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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:
YokoReturns · 18/06/2017 10:16

PS OP don't worry, you sound like a lovely mum and gran Smile

MrsSkeffington · 18/06/2017 10:21

God the 60s sound marvellous :D

Westray · 18/06/2017 10:23

whatwouldrondo great post.

HarHer · 18/06/2017 10:26

My mother is 88 and I was a 60's baby. My mother had three children and breastfed each child until long past his/her first birthday. The infant child slept in a cot or crib in my parent's room because it was convenient. As toddlers/young children, we slept in the same bed and 'top and tailed'. I can still remember my sister's feet prodding my tummy. When we started school, my brother moved to the box room, which became his bedroom and my sister and I continued to share a bed until we were about 10 and 12. There was no heating in the bedroom and it was much warmer to co-sleep. In the winter, we put coats on the beds and got dressed under the covers because it was blooming freezing.

Thankfully, some things have changed over the last 50+ years.

Nostrilflare · 18/06/2017 10:52

Everyone is more aware of mental illnesses these days as people aren't locked away, home treatment teams and community support and medications are enabling people to live in the community.

In the past people would have been shoved in an institute, the workhouse, the streets and left to die etc.

Elendon · 18/06/2017 11:05

Congratulations on becoming a great gran! It's a milestone to be celebrated.

And your observations are incredibly interesting in the way in which things have changed within a lifetime. I have three children and with the last one I was told to not introduce solids within six months. There was a nine and seven year difference between him and his sisters. Breast feeding was very much on the agenda for all of them (90s and 2000s born) but my older sister whose babies were born in the 80s successfully breastfed both her babies though she was given an episiotomy as standard when giving birth. I wasn't, it was to be avoided if possible.

Thank you for posting this. It has been an interesting read.

Elendon · 18/06/2017 11:07

Thankfully, some things have changed over the last 50+ years.

Yes indeed they have changed and dramatically too. However, women still are not paid the same as their male peers and men still have the majority when it comes to the decision making. I would bet my house that when it comes to child care it's still the woman's responsibility.

GloriaV · 18/06/2017 11:10

If I may be frank I think the way children used to be treated was bloody awful

Hindsight's a wonderful thing.
Who knows what will be said about the 2010s in the future. For example teens seem to have so much pressure on them now. Not so good.

user1487941567 · 18/06/2017 11:26

I love this "never did me any harm" and "we all survived" mentality.

Raised in a very 70s fashion; I have severe eczema, IBS and an autoimmune disease. As well as epilepsy most likely caused from a bump on the head as a baby. The "harm" can't be measured because of lack of long term studies.

Vintagegoth · 18/06/2017 11:30

I was a 70s baby. I was premature and weighted 3lbs at birth. I was tube fed at first as I was too tired to feed. By the time my mum took me home from hospital the nurses had already set me on a 4 hr feed schedule. 🙄

EssentialHummus · 18/06/2017 11:33

Am expecting my first and this all makes for very interesting reading! This is going to sound very trite but after reading a lot on MN, going through different parenting books/guides, NCT classes, NHS classes, and talking to friends and families with DC the only conclusive thing I've come out with "Do your best and seek help when you're not sure."

Thekissbyklimt13 · 18/06/2017 11:38

I understand where you are coming from
OP. My DS is now 10 and I had a similar routine with him - I suppose not intentionally but he was on 4 hourly feeds for his first 10 days in the neonatal unit (he was very ill after I was forced to breastfeed and ended up dehydrated, then subsequently hyponatraemic due to needing IV fluids). He kept to the same routine when we got home and it was a godsend. I have a couple of baby nieces and nephews now and so much seems to have changed, baby led weaning, co-sleeping etc. Im not criticising anyone for their own choices, the most important result is a happy healthy baby and mum, but it does look like much harder work now.

