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10+ Pieces Of Parenting Advice From The Past That Will Make Every Parent Shake Their Head

When you become a first-time parent, everyone is super quick to give you advice — even when you don't ask for it. Some advice is great and much needed, especially for new parents. But, as time goes on and innovation helps raise babies and children, we look back on past advice and wonder WTF people were thinking in the past.

"Potty training should begin at 2-months-old."

In the 19th and 20th centuries, some people believed that to prevent infections, you just had to be able to control your bowel movements. So, many doctors told parents to try and potty train children as early as possible — even as infants.

"Worrying during feeding could spoil mom's breast milk."

Unsplash | Jordan Whitt

In the 19th century, British moms were told that if they worry and stress while breastfeeding their babies, it could spoil the milk for their babies. The 1878's book Don'ts for Mothers also told moms to breastfeed in private.

In the Middle Ages, parents were told to give their babies beer.

Unsplash | Wil Stewart

During the Middle Ages, much of the water was contaminated and poison for people to drink, so parents were advised to give their babies beer — the next best thing!

In the 1920s, parents were told to wash their babies with lard... actual lard.

As a way to remove vernix from a newborn, parents were told to wash their newborns full, head-to-toe, with lard. While it seems disgusting, it apparently worked well.

"Acid can help cleanse your nipples."

The Mother and Her Child a book from the 1900s, said that before breastfeeding, moms should wash their nipples with soap and water and then with boracic acid.

"Stop holding your baby so much."

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The 1911 book A Handbook of Obstetric Nursing said that mothers who held their baby too much would turn them into "little tyrants."

"Treat your baby like an adult, not a baby."

Unsplash | Joshua Reddekopp

Behaviorist John Watson said, "Never hug and kiss them or let them sit on your lap. Shake hands with them in the morning. Give them a pat on the head if they have made an extraordinarily good job of a difficult task."

"Give your baby a bath three times a day."

Unsplash | Curology

Bathing your child every day—sure. But 3x a day? Nope. In a 1959 article titled "Do's and Dont's of Childcare" from Best Wishes magazine, it said: "bathe the baby every day [...] but in hot weather two or three times a day."

"Give babies solid food starting at two-days-old."

Unsplash | life is fantastic

Walter Sackett, M.D. had a belief that at 2 weeks, babies could have vegetables, by 3 months they could eat bacon and eggs, and by 6 months they should start with a daily coffee. Seriously.

"If you want beautiful children, think of beautiful people while pregnant."

Unsplash | Ben White

One book stated that the outcome of children is all about what pregnant momma thinks about. For an outcome of beautiful babies, think about beautiful people — simple.

"Give your babies morphine to cure their teething pains."

NIH National Library of Medicine

In the 19th century, parents were advised to give Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup to their babies who were having problems with teething, or who just cried too much. Turns out, it's made with morphine.

"Kids who play flute, or any other wind instrument, will damage their lungs."

Unsplash | Mark Fletcher-Brown

Some books suggested that children who play wind instruments and use their windpipes too much will end up damaging their lungs and windpipe overall.

Moms, feeling sad? Try furniture stripping.

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While new mothers tend to suffer from depression during pregnancy and after birth, some suggested to "try furniture stripping," as it could solve many emotional problems. Yeah, totally right...

"Put your babies in cages out the window."

Getty Images | Fox Photos

In the 1894 book The Care and Feeding of Children, "airing" out babies was suggested — which meant putting babies in cages that hang out of the window, like an animal.

In the 1960s, it was okay to smoke while pregnant.

Getty Images | Olivia Baumgartner

Leading medical textbooks suggested that during the 1960s, women could safely smoke half a pack of cigarettes per day while pregnant with no harm to the baby.