M975.64.3 | Blending feeder
1880-1885, 19th century
Purchase from Mrs. Nettie M. Sharpe
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Baby bottle (3)
Keys to History
The education campaigns that targeted mothers in an effort to reduce infant mortality focussed on the fact that breastfeeding was the best way to keep babies healthy. Nevertheless, as early as the late 1800s, mothers who could not breastfeed or who did not want to, could give their babies formula made of a mixture of cereal, powdered cow's milk and sugar. Stores had also begun selling more hygienic, easier-to-clean feeding bottles like the one shown here. It was not until 1915, however, with the development of SMA (Synthetic Milk Adapted), that baby formulas achieved a closer resemblance to breast milk. At the same time, the sterilization of baby bottles and the habit of boiling water or milk for infants in order to kill harmful bacteria became increasingly widespread.
This type of glass feeding bottle, to which a nipple was attached, came into use in the 19th century. Some models, though not this one, also had an opening on top of the bottle for pouring in the milk and controlling the rate of flow through the nipple.
The Excelsior Glass Company was founded in Montreal and in St. Jean sur Richelieu in 1878. It went out of business in 1885.
Wide-neck baby bottles did not become available until the 1950s; by then, products and accessories for proper sterilization of bottles as well as improved baby formulas had also come onto the market.
In 1953, at the tender age of 16, Quebecker Jean St-Germain invented disposable plastic baby-bottle liners. These pre-sterilized bags collapse as the baby drinks, thereby reducing the amount of air swallowed, which is often a cause of discomfort that makes babies cry.