anna bates close up

The tale of the record-breaking baby born to giantess Anna Bates (née Swan) (Canada, 1846-1888) is a tragic one.

On 19 January 1879, Anna, who stood at 7 ft 11 in (241.3 cm) gave birth to a baby boy who lived for just 11 hours.

Despite his short life, the child, referred to as “Babe”, broke two records that still stand today.

Babe was both the longest baby and the heaviest birth documented in all of history.

He measured 28 in (71.12 cm) in length and weighed 9.98 kg (22 lb) when he was born in Seville, Ohio, USA.

The average newborn male baby measures between 19-20 in (48.2-50.8 cm) and weighs 3.3 kg (7 lb 6 oz).

Anna Bates

It has been reported that when Anna’s waters broke, she lost around six gallons of fluid.

Her husband Martin van Buren Bates (USA, 1837-1919) described their baby as “perfect in every respect”.

He added: “He looked at birth like an ordinary child of six months.”

Tragically, this was the second baby the couple lost. Anna also gave birth to a little girl on 19 May 1872, who died at birth.

Babe’s mother was a well-known and documented figure of her time thanks to her statuesque figure.

She was born Anna Haining Swan on 6 August 1846 to Scottish immigrants in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Reports at the time suggested she weighed 18 lb when she was born.

Fully grown, she reached 7 ft 11 in, which is taller than the current tallest woman living Rumeysa Gelgi (Türkiye), who is 7ft 0.7 in (215.16 cm).

Rumeysa Gelgi is the tallest living woman

Anna was shorter than the tallest woman ever though. 

Zeng Jinlian (China, 1964-1982) was 8 ft 1 in (246.3 cm).

Anna also holds the record for tallest teenager ever (female), having reached her record-breaking height at the age of 17.

By the age of four, she was already 4 ft 6 in (137.16 cm) tall, and by six, she was taller than her mother at 5 ft 5 in (165.1 cm).

Anna met her husband, who was slightly shorter than her at 7 ft 9 in (236.22 cm) through their sideshow careers.

Anna even worked with infamous American showman P.T. Barnum, favourably portrayed by Hugh Jackman in The Greatest Showman, and even lived in Barnum's American Museum in New York City at one point.

She was inside the museum when it was destroyed by a fire and was too large to escape through a window, but thankfully made it out alive.

Anna and Martin both became famous because of their heights and made careers travelling with circus troupes both on their own and as a pair, billing themselves as The Tallest Couple Alive.

To this day, they still hold the record for tallest married couple ever with a combined height of 15 ft 8 in (477.52 cm).

The couple dated for two years before tying the knot on 17 June 1871 in front of a huge crowd of onlookers in London.

A Daily Telegraph article at the time is reported to have read: “A man may get used to being eight feet high.

"But to be eight feet high and to be stared at by a devout congregation of idlers on the occasion of marrying a lady who is eight feet high also is a trying conjunction of matters. However, Captain Bates got through his difficulties tolerably well."

Want more? Follow us across our social media channels to stay up-to-date with all things Guinness World Records! You can find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, ThreadsTikTok, LinkedIn, and Snapchat Discover.

Don’t forget, we’re also on YouTube!

Still not had enough? Follow the link here to buy our latest book, filled to the brim with stories about our amazing record breakers.