15 Terrifying "Normal" Parenting Pics From History

For readers that experience it every day, parenting is the most important, most fun, arduous, annoying, rewarding, thankless, and thankful job anyone who experiences it will ever experience. You're responsible for shaping and moulding a little boy or girl into an upstanding and hopefully outstanding member of society. Considering the countless droves of people who have come before you, everyone is going to have some opinion pertaining to you and your parenting skills.

If you ever feel perturbed by possible judging eyes, then bring up this list on your phone and shove it in their judgy little face and tell them “at least I'm not doing #____, depending on how old you are, maybe that's what your parents did for you, which would explain a whole lot.”

Or if you're not into public confrontation with complete strangers, you can just read this list and snicker, or cringe in terror at some terrifying normal parenting pictures of the past.


15 Baggage Claim Babies

A few years back, there was a cute little picture that went viral – it was a mother who brought her twin babies on an airplane ride and took the time to make everyone that was going to ride the skyways with her a welcome package that had a little note, apologizing in advance for any possible tantrums her babies might have, and earplugs.

As frustrating as traveling with your baby might be, they pretty much have to sit on your lap for the entire duration of the flight, think about how much the experience might be better if you could put the rugrat into a Sky Cot? You’ve never heard of a Sky Cot? It’s awesome. It’s baggage claim for your baby! You hook a little cot onto the overhead baggage compartments of the plane. So now your lap is clear and you as a parent are free to roam around the plane without having to carry your kid with you.

Let’s just hope the kid doesn’t find a way to escape the flimsy safety net or get smashed by suitcases if the flight hits turbulence.

14 Baby Walker


There are people who subscribe to the theory that everything should happen when it’s time – the baby will say its first words in time, they’ll roll over on their tummies when it’s time, stand, sit, crawl, use the potty; all of life’s early milestones will happen when the baby itself is ready to do it. In other words, don’t force any issue as far as development goes.

But that theory isn’t for everyone. In the September 1939 issue of Popular Science magazine, we would meet a Swiss engineer who decided it would be much easier to just teach the kid to walk by himself, by strapping the child to some strange looking instrument of torture – although he probably thought it wasn’t torture. Pairs of wooden arms would be strapped to the baby’s legs and the other end to mom or dad’s legs. There was a harness connected to a pulley on an overhead wire that would hold baby upright when taking its first momentous steps.

Clearly, the Baby Walker didn’t catch fire, but perhaps future puppeteers in Hollywood like Ray Harryhausen and Jim Henson got ideas for larger puppets using this contraption.

13 Bad Seeds Need Lobotomies

From the terrible twos and troublesome threes and angst-ridden teenage years, the brains and thought patterns of our children have confounded us since the beginning of time. While in the past 30-40 years or so, we just bring our kids to a psychiatrist to talk with and draw pictures for the shrinks to try and decipher what's going on in their little precious minds.

But before that, when we'd bring a supposed problem child to the doctor, the quacks would suggest a good old fashioned lobotomy. Why not have a piece of their brain removed before it's completely finished developing, in favor of a more docile child?

Howard Dully wrote an article for the Guardian where, in grim detail he speaks about Dr. Walter Freeman giving him a lobotomy at 12 years old, by shoving an icepick into his orbital socket. His father and stepmother decided to admit him to a private hospital for his supposed unruliness. Dully details how he felt about the ghastly procedure, “I was in a mental fog, I was like a zombie; I had no awareness of what Freeman had done.”

12 Leave Your Baby Alone In The Bathtub


Anyone and everyone (even if you’ve read Good Dog Carl) know full damn well, never, ever, ever leave your kid alone in the bathtub. Horror stories of babies slipping, cracking their head open or worse, drowning, have been heard over the years– so clearly common sense is not a trait shared by all parents around the world.

For those of us who don't have common sense or just want to be lazy and tempt fate, head to eBay or Craigslist and find the old Baby Safety Belt. Now you can strap little Jane or Bobby in after getting the bath ready. Just prop them up, strap them in, hand them a rubber ducky and then go do whatever you need to do, it's the perfect product for the parent who just can't stand baby bath time.

The safety bar uses the same technology as the shower bar that you twist to fasten, and since that never moves once secured, surely your baby’s life would never be in jeopardy here.

