We loved that readers trusted us so much to bring them some of the most elegant, slightly weird, and interesting vintage and retro baby products out there in Part I, so now we're diving in with a Part II. In this article, readers will find collections of highly valued furniture as well as utensils, products, and possibly even a strange toy or two that will have today's moms thankful for the modernization of parenting. It's hard to believe that some of these actually existed or served a substantial purpose, and anything from the early 1800s all the way up to the late 1960s was fair game. The more outdated, the better!
Not only will we walk readers through a bit of history, but everyone can also get a real feel for what life was like for these moms back in their motherhood prime. As much as we couldn't imagine feeding babies milk from a can, they couldn't possibly imagine applesauce coming out of a pouch in a matter of seconds. The early era of inventions was a completely foreign world and one that served as a trial and error period, lasting well into the last few decades. As things such as cribs, strollers, and toys evolved, we can see various progressions in design, theme, and materials -- some of which would never meet standards today. Readers might even notice a piece or two that still takes up residence in nana and pop's home, and now they'll even know exactly what it was used for and when!
25 Joe Ellis Baby Doll Carrier, Circa 1870
If you're a fan of Antiques Roadshow then you may recognize this antique baby doll carriage from the famous French designer, Joe Ellis. His traditional Victorian style is depicted throughout his wide collection of work which included wooden dolls as well as carriages for babies and baby dolls. Each one of his stunning carriages featured an elegant flair, whether it was through the elongated seat, fashion-forward canopy, or elaborate railing or handles on each stroller. Obviously, a carriage like this would not be something we'd trust our baby in during modern times, but back then it was a pure luxury to have a carriage as sophisticated as this.
24 Jumping Jack Crib Toy By Fisher-Price, Circa 1969
Crib toys were not restricted to mobiles and in the 1960s, it was thought that something had to provide entertainment for those times when babies are restless and refuse to sleep. Before musical toys graced the sides of cribs everywhere, children were stuck with the old-fashion concept of a pull-toy, such as Jumping Jack. This toy was revolutionary for Fisher-Price and provided simple entertainment that didn't require a ton of batteries or a charge in order to work. By simply pulling on the string, Jack would wind up and seemingly "jump" toward the top of the crib. Effective and slightly eerie.
23 Wrought-Iron Cot, Circa Late 1800s
We wouldn't even blame you for not trusting this minimal baby crib. Not only are those bars definitely large enough for any small baby to stick their heads out of, but it can't be safe to have your child surrounded by a small iron enclosure. In the late 19th century, this simply wasn't an issue parents were concerned about and this was fairly top of the line in any household. Iron wasn't exactly a cheap metal and this crib provided structure, protection from falling, and a sturdy place for babies to rest their eyes. Incredibly, this cot still features its original castors and the tiny seashell moldings were a great, yet subtle, way of boosting the elegance of this iron bed.
22 Heirloom English Sterling Silver And Ivory Baby Rattle, Circa 1920
In stark contrast to the next item on our list, this baby rattle was indeed the mark of Edwardian wealth. The handle and top loop are crafted out of ivory, while the center is pure stainless steel and is also what functioned as the "rattle". A rattle such as this would typically be trademarked by a company known as Crisford & Norris, with the branding of "C & N" on the bottom. Hailing from Birmingham, this was not a cheap toy during its time and would really be a stunning addition to a baby's toy box... Although, we're pretty sure things like this were kept up high and polished on the regular.
21 Gendron Buggy Stroller, Circa 1890-1900
This is a vintage piece of wicker art. While we reserve wicker mainly for patio furniture nowadays, in the late 19th century it was seen as a sign of wealth and luxury to push around a carriage of this status. The ornate details are hard to miss, complete with full side detail and a sleigh-like footrest... You know, because if there's anything toddlers need, it's a fancy place to kick their feet. Many carriages of this style did not offer canopies but this one is fully decked-out with its elaborate lampshade of an overhang.
20 Christening Gown, Throughout The Victorian Era
Christening gowns were a rather large component when it came to having your child baptized in the 9th century and it's a custom we still see occasionally today in certain religious practices. To have your child completely sheathed in white symbolized purity and innocence, thus resonating with the reason for their baptism. This was widely practiced with both boys and girls with both wearing very similar baptismal garb. It was elegant for the time and though things have changed, these gowns are still very much a collector's item.
19 Cow & Gate Milk Food, Circa 1950s
Believe it or not, this English company is still in existence today. While their products no longer include canned milk, this was a popular food item in households that had just welcomed a newborn. It was the equivalent of the baby formula we know so well today! On the back of these cans would be a proper feeding schedule that was highly detailed and dictated instruction based on the weight of your new baby. Additionally, the directions would follow very similar to what we know today, directing new parents to mix the milk powder with an appropriate volume of hot water. However, rather than give an exact temperature as we do today, the instructions simply read, "the temperature of the food should be at approximately blood heat", i.e. roughly 98-degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, Cow & Gate provided a bit of parental advice, insisting that "fruit juice should be given daily". Thanks, Royal Babies.
