The Most Insane Parenting Trends Of The Past Century

It's not easy being a parent. In fact, it's quite possibly the toughest job ever tackled by anyone. 

To help parents out, a whole industry has evolved to try and tell them what they should do with their children. Much of this advice is good and most of it is well-intended, but there is one problem. Scientists still don't really know exactly what works best for child rearing.

This leads to some appalling advice being given to parents. Worse, it often leads to parents following that advice. 

Here are some insane parenting trends of the last century that should no one in their right mind should have ever followed.

1. No Cuddling Please, We're Parents


Yes, incredible as it might seem, back in the 1910s and even into the 1920s, some parents thought that cuddling their children might harm them.

2. Ridiculously Early Potty Training


In the 1930s, parents - on the advice of the American government, no less - were beginning potty training immediately after birth. This involved holding the child over the toilet every time it needed to go.

3. Babies Were Kept In Cages

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It may not seem likely now, but in order for babies to get fresh air in city buildings in the 1930s, parents would place the child in a wire cage which jutted out from the window ledge.


4. Anti-Health And Safety Practices


The 1950s wa a tough time to be a kid. Parents believed that trying to make the house safe for a child was, in fact, a sign of poor parenting.

5. Letting The Kid Cry It Out


It must have been brutal to grow up in the 1950s. Parents were taught never to comfort their crying child but to leave it to work stuff out for itself.

6. Wash The Baby In Fat


This will seem completely off the wall, but back in the 1900s, when you washed the baby, after you finished you covered the baby in lard.

7. Left-Handed Children Were Punished

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Today, we know that there's nothing wrong with being left-handed, but in the 1920s, left-handed children were forced by parents and teachers to try and adopt right-handed practices and they were punished if they failed.

8. The Schedule Came First


Babies were fed on a strict rota system in the 1920s. Your doctor gave you a feeding schedule and you had to stick to it. This meant you had to wake the baby up to feed it at times or try and feed it when it wasn't hungry.

9. Happy Thoughts Were Mandatory

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In the 1910s, pregnant women were told that thinking ugly thoughts would make their children ugly. This forced positivity didn't stop after the birth, either; women were also told that ugly thoughts gave a newborn colic.


10. Child Be Stinky


In the 1970s, parents decided to go completely off the wall and for a while when they stopped bathing their children entirely. We imagine that lasted as long as you could handle the stench.

11. The Horrors Of Physical Comfort


While hugs were frowned upon in the early part of the century, America hit peak hug-insanity when in the 1960s parents were told that hugs could turn their children into socialists.

12. Hyperactivity Was Parentally Induced


Walter Sackett M.D. in 1962 decided to start a craze. He told parents to start giving their babies strong, black coffee from the age of 6 months.

13. Putting An End Thumb Sucking


It was decided that thumb sucking was so bad that children had to be prevented from doing so at any cost. By the 1940s they were using nail polish, acetone and capsicum blends on the child's thumb to stop them from sucking.

14. Going All Out On Thumb Sucking


In order to prove that parenting advice should be taken with a pinch of salt, in the 1960s parents stopped trying to prevent their children from thumb sucking and instead, encouraged them to suck their thumbs all day long. 

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