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Neonatology. 2014;105(4):267-74. doi: 10.1159/000357935. Epub 2014 Feb 26.

Pap, gruel, and panada: early approaches to artificial infant feeding.

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Department of Neonatology, Charité University Medicine Berlin, Berlin, Germany.


This paper collects information on artificial infant feeding published before 1860, the year when commercial formula became available. We have extensive artifactual evidence of thousands of feeding vessels since the Bronze Age. Special museum collections can be found in London, Paris, Cologne, FĂ©camp, Toronto, New Mexico, and elsewhere. The literature on the use of animal milk for infant feeding begins with Soranus in the 2nd century CE. Literature evidence from the very first printed books in the 15th century proves that physicians, surgeons, midwives, and the laity were aware of the opportunities and risks of artificial infant feeding. Most 17th to 19th century books on infant care contained detailed recipes for one or several of the following infant foods: pap, a semisolid food made of flour or bread crumbs cooked in water with or without milk; gruel, a thin porridge resulting from boiling cereal in water or milk, and panada, a preparation of various cereals or bread cooked in broth. During the 18th century, the published opinion on artificial feeding evolved from health concerns to a moral ideology. This view ignored the social and economic pressures which forced many mothers to forego or shorten breast-feeding. Bottle-feeding has been common practice throughout history.

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