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Five-Thousand-Year-Old Baby Bottles Reveal Old Parenting Decisions


There are few parenting decisions that evoke more controversy - and even vitriol - than whether and how long to breastfeed.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than eighty percent of American babies start out breastfed. But one in six breastfed babies gets some formula supplementation in the first days of life. By six months of age, only a quarter of babies are exclusively breastfed. Three quarters are getting their nutrition from some combination of breastmilk, formula or other milk, and foods.

Our next guest says that kind of all of the above approach to feeding babies is nothing new. In fact, it could date back five-thousand years – to early agricultural communities in Europe.

Julie Dunne a Postdoctoral Researcher in Archaeology at the University of Bristol, recently published evidence of clay baby bottles from archaeological sites in Germany. 

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Elsa Partan is a producer for Living Lab Radio. She first came to the station in 2002 as an intern and fell in love with radio. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. From 2006 to 2009, she covered the state of Wyoming for the NPR member station Wyoming Public Media in Laramie. She was a newspaper reporter at The Mashpee Enterprise from 2010 to 2013. She lives in Falmouth with her husband and two daughters.