Studies indicate that early weaning and supplementation (before six months) are widespread problems in Brazil. To arrest and reverse this trend, national, local, and grassroots organizations have implemented a number of breast-feeding promotional campaigns. While these campaigns employ a number of different strategies, many incorporate education as a key component. Often these programs share a common assumption about infant feeding and decision making. Specifically, these campaigns frequently conceptualize the decision to breast-feed as a unilateral one, with mothers making feeding decisions and infants passively accepting and complying with these decisions. While health care professionals may assume that mothers share this model of breast-feeding decision making, this may not always be the case. This paper presents a case study from the urban Amazon where mothers attribute agency to their infants. As such, mothers state that successful breast-feeding is the result of bilateral decision making; both mothers and infants must decide to breast-feed. This bilateral model shapes observed patterns of early weaning in the community. When asked why they terminated breast-feeding, 42 percent of mothers stated it was their infants’ decision. The implication of attributing agency to infants for breast-feeding promotion is discussed.

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