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Baby care in the 60's and 70's

286 replies

Zofloraqueen27 · 18/06/2017 07:13

I am a regular lurker on MN and really enjoy reading about how different life is today from when my babies were born. I am a devoted grandma (and to be a great (!) grandma in August).

Having a baby today seems so much more involved now. I am amazed when I read "the baby will only sleep on me", "cluster feeding" and having your baby constantly attached to you with slings.. and what is this "co sleeping"? You brought your baby home from hospital (where most were born) after a four/five restful day stay where babies were taken to a nursery after last 10pm feed to give new mums a nights sleep.

Once home you immediately carried on the feeding regime started in hospital of feeds at 6am, 10am, 2pm, 6pm, 10pm. Babies were settled for the night and you hoped they would sleep through to 6am feed. Obviously feeding during the night if the baby woke up, otherwise it was back to the 6am onwards regime. Most babies were bottle fed then.

After feeding, changing and a cuddle babies were put back into their cot to await next feed. Obviously as they grew older and became more awake and interesting they were put into bouncy chairs but otherwise mums would put babies back to sleep. This way babies learned cot means rest/sleep.Cluster feeding was an unknown concept then and generally babies followed four hourly feeds. My health visitor advised me to start giving baby rice or a Farley's Rusk along with bottle feed when the baby got to sons were all 9.5lbs born so weaning started around six weeks then.

Baby gros were a revelation by the time my second son was born and babies stayed in them day and night until about six months old -easy to wash and no unnecessary dressing babies up (much less laundry) as today. I see tiny babies dressed as mini adults now. It seems mums today have a much harder time of it - never putting a baby down to rest and be quiet, always having to be comforted by carrying around.

We managed with far less baby equipment too - though we did not have the luxury (or expense!) of disposable nappies. The way we raise our children varies from generation to generation following trends and fashions but I have to say it seemed a lot easier when I had mine. I wonder what the trends will be when babies of today become parents and today's mum watch in wonder.

OP posts:
SuperBeagle · 18/06/2017 07:19

I haven't found raising children difficult, and I have four aged 7.5 and under.

But you learn quickly after the first one to forget all of the unnecessary faff.

FuckyDuck · 18/06/2017 07:24

The approach in the 60/70s was focusing solely on the needs of the mother, enforcing 4 hourly feeds ova newborn seems barbaric to me. I respond to my babies needs, I will feed her when she wants feeding, she is in a side sleeper crib (attached to our bed) and has never tasted formula at 9 months old.

My daughter is happy, healthy and exceeding all expectations. I'm happy because she's happy, not because I can put her down and leave her hungry for 3 out of every 4 hours.

HappenedForAReisling · 18/06/2017 07:24

Smoking and boozing during pregnancy weren't seen as bad things then either...

Blondielongie · 18/06/2017 07:25

It's amazing how science had also changed, improved and developed since the 1970s.

If I discus the parenting ways of the past with parents, all I get back is 'well we all survived didn't we?' But you know, things change and standards change. what you did at the time worked for you.

crazypenguinlady · 18/06/2017 07:25

What's your AIBU?

Yes things are different, some things for the better some not. It'll be different again in another 30, 40, 50 years.

Westray · 18/06/2017 07:25

Babies survived then.

Formula feeding is not ideal.

Many babies were neglected.

I think modern baby care is much better- getting back to a biological norm. Much less faff than clock watching.

welshweasel · 18/06/2017 07:26

Other than the rusk that's been my experience of having a baby (born in 2016). Not everyone does co sleeping and feeding on demand. DS was on a 3 hourly feeding regime from birth (instigated by the hospital due to blood sugar issues as he was a bit early) and we just carried on and was soon 4 hourly. I guess there's just a wider range of parenting styles now, which suit different parents and babies.

GraceGrape · 18/06/2017 07:26

Fashions in child-rearing change. Both my daughters had terrible reflux, which was sorted out with medication. DD1 screamed constantly for 6 weeks and was like a new baby once she was on Ranitidine. She had been crying because she was in pain. From talking to ny Mum, it sounds like I had very bad reflux too but it was just called "colic" then. The advice was to leave me to cry in the pram at the bottom of the garden. It hasn't caused me long-term damage, but I can't imagine leaving my child to cry like that.

Lules · 18/06/2017 07:27

My baby was 10lbs at a week old. I don't think there's any medical advice on the planet which would advise giving solids that young.

My husband and sister were born in the 70s. Both sets of parents have described how their newborn babies were put in a cupboard overnight in hospital when they cried and how horrific they found it. My mum also definitely struggled when my sister was little. I'm sure some found it easier than others same as now.

riksti · 18/06/2017 07:28

Interesting. Would like to comment on the four-hourly feeds though - my mother said I was fed whenever I wanted the minute she got out of hospital. She tried to keep to three-hourly feeds as the hospital instructed but I screamed until I was fed so it was easier to just feed on demand. When she was in hospital with my younger brother she told all the women struggling with crying hungry babies to ignore the hospital's instructions as feeding on demand made matters easier. Both were breastfed.
So I'm not sure you can say all babies kept to 4-hourly feeds, just that yours did.