Floralnomad · 18/06/2017 11:44

Strange , yet another 60-70s parenting threads where I realise my parents must have been some kind of revolutionary thinkers as most of the experiences are completely alien to me . I was born at home , I co slept , my parents always told stories of spending hours driving up the M2 as far as it went ( farthing corner) to get my eldest sister to sleep when she was a baby , and there are hundreds of photos of my very sleepy looking dad at 2/3 am downstairs with my middle sister either sleeping on him on the floor or playing her toy piano . I can honestly say that when I had my first in 1993 , apart from the improvements in hardware I don't think there was much difference in our behaviour than my parents ( we also co slept and my baby was more or less attached to me all day ) .

FlipperSkipper · 18/06/2017 11:45

Oh and to the poster who mentioned hypothyroidism, breastfeeding on thyroxine is fine.

I have to admit I wish my son had more of a routine and napped better, but that's something I need to start forcing. He has massive fear of missing out and gets overtired so it's going to take some sort of sleep training, and I'm not prepared to do that with a 4 month old.

7461Mary18 · 18/06/2017 11:54

Most mothers have always responded to a child's needs. A few eg rich in the 1500s might even send the baby away to a wet nurse (who probably responded to its needs too) although more children died before age 5 than lived until about 1900 so it was all pretty sad. A very very few rich Victorians had nannies and didn't see much of the children - anyone watch that very interesting interview recently with Lady Lucan - she was a similar mother, although I felt huge sympathy for her, treated so badly in so many ways but had a nanny as was expected but the vast majority of women are and always have been badly off. My great grandmother, my grand mother, my mother, I - we all just had babies and when they cried breastfed them. Very few women ever have wanted to nor do leave babies to cry.

Lucywithout · 18/06/2017 12:03

I raised three babies in the early sixties. They were all breastfed and mainly on demand. Last one exclusively breastmilk (some weaning with our food) till 11 months. He is the one wih allergies. He slept right through from being born at home.
I cuddled in bed but put them in their own cots when sleepy. I hated to hear them cry but did not respond on the first yell. I put them in the garden to sleep daytimes but fed when they showed hunger.
People are all different and I did not follow the HV 4 hour advice which seemed restrictive cruel to me.

deadringer · 18/06/2017 13:02

I find it very interesting too. My first 3 babies were born in the 1990s. I breast fed for the first few weeks then switched to formula. I fed them every 3 to 4 hours as recommended by the hospital, baby books etc. I never heard of cluster feeding, but if they woke early and seemed hungry I fed them. I never left them to cry. Ever. I never co-slept, they slept very happily in their cot by my bed until i moved them into their own room with a baby monitor at about 6 months. The only time I ever co-slept with any of my DC was when they were ill. My DC were all happy healthy children who were always very much loved and never neglected. Luckily by the 90s adding cereal to bottles was no longer advised and the dangers of smoking and drinking during pregnancy were well known. I think its very wrong to assume that if a baby is fed to a routine and sleeps in its own bed that the parents are selfish or neglectful, i feel there is an assumption that parents now are doing it 'right' and they can be very judgey of previous generations. As pp have said most parents instinctively react to their babies needs, and educate themselves on current expert advice whatever decade or century they live in.

minifingerz · 18/06/2017 14:06

"For example teens seem to have so much pressure on them now. Not so good"

Possibly because there is far less tolerance of a teen leaving school with no/poor qualifications (as was common in many families in the 1970's) and then spending the rest of their lives doing unskilled manual work.

minifingerz · 18/06/2017 14:14

". As pp have said most parents instinctively react to their babies needs, and educate themselves on current expert advice whatever decade or century they live in."

The demise of breastfeeding in the West following the move to almost 100% hospital births is evidence that poor midwifery practice and bad medical advice can have a catatrophic impact on normal, instinctive parenting.

Exclusive, prolonged breastfeeding which is what most mothers did for 9/10ths of human history has pretty much died out in the West in the last century. Only 1% of UK babies are now exclusively breastfed at 6 months (although it's 76% in Sri Lanka and 90% in Rwanda, so clearly it's not a universal phenomenon)

minifingerz · 18/06/2017 14:29

"A lot of people have to formula feed for a reason, so not nice to put them down. Formula feed isn't the poison people like to make it out to be. Often it's a lifesaver!!!!"

