Incubators are used in microbiology for culturing (growing) bacteria and other microorganisms. Incubators in tissue culture rooms are used for culturing stem cells, lymphocytes, skin fibroblasts and other types of cells. And in the hospital nursery and newborn intensive care unit (NICU), incubators serve to house and maintain premature and ill infants.
Incubators were developed for infants in France as early as 1857. The first one in the US was built by Dr. William Champion Deming at the State Emigrant Hospital, Ward's Island, New York. The "hatching cradle" was first occupied on September 7, 1888 by Edith Eleanor McLean, birth weight 2 pounds, 7 ounces.