I know there have been ways of feeding babies who couldn't for whatever reason be fed by their mothers or wet nursed throughout history. But there must only have been 2, or at the most 3, generations of mothers who had a genuine choice as to how to feed their babies. I think it's amazing that such a fundamental change in how we raise our babies has happened so quickly - in 50 years we've gone from automatically (because no choice) breast feeding to a more or less 50/50 splint between bf and ff. Are there any books looking at how/why this happened?
Politics of breastfeeding talks about it I think, not sure But I disagree that before that people automatically bf - I think there were a lot of poor subsititutes, and remember babies went onto mashed banana and rusk at a few weeks old. I think formula that we would consider suitable has only been around since the 70s??
My dad was bottlefed on condensed milk in the 1950s. I think baby bottles have been around for a long time, even before victorian times I think. But they were difficult to keep clean and there was no formula milk, so babies were give cows milk / condensed milk. I've even heard stories of babies been given sugary water when there was no money for milk
i think widely available is one thing but affordable is another. i was ff in the 70's and my mother said that she felt very lucky she could afford to ff. its funny i was abroad recently and in the local shop they only had one type of f, v expensive in local terms, very different to our supermarkets where there must be at least 30 types.
In my mum's 1960's copy of Dr Spock, it talks about non-breasfed babies leaving hospital with their own "Recipe" , a combination of condensed milk, glucose and brown sugar it seems, which needed to be reviewed by GP every so often.