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THE REARING AND MANAGEMENT OF CHILDREN.-I.
THE MOTHER AND BABY.
WHEN a woman is about to become a
mother, she ought to remember that another life of health or delicacy is
dependent upon the care she can take of herself; that all she does will
inevitably affect her child, and that mentally as well as physically.
We know that it is utterly impossible for the wife of the labouring man to give up work, and, what is called, "take care of herself;" as others can. Nor is it necessary. The "back is made for its burthen." It would be just as injurious for the labourer's wife to give up her daily work and exercise, as for the lady to take to sweeping her own carpets or cooking the dinner. Habit becomes second nature. We know
"Use almost can change the stamp of nature."
So that, although naturally the delicacy of the womanly frame might seem to demand rest at such a time, the nature acquired by habit or use demands, for health's sake, the same routine of exercise and exertion. He who placed one woman in a position where labour and exertion are parts of her existence, gives her a stronger state of body than her more luxurious sisters. To one inured to toil from childhood, ordinary work is merely exercise, and, as such, necessary to keep up her physical powers, though extra work should be, of course, avoided as much as possible. Lifting heavy weights, taking long walks, stooping for many hours over a washing-tub, or raising the hands above the head - all these things might be avoided or done in moderation even by the cottager's wife.
At such a time, too, the woman ought to be as careful as she can of her diet, and eat regularly, and in moderate quantity. Overloading the stomach increases the sickness so often attendant upon her state. The vulgar notion of what is called "longing" for unusual food should be discouraged as inconsistent and ridiculous.
Country women very seldom send for the doctor until it is too late, and are therefore subjected to the treatment of an amateur, and often utterly ignorant, nurse, who acts with the best intentions in the world, and saves her neighbour a few shillings, but will often lay the foundation of many years of debility and suffering.
Good and correct nursing is indispensable to future health and strength, and the importance of this people are beginning to recognise; and ere long, we have reason to believe, every village will be supplied with a trained and certificated nurse.
There is a fatal error in the idea, very prevalent, in some classes of society, that to get up soon is the sign of a "clever woman;" and a sort of rivalry exists upon the point - the mother who can soonest "feel her feet," and get to her usual work or business, being looked up to and envied by her neighbours.
There can scarcely ever be any reason why a woman should get up and work under a fortnight, at least. Neighbours are always ready to come in and set the house to rights, and see to the children and husband. Therefore, by all means, rest the prescribed time; and twice that time will be just twice as well. You will find your reward in an after-time of strength and comfort. In nine cases out of ten, the rash and indecently early rising from childbed is not from a sense of duty or necessity, but simply out of bravado. This period of after-repose is particularly required at a first confinement, the strength and health of the mother's whole life depending upon judicious treatment at such a critical time.
The great thing for the nurse to observe, after the baby is born, is to keep the mother's mind free from excitement or anxiety, and to preserve as much quiet in the house as possible. In a healthy woman, Nature will do her own doctoring, and do it thoroughly; but when there is ill-health or debility, the nurse or doctor must help. Nature, and be in their turn attended to and assisted by' those immediately connected with the patient.
For a few days, weak tea and bread, or gruel, may be the proper food; but a very great change has taken place in the diet prescribed by the medical practitioners of the present day, resulting naturally from experience and scientific discoveries; and under medical advice, beef tea, and even mutton chops, may be administered, almost the next day after confinement, with much advantage. This, however, had better depend on advice given to suit the individual case, as no absolute rule can be laid down.
A nursing mother should live well. She may take a glass of porter or ale at dinner. Sour things should be avoided on the infant's account. Should she suffer from palpitations, dizziness, dimness of sight, or night-perspirationS, she is not in a fit condition to continue nursing. By the "Rules" of the Obstetrical Society of London, nursing should be concluded after the ninth month, the child being gradually weaned.
Should the infant appear exhausted and cold immediately after birth, sponge it all over with brandy or some spirit. Should it be prematurely born, do not attempt to. dress it in the ordinary way, but simply roll it up in soft warm wraps, as soon as it has been washed and powdered. Warm rain-water and Castile soap should be used for the washing. It should be put to the breast within three or four hours after birth. If there be no milk, wait for some time before giving artificial food. If obliged to give it, it must not be gruel; one-third of new milk, and two-thirds of warm water, slightly sweetened, should be given every four hours till the mother can nurse, and then be discontinued.
For the first month the suckling should be at intervals of every hour and a half; for the second every two hours, lengthening the periods of rest to every four hours. Do not feed the child to stop crying. An experienced nurse will judge from the cries and movements of the infant the nature of its complaint. If a stomach-ache, the cries are long, loud, and passionate; it sheds tears, stops, recommences, and draws up its legs to the stomach. As the pain subsides it stretches them out again, and after some sobbing it falls asleep.
If the cause of crying be inflammation of the chest, the cries will not be loud, nor will there be tears; but after drawing a deeper breath than before at intervals of a few [-11-] minutes, or after a short hacking cough-apparently checked before half finished - it gives a little cry.
If there be disease in the head, it will utter sharp piercing shrieks ; then, between whiles, a low wail or moan, and will often sway the head from side to side.
Never dose a baby with narcotics. The safest remedy for a pain in the stomach is a few drops of peppermint in water sweetened with sugar, and a hot flannel laid upon' the stomach or across the back. In our articles on Domestic Medicine, ample directions will be found for the treatment of all more important symptoms.
Sir Charles Locock's advice, to "give no aperient to a new-born infant," is fully endorsed by other eminent men. Half a tea-spoonful of good moist sugar, dissolved in a tea-spoonful of warm water, should rather be administered, to be repeated in four hours, if necessary. Or butter and sugar will be far preferable to castor-oil.
Generally the baby sleeps with its mother; and this is a good plan, as warmth is of great importance, and the infant having very little power to generate heat itself, that I derived from the mother is a great source of comfort and health. During the day the cradle should be near the fire; and if the weather be very cold, put a hot brick wrapped in flannel, or a bottle of hot water, into the. cradle at the child's feet. Be very careful that the bed and bedding are perfectly dry.
According to the "Rules recommended by the Obstetrical Society of London," we are informed that "most of the mortality from hand-feeding arises from the use of arrowroot, corn-flour, and other unsuitable kinds of food." According to the Society's Rules also, until the child be six or seven months old, farinaceous food is injurious. If the mother be unable to nurse entirely, we recommend. the following receipt :-"Fresh milk from ONE cow, and, warm water-of each a quarter of a pint; sugar of milk, one tea-spoonful."
The sugar of milk should first be dissolved in the warm water, and then the fresh milk, unboiled, mixed with it. Half this quantity will suffice for a meal at first; the; whole as the child grows older.
When a child is two months old, the sooner he is vaccinated the better. If he have any eruption on the skin, delay it, but not on account of "red gum."
At six or seven months old the best substitute for the. mother's milk is the following :-Crumb of bread boiled for two hours in water, sweetened with a little lump or brown sugar. But what suits one child does not always agree with another. A table-spoonful of lime-water may often with great advantage be added to the milk, instead of an equal quantity of warm water.
