Wednesday, June 01, 2011
Baby Snot Sucker
Japanese mothers tend to be even more dedicated to the cleanliness of their children, bathing *with* them, cutting their nails, cleaning out their ears at a frequency that suggests that these acts go beyond a concern purely for physical hygene, pointing to a culture of hygene and motherly pruning to achieve it. One aspect of this mothering, is in the way that Japanese mother's remove their children's nasal mucus.
Devices to remove nasal mucus from the noses of babies with colds do exist in Europe and the USA, such as "Nosefrida The Snotsucker Nasal Aspirator" "the "Bulb Syringe Aspirator" which uses a bulb rather than oral sucking and the "Graco Nasal Clear Nasal Aspirator" which uses a battery powered vacuum pump. They are more likely to be powered by means other than oral aspiration - sucking -and those that do use the suck to clear the nasal mucus may be called "bizarre" by commentators in the US for instance. Bodily secretions, especially faeces but nasal mucus as well I believe, tend to be more taboo in the West, compared to Japan, as previously noted.
Please note that the snot does not go into the mouth of the mother but into a vial which can be washed out. In the old days, however, I am informed that Japanese mothers used to suck their baby's snot directly into their mouths.
Many animals engage in social grooming as a way of reinforcing social bonds. The grooming that is lavished upon Japanese children reminds me of the affectionate pruning that Western mothers may give to their husbands. Some Western mothers have a tendency to clean and scrape their husbands hands, nails and feet. It seems to me that in parallel with Richard Schweder's observations regarding "Who Sleeps by Whom," the recipient of maternal grooming is generally children in Japan, and more likely to be romantic partners, particularly male partners in romantic relationships in the West.
Schweder, R. (1995) "Who Sleeps by Whom Revisited: A Method for Extracting the Moral Goods Implicit in Practice."
Nelson and Geher (2007) "Mutual Grooming in Human Dyadic Relationships: An Ethological Perspective." URL
This blog represents the opinions of the author, Timothy Takemoto, and not the opinions of his employer.