Wooden nipple shield, Europe, 1701-1900
Nipple shields protect mothers from pain while breastfeeding their teething babies and soothe sore nipples. They prevent nipples from flattening, contain leaking milk and help women who had trouble breastfeeding. This wooden example, seen on the left, is alongside a beeswax example (A606832/1) on the right. It has 13 small holes through which milk passed to the feeding baby. Doctors of this period advised breastfeeding was best for infants. They said babies should be breastfed by the mother if possible or a wet nurse. Dried milk and condensed milk were introduced in the 1860s. However, doctors claimed dried milk caused diarrhoea, indigestion and rickets when fed to babies.
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Glossary: breast feeding
The process of synthesising milk from the breasts, usually a child from its mother.
Glossary: nipple shield
A plastic or glass cap or dome used by breastfeeding mothers to help babies to latch onto the breast and/or to protect sore or cracked nipples.