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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:
GraceGrape · 20/06/2017 09:46

Frizzy I believe the advice for adults is that eating little and often is less likely to lead to obesity and "grazing" is actually healthier.

GraceGrape · 20/06/2017 09:49

I should clarify that. Some people will do better eating little and often, others will do better with a couple of big meals, some people it won't make much difference. Trouble is, you don't know which camp your baby will fall into.

eternalopt · 20/06/2017 10:41

Not tired or tetchy at all thanks @falange . Just my interpretation of the overall tone of the post (e.g. " having your baby constantly attached to you with slings.. and what is this "co sleeping"? "). If you put yourself in the position of a new (and tired) mum, I think these sorts of comments would be very wearing and not entirely helpful. No one wants to hear "well it's not how we did it in my day" when you're battling to survive on 4 hours sleep!

HalfShellHero · 20/06/2017 10:55

I was born in 89 and i was in a moses basket in my mums room blueskyinmarch was breastfed and coslept aswell depends on the parent i think.

CarrotFingers · 20/06/2017 11:05

I'm an only child, born '85. The one thing thing that sticks in my mind is that my mum tended to use a 'You're 2, so now it's time for your own bed and potty training...' mentality, whereas now, the advice I've been exposed to appears more child-led, watching for cues and responding. DS is 3 soon and isn't potty training yet as he just isn't ready.

She didn't know anything about slings and co-sleeping, but bf me for 14 or so months which seems quite late as none of her friends bf at all. Although she did remember being told something like 'feed her for 10 mins each side every 3 hours' or something.

CarrotFingers · 20/06/2017 11:06

^own bed as opposed to cot - she didn't co-sleep.

Daisies123 · 20/06/2017 11:26

I dislike all the 'stuff' that supposedly goes along with being responsive to the baby. I BF but also FF (my milk didn't come in until 8 weeks). I BF because it was supposedly 'better' but I found FF more bonding as I could look into DD's eyes and had to engage with her as both hands were needed to hold her and the bottle. BF you can ignore the baby and just stare at your phone or a book!

Same with babywearing - some of the slings available on the high st and/or used incorrectly are dangerous for the baby and uncomfortable for the carrier. You can also shove the baby in the sling and ignore them. I did half babywearing (decent sling used correctly) and half parent-facing pram/pushchair. Using the pram/pushchair meant I could see DD and talk to her. We interacted a lot more than when she was in the sling.
We didn't share a room from 25 weeks onwards and immediately both slept better - I had kept waking up in the night at every grunt and she used to get disturbed by me and DH coughing etc in the night.

Notso · 20/06/2017 11:50

My Dad's Mum had her four DC in the mid fifties to early sixties. All four were born at home in the bath, all were breast fed and she co-slept.

My Mums Mum was pretty much opposite, her four born across a similar time scale were born in hospital, bottle fed and in their own rooms from day one. My Mum was born close to Christmas and was left in the hospital over Christmas week so my Gran could go home and cook Christmas dinner for the rest of the family including her Mother, in-laws and several ageing Aunts without having a baby to 'bother with'!

Daisies123 · 20/06/2017 13:14

Just thinking, historically, women in this country would have been 'churched' after childbirth - so couldn't really do anything until they had been to church for a service of thanksgiving. It had died out in the UK by 1950s(ish?)

It usually took place 40 days after childbirth - so almost six weeks. The woman was meant to stay at home, and not be working. So she would have mostly been in bed, resting, with the baby, feeding on demand and not actually having to do anything else because her husband and women of her community would be cooking, cleaning, washing, caring for other children.

So that six week period of protected time which helps get BF established and for the woman to recover was just there as a matter of course. Obviously it was all a bit patriarchal with notions of the woman needing to be 'cleansed' after the birth etc but in practical terms it was quite sensible.

Contrast with now, where we're meant to feed on demand and concentrate on the baby. But often the only person around to help is a partner on two weeks paternity leave. No wonder women end up feeling under pressure - they're trying to do something that would once have been supported by a whole team of people.

minifingerz · 20/06/2017 14:33

"Baby wearing is a fashion in this country, and it can be very dangerous, unlike putting your baby to sleep on its back in a flat pushchair."

This represents human history. represents the proportion of human history when babies were carried in buggies, formula fed, and expected to sleep in separate beds and rooms from their mothers **

minifingerz · 20/06/2017 14:42

"The trouble with the parenting fads"

In historical terms the biggest fads of all are separate sleeping, cots, buggies, scheduled and formula feeding.

TrollMummy · 20/06/2017 15:07

I agree in part with the sentiment of the sentiment of the OP, parents are under pressure to BF and co sleep and have baby attached to them 24/7. Personally I couldn't cope with this.

whatwouldrondo · 20/06/2017 15:14

Baby wearing is a fashion in this country, and it can be very dangerous, unlike putting your baby to sleep on its back in a flat pushchair.

If I did that with my DD then she screamed blue murder as if being tortured, the carry cot was redundant from almost day 1 in favour of the car seat that also fitted into the pram frame but let her look around. She also screamed blue murder in a baby carrier where she faced me and that only worked when I found one where she could face outwards. She was a baby that didn't want to miss anything and she is still that way.... We all have different personalities, why would babies all be the same....

I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer 15 years ago now, mutilated, poisoned, burned the lot and encountered another stage in life where people seem to have similar expectations that people are supposed to cope in a certain way with lots of pseudo science/ old wives tales/ modern woo thrown at you. I know many women who really resented the whole strong, brave, positive, fighting crap because everyone is different and copes differently. The actual scientific trials have shown that being positive is no better than sticking your head in the sand or feeling sad or angry in terms of your chances of survival. What does make a difference is feeling supported as an individual in your choices and coping strategies and having a chance to laugh with others.

