General Care of Children
CARE AT BIRTH IF THE labor has been hard--if the mother has
been in labor from six to twenty-four hours, and is quite worn out the baby
should be anointed with some bland oil, like olive or cottonseed oil, wrapped
in cotton, and laid away where it can be perfectly quiet and warm for
twenty-four hours. Babies, under such circumstances, are pretty well worn out,
and they should not be handled enough to bathe and dress them soon after birth,
as is common. Pay no attention to feeding--rest is all that is necessary. In
twenty-four hours the child should be bathed in warm water--soft water, if
possible--using the best castile soap, or a toilet soap that is known to be
mild. If everyone connected with the case will be better satisfied to have a
bandage on the child, put one on. I always acquiesce in this superstition--in
fact, I acquiesce in all superstitions that are innocent; slight variations
without a difference that do not amount to anything; anything to keep people
from worry and anxiety. After the child is dressed, it may be put to the
Concerning the wearing apparel: If
wool is used, it should be very soft. Linen is better, and soft cotton
will do. I do not believe in dresses. A long, soft, cotton-flannel or linen
gown is about all that is necessary to put on a child. A change of gowns can be
made without tiring the child. When gowns are used, they can be changed as
often as is necessary without much trouble.
If the child has come into the world tired because of
the mother's long or hard labor, it is perfectly natural for its body to be a
little sore. This causes it to be restless, and it needs its position changed
often. After the washing, the body should be anointed with oil, and gently
rubbed with a soft hand from head to foot to rest it Aside from slipping on a
gown, nothing but changing the position or giving it the breast is necessary,
night or day. Feeding at night should never be started.
It is a very great mistake to put a newborn baby on
exhibition, because handling it, throwing a strong natural or artificial light
into its face, so people may inspect it, loud talking, laughing, etc., in the
same room where the baby is, use up its nerve-energy and creates more or less
WHEN BABY BEGINS TO NOTICE
Do not feel that it is
necessary to entertain babies. They should be left alone, to learn how to
entertain themselves. Babies and children who have entertainment furnished them
make very dependent grown people--the kind who are lonesome and homesick when a
time comes, which it will, for them to take a rest cure. Children brought up
without education in self-entertainment and self-control break
all laws of man and nature, and end in hospitals, penitentiaries, and premature
death. Every child should be allowed enough time to become acquainted with, and
learn to entertain, itself. All that is necessary until a child is able to turn
itself over in bed is to change its position. Eternal attention builds an
egotism that is ruinous.
BABYHOOD TO FULL MATURITY
Bathing.--The baby should be given a daily bath
from birth, but not a daily soaking. Many children suffer from depletion of
their vital energy by being overbathed---soaked--in water. The daily bath
should be given quickly, using warm water--neither very hot nor very cold. The
sponging-off of the body should be followed with a brisk, soft dry-towel
rubbing. Your children need to be bathed in a warm room.
Two or three times a week for the first three months a
baby's body may be anointed with oil, rubbed well, and then the surplus wiped
off with a soft cloth.
Once a week a warm soap-bath may be
used, thoroughly scouring the body and rinsing well.
The temperature of all baths should be about
blood-heat. During hot summer weather, after the second year, a cool bath may
be used; but children that have weakened hearts should not be subjected to cool
or cold water.
The less soap used, the
better. Of course, with growing, active children it is necessary to use some
soap, in order to keep them clean; but the use of much soap ruins the
self-cleansing function of the skin.
The bath, from babyhood up, may be given at the most
convenient time, either morning or evening. Many homes are not warm enough in
the morning for bathing in comfort. However, it is well to establish a regular
Children should be taught early to keep their bodies
clean. Hot houses and clothes make bathing necessary, and the skin which is not
cleansed properly has a peculiar odor. As soon as they are old enough, they
should be taught to take their own daily baths. Water of about blood-heat may
be drawn in the tub to the depth of a few inches. The child may squat or stand
in the water, and, using a sponge or the hand, bring the water well over the
body, using a little soap on the parts requiring special attention. The soap
should be thoroughly rinsed off. Then follow with a brisk towel-rubbing.
