Bathing Babies in Three Countries Série-Collection : Character Formation in Different Cultures

Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson
1951 - 20 min - Noir & Blanc - États-Unis

Compares treatment of Balinese and Iatmul (New Guinea) babies with American practices. Anthropology. The different methods of bathing children is seen in three contrasting cultures. "New Guinea". A native mother is seen washing her own and a neighbour's children in a river. She washes the children standing, holding the child firmly by the arm, a protection against crocodiles. She splashes them with water, then lifts them to the bank. The baby she shakes in the air to dry (103). "U.S.A.". "The 1930's". In a small bathroom, the mother first carefully wipes the child's face with a flannel, before putting him into the bath-tub. Here the child plays with toys, the mother constantly hovering protectively. Mother takes the child from the bath, dries him carefully in a large towel. She dresses him in night-clothes, nappy etc - long procedure - at end of which child is fretfully tired and is taken off to bed. "U.S.A.". the 1940's: Similar setting, similar routine, but mother is less protective, child more independent and interested in outside objects. Mother dries child on her lap and is far more relaxed (287). "Bali": In a mountain village, a mother bathes her child in a small tub on a raised platform. Child stands, mother washes him, holding on to his arm. They play splashing each other. After the bath, the child nestles in his mother's arms, while she gazes blankly at the camera. An older mother is bathing her baby. This is not her first child, she is disinclined to play with the baby. The child who was bathed first comes up and seeing the baby, begins playing with him, pretending to bath him. (413 ft).
(Source :

Author-Director : Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson
Delegate Producer : Margaret Mead
Co-producer : Gregory Bateson


Circulation-Consultation : SFAV (Société française d'Anthropologie visuelle)