The Maternal Management of Children, in Health and Disease.
by Thomas Bull, M.D.
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By Thomas Bull, M.D.

Physician Accoucheur To The Finsbury Midwifery

Institution, And Lecturer On Midwifery,

And On The Diseases Of Women

And Children;

Author Of "Hints To Mothers On The

Management Of Their Health."



This little book has been written for the young and inexperienced mother. It is intended to furnish her with that information which the experience and observation of some years convince the author, young mothers, almost without any exception, do not possess; and yet, from ignorance of which, the constitution of many an infant has received irretrievable injury, and life itself but too frequently fallen a sacrifice.

In the first chapters, devoted to the general management of the child in health, the author has endeavoured to teach the young mother, that the prevention of disease is her province, not its cure; that to this object all her best efforts must be directed; and, moreover, that to tamper with medicine, when disease has actually commenced, is to hazard the life of her offspring.

In the fourth chapter it has been attempted to point out, how the first symptoms of disease may be early detected by the parent. The subject has been felt to be a difficult one, and to give particular directions quite out of the question; but it is hoped that the suggestions thrown out will, in some measure, answer the purpose intended. On the advantage of an early and prompt application of remedies in the diseases of childhood, generally so active in their progress and severe in their character, it is unnecessary to offer any observation.

The latter part of the work, consisting of the maternal management of disease, the author regards as a subject of high and serious moment. Small as is the attention which has been hitherto paid to it, yet, in the diseases of infancy and childhood, how invaluable is a careful and judicious maternal superintendence to give effect to the measures prescribed by the physician.

The author has endeavoured to arrange the contents of the work in a manner which shall be most easily understood and readily available; and he now publishes it with the desire to supply, in some degree, a deficiency in this important department of knowledge.

Finsbury Place, June, 1840.


Chapter I.


Sect. - Page

I. On the Dietetics of Infancy - 2

1. Maternal Nursing - 3

Plan of Suckling - 3

Deficiency of Milk - 11

The injurious Effects to Mother and Infant of undue and protracted Suckling - 15

Mothers who ought never to suckle - 20

2. Wet-nurse Suckling - 27

Choice of a Wet-nurse - 28

Diet and Regimen of a Wet-nurse - 31

3. Artificial Feeding, (bringing up by hand) - 34

The Kind of artificial Food before the sixth Month - 35

The Kind of artificial Food after the sixth Month to the completion of first Dentition - 44

The Kind of artificial Food most suitable under the different Complaints to which Infants are liable - 48

II. Weaning - 51

The Time when - 51

The Mode - 52

The drying up of the Mother's Milk - 54

III. On the Dietetics of Childhood - 54

General Directions, and of animal Food - 55

Sugar - 60

Salt - 61

Fruits - 62

Water - 63

Wine, Beer, and Spirits - 63

IV. Sleep - 66

During Infancy - 66

During Childhood - 69

V. Bathing and Cleanliness - 72

During Infancy - 72

During Childhood - 75

VI. Clothing - 78

During Infancy - 78

During Childhood - 81

VII. Air and Exercise - 83

In Infancy - 83

In Childhood - 89

Chap. II.


I. Aperient Medicine - 97

Castor Oil - 99

Manna - 101

Magnesia and Rhubarb - 102

The Lavement - 105

The Aperient Liniment - 107

II. Calomel - 107

III. Opiates - 110

IV. Leeching - 113

V. Blisters and Poultices - 114

VI. Baths - 117

The Cold-water Plunge Bath - 118

Sea Bathing - 120

The Shower Bath - 123

Ablution, or Sponging - 125

The Warm Bath - 188

Chap. III.


I. On Teething. - 134

The Manner in which the temporary or milk Teeth appear - 134

The Management of the Infant when Teething is without difficulty - 136

The Management of the Infant in difficult Teething - 139

II. Hints on the permanent or adult Teeth - 148

The Manner in which they appear - 248

Their Value and Importance - 152

Their Management and Preservation - 154

Chap. IV.


I. Signs of Health - 163

II. Signs of Disease - 164

Of the Countenance - 165

Of the Gestures - 169

Of the Sleep - 171

Of the Stools - 172

Of the Breathing and Cough - 175

III. Other Circumstances which will assist in the early Detection of Disease - 178

The Influence of the Seasons in producing particular Forms of Disorder - 178

The Influence of an hereditary Predisposition to certain Diseases - 179

Chap. V.


I. Accidents and Diseases which may occur to the Infant at Birth, or soon after - 187

1. Still-born - 187

2. Injuries received during Birth - 193

3. Retention of Urine - 194

4. Swelling of the Breasts - 195

5. Inflammation of the Eyes - 196

6. Hare-lip - 199

7. Bleeding from the Navel-string - 201

8. Ulceration or imperfect Healing of the Navel - 20l

9. Bleeding from the Navel - 203

10. Jaundice - 204

11. Tongue-tied - 205

12. Moles and Marks on the Skin, etc. - 206

II. Disorders of the Stomach and Bowels; viz., Indigestion - Flatulence - Vomiting - Griping and Looseness - 208

1. In the Infant at the Breast - 21O

2. At the period of Weaning - 217

3. In the child brought up by Hand - 221

Maternal Treatment - 222

III. Costiveness - 229

In Infancy - 229

In Childhood - 231

IV. Worms - 234

Not so frequent as popularly supposed; an error productive of mischief - 234

How produced and how best prevented - 237

V. Scarlet Fever - 239

Mild Form - 239

With Sore Throat - 242

Scarlet Fever compared with Measles - 245

Maternal Management - 246

VI. Measles - 253

Description - 253

Compared with Scarlet Fever and Small Pox - 255

Maternal Management - 256

VII. Small-Pox - 262

Natural Small-Pox - 263

Small-Pox in the Vaccinated - 266

Maternal Management - 268

VIII. Hooping Cough - 275

Description - 276

Maternal Management - 279

IX. Croup - 286

Signs of its Approach - 286

Maternal Management - 289

Its prevention - 289

X. Water in the Head - 291

Its Prevention - 292

Maternal Management - 298


Chapter I.


The line of demarcation made between infancy and childhood, both by ancient and modern writers, has always been arbitrary. I would draw the line between the two, at a period of time which appears to me to be the most natural, the most simple, and least likely to lead the reader into the danger of misapplying any part of the practical directions of this, or any future chapter of the work. We will consider, then, that—

Infancy, commencing with birth, extends to about the end of the second year, when the first dentition is completed.

Childhood extends from about the second, to the seventh or eighth year, when the second dentition is commenced.


In the early months of infancy the organs of digestion are unsuited to any other food than that derived from the breast of the mother. So little capable are they, indeed, to digest any other, even of the blandest and most digestible kind, that probably not more than one infant in six or seven ever arrives at the more advanced periods of life when deprived of the kind of nourishment nature intended for this epoch.

It is not every parent, however, who is able to become a nurse; and with many this office would not only be highly injurious to their own health, but materially so to that of their offspring. This may arise from various causes, hereafter to be noticed, but whenever they exist a wet-nurse is demanded.

Again, the latter resource is not always attainable, so that the hazardous experiment of an artificial diet, or bringing up by hand, as it is then termed, is obliged to be resorted to.

Thus, infantile dietetics naturally divides itself into Maternal Nursing, Wet-Nurse Suckling, And Artificial Feeding.



From the first moment the infant is applied to the breast, it must be nursed upon a certain plan. This is necessary to the well-doing of the child, and will contribute essentially to preserve the health of the parent, who will thus be rendered a good nurse, and her duty at the same time will become a pleasure.

This implies, however, a careful attention on the part of the mother to her own health; for that of her child is essentially dependent upon it. Healthy, nourishing, and digestible milk can be procured only from a healthy parent; and it is against common sense to expect that, if a mother impairs her health and digestion by improper diet, neglect of exercise, and impure air, she can, nevertheless, provide as wholesome and uncontaminated a fluid for her child, as if she were diligently attentive to these important points. Every instance of indisposition in the nurse is liable to affect the infant.

And this leads me to observe, that it is a common mistake to suppose that, because a woman is nursing, she ought therefore to live very fully, and to add an allowance of wine, porter, or other fermented liquor, to her usual diet. The only result of this plan is, to cause an unnatural degree of fulness in the system, which places the nurse on the brink of disease, and which of itself frequently puts a stop to the secretion of the milk, instead of increasing it. The right plan of proceeding is plain enough; only let attention be paid to the ordinary laws of health, and the mother, if she have a sound constitution, will make a better nurse than by any foolish deviation founded on ignorance and caprice.

The following case proves the correctness of this statement:—

A young married lady, confined with her first child, left the lying-in- room at the expiration of the third week, a good nurse, and in perfect health. She had had some slight trouble with her nipples, but this was soon overcome.

The porter system was now commenced, and from a pint to a pint and a half of this beverage was taken in the four and twenty hours. This was resorted to, not because there was any deficiency in the supply of milk, for it was ample, and the infant thriving upon it; but because, having become a nurse, she was told that it was usual and necessary, and that without it her milk and strength would ere long fail.

