adopt risky infant sleeping positions, for example the settee. Virtually all babies (98%) were fully vaccinated and placed prone (95%) to sleep at night. Inner city mothers smoked (71%) despite the known health risks and continued postnatally (55%), mainly as a means of relieving stress. In total, 30% of inner city mothers wanted to breast feed; 19% had succeeded to 6-8 weeks postnatally. Bottle feeding helped both mother and baby to have uninterrupted nights of sleep. Suburban mothers (59%) succeeded in breast feeding, with others choosing bottle feeding mostly because of returning to work. The average weekly alcohol consumption, 32 units inner city and 15 units suburban, was taken in weekend binges by inner city parents, but in daily small amounts by suburban mothers.

Conclusions: The well-being of the baby was the prime concern of all mothers, irrespective of social background. However, inner city mothers made rational decisions to smoke and bottle feed to reduce the impact of stress and allow the mother much needed respite for the good of the entire family.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Breast Feeding
  • Decision Making*
  • England
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Care*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Life Style
  • Parenting*
  • Social Support
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vaccination