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Parenting Advice – How Times Change!

Parenting advice is subject to continual change and the overwhelming barrage of advice parents tend to receive from their peers, parents and paediatricians can be unintentionally confusing at the best of times.

Looking back at some of the parenting advice from generations gone by, much of which sounds (and in many cases is) utterly bonkers, one cannot help wondering whether the modern parents of the future will look back and have a good old giggle at our parenting strategies of today!

Each generation has its own ideas and concepts about the correct rules to follow in regards to both pregnancy and parenting, so you can pretty much guarantee that whichever methods you decide to follow, somebody somewhere will be of the opinion that you are doing it all wrong…

So just for fun and curiosity, let’s look back at some absolute gems from the past:

Baste Your Newborn Baby In Lard

Yes, pure pig’s fat was the coating of choice for babies born in the early 20th Century. The logic behind this was to remove the waxy vernix coating from the newborn babies’ skin, by greasing them up for the first week of life, before moving onto soap and water.

Guinness Is Good for You

The current advice is for women to abstain from alcohol whilst pregnant but from the 1920’s and onwards women were actively encouraged to drink half a pint of Guinness per night during pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding their babies, in order to keep their iron levels up!

Weaning Advice

A parental advice book published in 1962; ‘Bringing Up Babies’ by Dr Walter Wallace Sackett, offered some fascinating advice on weaning. Dr Sackett was of the opinion that both breast milk and formula were ‘deficient’ and suggested the following:

  • At 2 days – babies should be fed oatmeal or barley twice a day.
  • At 10 days – introduce strained vegetables, including peas, carrots and beans.
  • At 9 weeks – introduce bacon and eggs for breakfast.
  • By 6 months – it was recommended that black coffee should be introduced, so that the child could become familiar with the normal eating habits of the family.

The mind boggles!

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall…

There are a variety of weird and wonderful superstitions surrounding mirrors, which were once considered magic. Up until the 20th Century, throughout Europe, mirrors and reflective surfaces were banished from nurseries and parents took great care to make sure that their child was protected from the sight of their own reflection until they reached their first birthday.

The repercussions of allowing a baby to see their reflection ranged from believing that the baby would become narcissistic to believing they would develop a stutter! Mirrors were widely believed to be a portal to the soul and babies, who were thought to have an undeveloped soul, were therefore fiercely protected from mirrors.

Eating Your Crusts Will Make Your Hair Go Curly

In the past, this ‘fact’ was firmly believed and parents would coerce their children to eat every bit of their crusts in the belief that it would indeed make their hair curl!

The crust of a loaf contains the highest quantity of fibre and antioxidants making it the healthiest part of a slice of bread, but unsurprisingly, no amount of crusts will result in beautiful bouncing ringlets!

The origin or this old wives tale is believed to be linked with a strong association between curly hair and wealth in past centuries. The rich certainly had more bread on their table and somehow, over the years, the two ideas morphed together as one.

Protecting Your Children From Witches

In medieval times, the idea of witches was greatly feared and people believed that if a witch gained possession of a lost tooth, she could gain complete power over the child it belonged to. The only way to escape this dreadful fate was to burn all baby teeth in an open fire to destroy them.

Perhaps the tradition of presenting baby teeth to the tooth fairy in exchange for money or a gift developed from this old superstition. It is certainly a far more attractive idea for a child than fear of inadvertently being possessed by a witch.


People have been telling parents how they should raise their children for centuries and it is incredible how things have changed in just a few short decades!




February 11, 2015

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