1917 Advertisement for Holstein Cows’ Milk for Babies

Source: American Cookery (June/July, 1917)
Source: American Cookery (June/July, 1917)

Today we know that “breast is best” when it comes to feeding infants, but that formula is often used. I know of no one who would give an infant cows’ milk, but apparently a hundred years ago there was a discussion about whether the milk from one breed of cows was preferable to another for babies.

12 thoughts on “1917 Advertisement for Holstein Cows’ Milk for Babies

  1. Totally agree on the Breast is best, and Holstein milk is a very good tasting milk also not as rich in cream ,it still is to hard for a newborn to digest. Never gave milk to my children until they were at least 6 months then it was watered down some.

  2. Things like this always make me wonder what things we’re doing now will be considered risky in the future… But so often we return to the natural methods ~ nature knows best.

  3. It is true that the milk from different breeds tastes different. My milk comes from an all-Jersey herd, and the skim’s as good as any other whole milk. But taste preferences of adults are a different thing than infant nutrition. It’s interesting that milk for babies was being promoted. I’d never thought about when formula was introduced, but I found this article. Since formula showed up around 1865, and would have taken a few years to gain popularity, I wonder if this wasn’t part of a milk producers’ campaign to beat back assaults from the formula industry.

    1. Milk taste also varies by feed quite a bit (for that matter, beef taste also does). Even in agriculture here, very few people keep a dairy cow today, but folks who do, or used to, often note that the taste varied, for good or ill, based upon the feed.

  4. This advertisement didn’t really argue against feeding infants nature’s way, if you will, but claimed that Holstein milk was second best. I’m not sure when infant formula came along but that may play a bit of a role in the advertisement.

    FWIW, Beer was advertised as being a good thing for nursing mothers to drink in this same era: http://lexanteinternet.blogspot.com/2016/05/questionable-advice.html

    It’d be unlikely that we’d see an add retailing beer at the case level for nursing mothers today and would probably meet with some derision if it occurred.

  5. I guess before we had formula made just for babies, mothers who couldn’t nurse probably did give their babies cow’s milk. What is considered good for babies and children changes so fast that we probably didn’t realize it.

  6. I can’t help but question what is actually in infant formula. Who knows what they’re putting in it? Think about all of the chemicals and genetically modified foods on the market that the FDS approves and claims are safe, when in reality they aren’t. Very scary. Just like milk from cows shot up with antibiotics, growth hormones, eating genetically modified corn.

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