19-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Thursday, May 21, 1914: Mother was with Besse today. I dreaded it when she came home for I was afraid she would bring bad news, but no, they filled me with glad anticipations.
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
Grandma’s married sister Besse gave birth to a daughter the previous day. Besse lived in the nearby town of Watsontown. She had a baby that died in 1912, and Grandma was very worried about this infant.
I wonder if the baby was born prematurely, and was very small. Here’s what Ladies Home Journal had to say in 1914 about the characteristics of “normal” babies:
The Normal Baby
Every mother is anxious for a normal baby, but many mothers, do not know just what a normal baby should be like. Variations are always found in every human being, but the following measurements given by Dr. L.E. Holt in his large book, “Diseases of Infancy and Childhood,” are now taken as the standard for the normal baby.
The weights are taken without any clothing. The height is taken by placing the baby on a perfectly flat surface like a table, and having some one hold the child’s knee down so that he lies out straight, then taking a tape-measure and measuring from the top of his head to the bottom of his foot, holding the tape line absolutely straight.
The chest is measured by means of a tape line passed directly over the nipples around the child’s body and midway between full inspiration and full expiration. The head measurement is taken directly around the circumference of the head, over the forehead and occipital bone.
Some other points of interest in the development of the normal baby are the following: head held erect if trunk is supported during the fourth month. Sit alone for a few minutes about seven months of age. In the ninth or the tenth month the baby will usually attempt to bear his weight on his feet. When ten or eleven months old he often stands alone with slight help. Makes first attempt to walk at twelve or thirteen months. The baby must not be urged to do any of these things; let him alone to develop naturally.
The teeth are always of interest; here is the way the average normal baby cuts his first set of teeth: Two lower central incisors, 6 to 9 months; four upper incisors, 8 to 12 months; four canines, 18 to 24 months; four posterior molars, 24 to 30 months.
At 1 year a child should have 6 teeth; at 1 1/2 years, 12 teeth; at 2 years, 16 teeth; at 2 1/2 years, 20 teeth.
The “soft spot” on fontanel on top of the head closes with the average normal baby at eighteen months, but often varies greatly.
Ladies Home Journal (February, 1914)