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Care And Feding Of Children

( Originally Published Early 1900's )


Many girls who read this book help their mothers in the care of baby brothers and sisters and will be interested in studying the needs of babies.

The baby's body, like his mind, needs training and protection, if it is to be perfect. The head is soft and the brain may be injured by hard bumps or by pressure. His skin is very ten-der; it has not the resistance of that of an older child or a grown person. The baby must be protected from the bites of insects, as they carry disease and their stings are very irritating to the skin; some slight irritation of this sort may cause, fever in a delicate child, interrupt his growth, and lessen his strength so that he will not be able to withstand even a slight illness. The baby's face and hands must not be exposed to flies.

The baby tries to learn to use his muscles by kicking and by moving his arms and wiggling his body. After the first six weeks he may be played with a little. The mother or nurse may move his legs or arms gently; no baby should lie in his crib all the time; he gets much good exercise in his mother's arms. He should, however, be taught to lie in bed quietly a part of the time while awake, as a child that is constantly handled and talked to receives too much stimulation and becomes nervous. Each day after the first four weeks the baby should be undressed and put on a rug or bed in a warm room and allowed to kick and wriggle as he pleases. A child should not be propped up straight in a baby carriage before he is old enough to sit up, neither should he lie in the carriage with his eyes exposed directly to the sun.

Do not use a baby jumper; nature will teach the child to stand in time. The baby should be encouraged to crawl as soon as he shows a desire to do it; this develops many muscles and is good for the bowels. Provide a pen for crawling and put it around a clean canvas or sheet over the rug. A child that crawls can soon be taught to go down stairs without danger. Start him down backwards and help him until he has learned to get down without trouble. This is better than keeping the stairs barred and carrying the baby up and down. The stairs may be barred when it is not convenient to watch the baby. He should not be taught to sit or stand until he tries to do it for himself. Before this time is reached nature is not ready. After the child begins to walk encourage him to do it, but do not let him walk too rapidly ; pulling a little child along by one arm faster than he should go is very bad.

Fresh air is absolutely necessary for the child; after he is a month old he should be taken outdoors every day unless the weather is very severe. In cold weather cover him warmly, as extreme cold may be fatal to a young child. Put mittens on his hands, and keep him in a spot sheltered from high winds. If protected from strong sun a baby may spend most of the day outdoors, taking his nap on a screened porch.

A baby should have cool water, given between meals from a nursing bottle, but never within half an hour of feeding time. The use of the bottle is valuable even for breast fed babies if they should require feeding during the absence or illness of the mother. Boil all water for babies under one year old. If the urine shows a brick dust sediment it is an indication of a lack of water. Water also helps in regulating the bowels.

Sleep. The baby's bedtime should come. early in the evening. Regular hours are very important both for the sleep at night and the daytime nap. The late morning or mid-day is the best hour for the nap for the older baby ; he will then be ready to go to sleep early at night. Up to six years of age, a child should take a nap every day.

Disturbed sleep is in most cases due to improper feeding, although uncomfortable clothing, an irritated skin, stings of insects, or a room that is too warm or too cold will cause sleeplessness. Never give a baby soothing syrups or other sleeping medicine. They all contain habit forming drugs that are likely to injure mind and body. A baby should always have its clothing changed for the night, and in warm weather a sponge bath just before going to bed will be soothing.

A child should sleep alone ; a crib with one side let down may be pushed close to the side of the bed of the mother or nurse. In cold weather a flannel covered hot water bag should be put in the crib ; refill it during the night if the cold is extreme.

During the daytime nap cover the crib or baby carriage with a stiff mosquito bar unless the house is well screened.

Clothing. Clothing should be light and loose so that the body can move freely. In a cold climate about three layers of clothing, two of wool and one of cotton, are needed; in a warm climate less is required, but all young babies require a garment of thin silk and wool next to the skin, except in the hottest weather. A long sleeved knitted shirt of silk and wool, pinned to the diaper—which should be of fine soft birdseye—forms the first layer. A band is used for very young babies, or a single garment about a yard long may be put on instead of the shirt. Over this may be drawn a soft muslin dress and over it a flannel coat or dress. If one prefers the shirt, a flannel skirt with cotton waist and muslin dress with a short flannel sack can be used. Knitted stockings may be fastened to the diaper. No tight bands should be used about the body ; they compress the ribs and may cause a rupture or break of the abdominal wall.

A child in short clothes should wear full length stockings. Shoes must be broad and very soft; they should fit loosely about the ankles, and instep, but leave room for the toes both in width and length. A baby's foot grows very rapidly and when shoes are outgrown they should be discarded.

If the air becomes cooler put on extra clothing, being sure that it is soft and not tight. If the air grows warmer lighten the clothing.

Giving the Baby a Bath. Perfect cleanliness is the only way to prevent chafing. Little soap should be used; a fine white castile soap is best, but it must be washed off very thoroughly.

For bathing, use water that is slightly warm, that is, about 99° F. for the first few months, reducing gradually to about 90° F. at six months and 80° F. at one year. Bathe the baby about half way between meals ; a morning hour is usually the best. Have the room and clothing warm. A very young baby must have oil baths only ; one a little older may be bathed in water in a small tub or a basin. A trained nurse can show how it is done. A baby's washrags and towels should be kept fresh and clean.

The Eyes, Ears, and Teeth. Wash the baby's eyes gently. If they seem irritated bathe with a boric acid solution (it may be obtained at a drug store). If the irritation continues consult a physician. A twist of soft muslin should be used to clean the ears. Never use a hairpin or other metal object. If an insect gets into a child's ear lay him on his side and fill the ear cavity with olive oil barely lukewarm. Keep the head down for several minutes, then put the finger over the ear cavity, turn the child over, remove finger quickly, and the insect will be brought out with the oil. If a child has earache consult a physician promptly; much deafness results from ear neglect in childhood.

Take good care of the first teeth and have a cavity filled promptly. If the first teeth are lost too early the shape of the mouth is injured, and the child may have indigestion on account of not being able to chew his food.

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