See the fascinating evolution of vintage baby bottles over 80+ years

Vintage baby bottles

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If you think there couldn’t be much that’s changed about bottle-feeding babies in the past 100 years or so, you may be surprised. The evolution of baby bottles over the past century reflects significant changes in materials, design, and overall convenience, offering a fascinating glimpse into how baby care has progressed.

Some of the earliest vintage baby bottles were hefty, weighing in at 16 ounces. Compare that to today’s lightweight plastic bottles, which typically weigh just about an ounce and a third. These early bottles were often made of thick glass, which, while durable, made feeding time a bit more of a workout for parents. The bottle nipples were also quite different, made from black rubber that could be quite firm compared to the soft, silicone versions we see today.

Giving baby a bottle - 1956

As the 20th century progressed, baby bottles began to change in design and materials, aiming for better hygiene and ease of use. Glass remained popular for its durability and ease of cleaning, but new designs helped reduce the risk of colic and improve the flow of milk. By mid-century, bottles became more streamlined and easier to handle, with rubber nipples becoming softer and more closely resembling a mother’s breast.

The latter half of the century saw a shift towards plastic bottles, which were lighter and less likely to break than their glass counterparts. This era also brought innovations like disposable liners, making feeding time more convenient and sanitary. The development of BPA-free plastics in recent decades addressed health concerns, ensuring that modern bottles are safe for babies and easy for parents to use.

Take a look back at the history of baby bottles to see how they changed and improved through the 20th century. From the sturdy glass bottles with black rubber nipples to the light and sleek versions that we used in the 80s, each step in the evolution of baby bottles reflects a move towards making feeding safer, easier and more comfortable for both babies and parents. This journey through time highlights how far we’ve come in our quest to provide the best care for our little ones. 👶

Antique baby bottle nipples (1902)

Best black rubber nipples, pure gumball-top nipples, Sterilized aseptic nipple, Mizpah valve nipple, three fine red rubber nursing nipples

Antique baby bottle nipples from 1902

Old-fashioned nursing flasks, bottles & bottle fittings (1902)

Antique baby bottles from 1902

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Vintage baby bottles that were just like mother (1906)

That’s why baby likes the Hygeia nursing bottle!

The rubber part is so like the human breast in size and shape that in weaning or when natural supply is low, baby will go from breast to the Hygeia bottle without noticing the difference. The Hygeia is without a neck or angle; needs no funnel to fill, nor brush to clean the interior which is wiped out like a tumbler.

The rubber breast is yielding, yet not collapsible; seamless can be turned inside out to clean thoroughly. It has no crack or crevice where dirt can gather or germs can propagate.

The Hygeia is used and endorsed by every children’s hospital in the country, because it fills every requirement of a perfect, ideal sanitary nursing bottle.

Antique Hygeia baby bottles 1906

Nursing bottles & antique nipples (1912)

Graduated Nursing Bottle. Holds 8 ounces, oval shape, straight with sloping sides. No corners, therefore easy to clean. Weight, 16 ounces. Weight makes it unprofitable by mail.

Whitall Tatum Ovale Nurser. Non-rolling. Without doubt one of the best nursing bottles made. Always stays where placed. Heavy glass, nicely finished. Graduated, capacity, 8 ounces. A bottle that sells on sight. heavy glass, so less danger of breakage.

Hygeia Nursing Bottle. NOTHING LIKE IT. Consists of two parts—breast and cell. The food is not put into a bottle, but into an open, wide mouth cell. This can be filled without a funnel, and cleaned without a brush. The interior can be wiped out with a towel.

The other portion of the bottle is not a nipple, but a breast, which is seamless, reinforced, reversible, and in form and function is like a mother’s breast. It is yielding like an air cushion, yet non-collapsible, and is turned inside out with perfect ease for cleansing, so that both bottle and breast can be readily cleaned.

The breast resembles mother’s breast, so that when breast milk fails, or time for weaning has arrived, there is little difficulty in transferring baby from mother’s breast to the breast of the Hygeia Bottle, or feeding from the bottle, while feeding from the breast, to make up the deficiency in the natural supply. Capacity, 8 ounces.

