Friday Photo: For Baby

My neighbors had a baby recently, and watching them put her in her stroller recently made me think about how much stuff babies seem to require. Clothes, diapers, blankets, bottles, strollers, seats, toys…the list goes on and on and on. Eighteenth century babies didn’t require quite as much specialized equipage, but today’s photo shows one item every upper-class baby would have found useful. This is an 18th century silver baby rattle, complete with a whistle, bells, and a piece of coral for a teething baby to gnaw on. These were so identified with childhood that you can see children holding them in portraits like this one from the collection of Colonial Williamsburg:

"Portrait of Two Children" attributed to Joseph Badger. Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, 57.100.15

Don’t be fooled by the dress – the child holding the rattle could be a boy. Yet another thing that’s changed since the 18th century…

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Filed under Collections, Friday Photo, History

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