Parenting in today’s day in age is so (so so so so so so) different than it used to be. We can literally Google anything at all and have 100,000 answers at our fingertips. The problem is sorting through those answers, which can be completely overwhelming, and honestly, maybe not any better than it used to be, before the Internet age.
Parents from long ago pretty much had to trust their own instincts, their family members, and the newspapers to figure out the whole parenting thing. Admittedly, it gets easier once you’ve had one child, but you still never know for certain whether you’re raising your kids correctly or if the products you’re using are really safe. But, what choice did they have? They didn’t have big box stores, they didn’t have a million options for car seats, and they didn’t have the vast knowledge of millions of people to consult at any given notice. And really, is parenting any better today?
From helicopter-style to free-range parenting and everything in between, what’s to say our children will grow up any better than children of the past? One thing is for certain – survival rates are certainly much higher for children than they were in the past. Infant mortality rates have dropped a staggering 90% from 1915 to 1997, certainly due to advancements in hygiene practice and of course, modern medicine.
Still, it’s really amazing to see the advice given to mothers about how they should raise their children, the gadgets that were used in child rearing, and photos of kids from long ago. Enjoy this little blast from the past!
Related-ish: Hilarious AF Dating Ads From Way Back When
1. Car seats were basically not a thing.
Gray Flannel Suit
This looks kind of awesome, tbh, and this steel travel platform only cost $14.50! What a steal.
Only Old Photography
If you’re old enough, you might remember doing this…
Or this. Look at that baby’s big ole diaper bum! It’s so cute!
The disposable car seat made from an old Rubbermaid box looks like something my 5-year-old would have invented, but at least it would cut down on the amount of car seats that end up in our landfills today.
2. Window boxes are creepy, dangerous and frightening AF.
I cringe every time I see photos of these. These window cages were invented in 1922 and were created for people who lived in small apartments. It was a way for babies to get fresh air and another place that they could sleep and play.
3. Parents fed their kids SODA as babies, including soda inside of their milk. Yes, you read that correctly.
“Not soon enough,” says the Soda Pop Board of America…
Many (most?) of the old Seven-Up ads use the word “wholesome” to describe their product. Cringe.
4. A spoonful of Vaseline keeps the doctor away, apparently. Horrifying.
There’s a lot of terrible advice here, but the two that strike me the most are 1) that newborns skin and head should be rubbed with vaseline and 2) that vaseline should be consumed for cough and cold. Every two hours. Oh, and for weak lungs, pure vaseline should be taken internally “in small constant doses.”
5. Babies don’t like not getting fed (duh), but they also don’t like attention or entertainment, apparently.
So, this says babies were unhappy and cross if they were fed at the table, were taken to the movies, and were picked up when they cried. Huh.
6. Just another day at the cigar factory made for good work ethics (and bad lungs).
Library of Congress
And these kids worked in the cigar factory. Yes, the middle boy is smoking a cigar. This is sad AF.
7. And more work…
Library of Congress
This is actually terribly depressing. These were “breaker boys” who had to separate the impurities from coal by hand. Breaker boys were often young boys and old men who were unable to work in the mines. Thankfully, times have changed. And maybe things aren’t perfect now, but at least we don’t have breaker boys.