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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:
MsAwesomeDragon · 18/06/2017 08:36

I was born in the 70s. My mum didn't do any of that. We were all breast fed, on demand, so cluster feeding happened. We were never ever left to cry, we were picked up and cuddled at the tiniest whimper. At one point all 3 of us children slept in our parents bed (dad sometimes moved into my brother's bed so there was space for the children).

The only difference really between how my siblings and I were raised and how we've raised our babies is the early weaning. My sister was over 10 lbs at birth and nobody ever suggested weaning her at birth, but we all started on baby rice at about 6 weeks ish. My dd1 was 4 months when she had her first solid food, and dd2 was closer to 6 months (I would have waited till 6 months but she helped herself to a sandwich off my plate and enjoyed it)

GloriaV · 18/06/2017 08:38

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

Thank God that's all behind us now Hmm

I'm surprised at the stats posted earlier with the large proportion of babies dying under 1 - but I think that would include those with, for example, deformities for whom life was not possible, rather than the higher stats being due to their care once they were born. Also more mothers would not have survived giving birth so that would have had an effect.

x2boys · 18/06/2017 08:38

my boys were both formula fed they naturally fell into a 3-4 hrly feeding regime born in 2006 and 2010 i was born in 1973 i was formula fed my mum was advised against breast feeding as she has an underactive thryroid and takes thyroxine[no idea if this is still advised] incidentally my Grandmother lost her first baby at two weeks old as sher couldnt produce enough milk this was in the 1930s she bottle fed her tyhree other children thankgod for formula.

ChocChocPorridge · 18/06/2017 08:40

That's not what my mum did with us (70s and 80s babies) - we were all breast fed, then weaned onto those dried flaked foods (I can still remember the smell) when we could sit up (about 5 months). Each baby slept in a cot at the end of her bed until they were old enough to move out - about a year for my youngest sister, I don't know the rest of us. No more routine than needed when you've got other kids to deal with. Oh, and she was home the same afternoon after having her too - I remember being dropped at a neighbour before school as they went into the hospital, and when I was picked up after school it was in the car, and there was mum in the front seat holding the new baby (there's a big difference!)

I think it's what you were raised with - it didn't occur to me not to breastfeed, because I remember mum with my littlest sister, I remember going to maternity appointments with her etc. Perhaps things were different out in the sticks?

beepbeepimasheep · 18/06/2017 08:41

It seems to have been all Dr Spock from what my mother has said, when each of my siblings and I had children we were given a copy of his book and told to follow it to the letter. I don't think any of us did but there was some good stuff in there I think, not that I can remember any of it though pointless and useless!

growinganotherhead · 18/06/2017 08:42

My daughter was born in 1972, I was in hospital for days! I was encouraged to breast feed by the midwife although both my mother and MIL were horrified. I didn't know any different so just picked her up and fed when she cried. I didn't carry her every where but used a bouncy chair to keep her near me when i was cooking, cleaning etc. She also slept with me. My two sons were born in the 80's and I did the same although I found other (mostly younger) mums were quite critical and would tell me bottles were better as you could see what baby was getting. I found seeing my baby grow told me that Grin. There are fashions/trends and 'experts' in every generation but most people want there children happy and fed and just aim for that and usually it works. My daughter breast fed her babies, my daughter in law didn't; all my grandchildren are happy and healthy.

whatwouldrondo · 18/06/2017 08:43

mini Penelope would have worked fine for my second child who was a relaxed laid back soul. I fed on demand, through the night too and co slept and she would feed and go back to sleep. It was bliss.

My oldest child is much more demanding and for the first six months did not sleep for more than twenty minutes at a time. According to Penelope this was not possible, when a baby needs to sleep it will sleep (I could quote it verbatim then) so I persevered to the point where I was hallucinating with sleep deprivation and a danger to her and myself. According to the Great Ormond Street sleep clinic (now cut of course) it is possible for a baby to be seeking that degree of stimulation, or as my mother put it, "that baby does not want to miss anything". Hence throwing Penelope on the fire and introducing the night is boring regime amongst other strategies not featured in dear Penelope that helped me get some sleep. She carried on being challenging, she was a great cot hurdler, and some of her first words were "head stuck" to get attention at night, up until she could hold a pen and read a book and ever since has found her stimulation in books and academic work. She is now a Research Scientist.

Chocolatecake12 · 18/06/2017 08:44

It's a very interesting thread. And it's fab that the op has noted that things have changed.
My ex MIL had her children late 60's early 70's and lived with her mother so I imagine got a lot of advice from that generation. When I had my ds in '02 he'd advice was to give him a dummy dipped in honey amongst other things!
I'm grateful for the knowledge we have learned through the generations and the medical advances are phonomenal - IVF for example.

user1471545174 · 18/06/2017 08:45

Sparrowhawk, that is sometimes the case, unfortunately. It works the other way round too, people believing they are demonstrating emotional intelligence when they are simply acting out.