After this plan had been followed for a few days, the mother became drowsy and disposed to sleep in the daytime; and headach, thirst, a hot skin, in fact, fever supervened; the milk diminished in quantity, and, for the first time, the stomach and bowels of the infant became disordered. The porter was ordered to be left off; remedial measures were prescribed; and all symptoms, both in parent and child, were after a while removed, and health restored.

Having been accustomed, prior to becoming a mother, to take a glass or two of wine, and occasionally a tumbler of table beer, she was advised to follow precisely her former dietetic plan, but with the addition of half a pint of barley-milk morning and night. Both parent and child continued in excellent health during the remaining period of suckling, and the latter did not taste artificial food until the ninth month, the parent's milk being all-sufficient for its wants.

No one can doubt that the porter was in this case the source of the mischief. The patient had gone into the lying-in-room in full health, had had a good time, and came out from her chamber (comparatively) as strong as she entered it. Her constitution had not been previously worn down by repeated child-bearing and nursing, she had an ample supply of milk, and was fully capable, therefore, of performing the duties which now devolved upon her, without resorting to any unusual stimulant or support. Her previous habits were totally at variance with the plan which was adopted; her system became too full, disease was produced, and the result experienced was nothing more than what might be expected.

The plan to be followed for the first six months.-Until the breast- milk is fully established, which may not be until the second or third day subsequent to delivery (almost invariably so in a first confinement), the infant must be fed upon a little thin gruel, or upon one third water and two thirds milk, sweetened with loaf sugar.

After this time it must obtain its nourishment from the breast alone, and for a week or ten days the appetite of the infant must be the mother's guide, as to the frequency in offering the breast. The stomach at birth is feeble, and as yet unaccustomed to food; its wants, therefore, are easily satisfied, but they are frequently renewed. An interval, however, sufficient for digesting the little swallowed, is obtained before the appetite again revives, and a fresh supply is demanded.

At the expiration of a week or so it is essentially necessary, and with some children this may be done with safety from the first day of suckling, to nurse the infant at regular intervals of three or four hours, day and night. This allows sufficient time for each meal to be digested, and tends to keep the bowels of the child in order. Such regularity, moreover, will do much to obviate fretfulness, and that constant cry, which seems as if it could be allayed only by constantly putting the child to the breast. A young mother very frequently runs into a serious error in this particular, considering every expression of uneasiness as an indication of appetite, and whenever the infant cries offering it the breast, although ten minutes may not have elapsed since its last meal. This is an injurious and even dangerous practice, for, by overloading the stomach, the food remains undigested, the child's bowels are always out of order, it soon becomes restless and feverish, and is, perhaps, eventually lost; when, by simply attending to the above rules of nursing, the infant might have become healthy and vigorous.

For the same reason, the infant that sleeps with its parent must not be allowed to have the nipple remaining in its mouth all night. If nursed as suggested, it will be found to awaken, as the hour for its meal approaches, with great regularity. In reference to night-nursing, I would suggest suckling the babe as late as ten o'clock p. m., and not putting it to the breast again until five o'clock the next morning. Many mothers have adopted this hint, with great advantage to their own health, and without the slightest detriment to that of the child. With the latter it soon becomes a habit; to induce it, however, it must be taught early.

The foregoing plan, and without variation, must be pursued to the sixth month.

AFTER THE SIXTH MONTH TO THE TIME OF WEANING.—If the parent has a large supply of good and nourishing milk, and her child is healthy and evidently flourishing upon it, no change in its diet ought to be made. If otherwise, however, (and this will but too frequently be the case, even before the sixth month[FN#1],) the child may be fed twice in the course of the day, and that kind of food chosen which, after a little trial, is found to agree best.

[FN#1] See Deficiency of Milk, p. 11.

Leman's tops and bottoms, steeped in hot water, with the addition of a little fresh milk, and sweetened or not with loaf sugar, is one of the best description.

If the stomach reject this, farinaceous food boiled in water, and mixed with a small quantity of milk, may be employed. Or weak mutton or veal broth, or beef tea, clear and free from fat, and mixed with an equal quantity of farinaceous food.

If this artificial diet is used before the sixth month, it must be given through the sucking-bottle; after this period with a spoon: in either case it must be previously passed through a sieve.

When the large or grinding teeth have appeared, the same food is still to be continued, but need not any longer be expressed through the sieve.

Such is the plan of nursing to be followed by the mother until she wean her infant altogether from the breast. The period when this ought to take place, as also the manner of accomplishing it, are detailed in the section on "Weaning."[FN#2]

[FN#2] See page 51.

The diet from weaning to the termination of infancy is pointed out under "Artificial Feeding."[FN#3]

[FN#3] See page 34.


If this deficiency exist from the earliest weeks after delivery, and it is not quickly remedied by the means presently to be pointed out, a wet-nurse must be obtained. It will be of no avail partially to nurse, and partially to feed the infant at this period and under such circumstances, for if it is not soon lost, it will only live for a few months, or a year at most, and be an object of the greatest anxiety and grief to its parent. This condition arises from the unwholesomeness of the mother's milk, united with the artificial food; for when the milk is deficient from the first, and continues so notwithstanding the means used for its increase, it is invariably unhealthy in its quality.

This deficiency, however, may exist, and even at a very early period after delivery, and yet be removed. This, however, is not to be accomplished by the means too frequently resorted to; for it is the custom with many, two or three weeks after their confinement, if the supply of nourishment for the infant is scanty, to partake largely of malt liquor for its increase. Sooner or later this will be found injurious to the constitution of the mother: but how, then, is this deficiency to be obviated? Let the nurse keep but in good health, and this point gained, the milk, both as to quantity and quality, will be as ample, nutritious, and good, as can be produced by the individual.

I would recommend a plain, generous, and nutritious diet; not one description of food exclusively, but, as is natural, a wholesome, mixed, animal, and vegetable diet, with or without wine or malt liquor, according to former habit; and, occasionally, where malt liquor has never been previously taken, a pint of good sound ale may be taken daily with advantage, if it agree with the stomach. Regular exercise in the open air is of the greatest importance, as it has an extraordinary influence in promoting the secretion of healthy milk. Early after leaving the lying-in room, carriage exercise, where it can be obtained, is to be preferred, to be exchanged, in a week or so, for horse exercise, or the daily walk. The tepid, or cold salt-water shower bath, should be used every morning; but if it cannot be borne, sponging the body withsalt-water must be substituted.

By adopting with perseverance the foregoing plan, a breast of milk will be obtained as ample in quantity, and good in quality, as the constitution of the parent can produce, as the following case proves:

On the 17th September, 1839, I attended a lady twenty-four years of age, a delicate, but healthy woman, in her first confinement. The labour was good. Every thing went on well for the first week, except that, although the breasts became enlarged, and promised a good supply of nourishment for the infant, at its close there was merely a little oozing from the nipple. During the next fortnight a slight, but very gradual increase in quantity took place, so that a dessert spoonful only was obtained about the middle of this period, and perhaps double this quantity at its expiration. In the mean time the child was necessarily fed upon an artificial diet, and as a consequence its bowels became deranged, and a severe diarrhoea followed. A wet-nurse was advised for the child as the only means of saving its life, and change of air for the mother as the most likely expedient (in connection with the general treatment pointed out above) for obtaining a good breast of milk. Accordingly, on the 5th October, the patient, taking with her the infant and a wet-nurse, went a few miles from town.

For three or four days it was a question whether the little one would live, for so greatly had it been reduced by the looseness of the bowels that it had not strength to grasp the nipple of its nurse; the milk, therefore, was obliged to be drawn, and the child fed with it from a spoon. After the lapse of a few days, however, it could obtain the breast-milk for itself; and, to make short of the case, on the 25th of the same month, the mother and child returned home, the former having a very fair proportion of healthy milk in her bosom, and the child perfectly recovered and evidently thriving fast upon it.

Where, however, there has been an early deficiency in the supply of nourishment, it will most frequently happen that, before the sixth or seventh month, the infant's demands will be greater than the mother can meet. The deficiency must be made up by artificial food, which must be of a kind generally employed before the sixth month, and given through the bottle. If, however, this plan of dieting should disagree, the child must, even at this period, have a wet-nurse.

Women who marry comparatively late in life, and bear children, generally have a deficiency of milk after the second or third month: artificial feeding must in part be here resorted to.


UPON THE MOTHER.—The period of suckling is generally one of the most healthy of a woman's life. But there are exceptions to this as a general rule; and nursing, instead of being accompanied by health, may be the cause of its being materially, and even fatally, impaired. This may arise out of one of two causes, either, a parent continuing to suckle too long; or, from the original powers or strength not being equal to the continued drain on the system.

