Caring for Baby, 1916 Style

our-babies-booklet-1916Fear is a great motivator for new parents. That’s probably what the Illinois State Board of Health was counting on in 1916 when they published “Our Babies: How To Keep Them Well and Happy – A Booklet for Mothers.” It’s filled with tips that were sure to scare most parents (not to mention scaring readers a century later!)

On Fresh Air:


On the Regularity of Feeding:


And if you ‘re not sure how much to feed your baby, they’ve included this handy chart:


On Registering Your Child’s Birth:

As a genealogist, I applaud Illinois’ push to get parents to record their child’s birth. But, good grief, talk about scare tactics! (Click the image to enlarge it. You’ll want to read every over-the-top caption.)


“The Young Man: I have no birth certificate. The lack of it has been the greatest handicap of my whole life.”

Wow. The only thing that would have made it better would be a panel showing genealogists a hundred years later spitting on his parents’ graves, cursing them for not registering his birth.

You can read “Our Babies: How to Keep Them Well and Happy” and all of its spine-chilling tips on Internet Archive.

9 thoughts on “Caring for Baby, 1916 Style

  1. Hollie Ann Henke

    Thanks for posting, Amy. I love this stuff. Times, they do change. I believe that I need more though. I read “On Fresh Air” and my immediate thought was “How did I miss this on Fresh Air?” – NPR junkie that I am… :)

  2. Su Leslie

    I love the cartoon. Apparently my in-laws took so long to register my hubby’s birth that they had to pay a fine. I can imagine my parents – on the other hand – waiting outside the register office the day after by brothers and I were born, waiting to tick another task off their list. :-)

      1. Su Leslie

        Really! Wow; I don’t know the procedure in NZ, but in the UK we had to go to the Register Office in person to register the boy-child. It took us a week to agree on his name (well the order of his names) and I found out that because we’re not married, I could have registered the birth alone, but the Big T couldn’t. He had to have me there. It’s a good thing we agreed on names in the end!!

  3. Beth Gatlin

    My father’s parents were both born in Chicago. My grandmother’s family had been there for many years, and most of my grandfather’s side of the family moved there around the time that he was born. Her side of the family was very good about registering births. His side wasn’t. I guess that’s not that surprising, considering that her family was very active in the Lutheran Church, and his side was full of “black sheep.”

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