Anorak News | Suffer The Children

Suffer The Children

by | 10th, December 2005

‘CHILDREN should be seen and not heard. So goes the golden rule. Such a policy might work for little Armani, whose constant demands for a burger, chips, coke and pony (assuming the latter is not a constituent part of the former) would test any of us.

But can it really work for a baby? How to bring up baby has been the source of much head scratching since time immemorial.

Mummy might think she knows best, but, according to the health visitor, who’s read lots of books on baby care and attended all the courses and workshops on offer, mummy knows pretty much nothing.

When baby cries out, should mother go to her? When baby wants to sleep, should mother just let her doze? When baby wants to stick her fingers in a hot cup of tea, should mummy permit such a thing, allowing the tot learn the hard way?

Had you been a parent or a baby in 1926, chances are mother would have been encouraged to let you dip a podgy digit the scalding hot cuppa. Why, she’d very likely have held it in the steaming brew until the curious little love had learnt a valuable lesson.

To make the 80th anniversary of Nursery World magazine, the country’s leading childcare publication, the editors of the august organ have published details of advice and tips given all those moons ago.

And it makes for a chilling read. How to cure a fussy eater in 1926: “You cut out feeding times for 24 hours. He has water in abundance, exercise, rest, peace. After that you will have no trouble with regard to food and the wicked boy may be transformed into a likeable young person who appreciates mealtimes.” (Yeah, make him work for his Happy Meal.)

How to reduce a child’s allergies in 1965. “Cover pillows, especially feather pillows used by children susceptible to asthma and hay fever, with polythene bags of a suitable size.”

How to get a good night’s sleep: 1936. A nanny writes: “My (18-month-old) charge would wake up every night and cry. One night, instead of petting her, I gave her a smacking instead. Every night after that when she woke up and cried without reason, I smacked her. At the end of three weeks, I found I had undisturbed nights of rest.”

Sure the child was trembling in fear, but nanny got some rest. And as every parent knows, sleep is the most precious commodity there is.

But not all of the advice is arcane. A “safety first” policy could have a “paralysing effect on a child if pressed too diligently”.

And “mud pies are much more important than the keeping clean of a pretty smock”. So much for mum spritzing the domicile with all manner of lemon-scented germ killers. And the nanny state…’

Posted: 10th, December 2005 | In: Reviews Comment | TrackBack | Permalink