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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:
AnUtterIdiot · 18/06/2017 07:43

This reply has been deleted

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grasspigeons · 18/06/2017 07:43

I'm sure some things we do now will be thoroughly researched and found not to be as good as we thought (eg early weaning from your era)

One thing that is very different now are the guidelines relating to cot death. I am sure we are all hugely grateful for the number of lives saved by those guidelines.things like sleeping in the same room for 6 months and sleeping on your back and not getting too hot and not smoking are part of that.

I'm curious how our favourite forms of reward and discipline will turn out and the impact of smartphones etc.

WateryTart · 18/06/2017 07:43

The biggest change from when I had my 2 is mothers going back to full time work when their babies are still very young. There were very few nurseries catering for babies then (70s/80s), the few friends who went back to work used childminders or family.

Wrap around care at schools was also unheard of.

BusyBeez99 · 18/06/2017 07:45

My DS was on 4 hourly feeds and was formula fed. It worked for him and he never screamed in hunger

Bearfrills · 18/06/2017 07:47

I think each generation has done the best it could with the information available to it at the time. I've no doubt that when my DC start having kids they'll be doing things differently again and I'll be thinking "well back in my day we did x, y, and z..."

If there was one perfect way to raise a child, it would be mandatory to do it that way. They'd teach it at antenatal classes, you'd be told by the GP and HV to do it this way, everyone would be given a copy of the instruction book when their baby is born. The fact that you have billions of people all raised slightly differently yet with the same basic end result of 'functioning adult' shows that (neglectful and abusive parenting aside) there is no perfect method.

crazypenguinlady · 18/06/2017 07:50

Actually now that I think of it, when I was expecting my now 3.5 month olc DS, something a midwife said which has stuck with me was:

We are mammals, evolved mammals but with the same fundamental survival needs nonetheless. We are the only species who grow a young that when they are born expect them go lie flat on their backs for hours on end and feed on demand. Every other species have their young with them at all times and feed whenever they want/need. It's basic instinct for a baby to be with their mother

How would you feel OP if I told you could only eat a certain amount at certain times, doesn't matter if you're still full, or hungry again an hour later? You probably wouldn't like it, why should a newborb.

I'd rather go with my son's natural appetite/needs during a growth spurt/etc. He's a brilliant water - I feed him when he wants and stop when he's clearly had enough. He sleeps in a cosleeper crib. Goes down to 'play' but if he cries, I pick him up. He likes to be carried/held but equally happy to play on his mat for a while. Oh and I'm currently switching from disposables to cloth nappies - for financial reasons as well as others.

Bearfrills · 18/06/2017 07:53

However I kind of agree that a lot of labels given to parenting these days are irritating.

We talked about this at baby group with the HV. She was saying that a lot of these 'new parenting ideas aren't at all new, it's just that they now have fancy sounding names and book tie-ins.

I remember a thread on her about BLW (aka, feeding your baby solids) and there were posters who insisted it wasn't just feeding your baby, it was a 'belief system' Hmm

happilyLostCareer · 18/06/2017 07:53

Not everything is totally "fixed" by science since the 70s but many bits of advice that have changed have done so with good reason. For example SIDS rates halved when sleeping on the back was introduced as strongly worded advice; rates of babies with serious gastro bugs dropped as breastfeeding became the norm again. Epidemiology does leave room for exceptions (eg formula is fine in particular contexts like CMPA or maternal inability to breastfeed. Sleeping on front may help babies with really severe reflux, etc) but if it's well done it doesn't lie.

These podcasts are brilliant on some of the epigenetic and epidemiological reasons why advice has moved on and is now stricter around food, booze, stress etc.

minifingerz · 18/06/2017 07:54

"If I discus the parenting ways of the past with parents, all I get back is 'well we all survived didn't we?"

And went on to become a generation of adults with the highest ever levels of mood disorders, auto-immune conditions, diabetes and obesity.....

Lolimax · 18/06/2017 07:55

Interesting thread and I don't think the OP is being goady. My DM was a midwife trained in the early 60's. She really helped me 20 years ago when my own DC's were born getting them into a routine. Yes we learn from research but not everything from the 'olden' day's was bad, just like I believe not everything we do today is good.

minifingerz · 18/06/2017 07:56

Re: 4 hourly feeds. Fucking inhumane. If 90% of adults don't go 4 hours in the day without a sip of water and/or food then why should a tiny baby?

CeCeBloomer · 18/06/2017 07:57

I just did what felt natural, by my instincts which meant bf on demand, co-sleeping etc. I had one baby that cluster fed all day/night and the next had very efficient 10 min feeds every few hours from birth. All babies are different

Gran22 · 18/06/2017 07:58

My children were born in the early seventies, I was in the minority as I breastfed. We stayed in hospital for about a week after the birth.

The biggest change I believe is in communication from doctors and midwives. I had a terrible first delivery, in labour, being sick, on my own for hours. DH was working hundreds of miles away, and only got home after DD was born. When the medics finally realised there was a problem, the panic levels escalated, and I was given an epidural. I hadn't the foggiest what was happening! No one explained DD was transverse, no one told me they were cutting me and I'd have too many stitches to count.

The next day when I was trying to sit up and feed DD, obviously in pain, an auxiliary said she didn't see why I had a problem, as I'd 'only had a baby'. Two days later it was discovered I needed a blood transfusion as I'd lost so much. fortunately DD and I thrived, but I was pretty traumatised. When DIL had our first grandchild ten years ago, she was so well informed about every step of her delivery. I'm glad that side of childbirth has improved.

minifingerz · 18/06/2017 07:59

"Yes we learn from research but not everything from the 'olden' day's was bad"

Mothers are generally loving and responsive whatever the culture they're born into, but decades of encouraging parent led feeding schedules has had a catastrophic impact on breastfeeding at a population level, that it will take decades to come back from, if we ever do.

happilyLostCareer · 18/06/2017 08:01

I agree re 4 hour feeds being inhumane. But people didn't join the dots.