Where feeding-bottles are used, great care should be taken to scald them out twice a day. In case the mother cannot nurse the child, we recommend goat's milk for the strong, and ass's for the delicate. The milk should be warmed by water, and not over the fire.
The feeding-bottle so frequently used now, with the long india-rubber tube, no doubt saves the nurse a certain amount of trouble, but requires too strong a pull and; strain from the tongue; besides, the food is apt to get cold, and cold food always gives an infant wind, and causes it to torment the mother by a fit of crying.
Careful washing night and morning is all-important. The whole body must be well rubbed and soaped. Put the child into the water, supporting its back with your, left hand, having your fingers well spread out so as to steady the head; rub off the soap with the right, and lave the water over the back and head. Take care never to frighten or force the child into the water; but if on any occasion it appears to have an aversion to the "ducking," coax it in.
Every part must be carefully dried, especially the folds of the skin, as these, if left wet, are sure to chafe and become sores, often very difficult to heal. Violet-powder is used to dust into these folds, but is worse than nothing unless the skin be perfectly free from damp. When washed, let the child stretch itself well, and, lying flat upon your knees, enjoy its freedom from the trammels of clothing. A healthy child will always stretch and use its small limbs in a most lively and energetic manner when it is naked; nor does it at all relish having itself dressed again.
Rub till the skin be in a glow, taking care not to ruffle nor chafe it. In winter weather, a few drops of glycerine in the water will prevent frost-roughness or chapping, both entailing much suffering upon the little one, and at the same time capable of being avoided by proper care and attention.
THE REARING AND MANAGEMENT OF CHILDREN.-II.
THE aspect of a day-nursery should be light, airy, and, if attainable,
exposed to the south. It is impossible to over-estimate the worth of this
situation in the attempt to rear children in full health and buoyancy of spirit.
The ruddy bloom of a well-trained child betokens something more than a sound
constitution-it indicates a joyous temperament and keen enjoyment of life.
Children immured in gloomy apartments never wear this look. In all save their
clothing they are liable to resemble the ill-fed population of crowded cities,
whose playground is the nearest gutter.
Doctors agree that the best place for children is the upper part of a house, where the air circulates more freely, and the odours of the basement are less penetrating. Not that nurseries should be in what is termed the "roof of the house;" still less should a child's playroom have a sloping ceiling, such as attic apartments too often have. What children require is, a cheerful prospect without, and an airy, roomy space to romp in. The custom, which is gradually gaining ground, of converting the breakfast-room on the basement-floor of suburban villas into day-nurseries, is very objectionable. One can quite understand that want of space and insufficiency of attendance often render these arrangements arbitrary but the error invariably discovers itself in time in the increased want felt for stimulating food tonics, and other remedies for enfeebled constitutions.
In case of an outbreak of any infectious complaint such as fever, measles, whooping-cough, &c., the sick child should retain possession of the nursery, or some room on that upper floor (as infection always ascends), and the other children should be given a temporary nursery on a lower floor, every article of clothing, bedding curtains, and carpets being removed at the same time It should always be remembered that children are more susceptible of infection than grown people. The maid in attendance on the sick child should never attend in the nursery of the other children.
The furniture of nurseries requires a few words of comment. The bare necessaries of comfortable 1iving are all that should be admitted into apartments where space and cleanliness are indispensable. A large room full of furniture is less healthy than a small one scantily fitted up.
Beginning with the walls: It would perhaps shock most people to tell them that the very best walls for a nursery are those which are simply plastered and whitewashed Every year, in the spring, the whitewash may be renewed at trifling cost, doing away with the harbour for fleas and more objectionable insects. Next in fitness is a painted wall, admitting of easy cleansing when required. Equal in excellence is marbled paper varnished, like that of halls and staircases of modern houses.
Bedding is an important question, particularly if there be many children to provide for. If possible, each child should sleep alone; never with its nurse. Small iron bedsteads are best; but where there are many children especially little ones, it will be a good plan to have wickerwork cradles, made in the shape of the bassinet without the hood. A basket of this description, measuring three feet two inches at the bottom and two feet too inches wide, will be capable of containing a child till three years of age, at which time he may be quartered in some other apartment. The advantage these basket work bedsteads have is that the bedding may be removed from the nursery by day, and put elsewhere to air, and the baskets themselves stowed away one upon another till wanted.
Horsehair mattresses are the best if the expense can be afforded. They are best because they admit of being easily unpicked and put together again. It is only necessary to unpick the "tabs," and empty the horsehair into a washing-tub filled with soap and water. When it has been thoroughly washed, together with the casing, it is as good and sweet as new. Every one acquainted with nursery management will be aware of the necessity for such cleansing.
An excellent addition to the amount of bedding allowed will be under-mattresses of dry chaff. These are very inexpensive, can be made at home, and may be easily renewed. They are warm and springy. Here and there a tab will add to their evenness. Bolsters made of the same are comfortable and economical. For very young infants, especially when teething, a cot pillow-case of washleather, filled with horsehair, will be most suitable.
Nursery bedding should not be aired in the same room [-111-] as that occupied by the children. If, however, no other means exist, the mattresses and clothes should be laid before the fire whilst the little ones are out walking, the windows and doors being left open during the process.
The fittings of a nursery should be few and washable. Plain chintz curtains are preferable on this account to woollen materials. Sand-bags are requisite along the windows, in severe weather, because children cannot be kept from looking out and tapping at the panes, thereby exposing themselves to draughts.
It is not advisable to cover a nursery completely with carpet. A square of felt, bound at the edges, and fastened at the corners and sides with a few carpet-nails (those made with large flat brass heads are the best), is easily removed, and easily shaken. The felt should be taken up one day in every week, and the room thoroughly scrubbed. An excellent addition to the ordinary means of cleansing consists of a lump of lime in the pail of water used for scrubbing. The lime not only whitens, but disinfects the boards. Whilst the nursery is scrubbed, the windows should be left open a few inches at both top and bottom, and a fire kept brightly burning, except in summer.
A hamper for toys is a good substitute for a cupboard. If the house be large, and the nursery distant from the main supplies of provisions, a safe should be established on a landing, or in a spare room, wherein bread, milk, butter, and the nursery grocery may be kept. One or two saucepans for warming infants' food, and a kettle for the nursery tea, are indispensable.
A small kitchen-range is preferable to the ordinary fireplace. These nursery-ranges, fitted with a boiler, save time and trouble, when hot water is frequently wanted, as in the case of the morning and evening bath.
Nursery fenders are in such general use that it seems almost unnecessary to recommend them. No room appropriated to children is safe without such a protection from fire. To be perfectly safe, however, and beyond the reach of long sticks, it is needful that a wire guard should be suspended on the grate within.
In planning the arrangements of a nursery, endeavour to make the little establishment as independent of the rest of the household as possible.
With regard to ventilation : the well-being of children much depends on a plentiful supply of fresh air, and dangerous diseases are generated by breathing over and over again the same atmosphere. If a child waken languid in the morning, instead of being sprightly and refreshed, it may be taken as a tolerable indication of the inadequate ventilation of the sleeping-room during night. Some provision for the admittance of fresh air is indispensable. The upper sash of one window should be left a little open, taking care that no draught shall come on any bed. Should the weather be cold, or damp, leave the bed-room door open, instead of the window. The register of the fire-place in the sleeping-room must also be left open.