Examples of the first class I am meeting with daily. I refer to poor married women, who, having nursed their infants eighteen months, two years, or even longer than this, from the belief that by so doing they will prevent pregnancy, call to consult me with an exhausted frame and disordered general health, arising solely from protracted nursing, pursued from the above mistaken notion.

I most frequently meet with examples of the second class in the delicate woman, who, having had two or three children in quick succession, her health has given way, so that she has all the symptoms arising from undue suckling, when perhaps the infant at her breast is not more than two or three months old.

Since the health of the mother, then, will suffer materially from this circumstance, she ought not to be ignorant of the fact; so that, when the first symptoms manifest themselves, she may be able to recognise their insidious approach; and tracing them to their real cause, obtain medical advice before her health be seriously impaired.

SYMPTOMS.—The earliest symptom is a dragging sensation in the back when the child is in the act of sucking, and an exhausted feeling of sinking and emptiness at the pit of the stomach afterwards. This is soon followed by loss of appetite, costive bowels, and pain on the left side; then, the head will be more or less affected, sometimes with much throbbing, singing in the ears, and always some degree of giddiness, with great depression of spirits.

Soon the chest becomes affected, and the breathing is short, accompanied by a dry cough and palpitation of the heart upon the slightest exertion. As the disease advances, the countenance becomes very pale, and the flesh wastes, and profuse night perspirations, great debility, swelling of the ankles, and nervousness ensue. It is unnecessary, however, to enter into a more full detail of symptoms.

TREATMENT.—All that it will be useful to say in reference to treatment, is this; that, although much may be done in the first instance by medicine, change of air, cold and sea bathing, yet the quickest and most effectual remedy is to wean the child, and thus remove the cause.

THE ILL EFFECTS UPON THE INFANT.—There is another and equally powerful reason why the child should be weaned, or rather, have a young and healthy wet-nurse, if practicable. The effects upon the infant, suckled under such circumstances, will be most serious. Born in perfect health, it will now begin to fall off in its appearance, for the mother's milk will be no longer competent to afford it due nourishment; it will be inadequate in quantity and quality. Its countenance, therefore, will become pale; its look sickly and aged; the flesh soft and flabby; the limbs emaciated; the belly, in some cases, large, in others, shrunk; and the evacuations fetid and unnatural; and in a very few weeks, the blooming healthy child will be changed into the pale, sickly, peevish, wasted creature, whose life appears hardly desirable.

The only measure that can save the life, and recover an infant from this state, is that which would previously have prevented it a healthy wet-nurse.

If the effects upon the infant should not be so aggravated as those just described, and it subsequently live and thrive, there will be a tendency in such a constitution to scrofula and consumption, to manifest itself at some future period of life, undoubtedly acquired from the parent, and dependent upon the impaired state of her health at the time of its suckling. A wet-nurse early resorted to, will prevent this.

It will be naturally asked, for how long a period a mother ought to perform the office of a nurse? No specific time can be mentioned, and the only way in which the question can be met is this: no woman, with advantage to her own health, can suckle her infant beyond twelve or eighteen months; and at various periods between the third and twelfth month, many women will be obliged partially or entirely to resign the office.[FN#4]

[FN#4] See "Weaning," p. 51.

The monthly periods generally reappear from the twelfth to the fourteenth month from delivery; and when established, as the milk is found invariably to diminish in quantity, and also to deteriorate in quality, and the child is but imperfectly nourished, it is positively necessary in such instances at once to wean it.


There are some females who ought never to undertake the office of suckling, both on account of their own health, and also that of their offspring.

THE WOMAN OF A CONSUMPTIVE AND STRUMOUS CONSTITUTION OUGHT NOT.—In the infant born of such a parent there will be a constitutional predisposition to the same disease; and, if it is nourished from her system, this hereditary predisposition will be confirmed.

"No fact in medicine is better established than that which proves the hereditary transmission from parents to children of a constitutional liability to pulmonary disease, and especially to consumption; yet no condition is less attended to in forming matrimonial engagements. The children of scrofulous and consumptive parents are generally precocious, and their minds being early matured, they engage early in the business of life, and often enter the married state before their bodily frame has had time to consolidate. For a few years every thing seems to go on prosperously, and a numerous family gathers around them. All at once, however, even while youth remains, their physical powers begin to give way, and they drop prematurely into the grave, exhausted by consumption, and leaving children behind them, destined, in all probability, either to be cut off as they approach maturity, or to run through the same delusive but fatal career as that of the parents from whom they derived their existence."[FN#5] There is scarcely an individual who reads these facts, to whom memory will not furnish some sad and mournful example of their truth; though they perhaps may have hitherto been in ignorance of the exciting cause.

[FN#5] Combe's Principles of Physiology applied to the Preservation of Health, etc.

It is, however, with the mother as a nurse that I have now to do, and I would earnestly advise every one of a consumptive or strumous habit (and if there is any doubt upon this point, the opinion of a medical adviser will at once decide it) never to suckle her offspring; her constitution renders her unfit for the task. And, however painful it may be to her mind at every confinement to debar herself this delightful duty, she must recollect that it will be far better for her own health, and infinitely more so for that of the child, that she should not even attempt it; that her own health would be injured, and her infant's, sooner or later, destroyed by it.

The infant of a consumptive parent, however, must not be brought up by hand. It must have a young, healthy, and vigorous wet-nurse; and in selecting a woman for this important duty very great care must be observed.[FN#6] The child should be nursed until it is twelve or fifteen months old. In some cases it will be right to continue it until the first set of teeth have appeared, when it will be desirable that a fresh wet-nurse should be obtained for the last six months.[FN#7] If the child is partially fed during the latter months (from necessity or any other cause), the food should be of the lightest quality, and constitute but a small proportion of its nutriment.

[FN#6] See "Choice of a Wet-nurse," p. 28.

[FN#7] One that has been confined about six weeks or two months.

But not only must the nourishment of such a child be regarded, but the air it breathes, and the exercise that is given to it; as also, the careful removal of all functional derangements as they occur, by a timely application to the medical attendant, and maintaining, especially, a healthy condition of the digestive organs. All these points must be strictly followed out, if any good is to be effected.

By a rigid attention to these measures the mother adopts the surest antidote, indirectly, to overcome the constitutional predisposition to that disease, the seeds of which, if not inherited from the parent, are but too frequently developed in the infant during the period of nursing; and, at the same time, she takes the best means to engender a sound and healthy constitution in her child. This, surely, is worth any sacrifice.

If the infant derives the disposition to a strumous constitution entirely from the father, and the mother's health be unexceptionable, then I would strongly advise her to suckle her own child.

THE MOTHER OF A HIGHLY SUSCEPTIBLE NERVOUS TEMPERAMENT OUGHT NOT.—There are other women who ought never to become nurses. The mother of a highly nervous temperament, who is alarmed at any accidental change she may happen to notice in her infant's countenance, who is excited and agitated by the ordinary occurrences of the day; such a parent will do her offspring more harm than good by attempting to suckle it. Her milk will be totally unfit for its nourishment: at one time it will be deficient in quantity, at another, so depraved in its quality, that serious disturbance to the infant's health, will ensue. The young and inexperienced mother, who is a parent for the first time, and altogether ignorant of the duties of her office, and at the same time most anxious to fulfil them faithfully, is but too frequently an instance in point; although at a future period she will generally make a good nurse. The following is an illustration:—

In December, 1838, I attended a young married lady in her first confinement, and in excellent health. She gave birth to a fine, plump, healthy boy. Every thing went on well for three weeks, the mother having an abundant supply of milk, and the infant evidently thriving upon it. About this time, however, the child had frequent fits of crying; the bowels became obstinately costive;—the motions being lumpy, of a mixed colour, quite dry, and passed with great pain. It became rapidly thin, and after a while its flesh so wasted, and became so flabby, that it might be said literally to hang on the bones. The fits of crying now increased in frequency and violence, coming on every time after the little one left the breast, when it would commence screaming violently, beat the air with its hands and feet, and nothing that was done could appease it. Having lasted for half an hour or more, it would fall asleep quite exhausted; the fit recurring again, when again it had been to the breast.

It was very evident that the infant's hunger was not satisfied, as it was also but too evident its body was not nourished by the parent's milk, which, although abundant in quantity (the breast being large and full of milk), was at this time seriously deteriorated in its nutritive quality. This was caused, I believe, from great anxiety of mind. Her nurse became suddenly deranged, and the whole responsibility and care of the child thus devolved upon the mother, of the duties connected with which she was entirely ignorant.

A wet-nurse was obtained. In a very few hours after this change was effected, the screaming ceased, the child had quiet and refreshing sleep, and in twelve hours a healthy motion was passed. The child gained flesh almost as quickly as it had previously lost it, and is now as fine and healthy an infant as it promised to be when born.

Whenever there has existed previously any nervous or mental affection in the parent, wet-nurse suckling is always advisable; this, with judicious management of childhood, will do much to counteract the hereditary predisposition.

