Baby Adverts from the 1950s

Vintage Maw's Dinky Teat Advert
Vintage Maw’s Dinky Teat Advert

Our impending arrival means that I’ve seriously got babies on the brain. As well as the official ‘baby brain’… Scouring through my Woman’s Own magazines to look at the adverts builds up a picture of how womanhood was viewed in the 1950s; at least by mainstream society. Babies, cooking, cleaning and grooming appear to be the main aims of a 1950s housewife. I think I can safely say it will be yes to the first two; maybe to the third and probably not to the fourth idea for me come November…

1950s Dinneford's Magnesia Advert
1950s Dinneford’s Magnesia Advert

When you examine many of these adverts en masse – not only the baby related ones – the general feeling seems to be that if there is a product, new ingredient, new thing that can be used, given, delivered, rubbed in and so on, then do it!

Vintage Johnson's Baby Advert
Vintage Johnson’s Baby Advert

Everything seems to be the most unique, the ideal, the kindest, safest, most natural thing you can have or use. I know that’s the nature of advertising, but I do wonder how much more susceptible people were to it fifty or sixty years ago. Nowadays, I think (most) people are more cynical and will question advertising spiel more; perhaps I’m being naive in assuming people of the older generation didn’t do that as much.

Vintage Heinz Baby Food Advert
Vintage Heinz Baby Food Advert

This Heinz advert has one of my favourite lines in it: “‘So firm, isn’t she! no flabby fat on her. And she can almost stand.” Pitched just right to play on the fears of a mother and the natural competitiveness of rearing a child and wanting it to be the best it can be and secretly better than everyone else’s child. 

This is something I can forsee that we might have issues with: that we will be bringing our child up on a vegetarian diet. Actually, we won’t have issues with it. We both know that anyone can maintain a very healthy lifestyle without eating meat; equally, an unhealthy one can be apparent in meat-eaters. It’s down to personal choice. I would rather our child is brought up vegetarian and has the choice to eat meat when he or she is older and understands more about where meat comes from. Having said this, I anticipated questions and qualms from people for having a (mostly) vegetarian pregnancy and have had virtually nothing. That every examination, appointment, blood test, urine test, whatever test you can think of that pregnant women undergo has come back spot on every time, I like to think this is proof that vegetarianism in pregnancy is perfectly normal and good for your baby. As for all of those cheese sandwiches I ate during months three and four, what with being the only thing I could stomach at the time; well, they’ve clearly done me or the baby no harm. It’ll probably come out smelling like mayonnaise though…

1950s Ostermilk Advert 1
1950s Ostermilk Advert 1
1950s Ostermilk Advert 2
1950s Ostermilk Advert 2

Just read the different in the copy between the adverts. The first states that for ‘Mothers who cannot breastfeed [they] can put their trust in Ostermilk.’ So far, so responsible. Yet look at the text for the second advert: “Lots of prams never seem to get very far without being stopped. They are, of course, the ones that contain particularly engaging looking babies. So often they are babies fed on Ostermilk. This pure milk food builds the kind of babies that people simply have to stop and talk to.” As I said, designed perfectly to play on fears and competitiveness. The breastfeeding vs. formula feeding debate still rages on endlessly nowadays, and there is an absolute wealth of information out there for mums and dads to be read about. It really is down to personal choice and circumstances, in my opinion, and I don’t think any parent should be made to feel guilty about that choice.

1950s Robinson's Infant Foods Advert
1950s Robinson’s Infant Foods Advert

The next few adverts are mainly to coo over funny looking pictures of babies in quaint pictures:

Vintage Vaseline Advert 1
Vintage Vaseline Advert 1
Vintage Vaseline Advert 2
Vintage Vaseline Advert 2
Vintage Vaseline Advert 3
Vintage Vaseline Advert 3
Vintage Vaseline Advert 4
Vintage Vaseline Advert 4
Vintage Vaseline Advert 5
Vintage Vaseline Advert 5

I love the expressions on the faces of the babies in the Vaseline adverts and the  RP accent of the text. Jolly good! The idea of my baby thinking in a posh accent tickles me somewhat. In reality, it’s likely to be a strange hybrid of Yorkshire, Mancunian and the Midlands. Perhaps I can teach him or her to say, “I say!” at least.

This final advert is my favourite, purely for the possessed look on the child’s face:

Libby's Baby Competition Winner
Libby’s Baby Competition Winner

That’s what all that Ostermilk, Spinach and Beef, and Vaseline does to you… this baby is not possessed at all, just feeling smugly superior:

“I say, you fellows, look what a glow to my eyes that Magnesia has brought about. How spiffing!”

5 Comments Add yours

  1. amybenziane says:

    My mum couldn’t have butter during her pregnancy with me so resorted to toast with mayo… I bloomin love the stuff! It was classical music with my brother, somewhat more refined!

    Love the pictures of the Vaseline babies!

  2. amybenziane says:

    Oh and don’t worry, Richard and I can teach Hovis how to speak propah!!

    1. littleowlski says:

      If I let that happen, it’s first word is likely to be a swear word or ‘mate’! Not so much classical music, but Smashing Pumpkins and Blink 182; the bump seems to like it! x

  3. I was ” vegetarian” when pregnant -could not tolerate meat in any form or shape, could not stand the smell of it …couldn’t be near the butchers department…. had twins , 3.2 kg and 3 kg !
    Was the same weight after as I was before I became pregnant, and never felt better. How is the baby blanket doing????

    1. littleowlski says:

      I’m nearly onto the fourth stripe. Takes me ages though! Unfortunately I have put weight on, although it seems to have stalled in the last month. There’ll be time after to lose it, as long as the baby’s healthy that’s all I’m bothered about! Lucky you though with twins! We’ve got lots of twins on both sides of the family so we were convinced ours would be. But no, just the one! X

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