The temperature of a bed-room in winter should be, as nearly as possible, at 60º Fahrenheit.
THE REARING AND MANAGEMENT OF CHILDREN.-III.
AN infant in sound health will sleep almost continually during the first four
or five weeks of its life. All that is necessary in the interval is to guard
against accidents likely to create disturbance. Of these, injudicious feeding,
deficiency of warmth, want of cleanliness, and over-fatigue, are the most liable
to occur, converting the happiest period of development into a restless state of
being, alike pernicious to parent and child.
As though to indicate the necessity for this lengthy repose, the sense of hearing in a new-born babe is very dull. Ordinary conversation does not disturb an infant's slumbers, although loud sudden noises may have that effect. In most instances, a baby does not appear to be conscious of sounds until about the fifth or sixth week of its existence. In the meanwhile, the necessary disturbances are confined to being suckled, washed and changed; for which duties occasion should be taken during the short wakeful intervals which happen when hunger prevails.
So valuable is the repose which sleep affords throughout the whole period of early childhood, that too much pains cannot be taken to cultivate the habit from the earliest moment; for, be it observed, sleep is essentially a habit of our nature, and its recurrence depends chiefly on regularity of living and good health. At appointed times, and in certain places, infants should be encouraged to submit to sleep. Let them understand that, after food and exercise, it is time to go to bed; and a lesson will have been learnt which will require no undue force to put into practice during the term of nursery life.
Infants born in the winter, and during the cold months of spring, require to sleep at the mother's side for the first few weeks; according to one authority, "for the first few months, as he requires the warmth of another person's body, especially in winter." But the strength of the child, as well as the weather, must carry their due weight in deciding the length of the time. Doctors differ on this point. At all events, it should lie alone when sufficiently strong to bear it; and then on a horsehair mattress. When sleeping with the mother it should not, on that account, be the oftener. suckled; the mischief of the latter habit does not end with the over-taxed digestion of the child. Few mothers are able to bear the drain thus made upon their strength, and, in consequence, "nursing" has to be given up much sooner than would otherwise be necessary.
The natural time for slumber, in very early life, is immediately after taking food. As the young of almost all creatures show this disposition, there can be no harm in following the dictate. Opportunity, then, should be taken to lay the child in its bed, whether awake or not after having been fed. A little later in life, when digestion is stronger, and the stomach is better able to dispose of a heavier meal, art interval is necessary between taking nourishment and going to sleep.
The utmost vigilance is generally necessary to prevent the habit of sleeping in the nurse's arms from being contracted. Most nurses enjoy a doze in front of the fire- a luxury well earned by, perchance, a broken night's rest; but with infants no such necessity is felt. Still, if they are once allowed to feel the soothing influence of the fire's warmth, combined with the soft and pleasant mechanical movement of the nurse's knees, they speedily get rebellious against attempts to make them lie alone in the bassinet. In engaging a nurse, it is advisable to have it clearly understood that the babe is not to be nursed on the lap when asleep.
To the above error, more than any other, may be traced the wretched, sleepless nights which some parents are doomed to pass; the bad habit of sleeping by the fire in the nurse's lap is contested for. To the inexperienced mother there seems to be no help for it but to get up and pace the room until irresistible slumber shall have fallen on the eyelids of her wakeful infant. For the unhappy father the case is worse. He has possibly to encounter a hard day's work the following morning, for which a disturbed night's rest may bring positive incapacity. This constantly-complained-of grievance may be safely prevented by a little firmness at the outset. Children that are early accustomed to be put awake into their beds may be even heard to crow with delight at the fancies their small imaginations picture in the dimly-lighted chamber.
The best trained child, however, will not return peacefully to its cot if the bedding be not perfectly dry and comfortable. After the child has been lifted out, "changed," and fed, the pillow and mattress should be well shaken and, if necessary, wet blankets replaced by dry ones. Having put the infant back, the light should be partly screened or extinguished. These arrangements require to be made in a very methodical manner, and will only have to be repeated a few times to be fully understood by the child. If, at the outset, a cry of resistance should he heard when it is time to go back to bed, a wise mother will conceal herself from sight, and turn a deaf ear. Sooner or later this breaking-in will have to take place, and the longer it is delayed, the greater will be the trouble.
In families where upper servants are kept, the nurse usually takes charge of the infant by night, only taking the babe to its mother's room when requiring to be suckled, and returning to the nursery afterwards.
About the age of three months, an infant does not usually require night-feeding more frequently than when the mother retires to rest, and again towards five or six in the morning. At this age the faculty of observation [-143-] begins generally to show itself, and affords a golden opportunity for conveying right impressions to the plastic infant mind. The first objects a child takes notice of are those which are employed in supplying its personal wants. Thus the sight of a feeding-bottle will generally set a babe crying for food. In like manner it is a good plan to appropriate certain coverings to the use of an infant when "sleeping-time" is in question. The writer has known a gaily-coloured knitted rug set the tiny inmates of a nursery yawning; from the sheer associations the familiar wrapper suggested. Each infant had been in turn enveloped in that rug preparatory to going to sleep, and they had not a thought of resisting its influence.
By these and similar appeals to the infant mind, time is gained in imparting true principles of obedience, which might be too long delayed, if deferred till the age of more advanced reason.
The habit of taking a mid-day nap may be advantageously observed till the age of three or four years has been attained. Even if the child be not sleepy it is advisable to let it lie in its cot for a certain time after having taken exercise, and before dinner. If any inducement to lie down be needed, there is no reason why a few toys or a picture-book should not be allowed in bed. Pretending to hush a doll to sleep, for instance, will often send the child itself to sleep, and is as good a ruse as can be adopted.
Before putting the inmates of a nursery to bed, the room should be darkened, and the nurse should betake herself; if possible, to an adjoining room for any occupation she may have to fulfil.
Care is needed not to arouse a child suddenly from its slumbers. Allow it, on all occasions, to waken of its own accord.
A notion is prevalent that much sleeping by day lessens the power of sleeping by night ; but this is an error. As a general rule, the more a child sleeps the more it wants to sleep. Wakefulness is generally caused by over-fatigue and excitement, and is a positively painful state to the sensitive organism of a young child. This description of suffering admits of no alleviation but from sleep; reprimands and additional food do but increase the sufferer's torment.
It ought not to be necessary to point out the danger of giving narcotics to young children. But so long as such remedies are recommended as "teething powders," &c.. we must not be supposed to ignore the fact that the true nature of such drugs is, not to facilitate the process of cutting teeth, but to lull restless infants into an unnatural sleep. Long before any disturbance of a child's health is likely to occur from teething, these compounds are apt to be administered simply to secure a quiet night's rest. The restlessness complained of arises, nine times out of ten, from flatulence and indigestion. The general question of teething has been treated in our papers on Domestic Medicine (see page 114) and further information will be found in our papers on Domestic Surgery.