11 Baby Gas Tank Strollers

The badass picture above would be awesome cover art to a King Diamond album, or some other crazy Black Metal group. However this is actually a picture from a parent in World War II era London pushing her kid around in what might look like a lil’ baby coffin is actually, quite possibly the only stroller in the history of mankind that would survive nuclear holocaust – take that Graco!

Thanks to the Blitz bombings of London in 1940, the British government began to issue gas masks to every man, woman, and child in order for the Brits to get on with their day under the slogan (seriously) “Keep Calm and Carry On,” and the Brits began to love life wearing gas masks. Because the Brits would never allow their way of life to be compromised by constant bombing.

So as terrifying as this picture is, it might be the only one on this list that actually makes sense if your society is being threatened by constant bombings.

10 Pictures Of Dead Kids


There is a tradition in Indonesia, where every three years the living will dig up their loved ones, take some pictures with them, and have a festival before putting them back in the ground. The Ma’nene Festival is thought to have been started by a hunter who stumbled across a corpse, dressed and gave it a proper burial.

Perhaps the guy got the quirky idea from what wealthy people used to do with their deceased loved ones and their brand new cameras. Back during the Victorian Era, it was fairly common and not at all as creepy sounding and looking as this looks – but you would take a picture with your dearly departed loved one as a memento.

While this was common practice for all ages, imagine forcing your living little ones to pose with their dead baby brother or sister. Imagine the horror show trying to convince your kid to smile while snuggling with their recently deceased sibling or standing in line with your other brothers and sisters while you’re dead one is being propped up like a morbid family Christmas card.

9 Radio Stroller

Have you been to the park lately? Little boys and girls are luckily still running around and finding ways to communicate and play with one another and hopefully make friends for life. All the while mommies and daddies are plugging away on their cell phones devoid of any interest in what their kid is doing.

While we might think this a fairly new trend, people have been inventing all kinds of ways to stay stimulated while watching your child, like this tedious looking bit from the early 20th century. It seems that more or less from the inception of the radio, inventors had been trying to figure out ways to make it portable.

The Radio Stroller was invented in 1921 and was fitted with a radio, antenna, and loudspeaker all designed to keep the baby quiet while you sat outside or inside or wherever. More likely than not, it was probably used to just drown babies out instead of keep them quiet.


8 And You Thought Dangling A Baby Was Bad? – Outside Baby Cages


Let's never discount the musical genius of one Michael Joseph Jackson. Let's also never forget how controversial the King of Pop was at times. How about the time he dangled his newborn baby from a window to show all of his fans his new bundle of joy? Now rewind the clock several years, put the kid in the same kind of cage you might place an Air Conditioner in and the late great artist seems fairly tame.

Nowadays if you looked up at big city high rise windows and if you saw a toddler crawling around in a “Baby Cage,” you'd be on the phone with 911 and there'd be a Fire Department Hook and Ladder en route as you were spitting out the address.

According to an 1884 book, The Care and Feeding of Children, by Luther Emmett, babies needed to be aired out (guess he didn't like new baby smell) and 28 years later – wammo – the Baby Cage was invented and implemented in London to “renew and purify” a baby's blood. Before you go and criticize common sense in 1920s England, remember something everyone is doing now for their children will be looked down upon several years down the road.

7 No Cuddling

There are about a thousand and three reasons to snuggle and cuddle with your baby – it increases closeness, it gives warmth, and quite frankly they're so friggin’ cute – how could you not?

Through the ages though, there are seemingly the same exact amount of reasons to actually NOT touch your kid (no wonder they always look so unhappy in old timey pictures). In a parenting book from 1916, The Mother and Her Child, by Drs. Lena and William Sadler seem to think barely acknowledging the baby, let alone cuddling with your bundle of joy could be detrimental.

“Handle the baby as little as possible. Turn it occasionally from side to side, feed it, change it, keep it warm, and let it alone.” All to not spoil a newborn, heaven forbid it felt loved. Odd little parenting nugget aside, the no cuddling policy would find its way even into McCarthyism in the 1960s.

According to Walter Sackett’s wisdom in the 1962 book Bringing Up Babies, “If we teach our offspring to expect everything to be provided on demand, we must admit the possibility that we are sowing the seeds of socialism.” You get Commie kids from cuddling, who would have thought – perhaps your grandparents.

