Changes in Parenting

Always Remember: We are living in a society that can easily share research-based information. Our families learned from their relatives, plus the experts of the day, many of whom had their own axes to grind.

1. Starting solids

  • In 1900 – babies started solids at one year
  • In 1950 – babies started solids at three weeks or younger
  • In 2007 – AAP and the WHO recommend starting solids at six months to decrease the chance of food allergies and sensitivities. If solids are started much sooner, the food passes through the digestive tract unchanged. Studies show babies don’t sleep any better with early solids.

2. Crying and Holding Babies

Crying is NOT good for a baby’s lungs, or any other part of a baby. In fact, the high stress hormone levels and neurological disorganization that comes with excessive crying is very hard on babies as well as their parents! See the excellent article Science Says: Excessive Crying Could Be Harmful to Babies

Holding a baby is a very good thing. The disapproval about holding babies came from a pediatrician, Emmett Holt, in 1904. This was early days for the pediatric specialty, and Dr. Holt felt that mothers really had it wrong, picking up babies and “spoiling” them. He had no scientific evidence – it was just his opinion.

For a great article by anthropologist Meredith Small about baby care across many cultures.

3. Breastfeeding

There has been an EXPLOSION of information about breastfeeding in the past 50 years (La Leche League started in 1956, so that makes sense!).

The basics: Finish the first breast first, nurse ad lib, eat whatever you want, and nurse as long as the two of you are enjoying yourselves.

4. Circumcision

Goes from yes to no to yes to no. Do whatever you want is the latest in the USA. (In cultures where men are very promiscuous, they are even circumcising adult males to lower the AIDS rate, however.) We probably have about an 85% circumcision rate here in Brattleboro among baby boys. Does that surprise you?

5. What to use on baby’s bottom

No cornstarch or powder please! And don’t use lotions until well after six months….Baby oils, lightly, are okay, and diaper ointments. There are lots of “natural” choices at the Brattleboro Food Co-op, too.

6. Juice – not until 2 years!

7. Sleeping arrangements

It’s considered best to keep the baby in your room. We are still hashing out the best co-sleeping arrangements (see James McKenna’s work….).

Babies should sleep on their BACKS. PERIOD. No discussion. When they are old enough to roll over themselves, they can do whatever they want. The SIDS rate in the United States has gone down dramatically since we started doing this. There is not one study that says babies will choke. Etc. People who argue on this one probably had babies who were very happy on their stomachs. And face it – not many babies died of SIDS. But if we can save any of them, it’s worth it.

8. Immunizations

They are now made with bits of protein from the germs that cause them, and are much safer than ever. The ones given in Vermont are not preserved with mercury.

9. Potty Training

You can read all sorts of fun stuff on this one – some people in town are doing the “when baby wiggles, put her on the pot” with kids under one year. But most developmental specialists will tell you – girls potty train themselves between two and three years of age, boys between 2-1/2 and 3-1/2

10. How many clothes to wear

Same as you – maybe one layer more (do you wear an undershirt regularly?).

And last but not least – The best answer to someone who needs validation of their own parenting/mothering choices is to smile and say, “Thank you so much! I will certainly think about it!” (You don’t have to tell them what you think about it.)

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