A fit of sleeplessness may, in very many instances, be terminated by wrapping the infant in a warm covering, and exercising it in an apartment of lower temperature than the nursery.
In more advanced childhood than we have hitherto spoken of, the importance of sleep is undiminished, and should be observed with regularity. No invariable rule can be laid down for general observance, but most children between the ages of four and seven years require, at least, twelve hours' sleep. Ten hours are supposed to be needful for schoolboys, and eight for adults. Few children under ten years of age can be kept out of their beds after seven o'clock without injury to their health. When once awake in the morning, they should be accustomed to rise without delay.
Most parents go to their children's rooms before retiring to rest themselves. The chief observation to make on these visits is, whether the little ones be sufficiently covered, and that no draughts be felt from open windows and doors.
In the winter time, a few hours after having been in bed, most young children require a little additional covering, owing to the body having lost some of its temperature during sleep. Another precaution to be taken is, that the children's heads be sufficiently raised to prevent their breathing the air emitted from their lungs. This habit, if not necessarily fatal, is certainly liable to lay the seeds of a consumptive state, and to produce an impaired constitution.
A single small pillow is generally sufficient for raising a child's head. One blanket should always be placed with the selvage ends across the bed, in order to allow plenty to turn in under the mattress.
Children generally sleep more comfortably, and suffer less from cold feet, if their bedding be slightly raised at the foot.
THE REARING AND MANAGEMENT OF CHILDREN.-IV.
DURING the first few weeks of life, the disposition to sleep indicates the
necessity for avoiding anything like excitement to premature activity. With
limbs and muscles undeveloped, and mental powers unformed, the only exertion to
which a very young infant ought to be subjected is that which is occasioned by
being washed and dressed. Gentle chafing of the limbs before a fire may be
practised morning and evening with benefit and pleasure to the babe. Not until
an infant voluntarily seeks movement or the dawning intelligence evinces
pleasure in passing objects, should any attempt be made to disturb the
order of things established by nature. This change may generally be observed
about the third month. In the meantime, the more tranquil an infant can be kept,
both in mind and body, the greater are the chances of unchecked development at
the proper period.
The practice of too many nurses is at variance with these simple rules. Uninformed, generally, respecting the structure of the human frame, they are apt to apply principles of exercise totally unfitted to the tender organism of infancy. Hence the objectionable habit of jog-trotting on the knee, together with the pernicious practice of inducing the babe to support its head before the spine is strong enough to bear the weight. For some time after the rest of the body moves freely, the head is unequal to sustain an erect posture. The period when it is safe to encourage an infant to sit upright is at the age of seven months. Previously to that time the body should be held only in a semi-erect posture, either by resting across the nurse's shoulder, or by her placing the distended palm of her hand against the child's chest. It is more necessary to observe these precautions against spinal weakness in time, because children who may have been injudiciously managed at the outset become restless when it is attempted to keep them in a reclining posture.
An exercise very congenial to the inclination of a baby consists in spreading cushions upon the floor for it, upon which to stretch itself. If no cushions be at hand, a clean cot mattress will answer equally well. All little ones revel in freedom from the restrained posture in the nurse's arms.
The above exercise is the first step towards learning to crawl - the most healthful and natural mode of progressing in babyhood. Some over-anxious parents check this habit, lest it should bring the infant into danger. Harm, however, seldom results, provided common precautions be taken.
Another prejudice sometimes entertained against crawling is that, if a child find how easy it is to get along on the hands and knees, it will not try to walk. Here, again, the fears are unfounded. All children are anxious to get upon their feet as soon as they feel themselves strong enough to do so; but many children do not walk before they are from twelve to fourteen months old.
[-243-] In the interim, crawling brings every limb into play in a manner proportionate to an infant's strength.
The best dress for the crawling age is one in which little French children are usually attired - a sort of knickerbocker suit, warm and loose, with trousers and vest all in one piece. The over-all pinafore, so much in favour in our nurseries, is a capital contrivance for keeping the under-garments clean, but sadly impedes the free movement of the limbs, by being apt to get twisted round the child's legs, and it should always be taken off when they crawl.
The stage at which infants begin to walk demands the exercise of a considerable amount of self-control on the part of a parent, inasmuch as falls are inevitable. These appear to a looker-on to be of a more serious nature than they really are. Provided a child do not fall from a greater elevation than its own height, injury very seldom occurs from such tumbles. The most dangerous falls are those from spring mattresses and seats. The suddenness of the jerk prevents a child from saving itself by the exercise of the momentary instinct which is usually displayed in other cases of impending danger. Left to themselves, little folks generally fall neatly, and manage to keep their heads uppermost. The cry which is heard after these accidents arises from surprise and mortification, and the trouble is best treated as a joke. If, instead of catching the child up in her arms and smothering it with caresses, accompanied with expressions of sympathy, the nurse said, in a cheerful voice, "jump up, and see where you sat last," the child's mind would be diverted from its grief; and braced to fresh exertion.
As soon as a child is able to leave the house it should pass as much time as possible in the open air. Even sleeping out of doors does no harm, provided proper clothing be worn. Warm covering for the chest, arms, legs, feet, and loins is essential. The head should be kept cool, and the face covered with a light gauzy material only. Cambric handkerchiefs for veils, and felt hats, are objectionable. As a general rule, the head-gear of an infant should admit of the free passage of the air inhaled and exhaled both by day and night.
If a babe be healthy, and the weather suitable, there is no reason why it should not be carried out in the open air a fortnight or even a week after birth, but only in the summer; in winter not, on any account, under a month old; and then only provided the weather be mild, and the hour mid-day. At two months old it may be carried out more frequently; and at three months every day, if fine over-head, and there be no easterly nor north-easterly wind. Of course it should be well clothed.
Perambulators, under careful guidance, are a real boon to both nurse and child. If a babe be healthy, and the weather suitable, there is no reason why infants should not almost from the commencement take daily exercise in a perambulator. Children from the age of a year old thrive better when exercised in the open air in a perambulator than when carried in the nurse's arms. Less fatigue in carrying ensures less risk from the nurse sitting down to rest. It is seldom that cold is taken when passing briskly through the air; standing still in draughty places is always most carefully to be guarded against. Two little ones can be exercised in a double perambulator at an age when two nurses would be required to afford separate exercise to each child.
When the exercise of walking ceases to be a pleasurable excitement, some inducement is needful to get little folks along. The daily walk consequently becomes a trial of patience to nurse and child. The best way to obviate this difficulty is to make the walk a secondary object, and some attendant amusement the ostensible one. Playing at horses is an excellent game, and so likewise is the wearing of a bell harness, composed of broad woollen webbing across the shoulders, laced in front, and fastened with a buckle at the back. The glitter and jingle of the small sledge-bells and the gaily-coloured reins prove irresistibly attractive to both horse and driver.
Muscular exercise, adapted to more advanced childhood, has received an important accessory in the form of gymnastic apparatus, of great variety and simplicity. They are made for different classes of strength, and are designed to bring every muscle into play (" Calisthenics for Ladies," pages 191 and 209).
There are also very many valuable courses of exercises for which no apparatus of any kind is required, such as are described in our articles on Calisthenics for Ladies, on pages 65 and 153.
