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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:
TheSparrowhawk · 18/06/2017 08:08

I know this is judgemental but I don't understand how any mother can just put a baby down and leave them to scream while they do the dishes. Why are the dishes so important? Surely the needs of the grown adults can wait while the tiny new person gets what they need? My observation of people brought up in the 50s and 60s is that a lot of them are quite emotionally stunted and I wonder if the parenting style contributed to that.

whatwouldrondo · 18/06/2017 08:08

OP Nope, I don't think your experience was universal at all and it was also a snapshot in time, there were fads then, in the 90s when my children were born and no doubt now too.

I was born in the 50s and my Mum breastfed on demand as her Mother had done and her mother before her. She was sad that some new mothers were being influenced against that tradition and against their own instincts. She was also influenced by Dr Spock who encouraged mothers to trust their instincts and to show affection to their children.

I was glad in turn to have my Mum's support with breastfeeding and with throwing out the latest fad book (Penelope Leach) to trust my instincts about my babies (who were and are as different personalities as could be). As Mum said they have not written the book or devised the one size fits all routine that works for your child yet.....

minifingerz · 18/06/2017 08:08

pollyglot - you sound awesome!

CeCeBloomer · 18/06/2017 08:09

Just thinking about it, my mum had us in late 70's early 80's and bf and never left us to cry so spent a lot of nights walking around rocking us. I am lazy so co-sleep with mine until they are sleeping well then move on to cot(aged 2 Smile)

AnnaT45 · 18/06/2017 08:10

I don't think feeding a baby more regularly or letting it sleep with you leads to the baby having mental health problems?!

My MIL is like you OP. She is wonderfully supportive on me breastfeeding and co sleeping and I get the feeling she would have done it had the support been there. When her eldest had a tummy bug as a newborn she was told to stop breastfeeding him for a few days and give him sugar water instead. She told me she was in agony as she became engorged and then of course her supply had dropped when she started to fed again so she moved onto formula.

My mum on the other hand was much more, dare I say progressive in her approach for then. She breastfed and co slept and was hugely encouraging towards me to do the same.

I personally hate babies crying and do what I can to stop it

user1471545174 · 18/06/2017 08:11

It was fine being a child in the 1960s, I have no recollection of feeling any deprivation and my mum was always nearby (a gentle, intellectual non-maternal SAHM, she'd have struggled with today's involved parenting).

I think today's mothers have greater expectations of child-rearing and often put unnecessary pressures on themselves. I have lost count of the number of MN threads about safety worries where a playpen is the screamingly obvious answer to the problem but mum has been taught by someone that putting a child in a playpen is equivalent to sending it to the Gulags.

Off-topic, a bit: when Grenfell Tower was built in 1974 the materials used allowed 40 minutes' fire containment time. This was undone in 2015. Don't always assume "now" is better or safer.

minifingerz · 18/06/2017 08:11

"I was glad in turn to have my Mum's support with breastfeeding and with throwing out the latest fad book (Penelope Leach"

Penelope Leach's books have been big sellers for 25+ years, so hardly a fad.

Actually she recommends responsive parenting and always has done, which sounds like what your mum was doing anyway!

Beebeeeight · 18/06/2017 08:12

Only time will tell how this generation turn out in 40 years time.

We are seeing a generation who are quite dependent in young adulthood though.

putdownyourphone · 18/06/2017 08:13

The routine you're speaking about only suits bottle feeding, there is a lot more research on breastfeeding now and we know that breastmilk gives babies nutrients and anti bodies that formula can't (I FF mine before anyone kicks off). Also there isn't the massive push on formula in hospitals and advertising because they simply aren't allowed to anymore.

Parenting is different now because people are more educated and there is a lot more research (for all aspects, not just feeding)

zen1 · 18/06/2017 08:14

I was born in the early 70s and was breast fed for 9 months. My mum said she was told to feed me every four hours, which she stuck to because that was the prescribed advice. She said I cried a lot and was underweight at 3 months so hv said to introduce solids. I think she was worried about challenging the hv.

When I had my first DC, the advice was to wean at 16 weeks / 4 months. However, I had recently read that studies showed it was better to wait till 6 months, so I decided to go with that. Subsequently, they brought in the 6 month guidelines. Not speaking for all 60s/70s mothers, but I do think that nowadays, people are more informed and will go more with their insticts or own research.

TheSparrowhawk · 18/06/2017 08:19

The feeding every 3/4 hours thing is total nonsense btw. It was based on studies of sheep and cows ffs. Humans eat and drink far more irregularly than that.

I also agree that the 'rod for your own back' nonsense was all based around ensuring women were doing their real job, tending to the every whim of the enormous manbaby couldn't work out how to wash clothes.

bobblyorangerug · 18/06/2017 08:20

Formula feeding is not ideal

That didn't take long.

TheSparrowhawk · 18/06/2017 08:20

The idea that a tiny baby had to be left to cry so a grown man could be fed is ludicrous.