THE MOTHER WHO ONLY NURSES HER INFANT WHEN IT SUITS HER CONVENIENCE OUGHT NOT.—The mother who cannot make up her mind exclusively to devote herself to the duties of a nurse, and give up all engagements that would interfere with her health, and so with the formation of healthy milk, and with the regular and stated periods of nursing her infant, ought never to suckle. It is unnecessary to say why; but I think it right, for the child's sake, to add, that if it does not sicken, pine, and die, disease will be generated in its constitution, to manifest itself at some future period.

The child, then, under all the foregoing circumstances, must be provided with its support from another source, and a wet-nurse is the best.


Ill health and many other circumstances may prevent a parent from suckling her child, and render a wet-nurse necessary. Now, although she will do wisely to leave the choice of one to her medical attendant, still, as some difficulty may attend this, and as most certainly the mother herself ought to be acquainted with the principal points to which his attention is directed in the selection of a good nurse, it will be well to point out in what they consist.


The first thing to which a medical man looks, is the general health of the woman; next, the condition of her breast, the quality of her milk its age and her own; whether she is ever unwell while nursing; and, last of all, the condition and health of the child.

IS THE WOMAN IN GOOD HEALTH?—Her general appearance ought to bear the marks of a sound constitution, and ought to be free from all suspicion of a strumous character; her tongue clean, and digestion good; her teeth and gums sound and perfect; her skin free from eruption, and her breath sweet.

WHAT IS THE CONDITION OF THE BREAST?—A good breast should be firm and well formed; its size not dependent upon a large quantity of fat, which will generally take away from its firmness, giving it a flabby appearance, but upon its glandular structure, which conveys to the touch a knotted, irregular, and hard feel; and the nipple must be perfect, of moderate size, but well developed.

WHAT IS THE QUALITY OF THE MILK?—It should be thin, and of a bluish- white colour; sweet to the taste; and when allowed to stand, should throw up a considerable quantity of cream.

WHAT IS ITS AGE?—If the lying-in month of the patient has scarcely expired, the wet-nurse to be hired ought certainly not to have reached her second month. At this time, the nearer the birth of the child, and the delivery of its foster-parent, the better: the reason for which is, that during the first few weeks the milk is thinner and more watery than it afterwards becomes. If, consequently, a new-born infant be provided with a nurse, who has been delivered three or four months, the natural relation between its stomach and the quality of the milk is destroyed, and the infant suffers from the oppression of food too heavy for its digestive power.

On the other hand, if you are seeking a wet-nurse for an infant of four or five months old, it would be very prejudicial to transfer the child to a woman recently delivered; the milk would be too watery for its support, and its health in consequence would give way.

THE NURSE HERSELF SHOULD NOT BE TOO OLD!—A vigorous young woman from twenty-one to thirty admits of no question. And the woman who has had one or two children before is always to be preferred, as she will be likely to have more milk, and may also be supposed to have acquired some experience in the management of infants.

INQUIRE WHETHER SHE IS EVER UNWELL WHILE NURSING?—If so, reject her at once. You will have no difficulty in ascertaining this point; for this class of persons have an idea that their milk is renewed, as they term it, by this circumstance, monthly; and, therefore, that it is a recommendation, rendering their milk fitter for younger children than it would otherwise have been. It produces, however, quite a contrary effect; it much impairs the milk, which will be found to disagree with the child, rendering it at first fretful,—after a time being vomited up, and productive of frequent watery dark green motions.

Last of all, WHAT IS THE CONDITION OF THE CHILD?—It ought to have the sprightly appearance of health, to bear the marks of being well nourished, its flesh firm, its skin clean and free from eruptions. It should be examined in this respect, particularly about the head, neck, and gums.

If a medical man finds that both mother and child answer to the above description, he has no hesitation in recommending the former as likely to prove a good wet-nurse.


The regimen of a wet-nurse should not differ much from that to which she has been accustomed; and any change which it may be necessary to make in it should be gradual. It is erroneous to suppose that women when nursing require to be much more highly fed than at other times: a good nurse does not need this, and a bad one will not be the better for it. The quantity which many nurses eat and drink, and the indolent life which they too often lead, have the effect of deranging their digestive organs, and frequently induce a state of febrile excitement, which always diminishes, and even sometimes altogether disperses, the milk.

It will be necessary then to guard against the nurse overloading her stomach with a mass of indigestible food and drink. She should live as much as possible in the manner to which she has been accustomed; she should have a wholesome, mixed, animal and vegetable diet, and a moderate and somewhat extra quantity of malt liquor, provided it agree with her system.

A very prevailing notion exists that porter tends to produce a great flow of milk, and in consequence the wet-nurse is allowed as much as she likes; a large quantity is in this way taken, and after a short time so much febrile action excited in the system, that instead of increasing the flow of milk, it diminishes it greatly. Some parents, however, aware of this fact, will go into an opposite extreme, and refuse the nurse even that which is necessary. Either excess is of course wrong. It is difficult in general terms to say what ought to be considered a proper daily allowance, but some is in general necessary; and whenever a woman has been used to drink malt-liquor, she will rarely make a good wet-nurse if she is denied a reasonable quantity of that beverage. Good sound ale sometimes agrees better than porter. It may be well here to remark, that in London, I frequently meet with severe cases of diarrhoea in infants at the breast, fairly traceable to bad porter, which vitiating the quality of the milk, no medical treatment cures the disease, until this beverage is left off or changed, when it at once disappears.

The nurse should take exercise daily in the open air. Nothing tends more directly to maintain a good supply of healthy milk, than air and exercise; and the best wet-nurse would soon lose her milk, if constantly kept within doors. Sponging the whole body also with cold water with bay-salt in it every morning, should be insisted upon, if possible: it preserves cleanliness, and greatly invigorates the health. United with this, the nurse should rise early, and also be regularly employed during the day in some little portion of duty in the family, an attendance upon the wants of the child not being alone sufficient.

An amiable disposition and good temper are very desirable. A violent fit of passion may exert so peculiar an influence in changing the natural properties of the milk, that a child has been known to be attacked with a fit of convulsions after being suckled by a nurse while labouring under the effects of a fit of anger. The depressing passions frequently drive the milk away altogether. It is hence of no small moment, that a wet-nurse be of a quiet and even temper, and not disposed to mental disturbance.


Extreme delicacy of constitution, diseased condition of the frame, defective secretion of milk, and other causes, may forbid the mother suckling her child; and unless she can perform this office with safety to herself, and benefit to her infant, she ought not to attempt it. In this case a young and healthy wet-nurse is the best substitute; but even this resource is not always attainable. Under these circumstances, the child must be brought up on an artificial diet "by hand,"—as it is popularly called.

To accomplish this with success requires the most careful attention on the part of the parent, and at all times is attended with risk to the life of the child; for although some children, thus reared, live and have sound health, these are exceptions to the general rule, artificial feeding being in most instances unsuccessful.


It should be as like the breast-milk as possible. This is obtained by a mixture of cow's milk, water, and sugar, in the following proportions:—

Fresh cow's milk, two thirds; Boiling water, or thin barley water, one third; Loaf sugar, a sufficient quantity to sweeten.

This is the best diet that can be used for the first six months, after which some farinaceous food may be combined.

In early infancy, mothers are too much in the habit of giving thick gruel, panada, biscuit-powder, and such matters, thinking that a diet of a lighter kind will not nourish. This is a mistake; for these preparations are much too solid; they overload the stomach, and cause indigestion, flatulence, and griping. These create a necessity for purgative medicines and carminatives, which again weaken digestion, and, by unnatural irritation, perpetuate the evils which render them necessary. Thus many infants are kept in a continual round of repletion, indigestion, and purging, with the administration of cordials and narcotics, who, if their diet were in quantity and quality suited to their digestive powers, would need no aid from physic or physicians.

In preparing this diet, it is highly important to obtain pure milk, not previously skimmed, or mixed with water; and in warm weather just taken from the cow. It should not be mixed with the water or sugar until wanted, and not more made than will be taken by the child at the time, for it must be prepared fresh at every meal. It is best not to heat the milk over the fire, but let the water be in a boiling state when mixed with it, and thus given to the infant tepid or lukewarm.

As the infant advances in age, the proportion of milk may be gradually increased; this is necessary after the second month, when three parts of milk to one of water may be allowed. But there must be no change in the kind of diet if the health of the child is good, and its appearance perceptibly improving. Nothing is more absurd than the notion, that in early life children require a variety of food; only one kind of food is prepared by nature, and it is impossible to transgress this law without marked injury.