A small ranelagh will also be found very useful for expanding the chests of children after long sitting over their books or writing, or needle-work, and possesses the advantage of being easily suspended on a hook in any room.
Girls as well as boys should be accustomed daily to use the ranelagh for a few minutes at a time. Ranelaghs may be purchased at very trifling cost at most india-rubber. warehouses.
THE REARING AND MANAGEMENT OF CHILDREN - V.
FOOD IN INFANCY.
THE most suitable food for infants is that of Nature's own providing -
mothers' milk. In very exceptional instances is this supply shortcoming during
the first few weeks after child-birth. If, unhappily, the contrary should be the
case, a delicate infant can seldom be successfully reared without the aid of a
The only circumstances which should prevent a mother from suckling her offspring are a too excitable temperament, or a consumptive state of constitution. Ordinary debility, consequent on recent confinement, is rarely an impediment to the fulfilment of one of the highest instincts of human nature, and one no less productive of moral than physical benefits. During the time a child receives nourishment at its mother's breast the earliest bond of sympathy, destined to influence a lifetime, of parent and child, is mutually formed.
Whatever changes it may be necessary to make in the dietary of an infant after the age of six weeks, absolute necessity alone should induce the substitution of artificial in lieu of the natural food. The first milk is of a purgative character, and is admirably adapted to cleanse the system of a new-born babe. In this particular the most desirable wet-nurse might fail to prove a fitting deputy for the mother. Likewise, throughout the period of nursing, it is a point of great importance that the quality of the nourishment should be proportionate to the age of the infant. If the services of a wet-nurse be inevitable, it should be sought to engage one who has been a mother about the same length of time as the parent of the infant to be brought up. In selecting a wet-nurse a medical man is the best medium.
During the first two or three weeks an infant, if awake, may be suckled at intervals of from one to two hours. The sooner, however, the babe can be brought into the habit of being fed once every two hours, the greater will be the benefit derived from the nourishment, and the more speedily will the mother be enabled to regain her own strength. A determination to attain regularity in feeding is all that is needed. When this plan is steadily pursued, the digestion of a child will work with the precision of the clock by which its meals are regulated. All cries should not be supposed to arise from craving for food. Numberless causes of irritation may occasion a fretful cry - cold feet, pressure of clothing, wet linen, a flea, or other discomfort. Instead, therefore, of giving food instantly, it is advisable to open the clothing, warm the tiny feet, chafe the limbs, or, if possible, take the infant for a little walk out of doors. If, after having tried similar remedies, the fretfulness continue, the cause should be sought in the condition of the child's stools. If signs of griping pains or colic be evident, less food should be given, and the interval between the meals lengthened.
Sometimes a cry of continual distress prevails, from the mother's milk being not sufficiently nourishing to satisfy the appetite of the babe. In such case it is advisable to give, every night and morning, a meal of cow's-milk and water, prepared in the following manner:- Fresh milk (from ONE cow), warm water - of each a quarter of a pint sugar of milk - one tea-spoonful. The latter should first be dissolved in the warm water then the milk, unboiled, mixed with it. Sweetening with sugar of milk, instead of lump sugar, makes a greater resemblance to the mother's milk. Possibly the infant may take but half the above quantity; we only give the recipe to show the right proportions. An older child might require all at a meal.
A lactometer (a small instrument to test the quality of milk) may be had at very trifling cost, and affords some indication of the genuineness of milk. The condensed milk (which has lately been introduced into this country) is one of the greatest boons placed within the reach of dwellers in crowded cities. All children like it, and thrive on its use.
The practice of giving thickened food to infants at too tender an age is a source of endless trouble, as before observed. In one of Dr. Edward Smith's admirable articles on dietary he remarks that the feeding of young infants on bread, flour, biscuits, and other substances than milk, is a "constant source of derangement of the liver, and a frequent cause of fits." However considerable the quantity of such food passed into the stomach of a young infant may be, the body is not thereby nourished, but irritated. A babe, like an adult, is only nourished by what it has power to digest.
As a general rule a babe ought to be entirely nourished on milk until the first tooth appears. Even after that period milk should for a considerable time form the staple article of food. Larger quantities should then be given, and greater intervals between the meals observed. It is estimated that a babe three months of age will consume at least three pints of milk in twenty-four hours.
"Up to six or seven months of age," Dr. Letheby says, "infants have not the power of digesting farinaceous or fibrinous substances." After that age many descriptions of farinaceous food may be used, and are to be strongly recommended.
Beef-tea, veal, chicken, or mutton broth are apt to turn acid and cause flatulence or sickness, and should not be given without medical advice. Careful feeling of the way should be observed in every change of infants' diet, especially if teething be in operation.
A needless source of alarm is sometimes excited by an infant throwing up milk in a curdled state. This appearance is perfectly natural in milk rejected from the stomach of a healthy child. The quantity rejected is simply that which was in excess of the child's want, and is Nature's mode of relief in infancy. If the milk be rejected in a dense mass, it is a sign either that less would be sufficient or that the interval between taking nourishment should be lengthened. But if, immediately on being put to the breast, or on beginning to suck a bottle of food, the stomach throw off the food, the condition of the parent or child should receive attention.
A very necessary treatment after a meal consists in lifting the babe across the nurse's left shoulder, whether awake or asleep, and gently patting the infant's back until the wind displaced by food is thrown off the stomach. Wherever this precaution is used gripes and windy colic are seldom heard of. So great is the relief that infants accustomed to the treatment struggle to lift themselves up after having been fed.
The period of weaning is one of great anxiety. Make the change gradually. A little self-restraint in keeping out of sight when the child may naturally be supposed to be hungry, is the greatest act of kindness to the little one. The most favourable time for weaning is in warm weather, when the infant can be amused and kept much out of doors.
The time an infant should take to imbibe half a pint of liquid food should not be less than from twenty minutes to half an hour. In order to secure the necessary delay, the elastic top should be examined before each meal, to see whether the hole through which the food passes has extended with use. If so, a tie-knot with a fine needle and sewing-silk should be made across the hole. It should be borne in mind that only such food as has been thoroughly mixed with saliva proves easy of digestion. The temperature of an infant's food should be that of its body. This may be maintained during feeding-time by placing the main quantity in a vessel containing hot water, within reach of the nurse's hand for replenishing.
[-271-] Throughout the period of early infancy, the best time for giving food is before sleep; indeed, the act of taking food induces slumber. Its importance being pre-eminent, it is better to waste the remnant of a meal than to keep a sleepy child awake to eat. With ordinarily healthy infants, however, there will be little of this, if regularity be observed on the part of the nurse or mother. At regular hours they will demand their food, and about as regularly go off to sleep just as they get to the end of it, which is a great comfort to all concerned.
The utmost cleanliness should be observed in every detail connected with the keeping of all utensils for nursery use. When removed from the bottle, the india-rubbery top should be immediately placed in a glass of clean water, and the bottle cleansed from every trace of food, and twice a day rinsed out with tea-leaves and water.
