Who’s the Most Perfect Baby of All?

May 2, 1927
Los Angeles


While attending medical school in Philadelphia, Dr. Maud Wilde was horrified by the number of mothers who brought their children to the college dispensary suffering from illnesses that could easily have been prevented.  This, coupled with high infant mortality rates in the United States, convinced her that something must be done.  In 1927, roughly 6% of infants born in California did not survive to their first birthday.

perfectbabyAnd so, Baby Week in Los Angeles was born.  The program began in 1916 under Wilde’s direction, with the sponsorship of the Los Angeles District Federation of Women’s Clubs and the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.  Features included lectures, educational booths, and most importantly, a physical screening for Los Angeles children under the age of 6.  By 1927, over 88,000 children had been measured, weighed, and tested for a variety of disabilities, as well as malnutrition by Southern California doctors.

To infuse the proceedings with a little more fun, the Baby Show was introduced, and quickly became the centerpiece of Baby Week.  Any mother whose child had been screened, and earned a “score” above 90% was invited to enter them in the contest.  Of the 400 babies entered in this year’s competition, 8-month-old Lorene Phillips scored the highest – 99% perfect.

Dr. Wilde placated the audience, saying, “Of all the 88,000 babies we have examined, not one has scored 100%.  To produce 100% perfect children, we must have 100% perfect parents.  However, we must not be discouraged.  It is possible that at the next show one of you mothers will exhibit the perfect baby.”