If cow's milk disagree with an infant—and this is sometimes unfortunately the case, even from its birth ass's milk,—diluted with one third its quantity of water, may be given as a substitute. I am now attending a lady in her fourth confinement, who is unable, from defect in her nipples, to suckle her children. The first child had a healthy wet-nurse, and has grown a fine healthy lad. The second, a girl, was unfortunate in her nurse, she being of a strumous and unhealthy constitution, although to a casual observer bearing the appearance of health. The child lived only three months, and the nurse died of a rapid consumption shortly after. This discouraged the mother from adopting wet-nurse suckling for the third child (a great error); and an artificial diet of cow's milk was resorted to. The third day from commencing this plan, flatulence, griping, purging, and vomiting came on, one symptom quickly following the other; the child wasted, and on the sixth day had several convulsive fits. The diet was immediately changed for ass's milk, and in less than twelve hours the sickness and purging ceased; the flatulence was relieved; the motions, from being green, watery, and passed with great violence and pain, became of a healthy consistence and colour, and the screaming ceased. The symptoms did not return, the child thrived, very soon consuming regularly one quart of the ass's milk daily, and is now a fine healthy girl two years old. A fortnight since the parent was confined with a fourth child. Cow's milk was given to it for two or three days (from the difficulty of obtaining that of the ass), the same train of symptoms, precisely, came on with which the third child had been affected, which again gave way upon following up the same plan of diet—the substitution of the ass's milk for that of the cow. The evident conclusion from this is, that the breast-milk of a healthy woman is incomparably the most suitable diet for the infant; but that, if she be not of a healthy constitution, it may be destructive to the child; and that where this cannot be obtained, and cow's milk is found to disagree, ass's milk may sometimes be resorted to with the happiest results.[FN#8]

[FN#8] An infant will generally consume a quart, or a little more, of ass's milk in the four and twenty hours; and as this quantity is nearly as much as the animal will give, it is best to purchase an ass for the express purpose. The foal must be separated from the mother, and the forage of the latter carefully attended to, or the milk will disagree with the child.

Sometimes the mother's breast, and every description of milk, is rejected by the child; in which case recourse must be had to veal or weak mutton broth, or beef tea, clear and free from fat, mixed with a very small quantity of farinaceous food, carefully passed through a sieve before it is poured into the sucking-bottle.

THE MODE OF ADMINISTERING IT.—There are two ways—by the spoon, and by the nursing-bottle. The first ought never to be employed at this period, inasmuch as the power of digestion in infants is very weak, and their food is designed by nature to be taken very slowly into the stomach, being procured from the breast by the act of sucking, in which act a great quantity of saliva is secreted, and being poured into the mouth, mixes with the milk, and is swallowed with it. This process of nature, then, should be emulated as far as possible; and food (for this purpose) should be imbibed by suction from a nursing-bottle: it is thus obtained slowly, and the suction employed secures the mixture of a due quantity of saliva, which has a highly important influence on digestion.

Too much care cannot be taken to keep the bottle perfectly sweet. For this purpose there should always be two in the nursery, to be used alternately; and, if any food remain after a meal, it must be emptied out. The bottle must always be scalded out after use. The flat glass nursing-bottle itself is too well known to need description; it may be well, however, to say a word about the teat that covers its narrow neck, and through which the infant sucks the food. If the artificial or prepared cow's teat is made use of, it should be so attached to the bottle that its extremity does not extend beyond its apex more than half or three quarters of an inch; for if it projects more than this, the child will get the sides of the teat so firmly pressed together between its gums, that there will be no channel for the milk to flow through. This remark applies equally to the teat made of soft wash- leather, which many ladies prefer to that of the cow, and it is a good substitute; but then a fresh piece of leather must be made use of daily, otherwise the food will be tainted, and the child's bowels deranged. It is also necessary that both of these, when used, should have a small conical piece of sponge inclosed.

The most cleanly and convenient apparatus is a cork nipple, upon the plan of M. Darbo, of Paris, fixed in the sucking-bottle.[FN#9] The cork, being of a particularly fine texture, is supple and elastic, yielding to the infant's lips while sucking, and is much more durable than the teats ordinarily used.

[FN#9] Sold by Weiss et Son, 62. Strand,

Whatever kind of bottle or teat is used, however, it must never be forgotten that cleanliness is absolutely essential to the success of this plan of rearing children.

THE QUANTITY OF FOOD TO BE GIVEN AT EACH MEAL.—This must be regulated by the age of the child, and its digestive power. A little experience will soon enable a careful and observing mother to determine this point.—As the child grows older the quantity of course must be increased.

The chief error in rearing the young is overfeeding; and a most serious one it is; but which may be easily avoided by the parent pursuing a systematic plan with regard to the hours of feeding, and then only yielding to the indications of appetite, and administering the food slowly, in small quantities at a time. This is the only way effectually to prevent indigestion, and bowel complaints, and the irritable condition of the nervous system, so common in infancy, and secure to the infant healthy nutrition, and consequent strength of constitution. As has been well observed, "Nature never intended the infant's stomach to be converted into a receptacle for laxatives, carminatives, antacids, stimulants, and astringents; and when these become necessary, we may rest assured that there is something faulty in our management, however perfect it may seem to ourselves."

THE FREQUENCY OF GIVING FOOD.—This must be determined, as a general rule, by allowing such an interval between each meal as will insure the digestion of the previous quantity; and this may be fixed at about every three or four hours. If this rule be departed from, and the child receives a fresh supply of food every hour or so, time will not be given for the digestion of the previous quantity, and as a consequence of this process being interrupted, the food passing on into the bowel undigested, will there ferment and become sour, will inevitably produce cholic and purging, and in no way contribute to the nourishment of the child.

THE POSTURE OF THE CHILD WHEN FED.—It is important to attend to this. It must not receive its meals lying; the head should be raised on the nurse's arm, the most natural position, and one in which there will be no danger of the food going the wrong way, as it is called. After each meal the little one should be put into its cot, or repose on its mother's knee, for at least half an hour. This is essential for the process of digestion, as exercise is important at other times for the promotion of health.


As soon as the child has got any teeth,—and about this period one or two will make their appearance,—solid farinaceous matter boiled in water, beaten through a sieve, and mixed with a small quantity of milk, may be employed. Or tops and bottoms, steeped in hot water, with the addition of fresh milk and loaf sugar to sweeten. And the child may now, for the first time, be fed with a spoon.

When one or two of the large grinding teeth have appeared, the same food may be continued, but need not be passed through a sieve. Beef tea and chicken broth may occasionally be added; and, as an introduction to the use of a more completely animal diet, a portion, now and then, of a soft boiled egg; by and by a small bread pudding, made with one egg in it, may be taken as the dinner meal.

Nothing is more common than for parents during this period to give their children animal food. This is a great error. "To feed an infant with animal food before it has teeth proper for masticating it, shows a total disregard to the plain indications of nature, in withholding such teeth till the system requires their assistance to masticate solid food. And the method of grating and pounding meat, as a substitute for chewing, may be well suited to the toothless octogenarian, whose stomach is capable of digesting it; but the stomach of a young child is not adapted to the digestion of such food, and will be disordered by it."[FN#10]

[FN#10] Sir James Clarke on Consumption.

"If the principles already laid down be true, it cannot reasonably be maintained that a child's mouth without teeth, and that of an adult, furnished with the teeth of carnivorous and graminivorous animals, are designed by the Creator for the same sort of food. If the mastication of solid food, whether animal or vegetable, and a due admixture of saliva, be necessary for digestion, then solid food cannot be proper, when there is no power of mastication. If it is swallowed in large masses it cannot be masticated at all, and will have but a small chance of being digested; and in an undigested state it will prove injurious to the stomach and to the other organs concerned in digestion, by forming unnatural compounds. The practice of giving solid food to a toothless child, is not less absurd, than to expect corn to be ground where there is no apparatus for grinding it. That which would be considered as an evidence of idiotism or insanity in the last instance, is defended and practised in the former. If, on the other hand, to obviate this evil, the solid matter, whether animal or vegetable, be previously broken into small masses, the infant will instantly swallow it, but it will be unmixed with saliva. Yet in every day's observation it will be seen, that children are so fed in their most tender age; and it is not wonderful that present evils are by this means produced, and the foundation laid for future disease."[FN#11]

[FN#11] Dr. John Clarke's Commentaries.

The diet pointed out, then, is to be continued until the second year. Great care, however, is necessary in its management; for this period of infancy is ushered in by the process of teething, which is commonly connected with more or less of disorder of the system. Any error, therefore, in diet or regimen is now to be most carefully avoided. 'Tis true that the infant, who is of a sound and healthy constitution, in whom, therefore, the powers of life are energetic, and who up to this time has been nursed upon the breast of its parent, and now commences an artificial diet for the first time, disorder is scarcely perceptible, unless from the operation of very efficient causes. Not so, however, with the child who from the first hour of its birth has been nourished upon artificial food. Teething under such circumstances is always attended with more or less of disturbance of the frame, and disease of the most dangerous character but too frequently ensues. It is at this age, too, that all infectious and eruptive fevers are most prevalent; worms often begin to form, and diarrhoea, thrush, rickets, cutaneous eruptions, etc. manifest themselves, and the foundation of strumous disease is originated or developed. A judicious management of diet will prevent some of these complaints, and mitigate the violence of others when they occur.


