Updated: Oct 2, 2020
Infant abandonment was a common practice for centuries. These unfortunate innocents were frequently left on doorsteps, the steps of churches, a side street, or on the foundling wheel (ruota) of a church or orphanage. If the infants were found before exposure to the elements claimed their lives, then suitable 'wet nurses' were sought among lactating village mothers. Limited information is available about Italian grandparents who were abandoned as infants. This article provides the 'back story' about the reasons for abandonment, the role of midwives, and the role of wet nurses, who nourished and cared for these infants and, in many instances, raised them as their own.