While the parenting styles, societal norms, and toys may have changed (hello, screen time), there are many things about motherhood that never will. Ensuring your child is fed is definitely a universal trait, and bottles especially have been around for a while. Looking back in vintage photos shows how far we’ve come in the bottle manufacturing department (some of these old bottles look pretty unsafe — I can’t imagine my kid throwing a glass one to the floor when they were fussy), but they also reflect certain moments in time — whether it’s feeding your child during civil unrest, showcasing your diverse family, or showing how the power of science can bring miracles (as evidenced by the multiple photos of test-tube babies surviving and thriving).
These families chose to bottle feed their children, whether it’s because they were adopted, the parents were working with the birth of multiples, or if it was just their preferred way to feed their kids, it doesn’t matter. It’s as simple as that. If you bottle fed your children, you may find glimpses of yourself in any number of these photos, whether it’s the knowing smile and look of pleasure while you’re bonding with your baby, or the look of exhaustion and your eyes saying, “What the hell did I get myself into?” There’s nothing quite like trying to warm a bottle in the dark of your kitchen after 90 minutes of sleep.
We’ve all been there, no matter how you feed your babies. The bond you form with your children and the exhaustion you feel is universal. And these photos definitely show all aspects of this crucial part of parenting. It’s timeless.
1 Mama’s Little Helper Jerome CHATIN/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images
This photo is so sweet featuring a sibling helping his mother feed the new baby. My mom definitely had that same shirt in the ‘90s when I was a kid. (And yeah, we’re totally calling the ‘90s vintage, I’m sorry.)
2 Dads Are Parents, Too David Turnley/Corbis Historical/Getty Images
I love everything about this photo, from a dad feeding his baby to knowing exactly how this dad felt making sure a bottle was packed with the milk and formula they needed (along with everything else!) so he could take his kid out for the day.
3 Overwhelmed Steve Eason/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Girl. I feel this look so much. This is how motherhood feels sometimes, summed up in a facial expression. Of course, baby is oblivious, happily eating.
4 Muhammad Ali Outside of the Ring ullstein bild Dtl./ullstein bild/Getty Images
I love seeing celebrities and famous athletes being human, especially when it’s as sweet as this photo of Muhammad Ali and his daughters. You may be The People’s Champion, but you’ll always take a swig of what your baby offers.
5 So Many Mouths To Feed Ken Faught/Toronto Star/Getty Images
This photo is of Mae and Wayne Collier, who were the proud parents of the “test-tube quints” born in Canada in 1988. I cannot imaging dealing with that many newborns at one time. Or, honestly, washing that many bottles.
6 A Room Full Of Love David Turnley/Corbis Historical/Getty Images
I love this photo of a hip dad wearing his fabulous hat, gazing adoringly at his beautiful baby. You can feel the love radiating from this photo even though the setting is sparse.
7 Worth The Wait Bettmann/Bettmann/Getty Images
This photo is of one of the world’s first test-tube triplet boys born in Santa Monica. Thank god we have the option of bottle feeding when there are multiples. The parents had tried to have a baby “the old fashioned way” for 13 years before trying this route, per the Getty description.
This photo was released in 1972 of Marsha Hunt. That adorable baby she’s holding is her daughter, Karis, whom she shares with Mick Jagger. Don’t they both just look so rock and roll?
9 That ‘70s Laid Back Vibe James Andanson/Sygma/Getty Images
French pop singer Sheila is pictured here in 1975 with her son, and they both look pretty relaxed and happy. Must be that fabulous green wallpaper behind them. But that bottle also looks huge compared to the ones available today, which are often shorter and rounder.
10 Late Night Feeds Harold M. Lambert/Archive Photos/Getty Images
I think a pair of fantastic pajamas can help those seemingly never-ending nighttime feeds. And can we all agree that patterned pajamas from the ‘60s like this Dad is wearing are the best? Getting up to fix a bottle in the middle of the night, however, is not.
11 A Family Affair Bettmann/Bettmann/Getty Images
Muhammad Ali is feeding his twin girls with the help of his older daughter, Maryum. Multiples are definitely an all hands on deck situation — especially when it comes to bottle feeding and diaper changes.
12 Sisterly Love Frank Martin/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Joan, 12, feeds her little sister, Kim, in 1960. The Long family was an interracial family in the 1960s, and the parents adopted Kim and other children to create a blended family.
13 Retro Bottles FTW Mark Goebel Photo Gallery/Archive Photos/Getty Images
This photo of a boy feeding who I’m assuming is his sibling in 1965 is pretty telling of the era. Check out the bottle he’s holding and the nipple on said bottle. We’ve come a long way, right?
