An Efficient and Inexpensive Incubator.

By Herbert Thoms, M.D.,
Attending Obstetrician, Grace Hospital,
New Haven, Conn.

American Journal of Obstetrics and Diseases of Women and Children 78:542-544, 1919.


One of the more serious problems in obstetrical practice is the proper care of the premature infant in the first few weeks of life. In the absence of special rooms or nurseries, the use of even a more or less crude incubator in the handling of these cases, has proven to be well worth while. The principal requisites for such an apparatus may be stated to be:

  1. Cleanliness.
  2. Surety and simplicity in working.
  3. Ventilation and moistened air.
  4. Accurate and easy regulation of temperature.

The apparatus herewith described, because of its simple and inexpensive construction, becomes at once available to any small hospital without adequate resources for the purchase of the more expensive forms of apparatus of this nature. The incubator shown may be constructed in a few hours and the expense for material need not exceed $10 or $12.

The details of construction may be studied from the photograph and drawing shown. The apparatus stands 33 inches in height, is 22 inches in width and 33 inches in length. The heating is done by a small three-heat electric stove shown at ST (Fig. 1). This is placed on a hinged shelf which may be raised or lowered at will be means of a desk hinge and thumb screw fastened to the outside of the cabinet. It will be readily seen that this movement not only regulates the air intake to some extent but also increases or decreases the distance of the heating unit from the asbestos reflecting board shown at AB. It is by this simple raising and lowering of the heating unit that the regulation of the proper temperature of the upper chamber is accomplished.

The arrows show the direction of the air current from AI over the heat unit to the upper chamber and the outlet shown at AO. The asbestos board shown at AB was placed not only to direct the air current but to prevent too great concentration of heat upon the lower surface of the shelf SH upon which the mattress, etc., for the baby are placed.

The air receives moisture from two sponges placed at S. The glass cover C is made entirely removable and is not hinged, thus preventing to a great extent the breakage which would be more apt to occur with a hinged cover. The entire incubator is lined with asbestos paper.

We have used the apparatus here for the past eight months almost continuously and find that the lowest heat of the electric stove is all that is necessary for the maintenance of the desired temperature. It should be understood that this stove is of the hot plate variety and not the open coil kind that is commonly used for toasting. In order to regulate the amount of light for the upper chamber, a removable covering, such as a towel, may be laid over the glass in the cover.

59 College Street.


Fig. 1. -- Diagrammatic cross-section of incubator. ST, Electric stove; AB, asbestos reflecting board; arrows, air currents; AO, air outlet; S, sponge; SH, shelf for infant; C, glass cover; T, thermometer.

Fig. 2. -- General view of incubator.


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