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The History of Baby Bottles

Posted on 14 February 2013

There is interesting evidence to suggest that at least 900 years ago many babies were fed using a plethora of different styles and shapes baby bottles, feeding cups and other utensils, sometimes with awful outcomes.
Baby Bottles
In the Middle Ages, the horn was very common used as a baby bottle, also for adults too but for water and alcohol of course. A small piece of leather was used and wrapped around the base of the horn to act as a teat - can you believe! The horn, used as a baby bottle, may have come from bison, bulls or even certain types of deer.

Europe in the 1600's, saw leather and wood baby bottles were used. Later, people developed pewter baby bottles, many of these can still be see in museums today. The majority of these early baby bottles were of a flask shape, they had screw on lids forming a hard round teat or nipple.

Although baby bottles became more advanced, in materials and technology over the next 200-400 years, all of the baby bottles had the common denominator; that is, they were incredibly dirty, hard to keep clean and virtually impossible to sterilise. Also, dodgy milk supplies and little knowledge of babies feeding needs, saw the death rates for babies under two skyrocket - understandably.

In the 18th and 19th century pap boats and cups were a popular feeding baby bottles . The majority of pap boats were easier to clean than earlier baby feeding bottles, the pap itself was rather unsightly and terrible in taste. Pap was just boiled water and flour, with bread or egg added.

Pap boats, feeding cups and suckling baby bottles of the 1880's were made by many of the leading potteries, such as Wedgwood. The most common baby bottles were glazed earthenware.

Movement forward in technology then produced vulcanized rubber in the 1840's. Rubber teats, in those days, had a very powerful smell and it was quite some time before rubber teats were being manufactured in great numbers- at least teats that were safe.

The 1950's saw the invention of the very popular narrow neck heat resistant upright Pyrex models. Europe and U.K did not see the wide neck versions until the early 60's, even though these had been available in the U.S since the early 1920's.

Eventually of course, as we all now know, the majority of glass baby bottles, which were made from glass, were now replaced with polycarbonate plastic. Most recently, polycarbonate plastic, when heated, was found to release a carcinogenic chemical called bisphenol A, commonly know as BPA.

In April 2008, Canada became the first country to ban BPA in baby bottles. December 2008, saw the big baby bottle manufacturers in the U.S cease the production of BPA baby bottles – in the U.S only! These campanies are still actively marketing and selling baby bottles containing BPA to the rest of the world.

2008 also saw the birth of companies that started to specialise in BPA free baby bottles. They include: Thinkbaby Baby Bottles, Smart Baby, Milk & Tickles, Nuby, Green To Grow, Dr Brown’s, Avent Baby Bottles, Born Free, Happy Baby, Adiri, Silikids & Nuby Natural Touch. Most of these bottles are either made from polypropylene or PES plastic which are both BPA free.

The circle has now joined, now that we can ponder baby bottles history. 1000 years ago baby bottles were unhygienic and toxic, and now, 1000 years later, we are now learning that most baby bottles are, once again, toxic.

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