A 1920s Guide to Bad Parenting: Would You Have Been Found Guilty or Innocent? (PHOTOS)

Vintage mom photograph
Eep! She’s doing something wrong, isn’t she?

There are few things I enjoy more than anything vintage related to parenting. Advice, gear, diaper-changing systems — they all make me and my willingness to serve ice cream at 10am and my passionate love for disposable diapers feel so superior, or at least so much less inferior.

In the 1920s, the Kansas State Board of Health, Division of Child Hygiene released a series of guidelines (warnings? lists? rules?) about how to keep babies healthy and safe.

After perusing the guidelines (warnings? lists? rules?), I figure I would have been a C+ parent at best, circa 1920. Which means I’d be faring better than the C- I’d probably get today, so there’s that.

Take a look and see how your kids would have fared with you in charge nearly a century ago:

  • Baby Will be Unhappy and Cross if He . . . 1 of 7
    Baby Will be Unhappy and Cross if He . . .
    . . . has me for a mother — that would be me, who is guilty of 11 of the 12 listed offenses.
  • Baby Will be Well and Happy if He . . . 2 of 7
    Baby Will be Well and Happy if He . . .
    . . . has a mother other than me.
    A bath every day? Ha! Good luck with that.
  • Bathing the Baby 3 of 7
    Bathing the Baby
    Again: Every day?
  • The Cost of Feeding 4 of 7
    The Cost of Feeding
    It had me until the death part, which feels a tad dramatic.
  • Milk Bottles 5 of 7
    Milk Bottles
    Your baby will probably be well.
    Unless your baby is 1 in 10. Then your baby will probably die, apparently.
  • Fresh Air for the Babies 6 of 7
    Fresh Air for the Babies
    Chicken coops: Good.
    Strollers: Bad.

    Got it?
  • Babies’ Sore Eyes is a Dangerous Disease 7 of 7
    Babies' Sore Eyes is a Dangerous Disease
    How, pray tell, do babies tell you they have sore eyes?
    Charades? Email? Sign language?

Top photo credit: iStock

All other images used with permission from

More from Meredith on Babble’s Toddler blog:

Read (even) more from Meredith at Babble’s Mom blog, follow her on Twitter, and check out her weekly syndicated newspaper column at


25 vintage ads that scream SEXISM
The most age-inappropriate toddler gear (what were they thinking?!)
25 totally ridiculous vintage ads featuring babies
20 disgusting things found in the mouths of toddlers
The 15 creepiest, weirdest dolls … ever