Infant Care 1762

Hello after a long pause! Many of my regular readers know we welcomed Mr. Spud in February and have been adjusting to being new parents. I’d like to ramp up with a bit more intermittent and shorter posts, as Mr. Spud allows.


Not intending this to become a motherhood blog, I will kick off my return with instructions to the Nursery-Maid from Hannah Glasse’s The Servant’s Directory Improved. Interstingly, straightness of limbs is to be encouraged. Swaddling practices from this era, including tightly wrapping the hips, could lead to hip dysplasia and rickets. It’s important to allow infants’ hips to bend froggy style – examination for dysplasia is part of pediatrician visits. See this video about safe swaddling at the International Hip Dysplasia Institute website.

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“A CHILD when it comes into the world, is almost a round ball; it is the nurse’s part to assist nature, in bringing it into proper shape. The child should be laid (the first month) upon a thin matrafs, rather longer than the child, which the nurse will keep upon her lap, that the child may always lye straight, and only sit up, as the nurse slants the matrafs. To set a child quite upright, before the end of the first month hurts the eyes, by making the white part of the eye appear below the upper eye-lid. Afterwards the ruse will begin to set it up, and dance it by degrees…The ancle bones and infide of the knees should be rubbed twice a day; this will strengthen those parts, and make the child stretch its knees, and keep them flat; which is the foundation of an erect and graceful person.”

About Becky Fifield

Becky Fifield is a cultural heritage professional with 25 years experience in institutions large and small. She is currently Head of Collection Management for the Special Collections of the New York Public Library. An advocate for preventive conservation, Ms. Fifield is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation, Chair of the AIC Collection Care Network, and former Chair of Alliance for Response NYC. She is also a scholar of 18th century female unfree labor and dress. There's a bit of pun in the title The Still Room, delineating a quiet space brimming with the ingredients of memory, where consideration, analysis, and wordcraft can take place. Ms. Fifield’s interests include museum practice, dress history, historic preservation, transit, social and women’s history, food, current events, geneaology, roadtrips, and considerations on general sense of place. Becky and her husband, Dr. V, live in the Hudson Valley.