Babies

This describes the life of a baby in Victorian and Edwardian times; feeding, childrens' crockery, and furniture.

Feeding

The death rate was very high for bottle-fed babies; only 10-15% survived during the 19th century and into the early 20th. These deaths were caused by the fact that cows' milk was used and this was not pasteurised until the 1920s. The importance of clean bottles was not understood and difficult to achieve. Glass boat-shaped bottles appeared in 1900.

Most children in London houses lived and slept in the same room; a medium-sized home of four or five bedrooms would have one occupied by the parents, another (usually the smallest) by the maid, with the remainder available for use by the two, three or four children.

Children's crockery had been available since about 1800; china plates, dishes and cups were all available. Initially most were commemorative, but in the 1880s more robust items appeared.

Furniture

High chairs had been available since the 16th century. By the late 19th century designs included Windsor-style turned wood chairs, and bentwood with cane seats. Some had wheels or castors, and others were chair/table combinations which could be used separately as the child grew.

Low chairs and tables emulated designs for adults; for example armchairs in mahogany or else cane and wickerwork. Other small-scale furniture was available for children of wealthy families.

Babies slept in wood or wicker cradles and cots. Iron came into use in the late 1800s; typically it was painted white.

Other nursery furniture would have included a washstand, a tall screen to shield bathing children from draughts, a large table, chairs and high chairs, bath, slop pail, towel rail, guard for the fire, and the nurse's bed. Playpens and baby walkers were also available.

Sometimes the nursery would be decorated with special wallpaper, the designs being of children, fairies, and nursery tale characters. Special friezes were popular from the 1890s. Tiled designs were also incorporated into nursery furniture and fireplaces.

Bedding for beds consisted of sheets, blankets and an eiderdown.

 

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