Historical information

A rubber teat would be attached to the top of this nipple shield for breast feeding.

From 1801 onwards, nipple shields were available in a variety of materials, such as pewter, horn, bone, ivory, wood, glass and silver. They varied in shape from a bell to a flatter, cap shaped appliance. With the application of the nipple shield, the baby was able to take milk from the breast without giving added trauma to the nipples. In the ante partum period the nipple shield could be worn to assist in drawing out flat nipples; or, as it was known during this period, for the formation of "new nipples". (Fildes, Valerie. 'Breasts, Bottles & Babies - A History of Infant Feeding', 1986)


Mary Howlett (1840-1922) began practising as a country midwife in 1866 in the western district of Victoria. She qualified as a 'ladies monthly nurse' in 1887 and continued to practise as a nurse and midwife until 1920. She began her six months training at the Melbourne Lying-In Hospital. She was known by many as 'Auntie', and her career spanned more than 50 years. Mrs Howlett's midwifery box and contents were given to Dr Frank Forster, and he donated them to the museum collection in 1993.

Physical description

Glass nipple shield. Shape resembles that of a bell.