Parenting advice is always changing. There's so much out there and people have lots of different opinions, but it's pretty safe to say that, over the years, doctors have learned a lot about how to effectively take care of babies and give them the best chance to grow up healthy and happy.
The best way to take care of a newborn baby is ever-evolving along with new research that helps us learn. And that is about to become clearer than ever. Micala Gabrielle Henson was with her mom going through old things in her house when they came across a set of infant care instructions from 1968. She shared them on Facebook because they demonstrate just how much we've learned since then about what newborn babies need to thrive.
Micala wrote, "My mom was going through her things and we saw this, it's rules in regards to just having a baby. It gave me a chuckle. How things have changed! This is from 1968! How cool! Thank goodness things have changed, I can't imagine! Feel free to share!"
Let's take a look at just how ridiculous these rules seem now. First, the babies are kept in the nursery and only "on display" two times a day. "Please do not ask to see baby at any other time," the document says. How ominous!
These days, the advice is for the baby to be in the room with their parents as much as possible. It's called "rooming in." I can't imagine giving birth to the baby I've had inside of me for nine months and then only getting to wave at them from behind glass twice a day.
Next, the document says, "Baby will come to mother for feeding 9-10 a.m., 1-2 p.m., 5:30-6:30 p.m., 9-10 p.m. (No visitor is allowed on floor or in rooms during nursing periods, including father.)
Oooh I can't even get into how mad that parenthetical makes me. For now, let's talking about this breastfeeding schedule. First of all, if you're able to and want to breastfeed, today, you feed that baby whenever they're hungry. Since the baby is spending most of their time with you in the room, there's no real schedule.
Also, it seems crazy that the baby's last feeding was supposed to be at 10 p.m. and then they just weren't fed until 12 hours later? It's safe to say that advice has changed massively.
Now, in 2020, if the father elects to leave the mother's side for any reason other than to get her a snack, I consider that grounds for a fight. He better be there for breastfeeding and everything else, too. In fact, anyone the person breastfeeding is comfortable with can hang while it happens.
The next piece of advice is, "Do not smoke while baby is in the room." What a wild time 1968 was. Because telling people not to smoke while the baby is in the room implies that smoking was still acceptable in the room when the baby was not there. Truly insane that anyone born then doesn't have lung cancer.
Then, the document says that, within the first 24 hours of the baby's life, they should only be allowed to nurse for five minutes at each feeding. Seven minutes on the second and third days, and working up to 10 to 15 minutes on the fourth and fifth days. The reasoning given is that if allowed to nurse for longer, the mom's nipple may become sore.
While it's nice to consider the pain of the mom, babies need to get as many nutrients as possible, and nursing for five minutes a day just isn't going to cut it. Mom likely just went through the worst pain of her life to bring the baby into the world. What's a little nipple soreness from feeding?
The last piece of insane advice on this list from 1968 is, in all caps, "DO NOT EAT CHOCOLATE CANDY, RAW APPLE, CABBAGE, NUTS, STRAWBERRIES, CHERRIES, ONIONS, OR GREEN COCOANUT CAKE." I cannot get over the specificity of "green coconut cake." Was it really that ubiquitous in 1968?
I know there are some foods you should avoid during pregnancy, but you're supposed to eat a normal diet after you give birth, even if you're breastfeeding. The only explanation I can possibly think of for banning those specific fruits and vegetables is that maybe it had something to do with the pesticides used on them. But that's complete conjecture.
Micala's post went totally viral. Many were shocked that even as recently as 1968, the advice was so bad. This makes me think that in another 40 years, we're going to be like, "Can you believe we used to allow babies to wear hats?! What were we thinking?!" or something.
There's a lot of advice out there about how to best care for a new baby. Ultimately, it's up to the parents what they choose to do. But maybe don't listen to this crumpled old sheet from 1968. We know better now.