Artificial food, from mismanagement and other causes, will now and then disagree with the infant. The stomach and bowels are thus deranged, and medicine is resorted to, and again and again the same thing occurs.

This is wrong, and but too frequently productive of serious and lasting mischief. Alteration of diet, rather than the exhibition of medicine, should, under these circumstances, be relied on for remedying the evil. Calomel, and such like remedies, "the little powders of the nursery," ought not to be given on every trivial occasion. More mischief has been effected, and more positive disease produced, by the indiscriminate use of the above powerful drug, either alone or in combination with other drastic purgatives, than would be credited. Purgative medicines ought at all times to be exhibited with caution to an infant, for so delicate and susceptible is the structure of its alimentary canal, that disease is but too frequently caused by that which was resorted to in the first instance as a remedy. The bowels should always be kept free; but then it must be by the mildest and least irritating means.

It is a very desirable thing, then, to correct the disordered conditions of the digestive organs of an infant, if possible, without medicine; and much may be done by changing the nature, and sometimes by simply diminishing the quantity, of food.

A diarrhoea, or looseness of the bowels, may frequently be checked by giving, as the diet, sago thoroughly boiled in very weak beef-tea, with the addition of a little milk. The same purpose is frequently to be answered by two thirds of arrow-root with one third of milk, or simply thin arrow-root made with water only; or, if these fail, baked flour, mixed with boiled milk.

Costiveness of the bowels may frequently be removed by changing the food to tops and bottoms steeped in hot water, and a small quantity of milk added, or prepared barley,—mixed in warm water and unboiled milk.

Flatulence and griping generally arise from an undue quantity of food, which passing undigested into the bowels, they are thus irritated and disturbed. This may be cured by abstinence alone. The same state of things may be caused by the food not being prepared fresh at every meal, or even from the nursing-bottle or vessel in which the food is given not having been perfectly clean. In this case weak chicken-broth, or beef-tea freed from fat, and thickened with soft boiled rice or arrow-root, may be given.


THE TIME WHEN TO TAKE PLACE.—The time when weaning is to take place must ever depend upon a variety of circumstances, which will regulate this matter, independently of any general rule that might be laid down. The mother's health may, in one case, oblige her to resort to weaning before the sixth month, and, in another instance, the delicacy of the infant's health, to delay it beyond the twelfth. Nevertheless, as a general rule, both child and parent being in good health, weaning ought never to take place earlier than the ninth (the most usual date), and never delayed beyond the twelfth month.

I should say further, that if child and parent are both in vigorous health, if the infant has cut several of its teeth, and been already accustomed to be partially fed, weaning ought to be gradually accomplished at the ninth month. On the other hand, that if the child is feeble in constitution, the teeth late in appearing, and the mother is healthy, and has a sufficient supply of good milk, especially if it be the autumnal season, it will be far better to prolong the nursing for a few months. In such a case, the fact of the on-appearance of the teeth indicates an unfitness of the system for any other than the natural food from the maternal breast.

And again, if the infant is born of a consumptive parent, and a healthy and vigorous wet-nurse has been provided, weaning should most certainly be deferred beyond the usual time, carefully watching, however, that neither nurse nor child suffer from its continuance.

THE MODE.—It should be effected gradually. From the sixth month most children are fed twice or oftener in the four-and-twenty hours; the infant is in fact, therefore, from this time in the progress of weaning; that is to say, its natural diet is partly changed for an artificial one, so that when the time for complete weaning arrives, it will be easily accomplished, without suffering to the mother, or much denial to the child.

It is, however, of the greatest importance to regulate the quantity and quality of the food at this time. If too much food is given (and this is the great danger) the stomach will be overloaded, the digestive powers destroyed, and if the child is not carried off suddenly by convulsions, its bowels will become obstinately disordered; it will fall away from not being nourished, and perhaps eventually become a sacrifice to the overanxious desire of the parent and its friends to promote its welfare.

The kind of food proper for this period, and the mode of administering it, is detailed in the previous section, on "Artificial Feeding."[FN#12]

[FN#12] The kind of food after the sixth month to the completion of first dentition, p. 44.

Much exercise in the open air (whenever there is no dampness of atmosphere) is highly necessary and beneficial at this time; it tends to invigorate the system, and strengthens the digestive organs, and thus enables the latter to bear without injury the alteration in diet.

THE DRYING UP OF THE MOTHER'S MILK.—This will generally be attended with no difficulty. When the weaning is effected gradually, the milk will usually go away of itself without any measures being resorted to. If, however, the breasts should continue loaded, or indeed painfully distended, a gentle aperient should be taken every morning, so that the bowels are kept slightly relaxed; the diet must be diminished in quantity, and solid nourishment only taken. The breast, if painfully distended, must be occasionally drawn, but only just sufficiently to relieve the distention. In either case they must be rubbed for five or ten minutes, every four or five hours, with the following liniment, previously warmed:—

Compound soap liniment, one ounce and a half; Laudanum, three drachms.


Childhood, as has been before intimated, extends from about the second to the seventh or eighth year, when the second dentition is commenced.

No precise rules of diet can be laid down for this period, as this requires to be adapted in every case to the particular constitution concerned. There are, however, certain general principles which must be acted upon, and which can be easily modified by a judicious and observant parent, as circumstances and constitution may require.

GENERAL DIRECTIONS, AND OF ANIMAL FOOD.—The diet of the latter months of infancy is still to be continued, but with the important addition of animal food, which the child has now got teeth to masticate. This must be given in small quantity; it should be of the lightest quality, only allowed on alternate days, and even then its effects must be carefully watched, as all changes in the regimen of children should be gradual.

A child at this age, then, should have its meals at intervals of about four hours:—thus its breakfast between seven and eight o'clock, to consist of tops and bottoms, steeped in hot water, a little milk added, and the whole sweetened with sugar; or bread may be softened in hot water, the latter drained off, and fresh milk and sugar added to the bread. Its dinner about twelve o'clock, to consist, every other day, of a small quantity of animal food (chicken, fresh mutton, or beef, being the only meats allowed) with a little bread and water; on the alternate days, well boiled rice and milk, a plain bread, sago, tapioca, or arrow- root pudding, containing one egg; or farinaceous food, with beef-tea. Its afternoon mealy about four o'clock, the same diet as formed the breakfast. At seven, a little arrow-root, made with a very small proportion of milk, or a biscuit, or crust of bread, after which the child should be put to bed.

The child must be taught to take its food slowly, retain it in it's mouth long, and swallow it tardily. Nothing must be given in the intervals of the meals. The stomach requires a period of repose after the labour of digestion; and if the child is entertained by its nurse, and its mind occupied, there will be no difficulty in following out this important direction.

As the child grows older, the quantity at each meal should be increased; the tops and bottoms changed for bread and pure milk, boiled or not; meat may be taken daily, except circumstances forbid it; and a small quantity of vegetable also.

If a child, then, be of a sound constitution, with healthy bowels, a cool skin, and clean tongue, the diet may be liberal, and provided it is sufficiently advanced in age, animal food may be taken daily. Too low a diet would stint the growth of such a child, and induce a state of body deficient in vigour, and unfit for maintaining full health: scrofula and other diseases would be induced. At the same time let the mother guard against pampering, for this would lead to evils no less formidable, though of a different character. And as long as the general health of this child is unimpaired, the body and mind active, and no evidence present to mark excess of nutriment, this diet may be continued. But if languor at any time ensue, fever become manifested, the skin hotter than natural, the tongue white and furred, and the bowels irregular, then, though these symptoms should bebonly in slight degree, and unattended with any specific derangement amounting to what is considered disease, not only should the parent lower the diet, and for a time withdraw the animal part, but the medical adviser should be consulted, that measures may be taken to correct the state of repletion which has been suffered to arise. For some time after its removal, care should also be taken to keep the diet under that, which occasioned the constitutional disturbance.

But if the child be of a delicate and weakly constitution (and this is unfortunately the more common case), it will not bear so generous a diet as the foregoing. During the three or four earliest years, it should be restricted chiefly to a mild farinaceous diet, with a small allowance only of meat on alternate days. The constant endeavour of the parent now should be, to seek to increase the digestive power and bodily vigour of her child by frequent exercise in the open air, and by attention to those general points of management detailed in the after- part of this chapter. This accomplished, a greater proportion of animal food may be given, and, in fact, will become necessary for the growth of the system, while at the same time there will be a corresponding power for its assimilation and digestion.

A great error in the dietetic management of such children is but too frequently committed by parents. They suppose that because their child is weakly and delicate, that the more animal food it takes the more it will be strengthened, and they therefore give animal food too early, and in too great quantity. It only adds to its debility. The system, as a consequence, becomes excited, nutrition is impeded, and disease produced, ultimately manifesting itself in scrofula, disease in the abdomen, head, or chest. The first seeds of consumption are but too frequently originated in this way. A child so indulged will eat heartily enough, but he remains thin notwithstanding. After a time he will have frequent fever, will appear heated and flushed towards evening, when he will drink greedily, and more than is usual in children of the same age; there will be deranged condition of the bowels, and headach,—the child will soon become peevish, irritable, and impatient; it will entirely lose the good humour so natural to childhood, and that there is something wrong will be evident enough, the parent, however, little suspecting the real cause and occasion of all the evil. In such a child, too, it will be found that the ordinary diseases of infancy, scarlet fever, measles, small pox, etc., will be attended with an unusual degree of constitutional disturbance; that it will not bear such active treatment as other children, or so quickly rally from the illness.

