'My Mom Did It' Doesn't Make It Safe

Christie Haskell

How many times have you heard someone try to point another mom towards some safety or health information, only to hear, "My mom did it with me and I'm fine" or "My grandma did with her thirteen kids and none of them died"? I hear it all the time and often have to smash my hands to my face for fear of my eyeballs rolling out of my head.

Look, folks. Medical and science advances are GOOD things. What was okay in 1980 is not necessarily okay now -- that was over THIRTY years ago, people. What your mom did is OLD science. Let's look at some of the things our parents used to do ...

The way things once were:

Parents used cribs with sharp, often flimsy hinges that can cut babies fingers, mouths or heads. Slats were wide enough that babies could get their entire heads stuck, which could lead to death. The CPSC has antique cribs listed as "Most Wanted" because they're just NOT safe. Tall posts could catch clothing and hang kids, and even the soft mattresses could suffocate them -- especially since babies were usually put on their bellies, something 90 percent of moms no longer do for good reason.

Lead paint was used in houses, toys, cribs and more. Banned in 1978, but still existing in many older houses and products, lead paint is just bad news as it enters the bloodstream, and especially in super-sensitive babies and toddlers. It is known to stunt development, cause brain and nervous system damage, and learning disorders. We stopped using it and take serious precautions if we know a home still has it, and ban toys that come up with lead paint too, especially when kids put those in their mouths and paint can chip off. Knowingly giving a baby something with lead is stupid these days.

Car seats were non-existant or dangerous. Many older car seats were shown to cause more injuries than they prevented, if they prevented any at ALL. But stubborn parents refused to upgrade even though the new designs were infinitely safer, so laws were put into place, often banning forward-facing before one AND twenty pounds, and boosters before four AND forty pounds. We now know rear-facing is way safer, and it's only a matter of time before forward-facing before you have no choice is considered as dangerous as these ancient car seats, too.

Homemade formula was made from evaporated milk and Karo syrup. Look, formula may not be perfect, and it's certainly not breastmilk, but it's a hell of a lot better than the old homemade versions people came up with. Karo syrup shouldn't even be given to babies, and while kids may have grown up okay, there's a good reason a lot of Americans have tons of digestive and obesity problems.

See what I mean? Even a decade or two or thirty or forty years ago, things were way different. We did things we wouldn't DREAM of now. Sure many survived the terrible formula or deadly car seats, but many more didn't, which is why we STOPPED doing those things. Don't live in the past. Take advantage of decades of science and please don't defend poor practices with "My mom did it and I'm fine." That doesn't negate the risks.

What's an outdated and dangerous practice you know of?


Images via joanna8555/Flickr; Editor B/Flickr; Maria Packard Croft; Alberth2/Flickr

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