When not in use, the bottle should be hidden from the infant's sight. The india-rubber tube should have water blown through it regularly, and at least once a day be scrubbed through with one of the brushes sold for that purpose. The teat or mouth-piece should always be care fully examined, if a new one, before use. If this precaution is not taken, it will often happen that no power of suction the infant possesses can extract anything through the aperture ; while through others, on the other hand it may come far too freely. The teat improves with use for a certain time, but after that may spoil, and should be examined from time to time, especially if the bottle appears to be emptied with too great rapidity. A little sugar sprinkled over the top of a feeding-bottle will often induce an infant to take the artificial food.
Not more food than is likely to be consumed at a meal should be prepared at a time, owing to the tendency of milk and farinaceous articles to turn rapidly sour and become altogether unfit for infants' food.
The best farinaceous foods for very young infants are prepared on Baron Liebig's plan, a quantity of finely ground malt being mixed with the baked flour. When properly prepared, the malt acts chemically upon the flour so as to produce fluidity and assist digestion This food can be prepared so as almost exactly to resemble woman's milk in composition ; and children have been reared on it whose delicate stomachs had rejected cow's milk.
Farinaceous articles for night-feeding should not be kept over a lamp ; diluting such articles with boiling water is a safer plan. Water is easily kept at boiling heat in an ordinary Etna.
THE REARING AND MANAGEMENT OF CHILDREN.-VI.
DIETARY IN EARLY CHILDHOOD.
As a general rule the appearance of the different kinds of
teeth may be taken as an indication of the description of nourishment most
suitable to the growing frame. Thus, till about the age of from five to eight
months - i.e., while the gums are in a toothless state - milk should constitute
the food of a healthy babe. Between the tenth and sixteenth month the teeth next
the front, and also the first double teeth, are generally cut. At twelve months
old, if the child be healthy, an evident want of some sort of animal food will
generally be apparent. Weak beef-tea, mutton, veal, or chicken-broth thickened
with rusks, will then be found excellent nourishment; also a mashed potato and
gravy, or crumbs of bread and gravy. After eighteen months, if he have most of
his teeth, a slice of mutton or beef minced very small, and mixed with mashed
potato and gravy, is quite unobjectionable. If he be delicate, let him have it
every day ; if gross and fast-feeding, alternate days. One day meat, as above,
and the next day potato and gravy, is the safest rule for a commencement; and
pudding every day.
When a child is costive in the bowels, well-made oatmeal "stirabout," with fresh milk, would form the best breakfast he could have.
The above is the order of diet suggested by the structure of the teeth and the time of their appearance. Deviations must, of course, occur in the varied circumstances of life under which children are liable to be brought up but the nearer we can follow Nature's dictates in the rearing of the young, the greater are the chances of securing the inestimable boon of a sound mind in a healthy body. Later in life, when the pressure of necessity compels young men and women to live under conditions adverse to the true principles of health, little choice may be left as to the mode of living to observe. Throughout childhood, however, the first care of the guardians of the young should be to approach as nearly as possible to the highest standards of dietary.
The circumstance which is most liable to frustrate true nourishment in food is the habit of pampering the appetite of children by the giving of sweetmeats. Plain sugar is not an unhealthy article for food. On the contrary, sugar is with many children an indispensable item in their diet. The natural food of infants is very sweet, and many substitutes would probably be rejected if it were not for the appetising presence of sugar. The notion that sugar has the effect of decaying teeth is not well founded. In order to be a healthful addition to a meal, however, sugar should be taken in its simple form, and should not be eaten at intervals between meals. The inevitable result of giving sweetmeats, chocolate, bon-bons, &c., is to disincline the appetite for plain wholesome food.
Salt is a necessary as well as a welcome seasoning in infants' food. A few grains should be in every kind of food - always intermixed.
Farinaceous articles being especially adapted to the digestive powers of young children, may constitute a large proportion of their dietary. The variety is almost endless, but only those should be selected as staple articles of food which contain the principal elements of nourishment. Of these the chief is plain wheaten flour. it is worth taking some pains to procure unadulterated flour for nursery use. Having done so, a good mode of preparing the meal is to boil a handful of flour, tied up in a cloth, till perfectly cooked, which may be known by the flour appearing like a hard ball. Turn the flour out of the cloth, and, whenever wanted, add about a dessertspoonful of flour to half a pint of milk, mixed together gradually, and afterwards boiled for a few minutes. Some persons recommend baked flour. The only objection against the latter is that baked flour is liable to get burnt in the oven, and becomes, consequently, much less digestible. Baked flour used in the manner above described is very useful to arrest excessive relaxation of the bowels, to which many children are subject.
Oatmeal porridge is excellent food for children of any age. Owing, however, to the flinty particles of the husk of the grain, which have an irritating effect on the bowels of most young children, oatmeal is less generally used than wheaten flour. Oatmeal, to be easily digested, requires to be well boiled. If made with milk, oatmeal porridge is a highly-nutritious meal, and is well adapted for a school-boy's breakfast.
Properly-prepared barley is a favourite and excellent food for infants. By the process of preparation much of the indigestible portion of the husk should be removed. Barley in the above form is often successfully used whenever a laxative effect is desired to be produced.
Rice is not extensively used in English dietary, except as a thickening for soups or for making puddings. As an addition to a substantial meal, plain boiled rice, eaten with jam or treacle, is much in favour, and is a good substitute for a pudding composed of flour, suet, &c., without the indigestible properties of the latter, if eaten after a full meal. An excellent and most nourishing rice pudding may be made in the following manner:- Take six ounces of rice. Wash and pick it clean. Cover it with cold water till the grain looks swollen. Pour off the water, and add one pint and a half of milk, two ounces of finely-chopped beef suet, a table-spoonful of moist sugar, a little nutmeg, and a pinch of salt. Work the suet well into the rice before setting the dish in the oven. This pudding should be baked slowly. The above rice pudding is one of the cheapest and most nourishing that can be compounded. If eaten cold, with the addition of a little jam, it may constitute a pleasant and healthy meal in summer time, when the appetite sickens at anything like animal food.
Arrowroot is the least nutritious of the farinaceous articles in general use, and should not be relied on for nourishing properties. Arrowroot is soothing to an irritated state of digestion, but is no "stay by" when lengthy intervals in taking food are observed. Arrowroot made with milk is nourishing, inasmuch as the milk itself constitutes the nutriment ; but water arrowroot possesses scarcely any nourishing property.
Fresh eggs are an invaluable article of food. Stale eggs are most pernicious. The best mode of cooking eggs for young children is to coddle them. This may be easily done by filling a basin, containing a pint and a half, with boiling water, and setting the basin aside by the fire, closely covered, for seven or eight minutes. The basin and its cover should be previously heated. At the expiration of the time stated the egg will be found thoroughly set and entirely edible.
The white of boiled eggs is not wholesome for young children, and seldom even agrees with adults. Eggs used in puddings composed of farinaceous substances should be well beaten, and added just before the pudding is sent to table. Any browning of the eggs lessens their nutritious properties.
Fish is an agreeable change of food, but is very inferior in value to beef and mutton. The best kinds for young children are whiting, smelts, and soles. Melted butter and highly-seasoned sauces should be avoided.