If 98% of women in Hungary are still exclusively breastfeeding at 12 weeks, in a country where formula is available and safe to prepare, it would suggest that not a lot of women have to formula feed and that it's not often a 'life saver'.

High rates of formula use in the U.K. reflect our cultural problems related to breastfeeding, not the fragility of breastfeeding as a physiological function.

Oh, and I've been on these boards for a very long time, and for every 1 time someone says something inferring that formula is akin to poison, there are 10,000 instances of someone saying 'formula's not poison you know!'

I really wish people would stop going around saying 'formula's not poison' because it implies that people need reminding of this fact. They don't - as evidenced by the fact that 99% of UK babies will have formula by the time they turn 1.

Saying it makes mums using formula feel under attack, which isn't what anyone wants.

Littlecaf · 18/06/2017 14:44

Dads don't get this type of judgement shite.

Just parent in the way you think best (as long as it's not neglectful or abusive, obvs).

Callaird · 18/06/2017 15:00

As a nanny/maturnity nurse/sleep consultant, you have described my routine almost to a tee! Although feeding at 7, 11am, 3, 7 and 11pm (and for a while at 3am) from 6-8 weeks. (All sleeping 7pm until 7am from 12 weeks at the latest, very little crying, although it is harder if the child is older but still rarely takes very long)

My mum never commented on my methods until my niece arrived 7 months ago, when she said that it was cruel and restrictive to be so ridged and that children should be children! I'm 50 next year. I slept 8 hours a night from 2 days old, she fed me every 4 hours and I slept shortly after I fed, pretty much the same as my routine (apart from waking them from waking them from their naps if they don't wake naturally, apparently you should 'never wake a sleeping baby!')


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minifingerz · 18/06/2017 15:09

"As a nanny/maturnity nurse/sleep consultant"

Just out of interest

  • what training do you have in breastfeeding support?

  • how comfortable are you at advising parents to go against evidence based recommendations from the NHS, the RCM, the RCOG, the WHO, and pretty much every single health organisation and hospital in the world, that infants should be breastfeed on demand?

  • do you discuss safe sleeping advice from these same organisations (which recommend babies sleep in a room with parents for all sleeps until they are 6 months old) with your clients?
LittleMyLikesSnuffkin · 18/06/2017 15:12

I'm not having a go OP but the way you describe bringing up babies back then sounds so joyless and regimented tbh. Both my babies were formula fed (born 2007 and 2011) but I wasn't so strict about the timings and I loved cuddling them which was just as well really as DS was a clingy little thing and was often cuddled to sleep after a feed as a newborn. They're babies for such a short time I don't see the need personally for the race to make them conform from the start.

With you on the babygro front though- a nice soft onesie much easier than messing about putting together an outfit that will be puked/shat on before the day is out.

reallyanotherone · 18/06/2017 15:20

I was raised exactly as the o/p. My mother genuinely thought she was doing her best by following those guidelines.

I know it's only anecdote but i always wonder how much i was affected by those early experiences.

If i need anything i won't ask because i know nobody will respond. I'd rather go without than ask and be ignored.

I almost have an attachment disorder. I have no friends, i often think about my husband or adults in my life dying and i don't feel distressed about it. Exception being my kids. And pets Blush.

I don't feel particularly bonded to my mother. I feel duty and know i should care for her but as above, i'm not sure how i'd feel if anything happened to her.

I have a love hate affair with physical affection. In general i hate it and will avoid it at all cost. But if someone even gives me a casual hug i will be overwhelmed with gratitude and often feel like crying.

I don't phone people. I'd never plan a social event for fear of no one turning up.

I never talk about my feelings or what i want. I just feel as if i'm making a fuss and all the things that bother me are just petty and unimportant.

Like i said. No way to tell if it's nature or nurture, but i wonder.

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