Mumzypopz · 18/06/2017 08:48

I've never heard of cluster feeding either. Mine were fed every four hours and were happy with that, they easily fell into that routine. They weren't hungry for three out of four hours as someone put it further up.

woodhill · 18/06/2017 08:50

Interesting thread. I was born in late 60s and breastfed. Dm had the Dr Spock book. I think she advocated routine etc.

Mine born in 90s, breastfed. Dm still trying to advise but not always helpful. Let them cry seemed to be the mindset more.

However you do have to get on at times and I had 3 close together.

TheSparrowhawk · 18/06/2017 08:50

I agree user, but I do feel that in general expressing emotions in an appropriate way is far better than being 'stoical'. I know far too many older people who are so weighed down with unexpressed emotion that it's basically ruined their relationships.

Silvercatowner · 18/06/2017 08:51

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

Yes - great to get a dialogue about mental illness (not sure about the need for the PA emoticon though.....).

I work with young people and over the past 10 years have seen rates of anxiety and depressions rise enormously. My organisation is struggling to keep up with the need to support these youngsters appropriately.

toomuchtooold · 18/06/2017 08:52

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.

It feels to me like there's a false dichotomy in there somewhere, that attachment and independence are mutually exclusive, when everything I've ever read about child development suggests that a decent attachment to your primary carer is the foundation to going out into the world and exploring it. Having said that, I think there's probably more factors involved in independence than how you were treated as a baby - I would think that rising house prices and rising competition for good jobs are a massive barrier to independence to kids now.

vdbfamily · 18/06/2017 08:54

It may be worth at this point saying that choosing to establish a routine with your child does not mean you just leave them screaming for hours between feeds at all. I was baby led for a few weeks with my first and I was onm my knees with exhaustion. I read a book re routine feeding and thought I would try it and within 3 days she was not crying between feeds and was following the routine perfectly. (this did involve nighttime feeds though) If she did cry between feeds, I distracted her for a while with a walk, or cuddles/play or nappy change. My second child I set a routine from the beginning and he was happy with that and number 3 completely refused to follow any sort of routine and I was still breastfeeding her in the middle of the night at a year old. It is so sad that we judge each other so harshly. To say that a routine is 'barbaric' is utterly ridiculous.

TheSparrowhawk · 18/06/2017 08:54

Silver, I wonder how much of that rise is due to younger people being more open. I know that both my mother and father were pretty severely depressed as teens and young adults, but that's not how it was seen and there was no help at all for them, they just carried on. They never resolved their issues and it has blighted their entire lives.

FlipperSkipper · 18/06/2017 08:57

In the early 70s my mil was encouraged to formula feed to the point where she was given injections to stop her milk coming in. That amazes me.

Imamouseduh · 18/06/2017 08:58

I actually wonder if feeding on demand is linked to increasing obesity levels among children. If they've never known anything other than putting something in their mouth the second they feel even a twinge of hunger it's no wonder.

Not judging either way, just wondering.

woodhill · 18/06/2017 08:59

Yes I think so. Both my dps were born in WW2 and the national service thing in the 50s) df never did It) but it may have affected others like my fil. Different times. More formal possibly?

feelingcalledlove · 18/06/2017 09:05

I recently came across this quote from Maya Angelou 'Do your best. And when you know better, do better'.

Mumzypopz · 18/06/2017 09:06

Imam...I think this too. Those people who think it's barbaric and inhumane to feed every four hours, the difference is, if they are fed much more often, they are only taking a little at a time surely as they will be constantly full? Whereas with a good feed every four hours their tummy is able to process that food properly before they are ready for the next feed?

whatwouldrondo · 18/06/2017 09:10

Ima Breastfed babies, who are more likely to be fed on demand, are less likely to be obese. Loads of scientific studies have shown this. Do you often repeat the first ignorant prejudiced thought that comes into your head without researching some basic facts first?


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Shockers · 18/06/2017 09:10

I was fed carnation milk.

My grandmother used to sit me on the potty until I weed, from 9 months. My bladder didn't grow properly because it was never stretched and I had incontinence issues for my whole childhood.

I was scared of going to bed because I was put there at around 6pm and expected to stay there until morning. I used to lie in the dark in the winter, for hours, with my eyes open.

Things improved when my mum took me away from Grandma's house, to a little flat of our own.

jellybeanteaparty · 18/06/2017 09:11

I was born in the 60/70's era and my DM was a midwife. When I had DD1 my mum was great. She read all my baby magazines and quickly said O advice has changed a lot since my day but we happily discussed pros and cons. Congratulations on grandchildren OP

annandale · 18/06/2017 09:12

Really interesting thread.

My mum was a Spock mum in the 60s - she certainly had a routine, and we alll had time in the pram, but she would never have left us to cry for long. She experienced FF as liberation from BF that just didn't work at all, and at least being told that condensed milk ws as good as breastmilk, even if wrong, made her feel confident. It was tricky being advised by her when trying to bf ds though.

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