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History of Baby Bottles

old baby bottlesThe history of baby bottles: since the beginning of humankind, women have breastfed their babies. But if a mother died, and a wet nurse was not available, then it was necessary to feed the baby by other means. [Photo from CeramicFeeders.com]

Back then, the "baby bottles" were not really bottles - they were more like jugs or urns and they are called "feeding vessels".

The oldest surviving feeding vessel is from 2000 BC. Though, it is likely that feeding vessels were used when mankind began using tools during the Stone Age (prior to written history).



various old baby bottlesSome feeding vessels were made from the horn of an animal or from wood. Later, the feeders were ceramic. Sometimes, animal hides were made into nipple-like structures and attached to the spout. It was not until 1841, did Charles M. Windship patent the first glass nursing bottle. [Photo from babybottlemuseum.co.uk]

Feeding vessels were difficult to wash and probably contributed to many infant deaths. Even after glass vessels were mass manufactured, they were still impossible to keep clean. Two major events in history changed all this:

  • In 1845, Elijah Pratt patented the first rubber teat. It was not very popular at the time because the rubber smelled bad. But his invention led to better nipples which could be washed and sterilized to prevent infection.

  • In 1894, Allen and Hanbury invented the double-ended feeder. This was a glass container with two holes: one was attached to a rubber nipple and the other was where food could be added. The second hole was larger and allowed the bottle to be washed better.

modern baby bottleAfter that, there were many types of nursing bottles: some made of glass and other out of plastic. By the 1920's, the nursing bottles began to look like the formula bottles you see in today's stores.