Cooked vegetables of most kinds are a very useful vehicle for conveying animal food in its lightest form to young children. A well-steamed potato, or head of cauliflower, over which gravy from a joint has been poured, is as fine a repast as can be prepared for a child. In the absence of pure meat gravy a well-made cup of beef-tea may be added, a receipt for making which will be found on another page. The beef need not be wasted; covered [-315-] afresh with cold water, and left to simmer for a time, it makes an excellent stock for use instead of cold water. One pound of meat to a pint of water is about the proportion generally prescribed for young children and invalids.
The slices of meat with least gristle should be reserved for the little ones. Joints dressed for the children's dinner should be sent up without any made gravy in the dish. The surplus gravy which flows from the joint should be saved for the following day's dinner, when a slice of tender meat put into pure gravy at boiling heat is nearly equal in nourishment to a slice from a freshly-cooked joint.
Little folks should be encouraged to feed slowly, and therefore, if possible, a hot-water plate should be supplied to each child. There is no difficulty in supplying this luxury if ordinary soup plates are to be had. A plate of the latter kind filled with boiling water, over which the dinner plate is placed, forms a very good substitute.
The most suitable joints for children are those in which there is little fat. Neither should burnt skin be given them. It is easy to produce a distaste for animal food by acts of oversight, and such acts should be guarded against. Very young children, if once disgusted with fat, seldom recover the habit of eating any, and thereby lose much nourishment. Fat of beef or mutton, if very finely minced and mixed with lean meat, is seldom detected, but lumps of fat are almost invariably refused.
When a child has cut the whole of his first set of teeth, he should have meat daily, minced, as before described, and with salt. This is of especial importance, for without it serious mischief will inevitably ensue.
Beef and mutton are more easy of digestion than veal and lamb. For a young child, pork is not suitable.
Fats of most kinds are valuable, and children should be accustomed early to partake of such food. Bacon is excellent nourishment, and may be eaten when fresh meat is not served.
The habit of giving children much bread and butter, to the exclusion of other substances, is an error liable to be contracted from the facility of providing the meal. The. practice is to be condemned, not only on the score of deficiency of nourishment, but on that of economic value. The butter sold in towns is seldom what it professes to be, and is liable to be composed of inferior fats artfully disguised. Instead of paying a high price for an article of fictitious value, it is far better to make use of substances that are known to be of genuine quality-of such are lard and dripping. The latter is generally plentiful in families, and is far preferable as nourishment to the so-called butter generally sold. As for lard, nothing is easier than for a good housewife to prepare the lard used in her household. In point of price and quality the provisions thus used will be found doubly profitable.
Home-made or country bread is far preferable to bakers' bread, if it can be procured, for children as well as adults.
A more general use of soup, thickened with any of the farinaceous articles described, is to be recommended. No more nourishing meal, for instance, than a well-compounded basin of pea-soup can be imagined. If to the soup be added stock liquor, and a certain quantity of clarified beef dripping, most of the constituents of first-class food are present in this simple dish.
Vegetable soups in which slices of bread are crumbled - are infinitely superior to tea or coffee, which too often constitute the nursery breakfast and tea from one year's end to the other.
At dinner, toast-and-water or simple water should be a child's beverage only; but let it be filtered, and be very careful whence it comes. Spring-water from a moderately deep well is best. Beware of it from leaden cisterns, and from land-springs, which are often contaminated by drains.
THE REARING AND MANAGEMENT OF CHILDREN.-VII.
DIETARY OF YOUTH.
THE principal stages of growth may be broadly defined as those of infancy -
ranging from birth till the age of two years; childhood - from two to seven
years; and youth - from the latter period until maturity is attained. Throughout
these respective stages it is of the utmost importance that the food supplied to
the growing frame should be of a nature not only adequate to arrest the cravings
of hunger, but likewise to ensure the development of the body and mind. The
latter is a consideration of fully as much weight as the welfare of the body,
for it has been proved by incontestable evidence that under-fed children are apt
to be of puny intellect, whilst those who are rationally nourished usually
possess the supreme blessing of a sound mind in a sound body.
We have already alluded to the chief articles of food - which are suitable to the wants of early childhood ; it remains now to consider what changes and additions become necessary to meet the requirements of a more active period of existence. The simple nourishment, consisting chiefly of milk and farinaceous foods, so invaluable at an earlier age, needs, in youth, the reinforcement of stronger elements. More meat is necessary, more fat, more bone-forming substances. A dietary which, from oversight or any other cause, is of too uniform a character, however wholesome in its constituents, fails to fulfil the general utility of food, simply because its powers are confined to one sphere of action. For instance, there are certain foods, as rice, in which the flesh-forming properties are very small; and there are others, as dry peas, in which the same properties are large. Again, in rice, the bone-forming properties are only contained in the proportion of one-third to what is found in dry peas; yet the food of growing boys and girls is liable to consist more largely of rice than of peas, for no reason, possibly, than that the one is more easily prepared - "readier to hand" - than the other. The same illustration may be applied to a variety of foods, which are unwittingly given or withheld, to the benefit or detriment of the growing frame, as pure chance may decide.
The chief point to aim at in feeding young persons is variety. Our range of food is unlimited, and the consumption should not be restricted to a few articles, except in cases of impaired health. The more we limit the tastes of growing children, the more liable is their digestion to suffer later in life. Many parents, from over-anxiety, confine their family fare to what they consider the strictly wholesome, and, by so doing, nauseate the stomachs of their offspring. Others, for the sake of economy, prescribe a certain course of living from one week's end to the other. The intention is to regulate expenses, but it does not answer in the long run. The appetite soon fails; certain dishes on certain days are regularly refused by some members, who prefer to eat dry bread, perchance, to the unwelcome stew or soup. But in advocating variety in the selection and use of food, we must caution our readers against suddenly adopting any very material change in diet, as serious consequences have been known to follow too abrupt a departure from an established system of dietary.
The error of too exclusive a dietary is most apt to be committed in large schools. Although everything may be wholesome that is set before them, many children loathe some of their meals; and if they have not the means to buy such substitutes as the "tuck shop" supplies, they fare but badly, and are liable to fall into ill health. An instance of the craving of children for the apparently unwholesome, and the beneficial change which freedom to indulge in such coveted treats effects, occurred a few years ago in one of the largest schools in England. With a view to counteract some ailments which occasionally broke out in the school, the boys were forbidden to buy any sweets, cakes, or fruit. The shop which had been sanctioned in the play-ground for the sale of such things was closed, and strict watch was kept to prevent any surreptitious articles from being smuggled into the school. Very few weeks had elapsed, however, before the authorities of the school were puzzled by the sudden outbreak of skin-diseases amongst boys of constitutions least subject generally to maladies of the kind. Something wrong in the dietary was suspected. Although perfectly wholesome, it was shrewdly surmised that it might be too exclusive of such things as growing children crave for. The order against "the shop" was rescinded. The boys flocked daily to its stores for sour apples, currant cakes, hardbake, treacle, chocolate, and the innumerable compounds which children delight in. As if by magic, the eruptive complaints began to disappear with a suddenness as remarkable as the outbreak had been.
