Food and drink for children

The booklet I got from The Museum of Childhood in Edinburgh states the following with regard to food and drink for children:

“Food made specifically for children is a relatively recent introduction, there being little in the way of specially prepared products before the 19th century. Infants often developed digestive problems due to bad diet, in 1773 one observer commenting:
‘They are fed on meat before they have got their teeth, and what is, if possible, still worse, on biscuits not fermented, or buttered rolls, or tough muffins floated in oiled butter, or calves-feet jellies, or strong broths, yet more calculated to load all their powers of digestion.’
Fresh fruit and vegetables were then considered to be unhealthy. Children ate the same, often predominantly meat-based meals, as their parents and drank tea, coffee and drinking chocolate.
Attitudes to diet improved from the mid-19th century with a plain but more varied menu being adopted – porridge, bread and milk for breakfast; cabbage, potatoes and boiled mutton followed by rice pudding for lunch – and this in turn increased the resistance of children to disease. However, among the mass of the working population in the cities, malnutrition was a problem even into the present century, and the lack of correct vitamins caused such complaints as rickets and scurvy.

By the early decades of the 20th century, as diet became more uniform, the market potential of foods and drinks aimed at children was seized with cereals, crisps, sweets, fizzy drinks and ‘fast foods’ becoming particularly popular items.” (p.5)

This booklet also notes:

“Throughout history babies had been subjected to many different, and often bizarre, treatments in the name of fashion and science. …Fashions in feeding … varied. Wet-nurses were used to relieve mothers unwilling or unable to breast feed. The choice of a wet-nurse was no simple matter as it was believed that a child would imbibe character with the nurse’s milk. … From the 1850s with the introduction of ‘scientifically produced’ artificial milks, hand feeding became popular. Glass feeding bottles were used with teats of anything from pewter to a pickled cow’s teat. One bottle of the 1860s had a rubber tube which allowed a baby to feed with the bottle out of reach on a nearby table. The tube was a paradise for germs and the bottle, banned in several American states, earned the nickname the ‘murder bottle’.” (p.4)


About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
This entry was posted in early years education, education around food and meals, History of Childhood and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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