A short rubber hose, with spray attachment on the end,
allows the bath to be given quickly, and the child enjoys its use.
Children should be taught to keep the genital organs
clean--washing them as often as the face, eyes, and ears. This cleanliness will
remove the cause of irritation which leads to self abuse. Irritation from lack
of cleanliness is followed by rubbing of the itching parts--the genitals--and
this ends in onanism.
The entire surface of the body must be kept clean. The
skin is just as much an organ of the body as the stomach, liver, etc., and a
neglected organ becomes diseased. Then, through sympathy, other organs become
less efficient. Cleanliness leads to godliness.
The mucous membrane lining the intestinal tract,
air-passages, etc., is the skin within, and it is in sympathy with the skin
without. Neglect to either reflects on the other. It is no uncommon thing to
see people suffering from indigestion due almost entirely to a neglected
surface of the body.
And so-called skin diseases, including eruptive
diseases, follow on the heels of gastro-intestinal derangements brought on from
carelessness in eating. Intestinal putrescence is the basic cause of eruptive
Air- and Sun-Baths.--As soon as it is possible,
put the child on its face--I mean allow it to lie on its stomach. When the
weather is warm and the room comfortable, and the sun shines through the
window, very young babies can be given sun-baths. Put a soft comforter on the
floor, and put the child down on it, face down. There is no danger of its
smothering. Children treated in this manner will walk earlier than children who
are kept on their backs continually. It is a mistake to leave a child on its
back all the time. That is the reason why I suggest that when very young they should
be changed from side to side. The sun-baths, to start with, should not be of
long duration--say, five or ten minutes. The babies then can be left nude on
the floor out of the sun for quite a while, if awake. When a child goes to
sleep, or appears sleepy, it should be put in its bed. The child must be
watched during the sun-bath. Those of low resistance may become chilly, and
they should be returned to bed at once. The next air-bath should be in a warmer
room, watching the child to avoid chilling. Many children are forced into
ill-health because of lack of air and an overheated state of the surface of the
Young children should be taken out of doors on all
warm, sunny days; but they should not be chilled. Resisting cold uses up
nerve-energy. When the feet are cold, it becomes a constant drain on the nerve-
energy, and will soon bring a child to a state of enervation that leads to
Older children should not be allowed to sit with cold
or damp feet. This chilling will hinder digestion.
Care of Beds and Sleeping-Rooms.--The beds
should be scrupulously clean. Bed-pads should be used on top of mattresses, so
that they can be replaced frequently. It is a very great mistake to allow
children to sleep on mattresses without pads; for the mattresses will become
soiled so frequently that it will be a source of great expense to replace them
as often as cleanliness and the children's health demands. If pads are used,
they can be washed and changed often.
The sleeping-rooms of children should be aired
thoroughly through the day. Beds should be opened, and, if possible, the
bed-clothing should be put in the sun.
Clothing.--Children should sleep in nightgowns,
which should be changed as often as twice a week.
During the hot weather, when the days and nights are
warm, as they are in many of the southern and central states, babies should not
be overdressed. They should sleep under light covering. When the nights are
pleasantly cool, they should sleep in pajamas with closed bottoms at the feet.
In very hot weather, babies should be dressed as
lightly as possible. To go almost naked is a great comfort to children in hot
weather; but when cold weather comes they should have sufficient clothing to
keep from chilling.
Clothing that children wear should be of a washable
nature--not too heavy. Why should a child be overclothed in a warm house? The
feet of children should be watched, and kept dry and warm. Overshoes for winter
weather should always be used, and the overclothing should be heavy enough to
protect them from the weather. I do not advocate wool next to the skin. Cotton
or linen is good enough. Underwear is not necessary. Care for the skin, and
teach it to be a protector and not to need protection.