18 Vintage Baby Changing Station, Circa 1960s
How would you like having this as a place to change your baby's diapers? While it doesn't look like the most sturdy of changing tables, this is what parents had to work with in the 1960s. Wicker designs made a massive comeback during the decade of peace, love, and rock 'n roll, which meant that you could find plenty of interior wicker pieces as well as outdoor patio sets made with the same wood-weaving design. This table had three staggered compartments for storage and the changing "table" was simply a thin mattress that provided basic comfort and support while you did what you needed to do. Sorry, no diaper genies here!
17 High Top Shoes, Throughout The 19th Century
Most people are familiar with the styles that came out of the Victorian era, as they were intricate and often over the top with their elegance. There was not much in the way of discrimination when it came to shoes being for adults or children, as a toddler's shoes would often resemble a larger version of their parents'. These shoes are an excellent example of craftsmanship for that era as you can plainly see that these high-top button shoes are reminiscent of what many adults wore during the time period as well. They've aged extraordinarily, complete with each button and the leather still completely intact.
16 Vintage Baby Scale, Circa 1960s, Roughly
Understandably, this looks more like something you'd way your bananas on rather than your baby. Some of you might remember seeing a scale such as this around your parent's house and that's because it was a proper way of recording a baby's weight (you may have even been a lucky user of this scale) in order to keep track of their growth. It was designed to be as baby-friendly as possible and although the hard metal scale top was probably cold and uncomfortable, at least the scale itself had a pretty pastel face complete with cute animals.
15 Hand-Painted Hairbrush Set, Late Victorian Era
This is a much more elaborate hairbrush that what you're probably familiar with and we're pretty sure your baby's comb was not hand-painted to include detailed floral pieces. In the Victorian Era, appearance was held in the utmost regard, even when it came to babies and toddlers. In keeping with this notion, brush sets such as these were often given as a gift or purchased for a family in order to maintain that high standard. While it's a collector's item now, it once was part of a baby's complete set of tools to help their overall well-being and appearance. These items, made of French ivory, may not have been the most comfortable to run through your hair, but it was custom for them to have a permanent place on the dresser.
14 Antique Walker and Early Rocking Chair, Circa 1890
Here, we have two items that were produced roughly at the same time and were both quite advanced for the time period. The item on the right is a wicker rocking chair-high chair hybrid and was a fairly brilliant creation for many households at the time. It had the potential to be converted from a rocking chair to a full-standing high chair by simply unfolding the lower base. Consider it a rough model for the current convertible high chairs we have today. To the left, we have what once was a wooden and metal walker. It was primitive, to say the least, but allowed a toddler to have plenty of mobility without the potential of falling if they'd not yet learned how to walk. It even featured an adjoining tray for small toys and possibly even food items.
13 Layette Baby Footwear Set, Circa 1923
This is something most moms probably wouldn't mind getting at a baby shower today, with some updated Nikes or Addidas, of course. In the early 1900s, England was still practicing a proper dress code which was especially important for families of great wealth. A set such as this would not be cheap and contained all of the fashion-forward, as well as traditional, shoes that a baby would need well into toddlerhood. This set, in particular, was gifted to Princess Mary of England, daughter of George V. It is currently housed in the Museum of Childhood and is ardently indicative of the wealth associated with its receiving family.
12 Baby Minder From China, Circa 1850
While this appears to be something akin to the game Mouse Trap, it's actually an antique baby minder from the mid-1800s. It's not uncommon for Chinese furniture to be ornately detailed and intricately carved, as is their tradition to this day. Many carvings mean things such as "luck" or "prosperity" in the Asian culture and this carriage was beautifully detailed for the use of keeping a baby while his or her parents were working or doing chores. The wheels on the bottom allowed the carriage to be mobile while a baby would sit safely inside on the wooden seat. It functioned partially as a cart and even has a tray to store small items and potentially serve as a place for snacks.
11 Baby Moccasins, Circa 1950s
In stark contrast to the formal shoes of the Victorian Era, the 1950s was a time of rebellion and trying new and fun styles. Amongst these was the revival of moccasins which were created in various hues in order to update and modernize the old-world style. These baby moccasins were probably designed in that time frame and would have been adorable on a baby boy or girl. They were intended for comfort and would match nearly any outfit, making them a versatile part of any child's wardrobe.
10 Vintage IRMI Mobile, Circa 1970s
Mobiles today are vastly different and unique in what they feature, however, in the 1970s, IRMI had a strong hold on nurseries everywhere. These intricately-painted mobiles were hung over the cribs of many a child and featured various farm icons as well as circus and night time themes. Many are still in remarkable condition today although the strings that each wooden figure is attached to would probably need updating; they've aged very well overall. Mobiles are designed to lull a baby gently off to sleep and IRMI knew just how to do that with calm, twirling scenes.
