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Tasmania - Concept

Baby Farmer (1867 - c. 1930)

c. 1930
Glossary Term

A baby farmer boarded infants in her own home for a fee.


In order to make a living, many single mothers placed their infants with baby farmers. If the baby farmer could not breast feed, she gave the infant cow's milk. Many infants died through inadequate nutrition and poor hygiene. Although baby farmers received bad publicity, most of them were probably doing their best in difficult circumstances.

The term, baby farmer first appeared in the British press in 1867 and in Australia by the end of that year. In Tasmania, a media scare concerning baby farming in 1905 gave rise to the Infant Life Protection Act of 1907 by which Police Department nurses could inspect homes where babies lived apart from their parents.

Related Glossary Terms

  • Adoption

    A woman who cared for the babies of single mothers for a fee might be called a baby farmer. The arrangement could be referred to as adoption.

Related Legislation

Related Organisations

Prepared by: Caroline Evans