Alloparenting – a historical perspective on infant ‘loving’ care relationships

Norman, A. (2024) Alloparenting – a historical perspective on infant ‘loving’ care relationships. Norland Educare Research Journal, 2 (1): 4. pp. 1-11. ISSN 2976-7199


Contemporary loving relationships during infancy are often discussed with reference to attachment and bonding between the parent, predominantly the mother, and their infant. However, parents throughout history have often relied on alloparenting for support, offered from, among others, wet nurses, nannies, grandmothers, godparents and friends. Alloparents are defined as non-parents who provide infant care with, or at times instead of, parents, within and beyond the home. In many cultures they are considered the norm rather than the exception, and while at times the support may be temporary, it should not be perceived as necessarily chaotic or unstable. This paper explores the role of alloparenting and how it has been defined and draws upon this to propose an inclusive reconceptualisation of infant loving care relationships today. It argues that alloparents have often been central to the care of infants but inconsistently valued in their contribution of supporting both parents and infants.

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