We’ve come quite far as a species.
Considering we started out beating each other with wooden clubs and making spears out of stone, I’d say human progress has been solid thus far.
This is more evident when you look at what people used to do their offspring.
Here are 12 things people used to do/give to babies in the days of yesteryear:
1. Drug them to Hell and back.
Would you be brave enough to do cannabis, morphine, alcohol, and chloroform at the same time? Didn’t think so.
In the 19th century, a medicine given to crying and teething babies called Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup contained all of these things.
So now you know, if you wanna get a baby to stop crying, get a bunch of stuff that’s illegal to give them. I’m kidding, please don’t do that.
2. Animal mamas.
Until the 20th century, it was a completely normal thing to let babies breastfeed off livestock. Goats, donkeys, cows, you name it.
3. Baby handshakes.
I’m not talking anything fancy, just a normal gentleman’s handshake.
In 1928, psychologist John Watson wrote in his book that instead of greeting the baby by conventional means, like a hug or a kiss, they should be greeted with a handshake.
“If you must, kiss them once on the forehead when they say goodnight. Give them a pat on the head if they have made an extraordinarily good job of a difficult task.” WTF, dude?
4. Honey dipping.
Not what you’re thinking, you animal.
Prior to the 20th century, parents regularly dipped their kids’ pacifiers in honey or sugar water to help put them to sleep.
Needless to say, this caused a few dental issues.
5. Baby killer bottles.
In the 19th century, glass baby bottles had long, flexible rubber straws instead of rigid plastic ones. This meant that parents didn’t have to hold the bottle to the baby’s mouth.
This became quite a problem, because they’d get reused a lot and bacteria would begin to accumulate in the tubes as they were virtually impossible to clean.
Thousands of babies died as a result of this, and this earned the rubber tube bottles the moniker of “Baby Killer.”
6. Booze babies.
This 2nd century Greek doctor done goofed real bad.
Soranos of Ephesus (the doctor in question) recommended that babies 6 months and older should eat semi-solid foods, like breadcrumbs.
He also recommended these breadcrumbs be dipped either in milk, sweet wine, or mead.
7. All the salt.
Ancient humans believed that babies’ soft skin needed to be “fixed” to protect them.
So they took them for a quick dip in salty water to harden their skin, then got them all swaddled up again.
This must be where all those salty people in my neighbourhood came from…
8. The straight-jacket swaddle.
In medieval Europe, people would basically shrink wrap their kids.
The babies were swaddled so tightly to the point where they’d be unable to move their heads. They figured this would make them easier to look after.
They also thought that if they didn’t do this, that the baby would end up walking on all fours as an adult.
9. Winter is here… for the babies.
In the 18th century, people figured the idea that babies should be warm was completely bogus. So they did the opposite.
They made the children’s lives as cold as they could without the baby dying of hypothermia.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a French philosopher even recommended people bathe their babies in cold water during winter.
10. Potty training = war crime.
In the early 1940s, anthropologist Geoffrey Gorer thought that the reason the Japanese were so violently aggressive during WWII was that they were potty trained at a younger age than Americans.
He explained that this “rigorous training” led to them being murderously repressed, resulting in violent tendencies.
Parents actually believed him, and started potty training their kids at an older age.
11. Playful imprisonment.
In 1922, a woman named Emma Read had a brilliant idea: “Let’s put babies in cages that hang out of windows.”
The baby cage was extremely popular in the early 1930s, and people all over the world used them.
The idea was that babies living in big cities could get some fresh air without having to go outside. These people weren’t big on safety.
12. Burial clubs.
A burial club was 19th century Britain’s equivalent to a life insurance policy for babies.
The idea was; when someone’s child died, the people behind the club would provide money so that the parents could cover the funeral costs. Financially speaking, this was a difficult time for the people of Great Britain, so these clubs kind of had an adverse effect.
Many parents began murdering their infant children so they could collect the payout from the burial club.