Parenting in 2019 is a hyperconscious land filled with organic foods, toys that are projected to turn your baby into the next Einstein, and of course, no spanking. But how exactly did we get here? Well, let me be the first to tell you we went off the fucking rails a few times, THAT’S for sure. With 2020 swiftly approaching, instead of sharing the hottest new projected parenting trends of the next decade, let’s take a step backwards and remember some of the craziest shit we ever did.
Introducing 10 of the most insane parenting trends of the last 100 years…
1. Feminism? I don’t know her.
As if women didn’t have it bad enough in the 1950s by staying at home all day and cooking and cleaning, it was actually suggested that if a woman was feeling sad after giving birth, instead of seeing a doctor or psychiatrist – like, you know, any sane person, they were instead instructed to strip furniture. Because yes, you may have just pushed a living, breathing, bowling ball out of your vagina but these chairs need refurbishing and it’s not going to do itself.
2. Nobody puts baby in…the luggage compartment?
What better way to unwind from all that stripping and refurbishing than a well-earned family vacation. You pick your destination, grab your plane tickets, pack your bags, board the plane, put your bags in the overhead compartment – oh and you also put your baby up there because Skycot. Yes folks, this cutting-edge 1958 invention was a real thing that initially stored your baby in a hanging crate next to your luggage.
3. The Outdoor Baby Cage
Yes you heard that correctly- no need for a creative punny title here folks, because this thing was about as fucking wild as it gets. You see in 1930s London, hanging your baby outside of your top floor apartment window in a makeshift cage was ALL the rage. These bad boys likely stemmed from the 1884 book The Care and Feeding of Children, where the book’s author, Dr. Luther Emmett stressed the importance of airing out your baby to “renew and purify the blood.” A few days a week at the park just wasn’t going to cut it, so instead we hung our babies out of our windows like a clean pair of undies.
4. Think happy thoughts…or else
As you can imagine, parenting advice in the early 1900s wasn’t the greatest. Take, for instance, this little doozy from 1910: it was suggested that expectant mothers be very careful of their thoughts and make sure they ward away any negative ones in fear of harming their unborn baby. It was also suggested that they shy away from worrying, grieving, and nagging…(I think we know who decided that last one.)
5. How do you like your coffee?
You’d think by the time the 1960s rolled around that we would have had a better grip on things – but think again. In fact, in 1962, a man named Dr. Walter Sackett (yes this man was a doctor) wrote a book that suggested it was okay (and encouraged) to give your baby black coffee beginning at 6 months. His reasoning? To get them used to “the normal eating habits of the family.” What in the actual fuck, doc?
6. House broken
This one’s gold. Why? Because it was suggested by none other than the U.S. GOVERNMENT. In a 1932 health education booklet published by yes, THE U.S. GOVERNMENT, it was suggested that mothers begin toilet training their babies almost immediately after birth. Not only was it suggested to start immediately, it was supposed to be continued until the child was “trained” at six to eight months. I guess the silver lining was less money spent on buying diapers?
7. No child LEFT behind?
Believe it or not, up until as late as the 1920s, being left handed was actually not kosher. So much so, a large amount of educators, psychologists, and psychiatrists advocated the “training away” of left-handedness by forcing left-handed children to write with their right hands. These experts insisted that a child’s decision (keyword being decision) to rely on his or her left hand was a reflection of a defiant personality. Because I’m sure rebelling against “the man” was hot on every 3-year-old’s mind that was learning to write.
8. Hard names only!
Just when you think you’ve seen and heard it all, we’re heading back to the early 1900s (or as I like to call it, the free-for-all era of parenting) for one of the most absurd trends ever: the restriction of “soft names”. What is a soft name you ask? We aren’t quire sure, but the example the man who started this theory, Dr. George R. Stewart Jr. (something tells me it wasn’t very hard to become a doctor in those days) was “Lenora Molloy”. He claimed names like that lacked backbone, which apparently is VERY important when naming a 1-minute-old baby. Although in his defense, he did suggest something that was of some substance and ahead of it’s time: gravitate toward more neutral names.
9. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.
The 70s were a bit more lax when it came to parenting and a little too lax when it came to hygiene. In fact, hygiene was so lax that in 1972, Mother & Baby magazine recommended only washing your baby a calm, cool, and collected twice a week. Call me old-fashioned, but that seems a little infrequent for something that literally spends all day shitting its pants. But hey, what do I know, I’m not a doctor.
10. Smokin’ hot advice
And in maybe the most absurd piece of parenting advice ever told, a 1966 edition of an obstetrics textbook reassured that pregnant women to be could “safely” smoke up to half a pack of cigarettes a day. OH. PHEW.