William Cadogan (childcare)

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William Cadogan (1711-1797) was a 18th century British physician and writer on childcare and nursing.

In the 1740s Cadogan became a honorary medical attendant of the London Foundling Hospital for abandoned babies. By 1748 Cadogan was a prominent London physician famous for his studies of gout. In 1748 Cadogan published his text An Essay upon Nursing and the Management of Children from their Birth to Three Years of Age based on his experiences with the foundlings and his own children comparing human infants to animal young.

Cadogan advocated simplicity and emphasized encouragement to hardiness, including letting children run in open air with bare feet and let they use their limbs freely. He wrote against swaddling infants into tight bundles. The infants should be breastfed for at least a year, preferable with the milk of the mother or a good wet nurse, with some solid food after three months. Children should be fed with regular intervals and adults should play with them. Their food and clothing should be light and simple. Adults also should talk with children with adult manner, not with nonsense banter. This should improve children's health and mind and encourage their intellect.

Cadogan advocated less regimented childrearing based on nature. He claimed that aristocratic children were suffocated with regimented demands, excess clothing and too much food when poor children grew stronger in harsher conditions. He also emphasized scientific approach to childrearing against what he saw as traditional female superstitions.

During the next 25 years the book went through ten editions. It was also translated to several languages. Number of other similar books followed afterwards. Cadogan preceded Rousseau's attitudes to natural and simple living.


  • Alysa Levene - Reasonable creatures - A Common Sense Guide to Childcare (History Today December 2006)

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