The “Good Old Days” and Baby Safety

Does Grandma know best? Usually! But when it comes to recommended best practices for infant safety, a lot has changed over the past 100 years. September is Baby Safety Month—an opportunity to see how far we have come in protecting our youngest children.

  • Car seats: Mass produced child safety seats were introduced in the 1930s to contain and raise the child in the seat physically so they could see out the vehicle window. These seats could be placed in the front or the back of the car. Today: In Illinois, infants under the age of 2 years are required to be in a rear-facing car seat unless they weigh more than 40 pounds or are more than 40 inches tall. Absolutely no babies or children in front seat.
  • Teething: Ever heard people joke about rubbing whiskey on baby’s gums to help with teething pain? Serums and syrups containing alcohol and morphine remained on the market until the 1930s for teething. Today: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends rubbing infants’ gums with a clean finger or providing a teething ring made of firm rubber to chew on.
  • Sleeping: From rocking cradles to bassinets to window cribs (used to increase fresh air exposure in the 1920s!), parents have always tried to perfect baby’s sleep environment. Toys, blankets and even pillows were commonplace, and stomach sleeping encouraged. Today: Crib side rails should always be at least 26 inches above the mattress support. Lower the mattress as your child progresses through sitting and standing milestones. Research in the 1980s about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) led to parents now being advised against using cushions or bumper pads in crib. Always remember the ABCs of Safe Sleep: A – Alone, B – Back, C – Crib. Never put a baby in bed with you to sleep.

“New parents can often be overwhelmed by the vast number of safety issues related to bringing a new baby home,” said Kathryn Patrick, nurse manager with Springfield Memorial Hospital’s Family Maternity Suites. “We understand! Best practices continue to evolve and develop, which is why we offer a variety of classes and support groups. We also try to reassure our new parents to use common sense and always feel free to reach out and ask questions before, during and after your deliver your baby.”