Skip To Content

    13 Times Parenting Advice From The Past Was Hilariously Wrong

    "At nine weeks you can serve him eggs and bacon, just like dad!"

    1. In the 19th century, British moms were cautioned not to worry when breastfeeding because it would ruin the milk.

    amazon.com, Pixabay

    The book featuring this advice — 1878's Don'ts for Mothers — added that breastfeeders should keep their minds "calm and unruffled" and avoid crowded rooms.

    2. The book also said not to let your kids "play the flute, blow the bugle, or play any other wind instrument" because it could injure their lungs and windpipe.

    giphy.com

    To be fair, after listening to my third grader try to play the recorder all year, I'm this close to telling her the same thing.

    3. To get 1930s-era babies more fresh air and sunshine — which I guess people thought was REALLY important back then — a borough council in London proposed parents hang baby cages out their tenement windows.

    Fox Photos / Getty Images

    4. American parents in the 19th century were often advised to give Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup to their babies to help them with crying and teething. It worked too! Because it was made with...morphine.

    NIH National Library of Medicine

    It wasn't until 1911 that the American Medical Association released a publication where it warned parents off the syrup in a section called "Baby Killers."

    5. Also in the late 19th century, a book called Advice to Mother took pains to warn mothers NOT to give gin to their babies to cure flatulence.

    giphy.com

    Which begs the question — were lots of parents loading their babies up on gin in hopes of making them less gassy? Wild!

    6. In order to have beautiful children, pregnant women in the 1920s were told to avoid thinking about ugly people, and instead to "cultivate an interest for admiring beautiful pictures or engravings."

    BuzzFeed

    The book behind this advice also said pregnant women should avoid trouble with neighbors.

    7. Also in the 1920s, nurses and mothers were told to wash babies at birth with...lard.

    clarksfarm / Via instagram.com

    This advice was pretty common back in the day as a way to remove vernix from a newborn. I mean, it probably worked but...lard?

    8. Parents of the time were also warned that holding their baby for anything other than feeding and cleaning would lead to the child becoming a "spoiled little tyrant."

    Pixabay

    9. Advise didn't get any better in the '30s, when mothers were told to start potty training almost immediately after birth and to keep at it until the child was trained at the ripe old age of six to eight months.

    Hulton Archive / Getty Images

    Are you're thinking Who would tell someone to do that?! Well, the advice came from none other than the U.S. government in a health education pamphlet entitled Infant Care!

    10. Speaking of starting things early, in the '60s pediatrician Walter Sackett wrote a book that endorsed feeding your baby cereal at — wait for it — 2-3 days! And bacon and eggs at 9 weeks!

    strongspiritwoman / Via instagram.com

    Sackett also recommended giving your baby coffee starting at six months and are we sure his whole book wasn't one big troll job?

    11. Around that same time new mothers suffering from depression were told to "try furniture stripping. Many people find this solves their emotional problems and saves them hours on the analyst’s couch."

    youtube.com

    Ugh. No, Mother & Baby magazine, no.

    12. In 1966, leading medical textbooks decided pregnant women could safely smoke half a pack of cigarettes per day!

    13. And parents in the first half of the 20th century were told that they should retrain their left-handed kids to be right-handed.

    Fox

    Some educators, psychologists, and other supposed experts said that "choosing" to use the left hand was an act of defiance that must be stopped, while others said that growing up using your left hand lead to stuttering.

    (And then there was my grandmother, who retrained my uncle in the '40s because left-handedness was supposed to be the influence of the devil!)

    Want more weird parenting advice from the past? Watch parents from today react to parenting advice from the 1930s:

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    Want awesome parenting tips in your inbox twice a week? Sign up for the BuzzFeed Parents newsletter!

    Newsletter signup form