BelfastSmile · 18/06/2017 08:21

I think the baby-gro thing is really interesting. In all my baby photos for the first 6 months or so, I'm wearing baby-gros (late 70's). It looks so much simpler than the faffing around with poppers and buttons and tights that I do with DD. And much comfier too. I hated putting DS in trousers as a tiny baby; the waistband looked so uncomfortable. I really only started putting him in proper clothes because people bought them for him, and with DD I've just carried on.

Maybe I'll go back to just baby-Gris with her for a bit!

happilyLostCareer · 18/06/2017 08:22

Worth pointing out that the allergy/IBD /Crohn's/ coeliac literature on why it is a bad idea to introduce foodbefore 4 months has almost all been published since the 70s. Allergy literature is changing really fast now too so various pendulae are swingingback to where they were in the 70s on introducing lots of potential allergens as early as possible, for example.

minifingerz · 18/06/2017 08:22

Beebee, most of this generation are not breastfed for more than a few weeks, and have graduated to scheduled bottlefeeding by about 8 weeks old.

I've lived in east Africa where most babies are breastfed in demand, carried a lot, and co sleep for a very long time. Young children and adolescents there are 1000 times more independent and competent than your average child in the U.K. They have to be as life is harder and families couldn't cope with children who don't contribute to the running of the home.

user1471545174 · 18/06/2017 08:24

Sparrowhawk, to your point about people brought up at that time being emotionally stunted - the appearance of being emotionally stunted was the social norm. Emotionally incontinent people were often assumed to be suffering from mental illness, of which there was little social tolerance.

I am astonished and usually dismayed by the emotional incontinence I see around me now and think how much harder people's lives must be for not having cultivated a stoical side.

nuttyknitter · 18/06/2017 08:25

I'm a grandma too. So much has changed since my DCs were small and I've loved learning alongside my DD and DIL. I recently came across this quote from Maya Angelou 'Do your best. And when you know better, do better'. Pretty much sums up parenting.

thegreylady · 18/06/2017 08:25

The worst thing I did when ds was born in 1970 was to follow the obstetrician's advice to give hive a teaspoonful of Farex from 4weeks old! I then worried because he became colicky at about 6 weeks. I still beat myself up about that even though he is now a fine strong 47 year old with a family of his own.
Ds was born in Africa where dh was working. I never had much milk so bottle fed from two weeks. Dd was born in the U.K. four years later and I was advised to wait till 4months before the dreaded Farex. I am lucky that I now have two fine adult dc. My dgc were all breastfed for at
least 10 months and no solids crossed their lips before 6 months. All dgc slept on their backs, we were advised to put dc on their tummies to sleep. Plus ca change etc

TheSparrowhawk · 18/06/2017 08:26

That's really interesting user. In my experience 'stoical' people believe they're hiding their feelings when in fact they express them in really dysfunctional ways.

EezerGoode · 18/06/2017 08:27

Formula feeding is not ideal...... what the actual fuck? Well perhaps I should of just left my babies to starve ,as I didn't produce any milk...actually I was eternally greatful to formula or my babies would of starved to death....think before you post next time

minifingerz · 18/06/2017 08:28

"how much harder people's lives must be for not having cultivated a stoical side."

People used to just get drunk/hit their spouse/children and keep it all behind closed doors so nobody knew what was happening.

I celebrate emotional incontinance if it stops people destroying themselves and others in their misery.


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onemorecupofcoffeefortheroad · 18/06/2017 08:28

I was born in the sixties and my mother put me under the regime you describe OP but in later years said she wished she'd ignored the advice as it created attachment issues.

Also, that way of caring for babies was situated in a particular time in history and the advice often came from manuals written by male physicians in patronising tones and was often in direct opposition to a mother's instinct. Historically the desire had been to try and control the baby - by the time the 60s came Dr Spock's book on baby care was hugely influential and advocated a more instinctive way of doing things but still it emerged from years of mothers being ordered about by and told how to care for their babies by male doctors.

The leaving the baby (to cry) in a pram thing is also a very Western way of doing things - travel to Africa, for example, and babies are usually carried around in slings by their mothers.

NameChanger22 · 18/06/2017 08:28

Generally speaking I think babies are better cared for now and the risk of harm is much lower.

However, I think mothers today worry more as they read more about the right and wrong ways to do things and get bombarded with examples of perfect mothers. Mums today usually go back to work which can also be another great source of stress.

I think lots of mums now worry about getting it wrong and intervention from social workers, I doubt many in the 50s and 60s gave that much thought at all. Back then it was probably only single mums that had that worry. Overall I think it's far better to be a single mum now.

TheSparrowhawk · 18/06/2017 08:34

I agree about the parenting books onemore. The books that advise strict routine are all generally written by people who have never actually had to sit and listen to their own baby cry while their breasts became more and more engorged and painful.

That said, I definitely don't think we have it all figured out. I think mothers today are made to worry far too much about things they can't control.

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