The Craziest Parenting Advice From the 1900s

It wasn’t all that long ago (most of you reading were born then!) but the last century seems eons away from how we think today—especially when it comes to parenting. Check out the most ridiculous child-rearing philosophies from the 1900s.

Craziest Parenting Advice

If you come across a bonkers parenting tip, it’s likely rooted in residual Victorian ideals; think chimney sweeps and Charles Dickens and you begin to get the point…it’s almost another world. Still, it does make you think what such a list from this side of history would look like in a hundred years…just how mad will our version of childcare be in comparison?

“Angry mums cause colic” -1916

Lena and William Sadler’s guide The Mother and her Child, claimed that a mother’s bad mood was to blame for her baby’s colicky behaviour. Entirely untrue—and a whopper of a guilt trip for newbie mums.

 “Bathe your baby in lard” -1910

To make them super soft—presumably—infants were marinaded in a bath of fat. The good news is that bathing babies is actually a lot less complicated, and requires no basting.

“Ugly thoughts equal ugly children” – 1920 

“Pregnant mothers should avoid thinking of ugly people, or those marked by any deformity or disease; avoid injury, fright and disease of any kind.” recommends the Searchlights on Health: The Science of Eugenics, published in the 1920s. The titular word ‘eugenics’ should be enough to make you run a mile.

“You mustn’t hug your baby” -1920

More capping on affection, this time via American psychologist John B. Watson: “Never hug and kiss [children], never let them sit in your lap. If you must, kiss them once on the forehead when they say good night. Shake hands with them in the morning… Try it out. In a week’s time you will find how easy it is to be perfectly objective with your child and at the same time kind. You will be utterly ashamed of the mawkish, sentimental way you have been handling it.”

“Pregnant woman should be careful listening to the radio” -1947

Nothing to do with radio wave fears—or even electrocution risks—mums-to-be were warned that loud music could stir them into a frenzy…and an overexcited woman is a dangerous thing.

“A glass of stout is great for breastfeeding” -1956

In a complete 180 from contemporary health guidelines, a glass of beer per day was encouraged to keep up milk supply. And boost maternal mood, of course.

“Give babies coffee at six months” -1962

Along with beer-via-breastmilk, a strong cuppa at six months formed part of the recommended baby beverage list. Unsurprisingly, bacon and eggs—“just like Dad!”, says paediatrician Walter W. Sackett Jr, was also integral to the weaning plan.

“Leave them outside in the garden” -1916

Sir Frederick Truby King advises mums and dads to leave newborns outside in the garden—an al fresco approach that may have some substance, it turns out. On the other hand, he also said cuddling your bubs should be limited to ten minutes per day. Nope. 

Via motherandbaby.