Obviously there is rigorously researched Science that informs how you cope with babies but otherwise one size fits all flies in the face of different personality types and differences in neurological development.

Fe2O3Girl · 20/06/2017 15:25

"The ONS figures showed that between 1984 and 2014 the mortality rate for children aged 1 to 14 years dropped by 64%.
There were 10 deaths per 100,000 children in 2014, compared with 28 per 100,000 three decades earlier."

squizita · 20/06/2017 15:43

My mum is a bit YABU about posts like this.

She was strongly told 'breast is best', used a 'carrier' and was told by the HV not to routine very harshly.

Just as now a friend living in a different area to me was pretty much told "bottle feed, you have a big baby" and would have no truck with a cot in the bedroom etc.

These 'universals' aren't that helpful.

And the higher stress is in part to more info - if you KNOW the cot death risks, you'll worry about them. If you had no web and only a leaflet from the GP, you won't so much.

squizita · 20/06/2017 15:54

My mum said she potty trained me really young as it was hard work with two in cloth nappies, I was fully trained at 18/19 months.

I asked my mum about that and she said (she was an early years practitioner as well) "as I'd tell them... if they aren't ready you end up washing pants not nappies, but you're still washing..."

To my eternal guilt I listened to a know it all on FB who talked about her generation knowing when to potty train.
Trained a bit too early.

Washing pants.
Kid with a suspected UTI.
Witholding poo leading to serious issues with constipation and having to re train. More washing pants.

Should have listened to my mum and her modern-old-fashioned-advice. Sad

reallyanotherone · 20/06/2017 16:07

Sqizita -i can't understand parents who decide a child is too old for nappies, especially at night.

I know people who wash bedding every night for several years, rather than let their kid wear a night nappy.

Bearfrills · 20/06/2017 16:16

really last week I had to listen to two as yet childless fri3nds discussing how any child in a bedtime nappy past the age of five is the victim of shamefully lazy parenting tantamount to neglect. I had to bite my tongue when the started talking about 'back in the day' Grin

DD is almost 6yo and still in a bedtime nappy because even without the nappy she has no awareness of having wet herself and will sleep through regardless. We've tried her withoit it and by 9pm she'll have soaked the bed and not even woken up when it's happened, by 11pm she'll have gone through three changes of bedding again without waking up (the wet is only discovered when we check on her) and by 1am I've lost the will to live. She'll be staying in a bedtime nappy (well, a pull up) until she either starts waking up with dry ones or reaches age 7 which is the earliest the GP will refer her for investigations.

Elendon · 20/06/2017 19:05

Bearfrills I hope that is sorted soon for you. You have obviously been to the GP and they have said dry by 7 at night. Best wishes x

CharlieSierra · 20/06/2017 19:17

My babies were born in the 80s and I knew about cluster feeding although it was just recognised as the baby having a 'fussy' time, usually in the evening. Advice from my Mum was the same as she had from hers, sit down, relax, enjoy the bonding time, the baby is regulating supply. We also did BLW but it was called sitting the baby in the high chair and giving them bits to smoosh up or chew on whilst trying to prep/eat your own food. I never owned a blender. All mine slept in their own crib next to me until around 6 months. Neither my Mum or my Grandma would ever have suggested alcohol, rusks or anything of the sort and never anything in a bottle except milk. One thing which may be frowned on now is that in the early weeks I did lightly swaddle and put them down on their side to settle.

FrizzyMcFrizzface · 20/06/2017 19:37

Raaaaaah my attitude does not suck, it is my opinion and one based on two breastfed/breastmilk babies, one with special needs (and feeding difficulties) and one not. They are both fantastic eaters and sleepers. In my field of work I am in daily contact with mums and babies (not medical or advice related) and I hear of so many experiences where babies can't be put down, won't sleep, feeding on and off all through the day and these mums are exhausted. Part of the problem is the babies not learning to go to sleep themselves.

In special care when full term babies are tube fed, they are fed every three hours. There is no 'cluster' feeding in SCBU. Providing it is a proper feed each time, (draining at least one breast), there should be no need for anything more except in really hot weather. Most of the time it's comfort or tiredness and there are other ways to provide/solve that. I found 'The Baby Whisperer' and Clare Byam-Cook's books to be really helpful and my babies were contented and happy.

Mycarsmellsoflavender · 20/06/2017 20:05

Didn't they also used to tell mothers to add a few drops of whisky to the milk to make baby sleep back in the day? Or is that an old wives take?

Agree about the babygros - kept mine in babygros for most of the first year but I was in the minority. I hate seeing babies in really uncomfortable looking outfits especially jeans.


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MyBreadIsEggy · 20/06/2017 20:11

My DS was born early, has severe allergies with anaphylactic reactions, and is just generally a very high needs baby. (My DD was the total opposite!! She was so chilled it was amazing!)
My grandma is adamant that "we didn't have allergies and the like back in my day" Hmm
I've tried to explain numerous times that yes they did, but the baby would just be labelled as "difficult" or "colicky" and left in a pram in the garden to cry!
She's still not having any of it and thinks I'm making it all up (even though my son almost doesn't from anaphylactic shock twice Hmm)

I think nowadays we are just more focused on adjusting our lives to fit a baby rather than adjusting the baby to fit our lives.

clarkl2 · 20/06/2017 20:26

Do you know how smug you sound? Babies were forced to lie hungry, the woman who wrote the thread never said that!
Just because you seem to forgot they cut the cord for a reason doesn't mean you are doing it better than everyone else!

clarkl2 · 20/06/2017 20:29

Well said. Another smug mug.

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