11 Baby Products Our Moms Used (But Aren’t Safe Anymore)

Mercurochrome, aspirin, and castor oil… Sounds more like rat poison than must-have baby products, right? Ever wondered what your mom considered essentials back when you were an infant? Read on to find out (and be completely shocked!):


Merco–what? Unless you’re over the age of 30, you probably have never heard of this topical antiseptic. Our cuts and boo-boos were dabbed on by doting parents to protect against infection, and it didn’t sting as much as iodine did. Since they didn’t have Batman and Hello Kitty bandages, the next best thing to show off a battle scar was the reddish-brown stain it left over the wound.

In 1998, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration put very strict limitations on the sale of mercurochrome and it was no longer considered to be a GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) over-the-counter product because an active ingredient was mercury.

Mercury Thermometers

While we’re on the subject of mercury, when kids felt sluggish, mom’s first move was to feel their forehead and get the thermometer out of the medicine cabinet. Kids secretly hoped the silver liquid would raise enough to get out of school. The problem is, the silver liquid is mercury. And although it is safely inside the glass, what happens if the thermometer breaks? Mercury poisoning is highly dangerous, so out with mercury and in with digital thermometers.

Baby Powder

Baby powder was a staple on every diaper-changing table. It kept babies bottoms dry and it gave every baby that “new baby” smell. The trouble lies in the talc part of talcum powder. In its natural form, some talc contains asbestos, a substance that can cause cancer when inhaled. U.S. talcum products became asbestos-free in the 1970’s.

Baby Oil

Moms thought they were keeping tender skin moist and cradle cap at bay with this “natural” oil. Baby oil is basically mineral oil, which is a byproduct of petroleum processing – but no one knew that then. It smelled good and baby’s skin felt soft, but the oil actually acted like a plastic wrap on the skin, hindering the skin’s ability to breath and release toxins. Baby oils likely caused skin irritations instead of alleviating them.

Baby Aspirin

Baby aspirin drops and chewables were tasty and went down easy. It was the go-to solution when your baby had a fever or was teething. Now we know that giving baby aspirin to babies and young children has been linked to Reye’s syndrome, a rare disease that causes damage to the liver and the brain, and sometimes death. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen is the safe choice these days.

Castor Oil

This oily and nasty tasting cure-all was horror in a bottle for kids, and was used to treat constipation and tummy trouble. But besides tasting awful, it didn’t even work well. Instead of providing soothing relief, it caused cramping and volatile bowel movements that could continue for hours. Not exactly the gentle relief needed for sick and constipated babies.

Lead Paint

What eager parent didn’t want to paint a nursery in pastel colors? Unfortunately, the paint can hold dangerous components. Behavioral problems, learning disabilities, brain damage, and seizures are associated with exposure to lead paint. Babies are always putting things in their mouth, especially if it tastes sweet like lead paint does. Chips of paint presented real health dangers, especially to children under 6 years of age. Up until 1978, lead paint was quite common. If you have an older home, there may be layers of lead underneath your fresher coats of paint.

Crib Bumpers

Matching bedding, including bumper pads to coordinate with the freshly-coated lead paint room, completed the perfect, cozy nursery. Bumper pads were used to keep babies from banging their head or getting their arms and legs stuck. Unfortunately, these decorative pads were also found to be a suffocation risk if the baby pressed his face against them. The American Academy of Pediatrics has advised parents to avoid them, and Maryland has banned crib bumpers entirely. While Chicago already has a ban, the entire state of Illinois legislature is trying to get a law passed to ban bumpers as well.

Flame-Retardant Pajamas

Back in the 70s, flame-retardant pajamas lulled parents into a false sense of security. Sure, they seemed like the perfect solution to keep the flames from our kids in the middle of night, but another danger lurked in the fibers. Brominated and chlorinated flame retardants are potent carcinogens. Carcinogens can cause mutations in our DNA and cause cancer. The PSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) has banned them from sleepwear.

Flame-retardant pajamas now contain PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers), but a 2014 study found PBDEs are linked to cognitive problems, delayed mental and physical development, and early onset of puberty. Be mindful of PBDEs in pajamas, furniture, and mattresses.

Baby Walkers

Walkers kept babies occupied and parents thought they would help train the baby to walk, but they weren’t safe! Babies unwittingly rolled down a flight of stairs or trip over an object and got injured. Even with the 1997 regulations to make walkers safer, the American Academy of Pediatrics is calling for a ban on them as ERs are still treating over 20,000 injuries a year associated with walkers. Not only can walkers be unsafe, but they can actually delay babies from walking on their own.


Bath seats and infant seats were a convenient way to keep babies safe – if you had eagle eyes and never left your baby’s side. Seats aren’t sitters and an infant seat could easily rock off a counter top and a baby could slip out of bath seats and drown. Even the more recent Bumbo seat was recalled in 2007 due to babies falling out when the seat was placed on a raised surface. A strap now is offered but still, supervision is important for any seat.

What are other old baby must-haves you consider huge no-nos today? Share with us!

Tags : baby   baby gear   health   development   

Nikki M
So crazy!! I wonder what baby essentials we have now that will be banned later on