Volume 6, Number 2 (2020) pp 96-105 doi 10.20448/807.6.2.96.105 | Research Articles
This paper investigates the attitudes, knowledge of, and usage of the traditional Central Asian cradle board (beshik) by Kyrgyzstani mothers residing in the southern region of the Kyrgyz Republic. Socio-economic factors, such as level of education or household income, appear to exert little influence on the likelihood of usage of the traditional Kyrgyz beshik. Rather, dynamics associated with extended family relations appear to be critical in maintaining the practice of infant swaddling long after the widespread cessation of nomadism in the region. Quantitative and qualitative survey data were collected from 481 randomly selected mothers and statistically analyzed to develop an understanding of beshik usage in southern Kyrgyzstan. More than 90% of the mothers used the traditional Kyrgyz cradle board. The most common reason (33%) cited by mothers for choosing to use the beshik relates to practicality (“Baby will not get cold”). Mothers opting not to use the cradleboard in childrearing expressed broad skepticism of the beshik, with 38% responding “All of the above” to a list of five separate options. Knowledge of the effects, beneficial as well as adverse, of swaddling were statistically low among the surveyed mothers: Only 11% were consulted by a health practitioner about the beshik. If information about the risks of using the cradleboard was provided to new mothers, changes in attitudes regarding the beshik could take place. Based on our data, however, it may have little short-term effect in a region where most mothers adhere closely to the recommendations provided by elders, especially mothers-in-law.