By Sarah Rachel Egelman
"Can you believe parents aren't supposed to give their kids cold medicine anymore?" asked the woman scanning my groceries. It was early in the morning and I had my 9-month-old in a carrier strapped to my chest. There was no one behind me in line and so the woman and I had been chatting about teething and other baby concerns.
I have distinct memories of driving around in my parents Volare in the 1970's. My sister and I, unencumbered by seat belts, would be scrambling around the backseat (often, truth be told, mooning the cars behind us) while my mom smoked cigarettes in the front seat. Not the picture of safety by 2008 standards, but not a whole lot different than most families we knew at the time.
So, we are not supposed to give our kids cold medicine anymore; it wasn't something we did a lot around here anyway but it did get me thinking about all the things that are either now out of vogue in parenting or we have come to learn are simply dangerous. Nowadays, kids are firmly strapped in while driving in cars and even parents who smoke often do so only away from their children.
Here are some other examples from now and then:
Bike helmets: When I was a kid it was weird to see someone wearing a helmet to cycle or skate. Now my young daughter reminds her dad every morning, as he prepares to ride his bike to work, to put on his helmet. She has a nice green one she is proud to wear while cycling.
Sleeping on tummies: At least one generation, mine, was put down to sleep as newborns on our tummies. Now we know it is far safer for babies to sleep on their backs.
Early solid foods: In my husband's baby book is a sheet of instructions from his pediatrician. It advised his parents to start solid foods at less than a month old. I have read this sheet several times with disbelief -- how do you get a newborn to ingest solids? It seems like torture for all involved. Now we are told to wait at least five months. Six months seems to be the average but even 10 months isn't unusual.
Walkers: Until the last decade, walkers were a de rigeur baby item. Before babies could walk they were put in walkers and allowed to drag themselves around the house. Most doctors recommend against walkers these days as they can be dangerous and can even delay walking instead of encouraging it.
I can only imagine how strange or even hazardous our parenting methods will someday seem to our grandchildren.
Sarah Rachel Egelman is a community college instructor and freelance book reviewer who lives in New Mexico with her family.