The 10 worst pieces of advice ever given to parents

From hanging babies out of windows to giving children opium

Friday 21 August 2015 17:06
These contraptions were issued by the Chelsea Baby Club to families with no gardens
These contraptions were issued by the Chelsea Baby Club to families with no gardens

A doctor's claim that parents should not kiss their children on the lips because it is "too sexual" has sparked widespread criticism.

We take a look at some of the more esoteric advice given to parents over the years:

1. In an overcrowded 1930s London, one parenting group came up with an ingenious idea for parents with no outside space: why not just hang your baby out the window?

These deathly contraptions were issued by the Chelsea Baby Club to families with no gardens who lived at the top of tall buildings.

2. In 1962, the same year as the Cuban Missile Crisis, an American paediatrician warned parents that the only way to avoid raising a socialist baby was to be as unloving as possible.

Walter Sackett’s book Bringing Up Babies said: “If we teach our offspring to expect everything to be provided on demand, we must admit the possibility that we are sowing the seeds of socialism.”

Too right – babies ought to learn to pull themselves up by their own bootie straps.

3. In 1916, a husband and wife doctor duo, the Sadlers, warned that if a woman breastfed her baby while angry she would run the risk of giving her baby colic.

They also warned that “worry, grief, or nagging” would cause a woman to run totally dry of milk.

New-born baby? Cover them in olive oil (Getty)

4. Around about 1900, parents were commonly told that it was essential to cover new-born babies from head to toe in lard, olive oil or fresh butter. After two weeks you were allowed to wash down your now fully basted baby.

5. A century ago, women were told the best way to treat nipples sore from breastfeeding was to apply the affected area with boric acid. This acidic compound is nowadays used as an industrial-grade insecticide.

6. Well into the 19th century babies and children were routinely given opium to treat asthma and restlessness. One company even made opium-filled, cherry-flavoured cough drops just for kids.

David Blunkett's Superhighway Safety pack was well-intentioned (Getty)

7. In 1999, Education Secretary David Blunkett announced the Superhighway Safety pack. Although the aim of protecting children online was a noble one, the rigid list of approved websites and the demand that parents monitor every click their child made on the internet now seems slightly Orwellian.

8. Accounts of lobotomies are some of the most gruesome tales in medical history and as late as the 1960s, some parents were advised that they were beneficial to their children. The notorious American doctor, Walter Freeman, committed thousands of these grisly medical acts on his patients, including many children.

9. A 19th century parenting advice book instructed mothers on the importance of a baby’s head always pointing north when put to bed.

10. It’s a shocking fact that the idea of using alcohol on a baby’s gums to soothe teething pain is still relatively commonly practised.

Ann Summers, a nurse practitioner, says she still gets asked by parents how much alcohol should be used. "There isn't a safe dose of alcohol for children,” she helpfully informs.

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