In 1865 Justus von Liebig invented Soluble Food for Babies. It was the world’s first commercial substitute for breastmilk and it has helped to shape the modern workplace.
Not every baby has a mother who can breastfeed. Indeed, not every baby has a mother. In the early 1800s, only two in three babies who weren’t breastfed lived to see their first birthday. Many were given “pap”, a bread-and-water mush, from hard-to-clean receptacles that teemed with bacteria. But in 1865 Justus von Liebig invented Soluble Food for Babies – a powder comprising cow’s milk, wheat flour, malt flour and potassium bicarbonate. It was the first commercial substitute for breastmilk and, as Tim Harford explains, it has helped shape the modern workplace.
Editors: Richard Knight and Richard Vadon
Producer: Ben Crighton
(Image: Baby lying down drinking from bottle, Credit: Lopolo/Shutterstock)
Sources and related links
Justus von Liebig - The Chemical Gatekeeper (Cambridge Science Biographies), William H Brock, 2002
Harvey A. Levenstein - Revolution at the Table: The Transformation of the American Diet, University of California Press, 2003
Marianne R. Neifert - Dr. Mom's Guide to Breastfeeding, Plume, 1998
Geoff Talbot - Specialty Oils and Fats in Food and Nutrition: Properties, Processing and Applications, Woodhead Publishing, 2015, p287
Bertrand, Marianne, Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz - "Dynamics of the Gender Gap for Young Professionals in the Financial and Corporate Sectors." American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 2(3): 228-55, 2010