"Strength is to be obtained not from the kind of food which contains most nourishment in itself, but from that which is best adapted to the condition of the digestive organs at the time when it is taken."

SUGAR.—This is a necessary condiment for the food of children, and it is nutritious, and does not injure the teeth, as is generally imagined. "During the sugar season," observes Dr. Dunglison, "the negroes of the West India islands drink copiously of the juice of the cane, yet their teeth are not injured; on the contrary, they have been praised by writers for their beauty and soundness; and the rounded form of the body, whilst they can indulge in the juice, sufficiently testifies to the nutrient qualities of the saccharine beverage."[FN#13] Sweetmeats, on the other hand, are most indigestible, and seriously injurious.

[FN#13] Elements of Hygiem. Philadephia, 1835.

SALT.—This is necessary for the health of a child; it acts as a stimulant to the digestive organs, and if not allowed in sufficient quantity with the food, worms will result.[FN#14] It may, therefore, be added in small quantity, and with advantage, even to the farinaceous food of infants. Salted meats, however, should never be permitted to the child; for by the process of salting the fibre of the meat is so changed, that it is less nutritive, as well as less digestible.

[FN#14] Lord Sommerville, in his Address to the Board of Agriculture, gave an interesting account of the effects of a punishment which formerly existed in Holland. "The ancient laws of the country ordained men to be kept on bread alone, un-mixed with salt, as the severest punishment that could be inflicted upon them in their moist climate. The effect was horrible: these wretched criminals are said to have been devoured by worms engendered in their own stomachs."

"The wholesomeness and digestibility of our bread are undoubtedly much promoted by the addition of the salt which it so universally receives. A pound of salt is generally added to each bushel of flour. Hence it may be presumed, that every adult consumes two ounces of salt per week, or six pounds and a half per annum, in bread alone."

Dr. Paris on Diet.

FRUITS.—These, and of all kinds whether fresh or dried, a delicate child is better without; except the orange, which when perfectly ripe may be allowed to any child, but the white or inner skin should be scrupulously rejected, as it is most indigestible.

A healthy child may be permitted to partake of most fresh fruits. Of the stone-fruits, the ripe peach, the apricot, and nectarine, are the most wholesome; but cherries, from the stones being but too frequently swallowed, had better not be allowed. Apples and pears, when ripe and well masticated, are not unwholesome; and the apple when baked affords a pleasant repast, and where there is a costive habit, it is useful as a laxative. The small-seeded fruits, however, are by far the most wholesome. Of these, the ripe strawberry and raspberry deserve the first rank. The grape is also cooling and antiseptic, but the husks and seeds should be rejected. The gooseberry is less wholesome on account of the indigestibility of the skin, which is too frequently swallowed.

Dried fruits a child should never be permitted to eat.

WATER.—This should be the only beverage throughout childhood. Toast- and-water, if the child prefer it, which is rendered slightly more nutritive than the more simple fluid. The water employed in its preparation, however, must be at a boiling temperature, and it ought to be drunk as soon as it has sufficiently cooled; for by being kept, it acquires a mawkish and unpleasant flavour.

WINE, BEER, etc.—The practice of giving wine, or, indeed, any stimulant, to a healthy child, is highly reprehensible; it ought never to be given but medicinally.

The circulation in infancy and childhood is not only more rapid than in the adult, but easily excited to greater vehemence of action; the nervous system, too, is so susceptible, that the slightest causes of irritation produce strong and powerful impressions: the result in either case is diseased action in the frame, productive of fever, convulsions, etc.; wine, accordingly, is detrimental to children.

An experiment made by Dr. Hunter upon two of his children illustrates, in a striking manner, the pernicious effects of even a small portion of intoxicating liquors in persons of this tender age. To one of the children he gave, every day after dinner, a full glass of sherry: the child was five years of age, and unaccustomed to the use of wine. To the other child, of nearly the same age, and equally unused to wine, he gave an orange. In the course of a week, a very marked difference was perceptible in the pulse, urine, and evacuations from the bowels of the two children. The pulse of the first was raised, the urine high coloured, and the evacuations destitute of their usual quantity of bile. In the other child, no change whatever was produced. He then reversed the experiment, giving to the first the orange, and to the second the wine, and the results corresponded: the child who had the orange continued well, and the system of the other got straightway into disorder, as in the first experiment.[FN#15]

[FN#15] Marcellin relates an instance of seven children in a family whose bowels became infested with worms, from the use of stimulants. They were cured by substituting water for the pernicious beverage.

In this town, spirits, particularly gin, are given to infants and children to a frightful extent. I have seen an old Irish woman give diluted spirits to the infant just born. A short time since one of those dram-drinking children, about eight years of age, was brought into one of our hospitals. The attendants, from its emaciated appearance, considered the child was dying from mere starvation; which was true enough in a certain sense. Food was accordingly offered and pressed upon it, but the boy would not even put it to his lips. The next day it was discovered that the mother brought the child very nearly a pint of gin, every drop of which before night he had consumed.

It is easy to discover when children have been fed upon spirits: they are always emaciated; have a lean, yellow, haggard look: the eyes sunk, the lips pale, and the teeth discoloured, the cadaverous aspect of the countenance being most fearful. They are continually suffering from bowel complaints and convulsive disorders; which, under these circumstances, terminate invariably in an early death.

Sect. IV. SLEEP.

DURING INFANCY.—For three or four weeks after birth the infant sleeps more or less, day and night, only waking to satisfy the demands of hunger; at the expiration of this time, however, each interval of wakefulness grows longer, so that it sleeps less frequently, but for longer periods at a time.

This disposition to repose in the early weeks of the infant's life must not be interfered with; but this period having expired, great care is necessary to induce regularity in its hours of sleep, otherwise too much will be taken in the day-time, and restless and disturbed nights will follow. The child should be brought into the habit of sleeping in the middle of the day, before its dinner, and for about two hours, more or less. If put to rest at a later period of the day, it will invariably cause a bad night.

At first the infant should sleep with its parent. The low temperature of its body, and its small power of generating heat, render this necessary. If it should happen, however, that the child has disturbed and restless nights, it must immediately be removed to the bed and care of another female, to be brought to its mother at an early hour in the morning, for the purpose of being nursed. This is necessary for the preservation of the mother's health, which through sleepless nights would of course be soon deranged, and the infant would also suffer from the influence which such deranged health would have upon the milk.

When a month or six weeks has elapsed, the child, if healthy, may sleep alone in a cradle or cot, care being taken that it has a sufficiency of clothing, that the room in which it is placed is sufficiently warm, viz. 60 degrees, and the position of the cot itself is not such as to be exposed to currents of cold air. It is essentially necessary to attend to these points, since the faculty of producing heat, and consequently the power of maintaining the temperature, is less during sleep than at any other time, and therefore exposure to cold is especially injurious. It is but too frequently the case that inflammation of some internal organ will occur under such circumstances, without the true source of the disease ever being suspected. Here, however, a frequent error must be guarded against,— that of covering up the infant in its cot with too much clothing throwing over its face the muslin handkerchief—and, last of all, drawing the drapery of the bed closely together. The object is to keep the infant sufficiently warm with pure air; it therefore ought to have free access to its mouth, and the atmosphere of the whole room should be kept sufficiently warm to allow the child to breathe it freely: in winter, therefore, there must always be a fire in the nursery.

The child up to two years old, at least, should sleep upon a feather bed, for the reasons referred to above. The pillow, however, after the sixth month, should be made of horsehair; for at this time teething commences, and it is highly important that the head should be kept cool.

DURING CHILDHOOD.—Up to the third or fourth year the child should be permitted to sleep for an hour or so before its dinner. After this time it may gradually be discontinued; but it must be recollected, that during the whole period of childhood more sleep is required than in adult age. The child, therefore, should be put to rest every evening between seven and eight; and if it be in health it will sleep soundly until the following morning. No definite rule, however, can be laid down in reference to the number of hours of sleep to be allowed; for one will require more or less than another.[FN#16] Regularity as to the time of going to rest is the chief point to attend to; permit nothing to interfere with it, and then only let the child sleep without disturbance, until it awakes of its own accord on the following morning, and it will have had sufficient rest.

[FN#16] The amount of sleep necessary to preserve health varies according to the state of the body, and the habits of the individual. As already observed, infants pass much the greater portion of their time in sleep. Children sleep twelve or fourteen hours. The schoolboy generally ten. In youth, a third part of the twenty-four hours is spent in sleep. Whilst, in advanced age, many do not spend more than four, five, or six hours in sleep.

