Don’ts for Mothers from 1878

Katy Pearson, Sonny Jim, #whatkatydidUK
Ignoring the advice – kisses for my boy

As soon as you fall pregnant, it seems everyone has some advice for you on being a mother.

And Sonny Jim might be two in a few months… but the unsolicited suggestions and comments, often from complete strangers, has continued unabashed.

My favourite tips however, come courtesy of a little book from 1878, called Don’ts for Mothers.

If you had any doubts that parenting has changed rather a lot over the course of the past 140 years, this should put you straight…

    • Don’t feel it necessary to wash your infant’s head with brandy.
    • Don’t feed a new-born babe upon gruel. It makes him feeble.
    • Don’t allow your child luncheon. If he want anything to eat between breakfast and dinner let him have a piece of dry bread
    • Don’t kiss your infant on the mouth. Infants ought never to be kissed except for on the forehead, and even that should be seldom permitted.
    • Don’t permit a child to be in the glare of the sun without a hat. He is likely to have a sunstroke, which might either at once kill him, or might make him an idiot for the remainder of his life.
    • Don’t cram a wet nurse with food, give her a strong ale to drink.
    • Don’t put boys into trowsers too young but keep them in petticoats until they are four years old. Never put trowsers on girls at all.
    • Don’t allow the child to be with persons who stutter, or have any extraordinary sort of ugliness.
    • Don’t allow children indiscriminate and careless intercourse with strangers. They may learn vicious and destructive habits.
    • Don’t be disappointed when you learn ‘it’ is a girl not a boy. A girl is every bit as important to this world as a boy.
    • Don’t hold children’s parties. They are one of the great follies on the present age. Their pure minds are blighted by it.
    • Don’t punish a child too harshly. Small children may be sent to bed without supper or tied in an arm-chair.
    • Don’t attempt to manage a boy if he is too bad to be governed by any other means than flogging: tell his father of his disobedience and request him to punish the boy.

Don’ts for Mothers, £2.99, is published by A & C Black Publishers

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