Day-care and Baby-Minding

  • Melanie Reynolds


Continuing the theme of previous chapters on how infants fared at the hands of mother-surrogates, this chapter will visit the conventions of child care of working-class day-carers and baby-minders to identify the part they played in the high northern IMR. It will explore how day-carers and baby-minders looked after the infants they were paid to supervise and protect on a daily or weekly form. It will firstly address the historiography of the women employed in this occupation. Then, through individual case studies, it will investigate the relationship between carers and infants in Lancashire in particular (day-care was less common in Yorkshire, as mothers there could often take their infants to work with them). The discussion will then move on to consider in broad terms the practice of loco-parentis, examining its nature and characteristics in more detail to identify whether the actions of day-carers and baby-minders had a detrimental effect on the northern infant mortality rate.

‘She asked me if I would nurse Lewis who was three weeks of age, I agreed for the sum of 5s per week’.1

In 1877, Lewis, the infant son of Jane Jones, was cared for by the babyminder Isabella Mason, of Darwen, Lancashire, whilst his mother went to work. For working-class mothers like Jane Jones, the infant- and childcare services provided by self-employed, private child carers like Mason were essential.


Child Care Infant Mortality Single Mother Select Committee Illegitimate Child 
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Copyright information

© Melanie Reynolds 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melanie Reynolds
    • 1
  1. 1.Oxford Brookes UniversityUK

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