People fed children with a cow's horn at The Foundling Hospital during the 18th century

By Culture24 Reporter | 07 September 2016

You don't often see kids being fed from cows' horns these days. When infants were admitted to the Foundling Hospital, these feeding horns frequently came in use

A photo of an 18th century cow horn from the foundling museum and hospital london
Cow’s horn used for infant feeding (18th century)© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Since its foundation by the sea captain Thomas Coram in 1739, one of the Foundling Hospital’s key worries over the children it cared for was ensuring they were fed.

A photo of an 18th century cow horn from the foundling museum and hospital london
The dining room for boys at the hospital in Berkhamsted© The Foundling Museum
Cow horns, which became a popular method with which to feed kids during the Middle Ages, were used as a device under the advice of the College of Physicians.

The governors decided that, where possible, all children should be “dry” nursed – hand-fed on mixtures of softened bread or rice mixed with broth or cow’s milk, using a feeding horn, spoon or pap boat.

A photo of an 18th century cow horn from the foundling museum and hospital london
This feeding horn is part of the Wellcome's collection© Wellcome Library
This changed in later years when the children were sent to the country to be wet nursed.

  • Feeding the 400 is at the Foundling Museum, London from September 23 2016 – January 8 2017.

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