Babies are helpless and defenceless creatures. Hence, we try our best to protect them, give the best care they need, and nurture them to become healthy adults in the future. However, no one, not even those who have had several babies, is really an expert in this matter. When taking care of babies, it is still likely that we commit certain mistakes even if we’ve cared for a lot of them in the past. Actually, it has been etched in our history that we used to do certain things to babies that will totally make say, “WTF!” if we still do them today.
If we look back to how we cared for babies in the past, you will most likely be shocked at how we provided remedies to certain problems and how we chose to nurture them so as to lessen the burden a bit when they get unruly. If we think of it, some of this may even be considered illegal today. Let’s take a look back so we may never do any of these again to the young ones.
15. Baby cages on building windows were popular in the early 1900s
Baby cages that were installed sticking out on building windows to serve as an open air playground for babies were the hype in the early 1900s. Emma Read patented this device in 1922 and it instantly became a hit among families living in the bustling city. With buildings popping from almost every corner of the city and families moving in from the countryside to the metro, they still wanted to give babies a breathe of fresh air so they had baby cages installed at home.
14. Animals used to nurse babies
Until the early 20th century, humans did not nurse their own babies. They used several farm animals such as horses, donkeys, cows, and goats to nurse newborns. Among these animals, the goat is the most popular choice when nursing babies. Apparently, when nursing babies using these animals, the mother or the father would cradle the animal and guide the baby to suck directly on the animal’s udders. There was even a belief back then that goats can recognize when the babies need to be nursed. They say that goats would run to the baby’s side when they cry as if asking for food. It seems unsanitary but it was a popular practice until we started nursing our own infants.
13. In Paris, there was a time when infants were sent to the countryside to get wet-nursed
In the 18th century, Paris was called “a city with no babies” because most of the newborns in the city were sent to the countryside to get wet-nursed. When the biological mother can’t or chooses not to nurse her own baby, they hire someone else to do the job for them. For a time, this was a trend in Paris such that 97% of the babies in the city were remotely wet-nursed. Moreover, 75% of the babies born in the city were sent to the countryside, far away from Paris to get wet-nursed. Hence, the city became notorious for the name. The city was almost devoid of baby cries because of this but later on, the practice was stopped because it appeared to be unsanitary compared to nursing your own baby.
12. “Baby-killer” milk bottles
In the early 19th century, milk bottles for babies made from glass were extremely popular. These bottles came with long, bendy, rubber straws that made feeding the newborn a lot easier. The flexibility of the straw that is directly connected to nipples has made it easier for parents to nourish the baby because they don’t have to hold the bottle to the infant’s mouth. It was a very convenient milk bottle until they realized that the rubber straws were virtually impossible to sanitize. Therefore, they served as hosts of bacteria and diseases. As a result, the use of these milk bottles has resulted in many infant deaths at that time. Later on, they phased out this type of milk bottle and called them “baby-killers.”
11. Before milk bottles, newborns were fed directly from the cow’s udders
Milk bottles were not always a thing in the past. So, before they were actually invented, the babies were fed directly from the source. This means that they drank milk direct from the cow’s udders in a somewhat friendly competition with the cow’s newborns.
When they realized how unsanitary this is, people began devising ways to improve how they feed the newborn. Initially, they built some kind of device that looks like a horn and somewhat made it appear more sanitary than feeding the baby directly using the cow’s udders. Later on, with a lot of babies getting sick because of this, the milk bottle came to life.
10. There was a time when shaking hands with the baby was a preferred way to greet them rather than hugging or kissing
In 1928, psychologist John Watson highly recommended that parents shake hands with their babies as a form of greeting instead of giving them a hug or a kiss. Although it somewhat makes sense if you’re the kind of parent who worries a lot about the spread of germs, you may really want to hold off the hugging and the kissing. According to John, which he wrote in his book Psychological Care of Infant and Child, Never hug and kiss them, 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. Give them a pat on the head if they have made an extraordinarily good job of a difficult task.”
9. Tightly swaddling babies to ensure they grow as upright adults
In ancient Europe, tight swaddling of babies was a popular practice. Parents swaddled their babies so tight that they are unable to move almost any part of their body, even just tilting their heads. The first reason they did this is so that it is easier to look after the newborn because they can’t move and just roll out. Moreover, parents believed that babies who were not swaddled tightly grew bent or in distorted shapes. Also, they saw babies who were not swaddled properly to be walking on all fours like an animal and they thought they would just grow to do that. So, to ensure that their kids grew into an upright adult, they made sure the swaddled cloth on their babies were extremely tight.
