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More About Upper Class Children

In 19th century Paris, upper class children were cared for by their mothers, other female relatives and servants. Women managed and supervised child rearing. Upper class families typically employed wet nurses to breast feed babies and nannies to care for children. In 1842, Alfred Donne published a manual for physicians and mothers on the science of child rearing which discouraged these practices, and instead recommended breast feeding by the natural mother to ensure safe milk, and develop important bonding between mother and child. Donne also recommended a specific regimen of hygiene, bathing, exercise, and sleep, including naps, to ensure the health of children.

Boarders and Day-Boys
Upper class families obtained superior private educations and maximized economic opportunities for their children to help perpetuate family wealth. Boarding schools for boys, particularly private and religious schools, far away from home were considered ideal for secondary education. It was also a convenient way to resolve family difficulties with teenage boys while preparing them for advanced education. Until 1870, over 80% of the students in lycees (schools) were boarders; the remaining students were called day-boys, as they commuted from their homes each morning. By the end of the century, travel became easier and 60% of the students were day-boys.

Emphasis on Immaturity
In the early 19th century, the immature and nonsexual nature of children was emphasized. Boys and girls both wore dresses until the age of six or seven. Girls from proper or strict religious families often bathed wearing long nightshirts to protect their modesty. During the second half of the 19th century, a new genre of books was published about, and directed to, children. Many were filled with multicolored illustrations by leading painters and printmakers. These books explored the psychological, social and physical development of children, who were previously treated much like small adults, but were now given more freedom to enjoy their innocence and play.

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