It is a cruel thing for a mother to sacrifice her child's health that she may indulge her own vanity, and yet how often is this done in reference to sleep. An evening party is to assemble, and the little child is kept up for hours beyond its stated time for retiring to rest, that it may be exhibited, fondled, and admired. Its usual portion of sleep is thus abridged, and, from the previous excitement, what little he does obtain, is broken and unrefreshing, and he rises on the morrow wearied and exhausted.

Once awake, it should not be permitted to lie longer in bed, but should be encouraged to arise immediately. This is the way to bring about the habit of early rising, which prevents many serious evils to which parents are not sufficiently alive, promotes both mental and corporeal health, and of all habits is said to be the most conducive to longevity.

A child should never be suddenly aroused from sleep; it excites the brain, quickens the action of the heart, and, if often repeated, serious consequences would result. The change of sleeping to waking should always be gradual.

The bed on which the child now sleeps should be a mattress: at this age a feather bed is always injurious to children; for the body, sinking deep into the bed, is completely buried in feathers, and the unnatural degree of warmth thus produced relaxes and weakens the system, particularly the skin, and renders the child unusually susceptible to the impressions of cold. Then, instead of the bed being made up in the morning as soon as vacated, and while still saturated with the nocturnal exhalations from the body, the bed-clothes should be thrown over the backs of chairs, the mattress shaken well up, and the window thrown open for several hours, so that the apartment shall be thoroughly ventilated. It is also indispensably requisite not to allow the child to sleep with persons in bad health, or who are far advanced in life; if possible, it should sleep alone.


DURING INFANCY.—Too much attention cannot be paid to cleanliness; it is essential to the infant's health. The principal points to which especial attention must be paid by the parent for this purpose are the following:—

TEMPERATURE OF THE WATER.—At first the infant should be washed daily with warm water; and a bath every night, for the purpose of thoroughly cleaning the body, is highly necessary. To bathe a delicate infant of a few days or even weeks old in cold water with a view "to harden" the constitution (as it is called), is the most effectual way to undermine its health and entail future disease. By degrees, however, the water with which it is sponged in the morning should be made tepid, the evening bath being continued warm enough to be grateful to the feelings.

A few months having passed by, the temperature of the water may be gradually lowered until cold is employed, with which it may be either sponged or even plunged into it, every morning during summer. If plunged into cold water, however, it must be kept in but a minute; for at this period, especially, the impression of cold continued for any considerable time depresses the vital energies, and prevents that healthy glow on the surface which usually follows the momentary and brief action of cold, and upon which its usefulness depends. With some children, indeed, there is such extreme delicacy and deficient reaction as to render the cold bath hazardous; no warm glow over the surface takes place when its use inevitably does harm: its effects, therefore, must be carefully watched.

DRYING THE SKIN.—The surface of the skin should always be carefully and thoroughly rubbed dry with flannel,—indeed, more than dry, for the skin should be warmed and stimulated by the assiduous gentle friction made use of. For this process of washing and drying must not be done languidly, but briskly and expeditiously; and will then be found to be one of the most effectual means of strengthening the infant. It is especially necessary carefully to dry the arm-pits, groins, and nates; and if the child is very fat, it will be well to dust over these parts with hair-powder or starch: this prevents excoriations and sores, which are frequently very troublesome. Soap is only required to those parts of the body which are exposed to the reception of dirt.

NAPKINS.—The frequency of the discharges from the bowels and bladder requires a frequent change of napkins. A nurse cannot be too careful of this duty from the first, so that she may be enabled to discover the periods when those discharges are about to take place, that she may not only anticipate them, but teach the child, at a very early age, to give intelligent warning of its necessities. Thus a habit of regularity with regard to those functions will be established, which will continue through life, and tend greatly to the promotion of health. As the child grows older, the system of cleanliness must in no particular be relaxed, and it will be found the best preservative against those eruptive disorders which are so frequent and troublesome during the period of infancy.

DURING CHILDHOOD.—When this period arrives, or shortly after, bathing is but too frequently left off; the hands and face of the child are kept clean, and with this the nurse is satisfied; the daily ablution of the whole body, however, is still necessary, not only for the preservation of cleanliness, but because it promotes in a high degree the health of the child.

PLAN TO BE PURSUED WITH THE VIGOROUS AND HEALTHY.—A child of a vigorous constitution and robust health, as he rises from his bed refreshed and active by his night's repose, should be put into the shower-bath, or, if this excites and alarms him too much, must be sponged from head to foot with salt water. If the weather be very cold, the water may be made slightly tepid, but if his constitution will bear it, the water should be cold throughout the year. Then the body should be speedily dried, and hastily but well rubbed with a somewhat coarse towel, and the clothes put on without any unnecessary delay. This should be done every morning of the child's life.

If such a child is at the sea-side, advantage should be taken of this circumstance, and seabathing should be substituted. The best time is two or three hours after breakfast; but he must not be fatigued beforehand, for if so, the cold bath cannot be used without danger. Care must be taken that he does not remain in too long, as the animal heat will be lowered below the proper degree, which would be most injurious. In boys of a feeble constitution, great mischief is often produced in this way. It is a matter also of great consequence in bathing children that they should not be terrified by the immersion, and every precaution should be taken to prevent this. The healthy and robust boy, too, should early be taught to swim, whenever this is practicable, for it is attended with the most beneficial effects; it is a most invigorating exercise, and the cold bath thus becomes doubly serviceable.

PLAN TO BE PURSUED WITH THE DELICATE AND STRUMOUS.—If a child is of a delicate and strumous constitution, the cold bath during the summer is one of the best tonics that can be employed; and if living on the coast, sea-bathing will be found of singular benefit. The effects, however, of sea-bathing upon such a constitution must be particularly watched, for unless it is succeeded by a glow,—a feeling of increased strength,—and a keen appetite, it will do no good, and ought at once to be abandoned for the warm or tepid bath. The opinion that warm baths generally relax and weaken, is erroneous; for in this case, as in all cases when properly employed, they would give tone and vigour to the whole system; in fact, the tepid bath is to this child what the cold bath is to the more robust.

In conclusion: if the bath in any shape cannot from circumstances be obtained, then cold saltwater sponging must be used daily, and all the year round, so long as the proper reaction or glow follows its use; but when this is not the case, and this will generally occur, if the child is delicate and the weather cold, tepid vinegar and water, or tepid salt water, must be substituted.


IN INFANCY.—Infants are very susceptible of the impressions of cold; a proper regard, therefore, to a suitable clothing of the body, is imperative to their enjoyment of health. Unfortunately, an opinion is prevalent in society, that the tender child has naturally a great power of generating heat and resisting cold; and from this popular error has arisen the most fatal results. This opinion has been much strengthened by the insidious manner in which cold operates on the frame, the injurious effects not being always manifest during or immediately after its application, so that but too frequently the fatal result is traced to a wrong source, or the infant sinks under the action of an unknown cause.

The power of generating heat in warm-blooded animals is at its minimum at birth, and increases successively to adult age; young animals, instead of being warmer than adults, are generally a degree or two colder, and part with their heat more readily; facts which cannot be too generally known. They show how absurd must be the folly of that system of "hardening" the constitution (to which reference has been before made), which induces the parent to plunge the tender and delicate child into the cold bath at all seasons of the year, and freely expose it to the cold, cutting currents of an easterly wind, with the lightest clothing.

The principles which ought to guide a parent in clothing her infant are as follows:—

The material and quantity of the clothes should be such as to preserve a sufficient proportion of warmth to the body, regulated therefore by the season of the year, and the delicacy or strength of the infant's constitution. In effecting this, however, the parent must guard against the too common practice of enveloping the child in innumerable folds of warm clothing, and keeping it constantly confined to very hot and close rooms; thus running into the opposite extreme to that to which I have just alluded: for nothing tends so much to enfeeble the constitution, to induce disease, and render the skin highly susceptible to the impression of cold; and thus to produce those very ailments which it is the chief intention to guard against.

In their make they should be so arranged as to put no restrictions to the free movements of all parts of the child's body; and so loose and easy as to permit the insensible perspiration to have a free exit, instead of being confined to and absorbed by the clothes, and held in contact with the skin, till it gives rise to irritation.

In their quality they should be such as not to irritate the delicate skin of the child. In infancy, therefore, flannel is rather too rough, but is desirable as the child grows older, as it gives a gentle stimulus to the skin, and maintains health.

In its construction the dress should be so simple as to admit of being quickly put on, since dressing is irksome to the infant, causing it to cry, and exciting as much mental irritation as it is capable of feeling. Pins should be wholly dispensed with, their use being hazardous through the carelessness of nurses, and even through the ordinary movements of the infant itself.

The clothing must be changed daily.—It is eminently conducive to good health that a complete change of dress should be made every day. If this is not done, washing will, in a great measure, fail in its object, especially in insuring freedom from skin diseases.

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