On the one hand my mum proudly says she had me on a 4hour routine from birth (at 28 weeks' gestation)... on the other she complains that I was such a pain in the arae as a baby because I failed to thrive and was off the bottom of the charts until about age 10.

Silvercatowner · 18/06/2017 08:01

We have shameful rising levels of mental illness in our young people. I'm not convinced that a wholly child centred approach to child rearing does children any favours at all. It doesn't teach them resilience and the ability to risk assess for themselves.

7461Mary18 · 18/06/2017 08:03

Never been like that in this family! My parents had crying non sleepers int he 1960s and neither of my parents (psychiatrist and teacher who had studied loads of child psychology) would have ever left us to cry. We are not that kind of family.

Also all mothers from the beginning of time have demand breastfed. If a few weird mothers who were bottle feeding in the 30s - 70s unlike my parents did not then that is unusual. Instead in most periods of history your baby cries and you breastfeed it. It's the natural human emotion.

Unicornsandrainbows3 · 18/06/2017 08:03

Research has come a long way in the science of brain development, attachment, the psychology and physiology of mothers and babies. I was slept on my tummy and travelled in a kind of sling/cot in the car (mum remembers looking in the mirror and seeing my little head pop out above it. Not safe at all!) My own grandmother (wonderful, loving parent and grandparent) used to tell me that 'letting them cry strengthens the lungs' and that 'picking them up/cuddling them too much spoils them'' .

Not true and we know so much more about crying/stress/cortisol levels and mental health now but like all parents she was doing the best she knew how with the information she had at the time.

mathanxiety · 18/06/2017 08:03

The approach in the 60/70s was focusing solely on the needs of the mother

I disagree.
The feeding schedules were in place so women could devote themselves fully to meeting the needs of their husbands, the care and feeding of whom was a woman's primary duty.

It was unheard of back then that men would contribute in any meaningful way to the running of the home or to the babycare or childcare. Women got a few days rest in the hospital and then the babies were set aside so that the mothers could get on with their most important function when they arrived home.

My mum breastfed me on a four hour schedule until her mother came for a visit when I was a few weeks old, and set her straight. Thank you granny. I was under 7 lbs at birth.

exMIL boasted of how she never once got up in the night for any of her babies, and asked me where the orange juice was, and the bottle I would use to feed it to DD1, when she was 3 days old. Apparently, back in the 50s and 60s when she was a young mother, she fed her babies a mixture of reconstituted condensed milk with sugar added, with orange juice to offset the constipation. She was horrified that I intended to breastfeed and ridiculed a SIL of mine (her daughter) so much for choosing breastfeeding that SIL gave up at about 4 months.

My babies were all born in the 90s and I co-slept, did extended breastfeeding, dressed them in babygros, weaned to solids per advice from 4 to 6 months depending on the interest shown by the babies. I had very little stuff and no help (babies born on another continent from where my family lived and mercifully 9 hours by car away from the ILs). And a heckler in the form of exH but that is another tale.

Congratulations Zoflora on becoming a great grandparent!

Sweetnessishere · 18/06/2017 08:04

My DC born at the end of the 90s were formula fed (reason not important) on a 4 hourly schedule on MW and medical advice to prevent overfeeding for their small stomachs. Then they were weaned from 3 months. Most (all) of their peers were weaned around then too. They only slept in our room until they were settled at night so less than a month. They were never left to cry and had plenty of cuddles, sleeping on daddy and mat time between feeds.

If I was having them now I am sure they would be in my room until 6 months and weaned then too, however on feeding they may still be formula fed in the same circumstances.

happilyLostCareer · 18/06/2017 08:04

Or alternatively we now recognise and discuss mental illness as opposed to sweeping it under the carpet....Hmm

minifingerz · 18/06/2017 08:06

"The feeding schedules were in place so women could devote themselves fully to meeting the needs of their husbands, the care and feeding of whom was a woman's primary duty"


So true.


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pollyglot · 18/06/2017 08:07

DS1 born 1977, DS 2, 1979, DD 1983 (miscarriage 1981). DS1 in rural cottage hospital, where the tanks were empty for gas and air, so paracetamol was administered, the midwives tyrannical, one slapping a labouring woman for screaming, saying she was disturbing the other mothers, babies were kept in the nursery 24/7 and brought out only for feeds, up to 10 women in one ward. One doctor routinely x-rayed all mothers just before birth to check on pelvic capacity(no scans). But the food was plentiful and home-cooked, the nurses patient and tolerant in getting breastfeeding established, mothers who were obviously tired were given a quiet, sunny corner to nap. If you wished, you could have 14 days in the maternity hosp. being looked after and learning mothering skills. Babies HAD to be put down to sleep on their fronts. Feeding was four-hourly, a la Truby King, Babies were swaddled firmly and left on their own in their room, and crying was "good for their lungs". No going in to them, as that "spoiled" them. I slavishly followed their advice for DS1. But with DS2, I decided to go with instinct. We co-slept, I made a sling to my own design to carry him around (there were none on the market), breastfed till 18 months (VERY unusual back then). I was assured that I was "making a rod for my own back". It's great to see a much more natural approach these days.

mathanxiety · 18/06/2017 08:07

Agree there, Happily.

minifingerz · 18/06/2017 08:07

happily, the point I was making was that when people say, as they often do, 'but we're all fine' it's reasonable to point out that actually it's bollocks, as lots of people are not fine.

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