A Child Raising a War Baby

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L. Emmett Holt, The Care and Feeding of Children: A Catechism for the use of Mothers and Children's Nurses. New York and London: D. Appleton and Company, 1909. University of Guelph Library (RJ 61 H7 1906).

On a day of “terrible news” in the Glennews that the British armed forces had been driven backRilla sets out to collect Red Cross supplies and finds herself at the Anderson household, where Mrs. Anderson has just died. With Mr. Anderson at the front, their baby has been left alone. Rilla takes the child home with her in a soup tureen and is surprised when Dr. Blythe challenges her: “A young baby means a great deal of additional work and trouble in a household, Rilla… If you want to keep that baby here you must attend to it yourself.” Rilla resolves not to bother Susan or her mother, Anne, and to “get a book on baby hygiene” and take care of Jims herself.

She relies heavily on Morgan on Infants, a fictitious manual based on Dr. L. Emmett Holt’s The Care and Feeding of Children, which was first published in 1894. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, there was a shift in views of mothering as something instinctual and based on traditions, to a scientific approach. As a result, child rearing manuals in this period, such as Holt’s, became increasingly popular, outlining a scientific approach to feed, bathe, and clothe infants. The shift came as a result of trying to reduce infant mortality and promote better health of children through exact parenting practices.

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