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1888- The first baby is put in an incubator

September 7, 2022

Baby Edith Eleanor McLean was born, weighing just 2 pounds 7 ounces. She was placed in an incubator, then known as a hatching cradle. Most premature babies cannot maintain an average body temperature without external help, making the incubator a necessary medical invention. The hatching cradles of the time used a heating mechanism that kept the incubator's interior warm over a prolonged time to mimic the warmth of the mother’s womb.

Fun Facts

  • The concept of an incubator had already been developed in France as early as 1857.
  • William Champion Deming built the first incubator unit.
  • Edith Eleanor McLean was born weighing just 2 pounds 7 ounces in the State Emigrant Hospital on Ward Island, New York.
  • The incubator the premature infant was placed in used 57 liters of water to keep the chamber warm.
  • Edith Eleanor went on to change her name to Myrtle Eleanor. She went on to have 13 children.
  • The incubator is now designed to provide heat, oxygen, and a barrier against infections for weak and sickly newborns.


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