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April 28, 2015

Royal baby watch: Raising an infant in Victorian England vs. now

Loyal servants of the United Kingdom and gossip columnists across the globe are anxiously awaiting the birth of the newest member of the British royal family. 

The anticipation has reached a fever pitch as Kate Middleton is currently several days overdue. You can even place money on what you think the name of the child, who will be fourth in line to the British throne, is going to be.

If you're the parent of a newborn and are caught up with the drama of the Royal birth as well, you might enjoy some of these Victorian tips for raising the proper English baby. Coming from the 1880s book "The Rearing and Management of Children," the text has been transcribed on the website 

The advice in the book is obviously outdated considering all of the information we currently have on raising newborns. So, in light of the newest member of the royal family joining us any day now, here's a look at how far we've come from Victorian era England to now.

The Nursery 

1880s:  The temperature of a bed-room in winter should be, as nearly as possible, at 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Now: That's probably too chilly. While Dr. Alan Greene says the baby's room should be a bit cooler for sleep, it should hover between 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit when it's time for bed and be a bit warmer during the day.


1880s: Care is needed not to arouse a child suddenly from its slumbers. Allow it, on all occasions, to waken of its own accord.

Now: Most agree that it's important to let your baby get plenty of sleep, and that, in most cases, it's important not to wake a sleeping baby. But several experts note that there are a handful of appropriate times to wake him or her up. For example, it can be advised to limit daytime naps in order to prevent a baby from sleeping all day and staying up all night.


1880s: Salt is a necessary as well as a welcome seasoning in infants' food. A few grains should be in every kind of food - always intermixed.

Now: As family physician Dr. Rallie McAllister explains, any extra salt should be avoided, even in adulthood. As babies, we only need a tiny amount in our diets, and it is usually provided in breast milk or infant formula. Plus, adding salt to a baby's food for flavor, while tempting, can damage an infant's kidneys and lead to lifelong preferences for salty foods. 

Obviously, Prince William and his wife, Kate, will be giving the most knowledgeable and advanced care to their newborn child considering their status. 

(Warning: Video contains adult language.)

For everyone else, there's the always brilliant advice of Amy Wright Glenn