From the collection.
“Breast is best”: we’ve known this for ages. And as medicine modernized in the 18th and 19th centuries, well-meaning inventors wanted to help nursing moms feed their babies.
The metal nipple shield, circa 1774, was designed for women who had trouble breastfeeding, and to contain leaking milk. While the intention was noble, many shields from that time (including this one) were made of lead which experts already knew could cause nerve and brain damage.
The turtle-shaped Globe Nurser dates to the 1890s. It’s a relatively simple tool: the flattened glass bottle was made to lie on its side as the infant drank milk through a rubber tube with a nipple on the end. The catch? Bacteria would often build up in the tube, sickening children.
Both items are part of the Rhode Island Medical Society Collection
donated to the John Hay Library, Special Collections.