Though, THE COWBOY’S PRIDE is a contemporary story, I thought we’d go back in time and see how babies were cared for in the 1800’s. (AND trust me — you’ll be glad you had your babies in the modern world) but I did find some commonalties where parenting has come full circle.
THE CARE AND FEEDING
Affluent new mamas of the mid to late 19th century often used “wet nurses” to feed their babies. In Europe and in the Victorian era, women rarely stayed at home and relied on servants, mammies and caregivers to breastfeed their children. This practice was done much earlier in America though. In the south and as early as the 1700’s, slaves spent a great deal of time raising children from wealthy families and that included nursing them. If for some reason breastfeeding couldn’t be practiced, then the baby was given PAP, which is a combination of bread, water and sugar. When the child was old enough to eat solid foods, regular food cooked for the family was mashed up and spoon fed to the babies. In 1867 a London scientist developed the first baby food. Baron Justus von Liebig introduced Soluble Food for Babies and it was available in America by 1869.
The little tykes did not have it easy. There were no modern conveniences and probably the worst of it was diaper-changing.
In rural areas often babies were “toilet-trained” as early as possible. But often times, this meant simply holding the baby over a chamber pot and allowing him to do his deed. For the first few years of the baby’s life, they either went around bare-bottomed or wearing a skirt for this very reason. If I was the mother, I’d say the sooner the better with the toilet training. Ugh. Poor babies – their little bottoms were never lotioned, oiled or pampered. If they developed skin problems, they would be treated with a mixture of herbs. Later on in the 1800’s if a baby wore a diaper, it was recommended that diapers be washed and not just hung out by the fire to dry as per prior practices. Oh…a lovely thought! Babies bottoms were simply wiped clean with a dry cloth and powdered with absorbent wood dust. Then they were either re-diapered or left to run around naked for a while. Baths were infrequent at best and it took doctors until the early 20th century to start recommending using soap and water to clean the baby’s bottom. A “novel” idea. The diaper “safety pin” was invented in 1849, which I think must have made life a little bit easier.
COMING FULL CIRCLE
Though these practices seem uncivil and rough, many of our current baby care techniques have reverted to more natural techniques used centuries ago. For instance, as nice as they might make the baby smell, the use of oils and lotions are not considered necessary in today’s world. Too many babies develop skin rashes and sensitivities from the chemicals contained in those products. So it’s okay not to butter up a baby’s bottom, but if you must, it’s now recommended that an all natural product be used on their skin. Thankfully, we are in the “green” era and these all-natural, fragrance-free and chemical-free products are easily found on the store shelves. It’s important to read the labels.
Another practice that’s coming full circle is the use of fresh foods and baby grinders to mash up baby’s meal. Often time, new parents like to know exactly what ingredients are in the food they serve to baby and they spend a great deal of time buying and preparing fresh healthy food for their children. Something as simple as chicken stew, a little chicken, some fresh carrots and potatoes can make a hearty delicious meal for the baby. No Cajun spices, please!! Or you’ll find yourself holding that baby over the modern day chamber pot!
IF YOU LOVE BABIES
I hope you remember my new release coming to Eharlequin this November and all other outlets and bookstores in December. (It is available now for Pre-Order) Little Meggie is a cutey-pie in a story of second-chances and heartfelt emotions. Clayton Worth has a connection to this baby, but it’s not what you think. (And that’s all I’m saying!) And there will be more about my Baby Connection coming soon!
I’ll be offering a copy of my May release, Carrying the Rancher’s Heir or any one of my backlist books today, if you stop by with a comment about your parenting or babysitting days.
What was the best and worst thing about caring for a baby?