14 Multitasking BA Mama Michael Ochs Archives/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
This protest march was organized by Students for a Democratic Society and the Women's Strike For Peace, per the description, and how incredible is this mama to be not only fighting for what she believes in, but feeding her child at the same time? Women are incredible.
15 1960s NICU H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Archive Photos/Getty Images
We’ve come a long way from pretty much everything in this photo — the nurse’s outfit, the incubator, the bottle being used. But some things never change, and that’s the look of compassion and love the nurse has for helping this infant stay fed and get the nutrients they need.
16 Making It Look Easy H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Archive Photos/Getty Images
I mean, I know I always make sure I have a ribbon in my hair and it’s perfectly flipped before I pose for a photo feeding my baby, right? However, this is a pretty serene and beautiful photo of a mom in the ‘60s feeding her child.
17 Family Portrait H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Archive Photos/Getty Images
Just a beautiful portrait of a dad feeding his daughter while a proud mom looks on in the ‘60s. I love the mom’s style in this photo as well, and it all makes me wonder if they were supposed to be taking just a normal studio family shot, but baby girl was too hungry to wait for the photographer.
18 Practice Makes Perfect Keystone/Hulton Royals Collection/Getty Images
Per the description, this photo is of “Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark, soon to be Queen Anne-Marie of Greece, learning baby care at a children's home.” I sort of wish I could have practiced with a real baby before bringing my son home. I wonder if that would’ve made things easier? Probably not.
19 Pure Delight Constance Bannister Corp/Archive Photos/Getty Images
How sweet is this sibling? She’s just ecstatic that she and her mom are feeding her sibling. This photo is a framer, and check out that old bottle.
20 A Day At The Beach PBNJ Productions/Tetra images/Getty Images
All I can keep thinking when I look at this photo is, “Please put something on that sensitive and fair-skinned baby’s legs!” But seriously, the caregiver in this photo reminds me of my Memaw back in the ‘60s/’70s and I am here for it.
21 ‘90s Vibes Karen Kasmauski/The Image Bank Unreleased/Getty Images
This photo of a teen mom bottle feeding her baby seems pretty timeless to me, even though it was just from the ‘90s. Those bottles seem so familiar to me, and remind me of the ones that used to come with a disposable bag inside.
22 Family Time Al Barry/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
This photo from the ‘50s looks like it’s on a movie set somewhere, and with the background and the perfectly coifed hair, it just might be. Also love how big brother is getting in on the action as well.
23 Twins Gilberto Ante/Roger Viollet/Getty Images
This photo was taken in Cuba in 1969, according to the description. And it appears as though this nurse is feeding one baby from a set of twins. Look at those tiny feet.
24 Sibling Love University of Southern California/Corbis Historical/Getty Images
There’s so much more to this photo than meets the eye. The description says the children are blind and the woman standing above them is a teacher’s aid. The young girl is doing a phenomenal job.
25 The Most Realistic Photo of All Time Harold M. Lambert/Archive Photos/Getty Images
I love this photo. Especially because the mom is having a rest and doesn’t seem to have a care in the world. I feel this dad’s exhaustion deep in my bones, though. This picture definitely depicts life with multiples.
26 In-Flight Feeding Time Underwood Archives/Archive Photos/Getty Images
My mom has been a flight attendant for 45 years, and she has also had to feed a baby during a flight while the parent was indisposed. She’s also had to deal with passengers handing their child’s poopy diapers over to her into her bare hand, and of course hold a baby when the parent went to the bathroom. Let me tell you which of these she liked least.
27 Moms Get It Done Harold M. Lambert/Archive Photos/Getty Images
This photo from 1945 is a blast from the past with the really interesting bottle and the baby shoes that look incredibly uncomfortable. Even if it’s at an odd angle, we still get it done, as evidenced by this mama off-camera awkwardly feeding her child.
28 Multitasking Dad PhotoQuest/Archive Photos/Getty Images
I love this photo from the ‘40s of a dad who, according to the description, is a GI Bill student studying for an exam for one of his classes at Berkley. Great to see a father — especially in the ‘40s — being committed to taking care of his child and also getting an education. Plus, he is multitasking, which I know many of us complain about our husbands not being able to do.
29 I Can Do It By Myself George Marks/Retrofile RF/Getty Images
I can just hear the interaction that happened right before this photo was taken if this kid is anything like mine was at this age. They probably demanded they be able to hold the bottle by themselves and the parents obliged, looking warily off-camera at the child, waiting on them to throw said bottle across the room.
30 It Takes A Village Bettmann/Bettmann/Getty Images
Ethel Collins thought she was giving birth to triplets, per a Riverdale Press article. And boy was she and her medical team surprised when what they thought was a shadow on the x-ray was another tiny human. All four of the babies survived, and this photo shows the army of nurses who had to help keep them all fed. I can’t even imagine.