6 Neck Brush


It's going to be really interesting to see which baby products from today are looked it in the future as terrifying instruments of torture. This device looks right out of a bad science fiction movie of the time (and perhaps some prop master re-purposed it for just that), but it was actually something to help keep your little tyke’s neck clean while they were playing outside.

The look on poor Johnny’s face in the picture though suggests that this device was likely scaring kids from going outside, if they had to wear this garish monstrosity. According to a Business Insider article, the brush is made of plastic and will dry clean your kid’s neck while they play and the product was developed at the behest of a mother’s suggestion by the L.A. Brush Corporation.

Clearly, it was lazy mother’s request, too lazy to lift her kid’s head clean his neck.

5 No Thumbsucking

Eventually it's a habit that a lot of toddlers need help stopping. When they’re too old for a pacifier, the typically might start sucking their thumb or another finger(s). But that habit needs to stop too, before the kid gets too old and when you yank a finger out of their mouth, you’re bound to break a finger.

How about painting their nails with good ol’ Thum Nail Biting and Thumb Sucking solution to curb the habit? It’s a mixture of nail polish remover, nail polish, cayenne pepper, and isopropyl alcohol. Combined, the product has a nasty, bitter taste that should help your little one stop biting their nails…and hopefully not develop a bitter hatred for you for torturing them.

Oddly enough, the product is still available today (?!), and contains the same ingredients but now at least as a warning about accidental ingestion of the product. So it’s good enough to spread on their fingers but bad enough to have a label that reads “In case of accidental ingestion, seek professional assistance or contact a poison control center immediately.”

Basically the kid either stops biting their nails or you might be dialling 911 pretty quick.

4 The Baby Mop


After a while, once you've had a baby or two, both mom and dad get too tired from work and parenting to do any house cleaning. One entrepreneurial lazy parent decided there's no need to clean anymore, that's why he had a kid in the first place! Voila! The Baby Mop!

Not too long ago, last century in the 90s, the Japanese had a spoof commercial with a similar item. Ten years later a website came out with the real deal - a baby onesie with mop material on the legs and arms. The site even had a list of reasons why this product is awesome. For example, it will teach your little one a strong work ethic, he or she will learn not to drop or waste food, and he or she will get a nice work out and sleep better! You sold yet?

Products like this just go to show you that even now, society will find new and exciting horrible examples of parenting.

3 Coffee In That Baba

Just be thankful that the old “breakfast of champions” of coffee and a cigarette wasn't the norm for babies way back when. But the first part of that breakfast has been around for quite some time. Even now, the great debate of whether kids should and could drink coffee or not rages on.

You can't really blame our little ones for wanting to try it – they pretty much smell the sauce as early as the day they're brought home from the hospital. They get older and start eating solid foods and walking and talking and crawling and through it all, the pungent aroma of the dark magic permeates the air they breathe. Of course they'd want to try some!

Even though some parents will acquiesce and give their tykes a sip, still the science shows that drinking coffee at an early age could lead to addiction, obesity, diabetes, depression, and sleep problems. Take all of this into account before you go thinking that your little bundle of joy is merely a tiny adult and can partake in a pot of Joe.

2 Kids Got Asthma? There’s Opium For That


It is probably one of the scariest sights you'll ever see, watching a loved one gasp for air, multiply that tenfold when it's your baby or toddler and they are getting more and more upset and scared with each failed breath and they don't know how to calm down. So you bob and weave through traffic to the hospital and get the news – asthma.

While it is no longer as life threatening as it used to be; yours and your baby’s life just got a lot more annoying – filled with inhalers, nebulizers, and other devices to help your kid breathe properly. But if all else fails, just give them opium.

Even as late as the 19th century, babies were given the drug for their asthma and restlessness. They even had opium filled cherry flavored cough drops. A company called Stickney and Poor made drops, complete with doses of five drops for babies five days old!

1 Whiskey In The Baba

Similar to coffee, alcohol is another adult beverage that kids have at least noticed their elders enjoying from minute one of their lives. Heck, perhaps mothers who just delivered immediately have a drink after popping the kid out.

The old wives tale has always been that some Jack Daniels could help a crying baby out while they were teething. However there isn’t a lot of solid science to show that whiskey actually numbs gums, although when they’re so small perhaps only a few drops would “soothe” a crying baby (soothe = got the runt drunk).

Thankfully, most parents with sense enough know to head to the freezer instead when the kid is teething. But not for the chilled vodka, for cold teething toys instead.

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