Although becoming a parent is a one-of-its-kind feeling, parenting also comes with a lot of challenges. Every parent can go to great lengths to ensure their kids’ safety. However, there was a time, roughly a century and a half ago, in Britain, when mothers unknowingly pushed their toddlers to death by implementing a technique that they did not realise was perilous to their babies.
It’s the Victorian era, between 1820 and 1914, corresponding roughly to the period of Queen Victoria’s reign. The period saw the emergence of a new kind of feeding bottle that allowed babies to pretty much feed without parental help. Either glass or earthenware was used to make those bottles. A nipple and a section of rubber tubing were fastened to the bottle. Its design was like a banjo, which made cleaning the bottle almost next to impossible.
The trend of not cleaning the bottle was further fueled by writings in the book Mrs Beeton’s Household Management, written by Isabella Beaton. In her book, the author said that it was not necessary to wash the nipple for two or three weeks, making the bottles the perfect incubators for deadly bacteria.
Parents continued to purchase and use the bottles even though doctors forbade them from doing so. And, the infant death rates at the time were shocking. Only two out of ten infants survived to their second birthday. However, the parents were unable to attribute these deaths to the bacteria accumulating on the bottle and unknowingly pushed their children to death. The bottles came to be known as ‘murder bottles’ eventually and have gone down in history by that name.
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