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Ethnology of Manihiki and Rakahanga

Feeding Of Children

Feeding Of Children

Children received careful attention from birth, and food preparations to suit children's ages were made from the coconut.

It was considered advisable to give a laxative to the baby after the cord had been cut, in order to get rid of what was termed the dark excreta. The laxative was obtained from the uto pine nut, which contains both the uto and the katinga. The uto and a little of the katinga were grated with a hand grater. The mixed grated material was squeezed with a stipule strainer to express the liquid into a coconut shell cup. A piece of the free end of an aërial hala rootlet (kai whara) was used as a teat and dipped into the fluid (whakaoma). The child was encouraged to suck (whakaroroma) the teat and thus absorb the laxative.

The child was not fed at the breast for three days. The colostrum milk of the mother (mea renga, yellow material) was sucked out by a friend during this period until the normal milk was established. During this threeday period the child was fed on waita, which consisted of the fluid expressed from a grated ni momoto nut, mixed with water, and squeezed through a stipule strainer into a coconut shell cup. The hala rootlet teat was used.

The child was fed at the breast entirely for four months, after which the breast milk was augmented by giving the child a little grated whakaehu made from the ni mata nut. This was continued until the child was nine months old. Variety was provided by mixing grated uto with the coconut whakaehu. The uto was carefully selected from those which had reached the right full size but had not become tough. Both the uto and the ni mata were finely grated and mixed together.

After the child was nine months old, the best food for it was cooked uto (uto to).