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Mrs Beeton's advice for wet-nurses: 3 pints of beer a day

(8 Posts)
MamaMary Thu 30-Dec-10 17:19:08

Have been reading Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, published in 1861. Interesting section on wet-nurses and breast-feeding - had to share this part on diet!

Respecting the diet of the wet-nurse, the first point of importance is to fix early and definite hours for every meal; and the mother should see that no cause is ever allowed to interfere with their punctuality.

The food itself should be light, easy of digestion, and simple. Boiled or roast meat, with bread and potatoes, with occasionally a piece of sago, rice, or tapioca pudding, should constitute the dinner, the only meal that requires special comment; broths, green vegetables, and all acid or salt foods, must be avoided. Fresh fish, once or twice a week, may be taken; but it is hardly sufficiently nutritious to be often used as a meal.

If the dinner is taken early, ? at one o?clock, ? there will be no occasion for luncheon, which too often, to the injury of the child, is made the cover for a first dinner. Half a pint of stout, with a Reading biscuit, at eleven o?clock, will be abundantly sufficient between breakfast at eight and a good dinner, with a pint of porter at one o?clock. About eight o?clock in the evening, half a pint of stout, with another biscuit, may be taken; and for supper, at ten or half-past, a pint of porter, with a slice of toast or a small amount of bread and cheese, may conclude the feeding for the day.

Woodlands Thu 30-Dec-10 18:02:17


oh look, the sun's over the yardarm... might go and crack open a beer!

weasle Thu 30-Dec-10 19:07:00

blimey, not much food though. bf without cake?! impossible!

MamaMary Thu 30-Dec-10 19:25:23

No, it's mainly a liquid diet!

bran Thu 30-Dec-10 19:31:44

Porter was much weaker than beer though, it was only just alcoholic enough to kill off bugs. I'm not sure of the exact alcohol content (and TBH it probably varied a bit as quality control was hit and miss then) but I think you would have had to drink a lot of it to get drunk. It probably had a reasonable iron content too.

I am currently smacking my lips and thinking of the Peroni in the fridge. grin

TheMeow Thu 30-Dec-10 19:37:05

You'd probably die from drinking the water in 1861, I'm sure there was a cholera outbreak sometime near then.

dessen Thu 30-Dec-10 19:39:34

In belgium in some hospitals you get a glass of beer with your lunch if bf. You can buy all sorts of beers in the cafe.

MamaMary Thu 30-Dec-10 19:58:22

To be fair, Mrs Beeton does go on to say spirits and wine should be avoided. But I wonder why green vegetables were considered a no-no?

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