Overheated houses and overclothing cause enervation of
the skin; and an enervated skin does not protect the body well. The clothing in
the home and schoolhouse, if well heated, should be light even in winter; and
then, when the children go out of doors, the outer clothing may be of a much
heavier weight--long overcoats and high overshoes and leggings, if they are to
play in the snow.
Children should wear long stockings in cold climates.
It is all right to have them wear short socks in a temperate climate all the
year around, but in the colder climates the long stockings should be used when
the weather begins to get cold.
Mothers who are aware of the fact
that they are not strong and that consequently their children are not strong,
should give their children more careful attention than the mother who knows
that she is husky and her children are husky. Too many mothers try to
harden their children after they have a bad start at birth. There is so much
difference between children that different rules of care must be applied to
Babies Must Be Kept Warm.--All young children
must be watched carefully, to see that they do not chill at night; or, for that
matter, they must not chill at any time, day or night. If a child is to thrive,
it must be kept warm. To allow a sick or frail child to chill every day will
eventually kill it, no matter how good care it may
receive otherwise. The feet should be felt frequently, to make sure that they
are warm. Artificial heat should be used, if necessary. Even in the summer time
the feet may chill without artificial heat. A woolen blanket should be used to
wrap the feet in when there is danger of chilling. A sickly child has no power
to warm its own body, and it must be warmed artificially.
Care of Napkins.--The baby's napkins should be
changed as soon as they are wet. When the napkin is removed, the body should be
sponged and cleansed wherever the parts are wet. The napkins should always be
washed before they are used again. To use a napkin that has been wet with urine
and dried without washing causes a great deal of skin irritation. Cleanliness
will cure all skin irritations of this kind.
Perfume or talcum powders with a decided odor should
not be used; for such odors cover the body odors and often mislead. The odor of
the body is a sign which mothers need in caring for their babies. It is all
right to use a little plain cream on the irritated parts after washing
thoroughly, and a little plain talcum powder; but do not overdo this.
Poised Mothers.--Poised mothers reflect this
quality in their children. Mothers who have no self-control and no poise should
not expect to have poised children. The habit of poise should be formed long
before conception, and then continued during the nursing period and on through
Weight.--The weight of the child, even at birth,
depends much on the build of the parents. One should not expect to find a
so-called fat baby where the mother and father are of the long, lean type. This
is why the rules and tables for weights of children are so absurd. They do not
take into consideration at all the parentage of the child.
When mothers watch their eating, and restrict
themselves during pregnancy so as to have a normal and natural childbirth, the
baby should weigh from three to six pounds. The rule is that there is no gain
the first week, and neither is there much of a loss. In fact, children that are
born of mothers who restrict themselves during pregnancy do not gain so much
the first year as overfed children of overfed mothers, but they are much safer,
so far as health is concerned, than those who gain so rapidly. Such children
will be much more healthy and active. The gain during the first six months is
usually from three to six pounds. There is nothing like the mother's milk to
keep the gain in weight regular. Changing from one food to another always
interferes with the proper development and gain in weight of the child. There
are many things which occur during the first year to interfere with the steady
increase in weight, and it is bound to vary from time to time. Mothers should
not worry so much about the weight of their children, but pay more attention to
their physical comfort, letting that be the guide in their care.
The fat child is supposed to be healthy, but a slender,
wiry child always has a better chance for development and maturity than the
overfat, roly-poIy child. A fat child is an incumbered child.
Teething, Talking and Walking.
--There is no hard and fast rule which can be laid down regarding the
proper age for walking, talking, and teething in babies.
As to walking, parents who eat beyond their needs,
making themselves stupid and dull, should not expect to have a child that will
walk early in life. It will have a slowly developed nervous system, and this
may handicap it for life. An active child, born of active parents who have had
some self-control in their early lives, will walk early. Such children may walk
at nine months of age. If walking is delayed too long, up to the approach of
the second year, there has probably been a little paralysis--infantile
paralysis--so light that it has not been noticed, that is retarding the walking
in the child.
