The first incubator baby was named Edith

Edith Eleanor McLean

On September 7, 1888 — 128 years ago today — an incubator (or “hatching cradle”) was used for the first time in the U.S. to treat a premature baby.

That baby’s name? Edith Eleanor McLean.

She was born at the State Emigrant Hospital on Ward’s Island in New York City. She arrived two months early and weighed just 2 pounds, 7 ounces.

How did the names Edith and Eleanor do on the U.S. baby name charts in 1888? Edith was the 29th most popular baby girl name in the country that year, and Eleanor ranked 128th.

Update, 9/2022: According to correspondence received by Dirk de Klein of the blog History of Sorts, Edith’s name was later changed to Myrtle Eleanor, intriguingly. (In 1888, the baby name Myrtle ranked 35th.)


  • Accardo, Pasquale. The Medical Almanac: A Calendar of Dates of Significance to the Profession of Medicine. New York: Springer, 1992.
  • Reared by Heat.” Evening World [New York, NY] 20 Nov. 1888: 1.

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