Antique baby bottles from 1912

Your baby deserves the best! (1938)

Screw-on nipples and caps (semi-transparent amber-colored rubber), Hygeia bottle and tab nipple (red rubber tab style), Pyrex heat-resisting bottles, Betty Jane Self-Tilting Nurser

Non-collapsing colic-free nipples (for narrow-mouth bottles), popular breast-style nipples (for wide-mouth bottles)

Antique baby bottles and feeding nipples from 1938

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Hygeia, Pyrex & other vintage bottles and nipples (1941)

Vintage baby bottles from 1941 (2)

Faultless Wonder Nipple, Davol Sani-Tab Nipples, Vac airtight bottle container (1941)

Vintage baby bottles from 1941 (1)

Evenflo bottle warmer (1950)

… another delightful Evenflo product for your baby. Just plug the Evenflo Bottle Warmer in most convenient outlet. No need to disconnect after using — shuts off automatically. Saves time and steps. Choice of dainty pink or blue plastic base, Pliofilm-wrapped. With cord, only $1.89.

MORE: Vintage baby gear from the 1950s: playpens, strollers & more

Evenflo bottle warmer (1950)

White House evaporated milk for infants (1950)

No doctor can recommend any better evaporated milk for infant feeding.

Baby milk from 1950

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And a baby bottle that’s NOT recommended: 7-up

Here’s a vintage ad from 1956 suggesting giving Seven-Up soda to your little one.

1956 7-up soda for a baby

Evenflo baby bottle: Feeding “Corkie” is easy (1955)

Bradley Miles saves mom some time by giving his little brother Corkie his Evenflo nurser. Evenflo’s patented Twin Valve Nipple is so easy to nurse that Corkie does not take long to finish his meal.

Mrs Miles, a doctor’s wife, appreciates the safety of sealing the Evenflo nipple downward with the formula for refrigeratior or travel bag, and the convenience of the wide mouth, easy-to-clean Evenflo bottles — used by my mothers than all other nursers combined.

evenflo baby bottle june 1955

Choose from these famous Baby Nurser Layettes! (1954)

The original all-in-one nurser “breathes as it feeds.”

Patented nipple has twin self-regulating air valves which breathe air into the bottle and help prevent nipple collapse. Air valves allow baby to nurse steadily and in comfort; help cut down air swallowing and colic which often results from air intake. Also helps formula to flow smoothly and thereby helps prevent nipple collapse.

Plastic screw-on cap seals nipple downward in bottle with the formula to help keep it clean and sanitary. Also makes nurser unit leak-resistant for traveling or storage.

Complete nurser unit may be sterilized in this position (nipple downward) by either regular or terminal sterilization, if sealing disc is slightly loosened. A complete nurser unit includes an easy-to grip bottle, nipple, plastic cap and sealing disc.

Vintage baby bottles from 1954 (2)

Honeysuckle baby nurser unit & self-regulating nursers (1954)

Vintage baby bottles from 1954 (1)

Alvin bottle-warmer clock-radios (1956)

Wakes you, warms baby’s bottle! Lovely Arvin clock-radios have dozens of everyday uses.

This never-sleeping servant lulls you to sleep with sweet music, then turns it off. Next morning it starts automatically to waken you gently and turns on bottle-warmer, coffee perk, or other appliance. All day long it tells you the time, entertains you, alerts you for appointments.

The model shown is Arvin Model 957T with Telechron clock and timber, slumber switch, automatic follow-up buzzer alarm, and 1110-watt appliance outlet.

Baby bottle warmer and alarm clock combo from 1956

Feed-Rite Nurser — first plastic bottle for babies! (1958)

You and your baby will be delighted with these pure-white, hard-surface plastic nursers. They’re unbreakable and so easy to wash. You’ll like being able to steam-sterilize your nursers exactly as they do in the hospital — with nipples fully covered, and in an upright position, all ready for baby’s feeding!

Feed-Rite Nursers fit all popular sterilizers. You’ll like the convenience of the snug, protective nipple cover for formula storage and traveling. Babies love them too — because they’re light as a summer cloud — easy for tiny hands to hold!

