There's nothing like the deluge of parenting advice when you have a kid. Everyone and their grandmother suddenly knows what's best, right? And while the majority of people who offer advice are well-intentioned, some of the advice they're throwing out there is not great. Not BAD, but more past it's prime. Outdated parenting advice seems to never go away, because if it was good enough for your mom and her mom, it's good enough for you! Except it's not. When we know better, we do better. And as far as these 18 pieces of outdated parenting advice go, we definitely know better now.
I get it. When our parents were young, they were spanked. By their parents, by teachers, by whomever felt it necessary to dole out some old-fashioned discipline. But most modern parents have chosen to take a different, less violent approach. Weird, right? Who knew you could get your kid to behave without hitting them? Studies have shown that corporal punishment doesn't work, and can lead to long-lasting negative effects on the child. So the next time someone tells you your kid needs a spanking, tell them to get bent.
This one is just silly. For the last time: you cannot "catch" a cold by BEING COLD. That's just not how it works, people! You can leave the house every single day of your life with dry hair and a scarf and hat, and if someone sneezes in your face, guess what? You're going to catch a cold. Having wet hair outdoors when it's chilly, not wearing a hat, not wearing gloves - none of those things make you more susceptible to catching a cold. Unless you're so cold that you get hypothermia, you're fine.
Honestly, it's no wonder life expectancy used to be so much lower, given the advice they followed. Being sick can certainly affect your appetite, and if your kid doesn't want to eat when they're feeling crummy, it's fine. Fluids are important, but a day or two of crackers and ice pops never hurt anyone. But there is no evidence to suggest that forcing food if your kid has a cold or withholding food when they have a fever is going to do anything but make that sick kid mad. Again, viruses do what they want to do. If your kid has a fever and wants a sandwich, give them a damn sandwich.
I'm not saying this wouldn't work. I'm saying it's illegal and would probably land you in someone's file at CPS. Don't give your baby or toddler distilled spirits or booze. Tylenol and a frozen sock work just fine.
This one bugs the shit out of me. You can't SPOIL A BABY. If a baby is crying, if a baby is fussy, hold them! They're not capable of understanding why they're not being held, and they certainly aren't thinking to themselves, "Ha! Suckers fell for it again, I will get anything I want now!" They're fucking BABIES. They need to be held.
I heard this over and over again when I was a kid. If there was any science behind this, ANY AT ALL, literally no one in the world would be able to see. Sitting too close to the TV can cause eyestrain, yes. But, here's the kicker: kids are able to focus at close distances without eyestrain better than adults! So if your kid wants to sit 4 inches from Spongebob, more power to them.
I don't even know what to say about this one. It's just so dumb. Babies stand and bounce to find their center of gravity and build leg strength. It's not going to bow their legs, for christ's sake.
Car seats have come a long way, for sure. I shudder to think about what they used to be, just a bucket with a strap, bouncing and sliding all over the back seat. Technology is good! Advancements in safety are awesome! Does your baby need a car seat that self-buckles and whispers sweet nothings in their ear? Probably not. But don't let anyone tell you that car seat safety is optional. Just because they survived their childhood riding in a glorified turtle shell doesn't mean it was optimal.
I know this used to be the gold-standard in baby sleep, but again, times have changed, and we know better. Babies are safest when they're sleeping on their backs. Or our faces. They seem to like that, too.
This old wives' tale has really endured the test of time and common sense. "Cats will jump into the crib and steal the baby's breath!" LOL WUT. There are plenty of reasons people choose to wait to get a pet until the kid is older (they're a lot of work!), but your dog or cat isn't going to stealthily murder your sleeping baby. Outdated parenting advice: possibly dangerous, always dumb!
Breast milk or formula have all the nutrients babies need, there is no reason to add rice cereal. Some doctors will suggest it to help with weight gain, but it's really a last resort. Solids shouldn't be introduced until 6 months, and some research shows that babies who're introduced to solids before that are actually WORSE sleepers.
Here's the thing: most new parents start out with a feeding and sleeping schedule. And most babies are like, fuck yo schedule. They want what they want when they want it, they don't care what your little whiteboard in the nursery says. Track feedings and diapers during the first weeks, but don't kill yourself to try to stick to some regimented schedule. They give not a single shit and all you'll do it stress yourself out. Don't let this piece of outdated parenting advice harsh your parenting vibe.
That's ... not how it works. Shaving or cutting your baby's head has zero effect on how it grows back. Hair grows from the root in the follicle, so cutting the ends (which is already dead hair) won't make a damn bit of difference. Hair texture and thickness is tied to genetics, not hair cuts.
A pair of socks in the fall or winter when it's chilly, yes. Body heat escapes from the head and feet in babies, so keeping their toes toasty when it's cold out is a good idea. Does your baby need socks in the summer? No. Year-round? No. 24 hours a day? No.
Babies don't stink the way we do, so they don't need to be bathed everyday. Some babies like the bath, others hate it, so if you have a bath-hating kid, don't feel bad if you only deal with that nonsense every few days. Just make sure to wipe under the necks several times a day, it smells like curdled milk in those folds. Wiping the folds will never be outdated parenting advice, it's the best advice anyone can give you ever. Trust me.
You know the great thing about babies? When they're really small, they'll sleep just about anywhere! They don't need total darkness and silence; in fact, some background noise and ambient light may help them be more sleep-adaptive as they get older. This is especially important if you've got another kid at home who is never louder than they are when the baby is napping.
Man, parents sure like to use a lot of alcohol back in the day. Spoiler alert: rubbing alcohol on a baby's forehead does nothing for their fever. But they can absorb the alcohol through their skin, so maybe they'll just be too tipsy to care they're sick.
Like most outdated parenting advice, this one has no basis in science or reality. We've heard it all: you'll turn your daughter into a lesbian (OMG), you'll scar your son by showing him your boobs too much, the baby will never learn how to talk, blah blah blah. The World Heath Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months, then continued nursing with supplemental solids to two years or beyond. LOTS of women follow this advice, and oddly enough, we don't have a lot of mute lesbians and men who're terrified of boobs running around. Go figure.