Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Victorian Baby Bottles

They were deadly. To quote:
Various shaped glass bottles were created, all with a narrow glass mouth filled with a stopper. A length of Indian rubber tubing was inserted into the stopper, it's other end fitted with a bone mouth shield and a rubber teat. 

You could buy them at your local chemist, who put them together as he thought best, resulting in a great variety of shapes and designs. However, there was one consistency among the bottles. All were impossible to keep clean and a serious health risk to babies.

The medical profession openly condemned the use of them, but this general design continued to sell well into the 1920's. For the first time, the baby could be left unattended to feed, freeing up the hardworking mother to do other tasks.

Infant mortality remained very high, with nearly 20% dying in their first year. Don't marry that percentage, because the stats of mortality in the 19th century are highly contested by today's statisticians. But everyone agrees they were high.

However, I can say sanitary conditions were dismal, bacterial infections a major cause of death and antibiotics had yet to be discovered. Mothers were strongly advised to breastfeed their own children, preferable to hiring a wet nurse, and strongly preferable to feeding with a baby bottle.

A change in baby bottle design occurred in 1894, claiming to be easier to clean. (Read more.)

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