8. Tight swaddling was replaced with putting newborns in ice-cold water
When the practice of swaddling cloth on babies became unpopular due to its super restrictive effect, parents resorted to something else to keep their babies upright. In the past, parents believed that babies should be kept warm, which is why swaddling became a trend in the first place. However, recent developments suggested that the opposite should be done and that was when parents started bathing their babies in the ice-cold water. A philosopher by the name of Jean-Jacques Rousseau strongly suggested keeping babies colder and colder. Many followed his teachings so even during winter time, parents bathe their babies. During summer, the best option was ice-cold water. As expected, a lot of babies got sick so they stopped this practice.
7. Newborns were almost always going commando
This somewhat makes sense because why would babies need underwear, right? However, what is bothersome that parents do in the past is that they don’t use diapers or some sort of diaper counterpart in the ancient times under the swaddled cloth. If ever they wore a diaper under the swaddled cloth, parents did not change them often. Hence, this resulted to many damp baby bottoms that are infested with skin irritations and rashes.
6. Give medicine made of cannabis, morphine, and chloroform to crying and teething babies
Popularly called as Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup, this 19th-century medicine was often recommended for crying and teething infants. Although it was proven effective, it was found out later on that the medicine is loaded with drugs, including cannabis (marijuana), morphine, and chloroform. No wonder it gets babies to shut up.
Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup was manufactured by Jeremiah Curtis and Benjamin Perkins. It was named after Mrs. Charlotte Winslow, the first one to discover that it works. She is Jeremiah’s mother-in-law. It was discovered in 1840 but was denounced by the American Medical Association in 1911. Still, due to its effectiveness, it was still sold up until the 1930s.
5. Pacifiers were dipped in sugar water or honey to calm babies
We all know that babies are unruly. You cannot simply command them to stop crying because they don’t know how to do that on their own just yet. So, when babies cry and cry, and parents have already tried different remedies but nothing happens, they turn to the pacifier. However, to make it work best, they dip it in sugar water or honey because it almost instantly sedates babies and calms their nerves. However, this practice has resulted in lots of dental problems among growing kids so they had to stop it. Still, doing this has been popular for a time and it worked. The result, though, has made many parents cautious of the pacifier.
4. Wine was part of a baby’s diet in ancient Greece
A Greek doctor in the second century named Soranos of Ephesus has recommended wine as a good part of a newborn’s diet. Apparently, the said philosopher recommended that semi-solid food given to newborns should be soaked in milk, sweet wine, or wine with honey before giving it to the baby. This allowed the food to be softer and easier for the baby to intake. Moreover, doing this added a bit of a flavor for the newborn’s palate.
3. Parents used to believe that “thumbsuckers” will become hooked into chronic “solo pleasures”
There have been books written in the past that claim that babies who thumb suck will turn into chronic masturbators when they grow up. This alarmed parents so they try to find different ways to combat it. For instance, there are parents who would pin the sleeves of their baby’s clothes when they are on the crib so that they can’t reach for their hands and start thumb sucking. Other parents make their babies wear mittens all the time.
The most extreme method some parents do to prevent their babies from thumb sucking is by putting something spicy on the baby’s thumb so when they suck it, they would cry and later on, learn not to do it again.
2. Salt was put on baby’s skin to harden it
There are a lot of weird things and treatments we did to babies in the ancient times. Another one of the weird treatments we did to them is salting their skin to harden it as if curing meat. The baby’s skin is so soft that it was prone to almost any injury. Hence, in the ancient times, they salted baby’s skin to give it a certain layer of protection.
This was found to be weird though. Aside from that, it can cause certain skin irritations that can lead to permanent skin problems as the baby grows. So, they stopped this practices and parents just became more careful with how they handle their baby’s skin.
1. Doctors and nurses used to feed babies like animals in cages
In the ancient time, doctors and nurses were extremely careful in handling babies that they are afraid to have direct contact with them. So, to feed babies in their care, they put them in cages and nurtured them like animals with no direct contact. This practice was called “prop feeding” where the milk bottle was installed inside the cage so the baby can directly suck the milk from it without the doctor or nurse having to hold it.
Gradually, as people became more familiar how to handle babies, this practice fell out of favor as more and more wanted to hold babies even when not feeding them.
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