Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: The history of infant feeding, 1500-1800
Author: Fildes, Valerie A.
ISNI:       0000 0000 8100 6906
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 1982
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
This thesis comprises an interdisciplinary study of infant feeding practices in the British isles between 1500 and 1800. Detailed analysis of medical texts and manuscripts, many previously unexplored for this purpose, provide medical recommendations and opinions which are compared with evidence of actual feeding practices from diaries, autobiographical and literary works; paintings, engravings, medical illustrations, and other forms of art; and relevant artefacts. Modern research in the fields of paediatric medicine, nutrition, anthro pology, psychology and demography are used to interpret the findings, in the context of current thinking about the social, medical and family history of pre-industrial Britain. In identifying trends and changes in feeding practices, interest is principally focused on the effects on the health of a) the child b) the mother c) the mother-child relationship. The five areas examined are maternal breastfeeding; wet nursing; mixed feeding; artificial feeding; and weaning. A further chapter traces the development of feeding vessels from the iron age to 1800. Appendices give biographical information about medical and theological authors; a descriptive list of infant food recipes; and additional data on wet nursing. It is concluded that two periods of change occurred, at c1670 and particularly c1748. The former was related to other changes in English and Scottish medicine in the late 17th century. That in the 1740s was associated with industrialisation; the first well-publicised experiments with a) dry nursing at the London Foundling Hospital and b) early maternal breastfeeding at the Lying-in Hospital. A further factor was the publication of William Cadogan's Essay which, although not original in content, consolidated changes in medical ideas and presented them readably to the general and medical public. Major changes at this time included decreased popularity of wet nurses accompanied by increased incidence of maternal breastfeeding among the wealthy; allowing the child to suck colostrum rather than discarding it; changes in preparation of infant foods, particularly the non-boiling of milk; the adoption of hand feeding as the feeding method of choice after maternal breastfeeding; the medical discussion of hand feeding and the development of better substitute foods, and more suitable vessels for administering them; a significantly earlier weaning age. Between 1500 and 1800 the principal medical trend was a decreasing concern for the health and well-being of the infant. This was replaced in the 18th century by increased attention to that of the mother, from which infants may have benefited indirectly. Several aspects of infant nutrition were associated with increased morbidity and death therefore the effect of different infant feeding practices should be taken into account in all investigations and discussion of infant mortality rates. Neither literary sources nor medical texts can be used in isolation to construct a reliable assessment of past infant feeding practices since many aspects of parental practice differed from medical discussion on infant nutrition.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History