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Baby Care

Living and learning in the past for you

We have made an effort to study the care of infants in the period. Learn from us some of the methods with which children were handled. Swaddling babies is something which is today coming back into fashion, but it is a far cry from swaddling in the 17th century, when a baby might be wrapped in soiled clothing all day, and even hung on a nail in the wall.

Swaddling was done to help a child’s limbs to grow straight, and therefore the child was bound firmly to ensure that s/he could not move. Initially the entire child was secured, but as s/he grew the arms were left free for her/him to hold items such as a teether.

Even toddlers were like to be securely held in some form of baby-walker. These might be as simple as that allegedly used by William Shakespeare which was a wooden ring attached to an upright by a movable bar so that the child secured in the ring could walk in circles round the post. At the other end were walkers on wheels, that enabled the child to move with more freedom.

To learn more, why not visit one of our events and perhaps see some of the techniques used for looking after children. You may be surprised by some of what you learn.

Why was coral important to the mother or nurse in the 17th century? Find out by asking us at one of our living history events.

Rupert in his baby walker

Rupert, 15 months, in his baby-walker, with a toy and his wooden bottle. Rupert is wearing skirts as he will not be put into his first breeches until he is six or seven.

Various items illustrative of childcare

Items used to illustrate various aspects of childcare including comparative pieces from earlier periods. Look for three dolls, a pewter feeder, a wooden feeder, a coral and silver rattle, and a breast pump.

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