As to talking, it is governed by about the same
principles as walking. Active, bright children, born unincumbered, will talk
earlier than sluggish, heavy children. It is usually the small--or what is
known as the undersized--child that talks early--at nine months or even
earlier. By the end of the first year the child should begin to talk; but, if
this has been delayed, the cause may be the same as the cause of delayed
walking--a slight paralysis.
As to teething, there is also a great variety in this
particular function in babies. Even in the same family the date for the
appearance of teeth varies. Usually about the fiifth month the two central
lower teeth begin to appear, and then the four upper teeth in the center about
the eighth month. From the end of the first year to the eighteenth month the
other front teeth follow. At the end of the first year the child usually has
six teeth, at eighteen months twelve, at two years sixteen, and at two years
and a half, twenty teeth.
If children have trouble at teething time, it is due to
overfeeding, which brings on indigestion. If the teeth are slow in developing,
there may be a lack of some of the body-building elements in the food that is
Care of the Eyes and Month.--Sprue is a whitish,
stringy-like substance that collects in the mouth, under the tongue and around
the gums--in fact, all over the inside of the mouth when the condition is bad.
It is caused by too frequent feeding from a mother who has eaten too much of
the starchy foods. If a child is properly fed, and not fed more than three or
four times at the most in the daytime, and not at all during the night, there
will be no trouble of this kind.
If, however, the condition appears, it can be overcome
without much trouble if the mother who is nursing the child will cut out all
the starchy food for a few days and eat more freely of the fresh fruits and raw
vegetable salads, together with the regulation dinner in the evening,
consisting of meat, cooked vegetables, and salad.
I do not approve of any of the mouth-washes that are
suggested to be used at such a time. This is merely palliation, and the real
cause, not being recognized and done away with, will build more trouble in the
future. It means that the mother is building an acid condition through her
overeating on starch; and this will build further trouble for her also later
There should be little or no trouble with the eyes of a
baby, if it is properly cared for. One of the principal things to watch is the
cleansing of the wash-cloth that is used on the baby's eyes. In fact, the
wash-cloth should be used on the body of the child, but a small piece of cotton
should be used on the eyes, mouth, and the parts of the body where there is any
secretion to be removed. Then the cotton can be thrown away and a new piece
used each time. The eyes should be bathed in warm water. If there seems to be
some irritation, a little salt may be added to the water, but nothing else.
Daily Habits at School Age.--Children just
beginning school should retire at eight o'clock at night in winter. Those who
have been in school several years may remain up until nine o'clock. In the
summer time, when school is not in session, the retiring time may be an hour
later for each age.
School children would be able to do twice as much work
at school, and very much better work, if arrangement could be made for an hour
of sleep, or at least rest on the bed, at noon. Parents would do well to demand
two hours at noon, so that the children may come home and have an hour of
rest--rest, not recreation--and then take time to eat their lunches and not be
compelled to rush the food into the stomach. Children not of school age should
have a one-hour rest every day after the noon meal. Those under four should
also have an hour of rest during the forenoon.
Children should not have home studies. They should take
just such work in school as they can do during the school hours. The plan of
having to spend the entire evening preparing the lessons for the next day is a
tremendous handicap for children.
Sleep.--As stated above, children of school age
need rest aside from the night's sleep. Babies under two or three years should
have as much sleep as they can possibly get. If a child is restless and cannot
sleep, it means that the nervous system is worn out, and it needs to have food
kept from it until the nerves have had time to settle down. Then the amount of
food should be kept within the digestive limitations, as evidenced by a poised
state of the nerves. Mothers need a rest in the middle of the day, as well as the
children, therefore the habit should be built of mother and child going to bed
for a rest after the noon meal. Remember that it takes nerve-energy for
digesting food; and there is nothing which renews nerve- energy so quickly and
safely as sleep and rest.