Few things make us seem more different from our ancestors than seeing how they treated babies and young children. In fact, even common practices from the 1970s and 80s seem pretty shocking today, like lax carseat use or letting kids ride bikes without helmets.
While we are definitely NOT recommending you give your baby opium or hang them out a window, it can be comforting to remember that for thousands of years, loving parents have just been trying to do their best, and even these weird practices led to generations of happy, healthy humans who lived long enough to pass on weird parenting practices to their kids!
Jeez, just relax already!
As if new moms didn't have enough to worry about, the (mostly male) experts of the past warned new moms that any tiredness, stress, anger, depression, or other negative emotions she might be feeling would poison her breastmilk. Instead, the new mom should be totally calm, positive, and relaxed, or else her baby might become colicky, sickly, neurotic, even permanently brain damaged. Somehow we doubt that advice was all that relaxing...
Start 'em early!
Pediatricians of the past often recommended feeding baby a startling array of solid foods almost from birth. Cereal was offered to babies as young as two days old, and by two months old, you were encouraged to give your baby bacon and eggs. Teething? Even fifty years ago, parents would often apply brandy or another alcohol to numb baby's gums and help them sleep.
Not so fast!
Today's parents can't wait to document their baby's first crawling and get it up on Instagram, but parents of the past weren't so sure. Babies in the heavy, bulky clothing of the past often couldn't crawl, and their parents didn't want them to anyway. In fact, in many cultures crawling is still considered, dirty, dangerous, and unnecessary, and babies are simply carried until they are old enough to start walking.
Which of today's parenting fads will make our grandchildren groan? I guess we're just going to have to wait and see...