FaFoutis · 18/06/2017 07:28

What did you do if you put them in their cot and they cried instead of sleeping? Did you just leave them to cry?
None of my babies would have slept if put in their cot after feeding. I'm sure that isn't a learned thing with young babies.

FrancisCrawford · 18/06/2017 07:28

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Westray · 18/06/2017 07:28

In the 50s and 70s babies were given crushed rusks in their bottles to "settle them"
Solids - again often sugary rusks were introduced at 12 weeks - often earlier routinely.

We have better medical knowledge now and understand that this can lead to a lifetime of ill health.

I can't see this thread going well.

hellobonjour · 18/06/2017 07:30

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FuckyDuck · 18/06/2017 07:31

Formula feeding is not 'ideal'
Breast milk is ideal
But formula is also a perfectly fine aternative.
Stop pushing your agenda

MimiSunshine · 18/06/2017 07:33

Because we now have a better understanding of babies and their needs.

The feeding every 4 hours was something that was recommended in the 20s / 30s but we now know better.
Baby's have tiny stomachs and need feeding more regularly than that, however when local chemists started knocking up their own formula (mainly condensed milk) they kept the timing advice which was also kept by the pharmaceutical companies later on.
It's what puts people off breastfeeding as baby's don't realise they're supposed to be on a schedule and so it can be a shock to new mums when their babies aren't going even 2 hours without a feed let alone 4hrs.

Babies need feeding much more regularly than that (see image) and if you want some stats, between 1963 and 2013:
For males aged under 1, 1 to 4 years and 5 to 9 years mortality rates fell by between 80% and 81%. This was similar for female mortality rates for ages under 1 and 1 to 4 years, with decreases of 81% and 75% respectively.

Improvements in midwifery and baby care have been given as to why this is. You can read the full report if you like <a class="break-all" href="" rel="nofollow noindex" target="_blank">

Baby care in the 60's and 70's
Blerg · 18/06/2017 07:33

I get this from my mum. She thinks I make life hard for myself. Maybe I'm wrong but surely getting a baby into a routine like that involves lots of crying? I don't want to do it that way, there is research to show too much crying isn't good for the developing brain. Also I just can't stand crying. I'd rather be slept on, tbh.

Also breastfeeding is a factor, I think, with sleep and feeding intervals.

I don't mean to sound judgey. I think women in that period had it tough - they didn't have the domestic appliances we do, less expectation of help from the dad, so they had to put the baby down and get on with it.

I feel a bit sorry for them - snuggling a sleepy baby is lovely. I'd go crazy if I had to be up and down with a baby in a cot all night. The baby phase isn't forever.

blueskyinmarch · 18/06/2017 07:34

I don't know why this thread can't go well. The OP is just giving her experience of bringing up a baby and is reflecting on how different things are now that she is about to be a great gran.

I rather like hearing about how things were done when I was born in the 60's and my mum tells me about what it was like for my gran in the 40/50s.

I had my children in the 90s and there was no co sleeping or keeping baby in the same room as you to sleep. It is fascinating how these things change over time. No idea why anyone would get the hump about it.

isthistoonosy · 18/06/2017 07:34

I also find it weird how advice varries by country yet every country beleives they have it completly right.
My four yr old was fed formulae 3 hourly, slept in a cot, napped in his pram in the garden and started weaning at four months all on the peadritians advice.

Heatherjayne1972 · 18/06/2017 07:37

Different times. Different advice
I'm a 70's baby. My mother weaned me at 6 weeks old on hv advice. Left me to cry in the garden four hour feeds etc etc. That was the expected normal then
But now we know better so we do better.
I think we each have to do what's right for our own family

Westray · 18/06/2017 07:37

My comments about breastfeeding were not about an agenda.

Breastfeeding to the clock and withholding overnight feeding as the OP suggests would be hugely harmful to the establishment of breastfeeding, and often was in the 60s and 70s.

hesterton · 18/06/2017 07:37

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Iamastonished · 18/06/2017 07:39

DD was tiny - less than 6 lb when she was born. Her stomach was tiny, so if I had fed her every 4 hours she would gave starved and ended up in hospital. She was exclusively breastfed to start with and cluster fed every evening for months. I didn't know about cluster feeding and felt that I was doing something wrong.

I find the OP goady and smug. She was just lucky that she had healthy, clockwork babies. However I kind of agree that a lot of labels given to parenting these days are irritating.

blueskyinmarch · 18/06/2017 07:41

OP isn't coming across as goady and smug. She barely mentions her own children. She seems to be speaking in general terms as far as I can see.

user1471451986 · 18/06/2017 07:43

So what did you do when the baby wouldn't sleep in the crib or cried for food before their 3 hours was up? Whenever people describe the kind of routine you have OP, it sounds ideal (for the mother, at least), but i just can't get my head around all those perfectly compliant babies when so many mothers i meet now stuggle so much.

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