8 Great Inventions From The History of Motherhood
March is Women's History Month, so what better time to delve into the history of motherhood and take a look back at the invention of products designed to make being a mom a little easier? From baby bottles to car seats, here's a round up of what 8 must-haves for babies looked like when they were first created.
Photo Credit: mylittlecar
Great Inventions of Motherhood: The Car Seat
In the decades following the introduction of automobiles into the lives of most American families, the idea of a car seat for babies and toddlers was more about putting tykes in contraptions that would prevent them from crawling around; safety in the event of an accident was, unfortunately, not a top concern. Case in point? This car seat, probably from the 1940s or 50s, that was essentially an elevated booster seat hung over the front seat so Junior could stay occupied by looking out the windshield. There’s even an attached steering wheel to help kids “drive” along.
The invention of the first car seat with safety in mind? It didn’t come until 1962, when a British inventor created a rear-facing seat with Y-harness.
Photo Credit: Baby Bottle Museum
Great Inventions of Motherhood: Baby Bottles
Before the invention of rubber—and the rubber nippled baby bottle—giving Baby a bottle meant pouring a breastmilk substitute into what was essentially a flattened tea pot made from glass, ceramic, or metal. Babies would suckle on a hole in the spout of the pot, and an opening at the other end allowed the liquid to be poured in (bottles were mainly given to babies whose mothers died in childbirth and who didn’t have access to a wet-nurse). Unfortunately, because of their odd shape, keeping these bottles clean was difficult, and many babies became sick from bottlefeeding. Rubber nipples and the form of the modern baby bottle didn’t come on the scene until the early 1900s.
Photo Credit: inRdream.com
Great Invention of Motherhood: Disposable Diapers
In 1947, Valerie Hunter-Gordon, a British homemaker and mom (or mum as they say in the UK), created Paddis, a two-part disposable diaper. It involved a cotton-wool and cellulose liner and a plastic outer-covering made from old parachutes that fastened with snaps. Her product became an instant in-demand hit. In 1948, Johnson & Johnson introduced the first disposable diaper in the US., followed in 1961 by Proctor & Gamble selling its first line of Pampers disposables. By 1970? It was estimated that American babies used 350,000 tons of disposable diapers per year, making up 0.3% of US municipal waste. By 1980, this number had risen to around 1.93 million tons of disposables, or 1.4% of municipal waste.
Photo Credit: The Henry Ford Museum
Great Invention of Motherhood: Baby Monitor
The buzzy news event of 1932? The infamous kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby from right out of the family’s nursery. This so upset parents that president of Zenith Radio Corporation, Eugene F. McDonald Jr., who himself was a dad, began experimenting with a cobbled-together system that would allow him to hear what was going on in his daughter’s room. This led to the invention of the “Radio Nurse,” the world’s first baby monitor, which hit the market in 1937.
Great Invention of Motherhood: Baby Carriage
The first child perambulator, also known as a “pram,” was built in 1733 by English architect William Kent as a way to entertain the children of the Duke of Devonshire. The first pram was little more than a cart pulled by a pony attached to a harness, but as soon as other parents got a look at Duke’s kids being hauled around without the need to carry them, the rest is history. During the 1800s, prams were redesigned to allow an adult to pull the pram instead of a pony. Later, after too many children fell out of prams, a bar was placed between the handles, allowing parents to push the cart.
Photo Credit: lazerhorse
Great Inventions of Motherhood: Baby Pictures
The invention of photography in the 19th century paved the way for the first baby pictures. Early photography required subjects to sit still for up to 30 seconds or more as the film exposed. This is why few people smile in early photos—it was easier to maintain a serious look. As for babies, well, we all know it’s not easy for littles to sit still for even 10 seconds, so to get around this problem, photographers in the Victorian age came up with the idea of mothers sitting beneath drapes to hold their child in place during the session. The result? These rather creepy “disappearing mother” portraits. All I can say is, we’ve come a long way, baby!
Photo Credit: phisick
Great Inventions of Motherhood: Breast Pump
Just looking at this photo makes me want to kiss my double electric breast pump. First patented in 1854, breast pumps were typically used as medical devices to treat inverted nipples and—sometimes—to help infants who were too small or too weak to nurse. The first electric breast pump available to consumers was only developed in 1991!
Photo Credit: American Druggist and Pharmaceutical Record
Great Inventions of Motherhood: Pacifiers
In the 18th Century, peasants and commoners used wood, animal bones, tied rags, or corn cobs as makeshift pacifiers (as no doubt their ancestors had done for centuries), but parents of the upper classes began to have custom pacifiers made for their babies. Called “corals,” the posh pacifiers were made of polished coral, ivory, or mother of pearl with a gold or silver handle. Given then spoon-like shape, this is probably where the phrase “born with a silver spoon in his mouth” comes from. Rubber pacifiers came on the scene beginning in the late 19th century.
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