9 Vegetables & Liver From Gerber Baby, Circa 1949
Just accept it -- Food was drastically different in the late 1940s. Foods that we'd typically turn our noses up to today, such as liver, were once thriving toward the end of the Great Depression. Gerber was in its heyday, delivering nutrition-packed meals in jars that were reusable easily stored. This classic Vegetables & Liver flavor premiered along with the tantalizing (not) of chopped veal. It was important for babies to get protein and iron however they could and this pablum was the easiest way for parents to ensure their child was fed, and was fed well. These flavors definitely have us longing for bananas and apricots, though.
8 Creeping Baby Doll, Circa 1871
Is it something out of your nightmares or an actual children's toy? It does happen to be the latter, however, it was definitely the first, and only, of its kind. As I stated before, the Victorian Era was somewhat experimental -- as was the entire 19th century -- when it came to parenting and what worked. This toy was created in the likeliness of a baby who is just learning to crawl, similar to how we saw the "alive baby" in the 1980s. Until the late 1800s, it was seen as almost animalistic for a child to "crawl", hence the term "creeping" instead. The patent for this doll is seen clearly attached to its back leg (we think?) and while it resembles something that Sid would have crafted in Toy Story, it was pretty invention-forward at the time. The giant key on the side would allow this creepy baby to operate, while its fully exposed gears would have been fascinating for a child to watch, granted they didn't stick their fingers in the gnarly contraption.
7 Royal Baby Plate, Circa 1905
This plate, intended for use by children, was one of many that were patented in the year 1905 and the years following. While many of you may have a plate very similar to this lying around your house, in the early 1900s, it was custom for children to have their own plateware and occasionally even their own silverware. These plates feature scenes depicting modern life in the center and often have a simple, yet elegant, gold detail around the exterior. This one even has a whimsical dialogue on either side instructing children on which side to place their utensils, in keeping with the tradition of knowing proper manners.
6 Child's Straco Tea Set, Circa 1950s
Coming out of the early 1900s, tea sets such as the one depicted became popular as children were still adapt to learning proper eating and drinking habits. While much of the elegance of the 19th century was lost by the time the 1950s rolled around, children were still required to respect the rules and were given toys that reflected such. These tea sets were intended for careful use by children so that they, too, could host their own "tea parties" and practice manners even through their imaginative play. This set was made in Japan and distributed in North America by F.J. Strauss Co. Inc., out of New York. The simple blue flower detail is very pretty and also very traditional to Japanese artwork.
5 Plastic Baby Rattles, Circa 1960s
Now, this is more our speed as far as baby toys go. Rattles nowadays are flashy and always seem to have some type of extra feature but in the 1960s, things were much simpler. It was a decade of art and this is reflected in a child's toys as well, as each of these rattles has delicate flowers painted on either end. Each one is depicted in a vibrant color and some even have silk ribbons attached, driving home the point that toys were intended to be fun and playful. A century later, we've drifted significantly away from intricately molded stainless steel and ivory and entered into something a bit simpler and less formal.
4 Cloth Diapers, The Early 1900s
Yes, it's true that some families still continue to use cloth diapers whether it's for a personal or eco-friendly reason. While there's nothing wrong with using reusable diapers, it's a custom that many parents find outdated in today's modern age when time fleeting. Cloth diapers were used up to the early 1900s until brands such as Huggies came in to change the game. All of a sudden, there was no need to put diapers through the wash five times to get stains out, changing diapers was as simple as changing a pair of pants, and no longer did you need to plan for a laundry day at least three times a week.
3 Vintage Baby Jacket, Possibly Circa 1960s
Our best-educated guess as to when this jacket was created would have to be sometime around the 1960s, due to its corduroy material and intricate lacing around the collar. The buttons would also be indicative of a late-1900s jacket, keeping in theme with the minimalist and casual fashion trends of that decade. This jacket would inevitably be warm for the toddler who wore it and fairly comfortable considering the silk-lined interior. Unlike the Victorian Era, fabrics such as these were more readily available to the public rather than high-income households.
2 Sheffield Three-Piece Silverware Set, The Late 1800s
If you're lucky, you might be the proud owner of a silverware chest, complete with a full set (or two) of polished silver, that has been handed down through your family. Stainless Sheffield England produced a number of these sets from roughly the mid-19th century on and a children's set was one those many. This silverware can be found with the branding "EPNS" on the back, which stands for "Electro Plated Nickel Silver" and what a process that was patented in 1840. Each piece of the silverware pictured here has been created using that process which is part of what makes this English antique so valuable.
1 Country Baby Cradle, Circa 1840
In addition to the wrought-iron and wicker imaginings of the mid-19th century, woodworking also found its place amongst the ranks of creation. This antique country rocker was first made in 1840 and continued to be produced until roughly 1860 or so. While it appears to be the very basic of wood-crafting, the carved details, interesting foot design, and smooth nature of this rocker say otherwise. It was considered a work of great craftsmanship and was common in many households, and many families crafted variants of these rockers themselves. This was a pioneering era in America and making useful tools with your hands was something to be prided on, which was contrasting greatly to the elaborate and often fancy ways of our neighbors across the ocean.