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The 23 Weirdest Parenting Trends Seen In the Past 100 Years

Give your baby coffee and then let them crawl on the side of a building—at least that’s what experts in the past said.

Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned pro, it seems like everyone has their own opinion on how parents should raise their kids. If you think you’ve heard some weird suggestions before, wait until you hear what parents did in the past.

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Trends come, go, and stay for everything under the sun, and parenting strategies are no different. When you hear about some of these strange trends throughout history, you’ll be glad they were just fads.

No Cuddling

Most parents take any opportunity they can to snuggle with their baby, but it actually used to be frowned upon. In fact, in the 1910s, it was believed that you should touch your baby as little as possible because it was thought to make a child spoiled. This trend even continued into the ‘20s, encouraging parents to resist hugging or kissing their children.

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Avoiding “Soft” Names

It’s no secret that certain names have been more popular than others throughout the years, but experts used to encourage parents to avoid names that were too “soft.” It was thought that certain names “lacked backbone,” no matter the personality of the child.

Infant Potty Training

What, you mean to tell us that you don’t have time to go hold your infant over the toilet 20 times each day? Apparently it’s what was expected back in the ‘30s, as parents were often advised to start potty training right after their babies were born. Surprisingly—or is it?— this was actually recommended by the American government.

Window Cages

Parents don’t even leave their babies on a table alone for one second, let alone anywhere near a window. Not in the ‘30s, though—parenting experts were so obsessed with babies getting fresh air daily that they actually invented a baby cage that essentially had children hanging on the outside of buildings.

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Even more surprising than the invention is that it seems no children ever got injured (or worse) while in one.

Yell All You Want

Today, there’s a product available to help parents baby-proof pretty much anything. Back in the ‘50s, however, it was believed that trying to making the house safer was the sign of a lazy parent.

Shorpy Archive

Instead, parents were encouraged to yell at their kids until they complied.

Cry-ercising

Sobbing baby? Don’t try to figure out what’s wrong—just walk away.

George Marks / Getty Images

In the ‘50s, it was believed that a good cry was essentially exercise for a baby, and parents should just leave them be to work it out themselves.

No Travel

There are certain pregnant women who spend the last few weeks or months of their pregnancies on bed rest, though most of them spend their time walking around right up to the point their water breaks. In 1935, however, it was recommended that all pregnant women avoid any type of travel whatsoever, even in a car.

The Tot Cot

Traveling is stressful enough as it is, and parents know it gets 10 times worse when there’s a baby along for the ride.

British Airways Speedbird Heritage Centre

In 1958, someone came up with a gadget to make it a little easier by simply placing your baby among your luggage. Yeah—the Sky Cot was essentially a hanging crib that kept your baby out of your lap but close enough for “needed maternal attentions.”

Universal Weight Gain

Now, we all know that each woman’s body changes in its own way during pregnancy, but it wasn’t always that way.

Everett Collection

In the ‘80s, doctors advised all women to gain between 25 to 30 pounds while pregnant, no matter their body type or weight before pregnancy.

Think Happy Thoughts

Some people like to think that everyone is just one happy thought away from busting out of a funky mood, and this was apparently true in the 1910s as well. In fact, pregnant women were told that they shouldn't think of ugly things if they could help it, as these thoughts could cause them to have an ugly baby.

Like, A Lot of Happy Thoughts

If you managed to give birth to a good-looking kid, don’t let the good thoughts stop there.

N.P.G. Oranotype by Heinrich Traut

In 1916, it was actually suggested that mothers who breastfeed could give their babies colic if they fed them while angry.

Fat Bath

We all know that babies have extra sensitive skin, and every parent probably has about 20 bath products for them to prove it.

debsatticfinds/Etsy

In the early 1900s, however, it was thought that the best ingredient for baby’s bath could be found in the kitchen: lard.

Righties Only

Most people know at least person who writes with their left hand, and there are plenty of products out there made especially for the lefties of the world. Until the early ‘20s, however, it was frowned upon for children to be left-handed, so much so that teachers used special braces to train them to stop.

Stick to the Schedule

Babies tend to run on their own schedules, and each baby tends to sleep, eat, poop, and play at a slightly different times. Back in the ‘20s, though?

Burrell Collection / Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Museums

Experts recommended that each and every baby follow the exact same schedule when it came to feeding—even if it meant waking your baby up in the wee hours of the morning.

They Ate What?!

Nutrition is still a topic that often finds itself up for debate, and the ‘40s were no different.

Shorpy Archive

Some of the advice pregnant were given wasn’t all that bad, but there were many suggestions that were questionable at best, like the suggestion that babies should be given liver soup at only a few months old.

It Gets Worse…

Among the many terrible suggestions for what babies should eat, one of the worst has to be tripe. Don’t know what that is? It’s the stomach lining from sheep or cows. Although we’re not sure what that would taste like, we can assure you it does look just as gross as it sounds.

Thumb Sucking No More

At what cost, though? Throughout time, parents have tried everything to get kids to stop sucking their thumbs, from lemon juice to physical guards.

Harold M. Lambert/Archive Photos/Getty Images

One of the worst ideas, however, was invented in 1942 and contained a gag-inducing combination of nail polish, acetone, and capsicum.

Postpartum Activities

Postpartum depression is no joke and it’s something that more and more women have begun to speak up about.

20th Century Fox

In 1958, women weren’t necessarily advised not to talk about it, but experts recommended that they didn’t go to their psychiatrist or doctor. One magazine recommended that, instead of professional help, they strip furniture around their homes.

Starbucks Run, Anyone?

It’s pretty common knowledge nowadays that children shouldn’t be given caffeine, but that wasn’t always the case. In 1962, one doctor named Walter Sackett actually recommended that parents give their children black coffee starting when they were 6 months old. Oh, he also encouraged parents to feed their 6-week-old babies eggs and bacon.

Thumbs Up for Thumb Sucking

Remember when we said parents were encouraged to let their children eat nail polish to get them to stop their thumbs?

Harold M. Lambert / Getty Images

Well, during the ‘60s, all that advice went straight out the window and parents were encouraged to let their kids suck their thumbs for as long as they wanted.

Snuggling Does What?

The advice that parents shouldn’t touch their kids too often actually lasted a surprisingly long time, and actually got more ridiculous as time went on.

Nori (Nóra Mészöly) / Flickr

In the early ‘60s, experts claimed it was because showing love to a baby would make them turn out to be a socialist.

The Dreaded Soccer Mom

If you don’t know one, we can bet you’ve at least see one. We’re talking about soccer moms, the parents who encourage their kids to sign up for every activity under the sun so that they can show up to each and every one and take them all WAY too seriously. What we often refer to as “helicopter parenting” took flight in the ‘90s, and we hope it’s on its way out soon.

Skip Bathtime

We’ve gone from bathing in pure fat to barely bathing at all.

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Sometime in the 1970s, parents were encouraged to bathe their children only twice each week—we can only imagine what kind of gunk got stuck in those baby rolls and double chins.

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