Sunday 9 October 2011

Bathing baby, 1940's style

I've got a small collection of old magazines and I was having a look through them recently. It was interesting to see that much of the advice on raising babies was similar to that given today. I expected it to be quite different.

Well, apart from the fact that the diet of my four month old is sadly lacking:

Clippings from old parenting magazines

Woman's Weekly, Number 2405, December 7 1957

Although baby food now is sold for babies 4 months old, so it's not really that different. The only difference now is that now the manufacturers have to pretend that no-one is actually giving a baby solid food before six months (and I'm not criticising here, because we weaned Harry early).

Even the advice on how to bathe baby was very similar to that given today (click to enlarge):

Clippings from old parenting magazines

Woman, No. 158, June 8 1940

Not that I am quite so diligent when it comes to bathing Mia, I tend to just plonk her in and wash her all at once. But did people really used to sew the baby into the nappies?


  1. Those instructions made me tired just reading them.

  2. I think the binder which has to be sewn on might be a band to go around the cord area until it has healed, not a nappy. Just guessing though.
    Notice that baby is kept in the cot when not being fed or bathed.

  3. I did a bit of research into baby binders. Here's what I found:

    Baby binders, bellybands or rollers have been used since at least the seventeenth century and were used up until the 1930s. Binders were usually made of flannel or cotton. They were wrapped around the infant's body a few times below the breast and over the naval area. Rose writes that from 1750-1820 strong fabrics were used and were: 'wrapped round the body to suppress the navel and support the abdomen.' (1.) By the nineteenth century practices such as swaddling had gone out of favour, however binding was still being used on babies. In the late nineteenth century opposition to restrictive clothing for infants began. It was thought that clothing such as the binder would hinder a baby's expansion and growth of important organs.

    (1.) Rose, Clare, 'Children's Clothes', London: B.T. Batsford, 1989, p.15.

    So not a nappy at all, very interesting reading!


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