Feed-Rite nurser - first plastic bottle for babies from 1958

Evenflo baby gifts: Bottle warmer & layette kit (1958)

Vintage Evenflo baby bottle gifts from 1958

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Evenflo, endorsed by football player Jim Parker (1960s)

Jim Parker, All-American, feeds baby with Evenflo. One of the toughest, smartest lineman on the Baltimore Colts football team, “Big Jim” becomes gentles when he feeds his baby daughter Pamela with Evenflo Nurser.

Jim’s wife like Evenflo! She writes, “Evenflo Twin Air Valve Nipples flow evenly so that baby nurses just right.” She also finds Evenflo Nursers handy to clean and fill.

These are the reasons why more mothers use Evenflo then all other nursers combined.

Evenflo baby bottles with Jim Parker - 1960s

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Vintage Playtex baby bottle nurser (1961)

“Nature’s Way — The nearest approach to breastfeeding”

The revolutionary discovery that simulates breast feeding… dramatically reduces spitting up and colic.

To the members of the medical profession who recognize the advantages of breastfeeding — here’s a completely new concept in baby feeding that all doctors will welcome. The new Playtex Nurser, It features a soft, pre-sterilized inner bottle which is disposable, and a broad, non-collapsing nipple which produces a sucking action similar to that in breastfeeding.

Because the outside atmospheric air pressure contracts the soft inner bottle, the formula is withdrawn more naturally than with conventional rigid baby bottles. There is no vacuum formation to set up air blocks. The natural-action nipple induces sucking which makes for less air swallowing, and less spitting up — and in so doing, promotes the healthful mouth-jaw exercises the mother’s breast provides.

Colicky infants, problem feeders and premature babies especially will benefit from the breast-like action of the new Playtex Nurser. The fact that the bottle is pre-sterilized and disposable will appeal to mothers who do not breast feed their babies. The fact that the Nurser does so closely simulate breastfeeding will be similarly important to the health of any baby fed with it.

Old-fashioned Playtex nurser - bottle feeding baby from 1961 (1)

Old-fashioned Playtex nurser - bottle feeding baby from 1961 (2)

’60s-style baby feeding gear from Sears (1966)

Thermoglas bottles, plastic bottles & Sears disposable nursing units

Vintage baby bottles from 1966

Automatic electric bottle sterilizer (1970s)

Get perfectly sterilized bottles in hard or soft water with Sears Best!

Vintage baby bottles from 1970s (1)

ALSO SEE: See vintage Fisher Price baby toys from the ’70s & ’80s

Day-dial caps with snap-on hoods (1970s)

Dial shows bottle contents and day formula was prepared – Snap-on hood helps to keep nipple sterile

Vintage baby bottles from 1970s (2)

Vintage baby bottles: Gerber disposable nurser bags (1975)

We print ounce markings on our nurser bags to help take the guesswork out of feeding.

Only Gerber prints the ounce markings right on the nurser bags. so you can accurately measure your baby’s formula. And they’re as easy to read as a measuring cup.

With Gerber Disposable Nurser Bags, you won’t have to struggle with an adapter, either. Each Gerber bag slips right in, and fits snugly inside the nurser holder, whether you’re using our own Gerber nurser bag holder or another brand.

You’ll also be happy to know that Gerber offers a complete system of nursing equipment — nurser bottles and nurser bag holders (each with its own nipple. collar and hood): bottle brushes: and replacement nipples, collars and hoods.

1975 Gerber nurser - Baby bottles

Vintage baby bottles and a sterilizer kit (1987)

Vintage baby bottles from 1987

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Evenflo — a friend of the family (1987)

Since 1935, the Evenflo feeding system has been making babies happy — over 100 million of them in all.

Retro baby bottles from 1987

Playtex and other baby bottles & cleaning tools (1988)

Vintage baby bottles from 1988

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  1. Some things you forgot:

    Mickey Mouse Club toys and show
    Weevils Wobbles
    Body on Tap shampoo
    Tube socks
    Tube tips
    Terry cloth shorts

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