Woolen Baby Belly Bands

My title today (say it three times fast!) is  from the lovely 1914 book,  Household Discoveries and Mrs. Curtis’s Cookbook. Published by the Success Company, this 1205-page compendium of housekeeping advice is printed entirely in about a 2-point font, and I can read it by the hour.

Between the chapters on “Preventable Diseases in Children,” and “Outdoor Problems of the Householder,”  we have a 32-page chapter on “The Care of Babies.”

Some advice regarding clothing:

The clothing of infants should be simple, warm, light in weight and not too tight fitting.  [OK, I’m with you so far.] For the first four or five months provide an abdominal band of thin, soft wool or flannel about six inches wide and twenty inches long.  [What?! WHY?] This will prevent serious effects from sudden changes of temperature.  [Oh, of course.  How did I not think of that?]

It should only be wide enough to cover the belly and should be wound two or three times around the body, according to the season of the year.  This bellyband, or pinning blanket, should be wound smooth and free from creases or folds, and fastened with safety pins, or preferably with a few stitches of soft darning cotton. [Stitched on?! How often do you change it?]

Never use clothing with tight waistbands.  [Wait, didn’t you just say to wrap wool around the baby a couple of times?] Shirts should be supported from the shoulders with straps.  Never, for appearance sake, put starched, stiff, or uncomfortable clothing on a baby.

Infants are very susceptible to changes in temperature. Either overheating or sudden chill tends to produce stomach or intestinal complaints.  Healthy infants are, however, warm-blooded  [I believe all infants, even sickly ones, are warm-blooded.  Being mammals and all.] and need less covering than adults, especially in hot weather.

All through the hot season dress the child very lightly and keep it cool.  [OK, finally making some sense here.] Unless the baby is very delicate, limit its clothing in hot weather to a shirt, petticoat, cotton dress, narrow bellyband of thin wool, and the diaper. [You call that limited?]

OK, that’s enough from the Success Company and their book of “genuine worth (so apparent).”  Let me check my collection of antique pictures to see how people were actually dressing their babies around this time.

baby in eyelet dress

This baby looks comfortable enough.

baby in smock

I think the starchiness of the outfit may be holding the baby upright.

baby on rattan chair

Why is the baby playing with a hairbrush? By the way, this baby is a boy.

baby in big clothes

Apparently loose enough, but definitely uncomfortable. Whose clothes are those? Were they just borrowed from some random older sibling?

Can’t really tell if any bellybands are present, but what a bunch of cute babies!

And to finish up, here is a postcard from 1914, showing a lovely little boy and his doting (but honest) caretaker.

baby & caretaker

Front of the postcard.

1914 postcard

Note the baby’s name.

Here’s hoping that wherever you are today, your waist bands are not too tight and your clothing is not too starchy!