During the late 1800s and early 1900s, physician Martin Couney held incubator exhibits to demonstrate the efficacy of infant incubators throughout the US and Europe. At his exhibits, Couney demonstrated that isolating premature infants in an incubator ward could significantly decrease premature infant mortality and increased the use of incubators in the US.

Etienne Stephane Tarnier was a physician who worked with premature infants in France during the nineteenth century. He worked at the Maternité Port-Royal in Paris, France, a hospital for poor pregnant women. Tarnier developed and introduced prototypes of infant incubators to the Maternité in 1881. Tarnier's incubators became standard in neonatal care, especially for premature infants, enabling doctors to save many such infants that previously would have died.

Alexandre Lion established incubator charities in the late 1890s in France to promote his infant incubator. Lion’s infant incubators kept premature infants warm and improved their chances of survival, but were expensive and not widely used. In order to promote his new technology, Lion displayed incubators that carried premature infants in storefronts and at fairs and expositions throughout Europe. After the public began paying admission to view the infants and incubators, the expositions became incubator charities. Admission fees went directly to the care of the premature infants. The charities treated roughly 8,000 premature infants and greater than 7,500 of them survived. The charities in France occurred in Paris, Nice, Marseille, Bordeaux, and Lyon. The charities in Belgium were located in Liège and Brussels.

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