Hundred-Year-Old Advice About the Right and Wrong Ways to Care for a Baby

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Saturday, September 13, 1913:  This day is a good bit like some other days.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Since Grandma didn’t write much a hundred years ago today, I’m going to share some fun drawings of the wrong and right ways to care for a baby that appeared in the October, 1913 issue of Ladies Home Journal.

Wrong

1913-10-49.a

Right

1913-10-49.b

.

Wrong

1913-10-49.c

Right

1913-10-49.d

.

Wrong

1913-10-49.e

Right

1913-10-49.f

28 Responses

  1. I really love the drawings. What great contrasts as well. The last one reminds me of watching my mom prepare bottles for my youngest siblings. Also, the very labor intensive process of sterilizing them. A far cry from what is done today.

    • I’m trying to remember what those old baby bottle sterilizers looked like. I picture them being very similar to a canner, but with a rack designed for baby bottles.

  2. I noticed as I was looking at the pictures that it’s much like “before and after” photos. They make the “befores” look as bad as possible. Although the advice is certainly good! I’ve never heard of feeding a baby through a tube…????

    • The artist who drew the pictures probably had fun thinking of what to include in the “before” pictures to make it look as bad as possible. :)

  3. I had never seen one of those long tubed bottles until I came across one at an antique store, bought it and did some research on it. They came to be called killer bottles because of the bacteria that lodged in the tubing. A common name for it was a turtle bottle. The advice was so spot on for that era, I’m sure. Loved the drawings!

    • Thanks for sharing the information. I was unfamiliar with the long-tubed bottles–and thought they looked odd in the picture, but didn’t know anything about them until I read your explanation. They sure sound awful.

  4. Interesting that there was no mention of breast feeding.

  5. Wow. That rubber hose is creepy.

  6. I loved the drawings! When I was expecting my first baby I asked my mother about breast-feeding. She was shocked that I even considered it. Apparently the first half of the 20th century thought of breast-feeding as “something for cows” to do, and that we had moved ‘above’ that to a more civilized time. Sometimes the more things change, the more they stay the same?

    • That’s really interesting. Sometimes when we look back in time, we forget how many commercial products were available years ago. And, how trusting people were of some of the “modern” ideas and products.

  7. Sometimes they had a hard time portraying a baby face, as in photo #1. And yes, I enjoy your daily entries. (More – the nurses were furious with me in 1958 for planning to breast feed my baby. Actually fed him sugar water before bringing him to me, and shoved him to my breast as if to say,”OK. Now lets see you do it.”)

    • It’s hard to understand why the nurses would try to undermine your efforts. I was fortunate to have good support from the nurses in the hospital when I wanted to breastfeed my children.

  8. Might have added one on the right and wrong way to dress a baby too…talk about tripping hazards or fire hazards! Really interesting glimpse back into the judgemental days of the past – thanks for sharing.

  9. What an interesting post. I imagine those kitchen stoves were very dangerous.

  10. Such an interesting article–never knew that babies had been “tube-fed” in the past!

  11. Enjoy your page… I don’t always get to post, but always take the time to read. Amazing that they made “tubes” for feed…

  12. oh, the pulling by the wrist sickened me and the long rubber tube, yikes! thanks for sharing. the second picture’s baby cot should be closed though, i got worried the baby may roll over even though it is a picture, lol…

    • Even the cribs that were thought to be safe when my children were little are no longer considered acceptable. People have learned a lot more about the need for better designed safer cribs in recent years.

  13. The rubber tube is new to me, enjoyed the drawings. Interesting.

  14. What a great post Sheryl… I agree with pretty much all that others have posted but that rubber tube was a “newby” for me :shock:
    The “playpen” is an interesting one. It was beginning to be hugely disapproved of when I was raising my first babe 46years ago… but I found it brilliant for all of them. i.e. set up in the corner of the room so you could pop them in to be safe when you could not be watching their every move. Like many things… good in moderation.

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