Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Etiquette in Victorian Babyland

“Anti-kissing societies grow and multiply in the land, and for this the babes have the greatest reason to be thankful. It is at last a breach of etiquette to offer a babe the unpleasant compliment of a kiss, unless you are his very near relative. In that case, you are still permitted to kiss the little unfortunate, but if you are thoughtful and wise you will at least refrain from encroaching upon the child's comfort and endangering his health by kissing him upon the mouth.” – 1895

In Babyland

A pretty fancy that is quite new is to choose a flower for the baby and embroider a single tiny blossom upon each article of the layette. A forget-me-not, a violet, a pink daisy or a buttercup may be embroidered with wash silks in the natural color of the flower; and the ivory brushes, the powder boxes and other articles that can not be embroidered have the flower inlaid or painted upon it.

Of course, every well regulated baby of to-day has a book in which the story of its life is recorded, and which ought to be the source of much pleasure in later years. A book of this sort is a charming present, and it may be plain and strong or as elaborate as may be. One made to order for a favorite babe in this city is of white leather, like a bride's book. The corners are of silver and the book is fastened with a silver clasp. Another, dainty fashion is to fold a parchment cover on the baby's book and paint upon it a spray of apple blossoms, or of the baby's own flower in water color. 

Inside, upon the blank pages, must be written the little stories of the baby's comings and goings, his illnesses and accidents, his first cunning lispings and all his young achievements. Those clever people who succeed with a camera at home will be sure to paste upon the pages of the book at least one new photograph each month. Baby in the bath, baby in the hammock, his first steps, all the story of his development may be told in pictures and be a joy forever to his mother at the very least. Later Mr. Baby ought to be able to take up the work himself; and if any one of us possessed a library of the scraps of literature we have meant to save, the pictures that have gone astray and all the flotsam and jetsam that should have been gathered into volumes, we should be rich in lore. 

Safety pins are to be had in gold and silver, and tiny ones for the backs of dresses are fastened together with slender gold chains. Little gold studs are strung together in groups of three in the same fashion and with all these and the pretty bib pins to choose from, it is not necessary to give the babies such absurd presents as bracelets and useless finger-rings. A writer in the Bazar says that the fact is now generally recognized that many children are born with some visual defect which can only be remedied by the use of glasses, and she adds that it is now no uncommon sight to see toddlers in Greenaway gowns with these useful articles upon their little faces. Doubtless by this means some trifling defect is often remedied, and by relieving the strain the eyes are saved from irretrievable injury. 

Anti-kissing societies grow and multiply in the land, and for this the babes have the greatest reason to be thankful. It is at last a breach of etiquette to offer a babe the unpleasant compliment of a kiss, unless you are his very near relative. In that case, you are still permitted to kiss the little unfortunate, but if you are thoughtful and wise you will at least refrain from encroaching upon the child's comfort and endangering his health by kissing him upon the mouth. – San Francisco Call, 1895


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia