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Prize babies

The baby health campaign identified the healthiest infants in a region, while teaching parents how breeding and environment could produce a “superior crop” of children. Quietly the contests slipped into obscurity as numerous social welfare and public health programs were born and went to work. This book traces the development of the baby health contests from their rural beginnings at agricultural fairs and during the eugenics movement. Details include the complex scoring systems for assessing infant development, the organizations and individuals behind the better babies movement, and the methods of promoting prize babies. The controversy generated by the competition for prizes is explored, as well as the role of the Children’s Bureau, the business aspect of the contests, spin-offs of the health contest idea, and follow up with some “100% perfect babies” as octogenerians.