Undoubtedly, children brought up in homes where the appetite is pampered by sweets and stimulating diet require a totally different treatment. Curtailment then becomes necessary in most cases. But growing boys and girls at school, and youths prematurely confined during long hours in workshops and offices, have few opportunities of similar indulgences. Provided a sufficient interval be placed between meals, and that the food is properly cooked, young people so circumstanced may eat almost anything, and the greater the change of food the better.
The best test of the quantity a youth ought to be allowed to consume will be found in his own appetite. when having vigorously attacked whatever has been set before him, the appetite flags, it is a sign that the meal ought speedily to end, and not to receive stimulating additions. For instance, if a boy, having brought a good appetite to the task, finds it a difficulty to consume the portion of meat allotted to his share, and declares he can eat no more, it is injurious to his health to tempt him to prolong the meal by the offer of puddings, pies, &c. The bait, although irresistible, is injurious and, if often repeated, cannot fail to impair the soundest digestion.
Taking advantage of the well-known preference of children for puddings instead of meat, it is a common practice in some establishments to set the pudding on the table before the joint. Having satisfied the first craving of hunger with the least expensive fare, the meat, from its comparative unpalatableness, is often sent away untasted. Economy of this kind is a great injustice to the constitution of a growing child. Meat, in some form or other, is highly necessary food in our climate daily, especially in the confined atmosphere of town life, combined with excessive activity of mind.
Dr. Lankester writes very forcibly on this subject. Having cited historical instances to the effect that those races who have partaken of animal food have been the most vigorous, the most moral, and the most intellectual races of mankind, he adds that "it is vain for a man to expect to get through intellectual or physical labour without an abundant supply of the material of thought and of physical power." Animal food is the readiest means of securing this supply. As it is with adults so it is with children, with the additional demand in the latter case for extra nourishment consequent on growth. The question, has, however, two sides.
THE REARING AND MANAGEMENT OF CHILDREN.-VIII.
DIETARY OF YOUTH (continued from p. 343).
MUTTON and beef are the highest and most suitable forms of animal food; but
compositions in which suet, eggs, milk, and butter enter, come also under the
head of animal food. In this respect, well-made puddings may represent a meat
meal in so far as nourishment is concerned, although the nourishment may not be
of the highest possible class. A good homely substitute for a full meal of meat
will be found in a pudding composed of batter, made of eggs, milk, and flour, to
which has been added morsels of fresh beefsteak, stirred into the batter. This
pudding, seasoned with pepper and salt, and carefully baked, will constitute a
healthy and palatable meal for a family at comparatively small cost. Again, a
well- boiled steak-pudding is excellent fare, and suitable to the strong
digestion of growing boys and girls. The crust of the pudding supplies the bulk,
combined with nourishment, so important at that age. Prime joints are not
absolutely necessary to secure ample nourishment; although, even in point of
economy, less quantity off a best joint of meat satisfies hunger more than a
larger off inferior [-355-] portions. At the same
time, it is an error to supply too concentrated a kind of diet. If when in
health, children are invariably kept nourished at high-pressure mark, there is
no resource for them in store, when in sickness further stimulants are needed.
Liver, hearts, and soup composed of liquor in which meat has been boiled and
thickened with rice and vegetables may be advantageously eaten, in turn with
Regularity of meals is a matter of almost as much importance as the quality of the food. Of whatever kind the repast may be, a certain time is required for the work of digestion, and a proper amount of rest is needful before the labour re-commences. Three meals a day for healthy persons are sufficient, provided the quality of the food be of a nutritious kind. Children that are continually craving for food are either imperfectly nourished or they are in ill-health. From four to six hours is the right interval to observe between meals, according to the age of the individual. In order to render the above period of abstinence endurable, the repast should be of a varied and substantial kind. Breakfast of weak tea and baker's bread and butter, for instance, will not suffice for a growing child till dinner time - five hours afterwards - without a great deal of self-denial. But if good oatmeal porridge, a pint of bread and milk, or a fair quantity of boiled bacon or eggs, with unlimited bread and butter constitute the meal, the promptings of a craving appetite should be afterwards unheeded. At dinner, meat and vegetables should form the principal fare, followed by pudding; stewed fruit and bread and butter, or bread and jam, in place of pudding. If soup be eaten instead of meat, a good pudding should follow; for although ordinary soup may satisfy hunger for a time, it is not the same "stay-by" as more solid food.
Tea, as a meal, is in many families a delusion. Although the refreshing cup, accompanied by a slice or two of bread ;and butter or toast, may answer the purpose well enough for adults who have the prospect of a supper before going to bed, neither quality nor quantity is sufficient for young people. Dr. Grosvenor Wilson feelingly remarks: "I have secured to many a child a reasonable evening meal by suggesting to the mother the mere use of the word 'supper' as the name of the third meal." And this is precisely the change that we would wish to see established in every household. It is deplorable to think of the number of hours craving little stomachs suffer, without food between the time of going to bed, say at seven o'clock, and rising twelve hours afterwards, not partaking of nourishment in the interval, under the impression that suppers are unwholesome.
A proper meal in place of the ordinary "tea" will be found to consist in some of the following additions - cocoa, made with as much milk as the parents can afford; bread and butter, with or without cheese; stewed fruit, hot in the winter, and cold in the summer; a milky rice pudding to which finely-shred beef-suet has been added; plain boiled, rice and treacle ; or, if possible, some eggs cold boiled bacon or meat. The additional expense any of the above articles may appear to entail will not be all loss. Less need will be felt for tonics, from the febrile maladies too often occasioned in early life by children being underfed. . Another demand may also cease, namely, for cakes and sweetmeats "to put under the pillow."
In addition to the three meals a-day alluded to, growing boys and girls who have lessons to prepare in the evening require a little light nourishment before going to bed. A cup of cocoa and a slice of bread act beneficially on their constitution ; for we must ever bear in mind that, although still beneath a parent's roof, children under tuition are actually engaged in the great business of life, and their constitutions require support to meet the wear and tear of mind and body under forced labour and restraint.
Wine and beer are, under ordinary circumstances, not necessary for growing children. Plain water best aids digestion. This beverage should not exceed in quantity half a pint at meals, although an unlimited supply may be permitted afterwards. A depressed state of constitution may, however, require stimulants.
In the case of many of the foregoing remarks it must, of course, be understood that we are supposing economy to be a consideration.
THE REARING AND MANAGEMENT OF CHILDREN.-IX.
MORAL INFLUENCE - OBEDIENCE.
IN the preceding chapters we have described the mode of management best
adapted to the bodily wants of young children, but it is also necessary to
suggest means for the healthy culture of the mental and moral faculties of
childhood. For although the growth of the mind may not make visible progress in
the same proportion as is observable in the tiny frame, the same steady
development towards maturity is, nevertheless, taking place continually resulting
in a healthy or unsound condition of mind according to the amount of culture
bestowed. For this culture the long period of helplessness which characterises
babyhood is especially favourable. A mother, as the being nearest and dearest to
the almost unconscious infant should act not only as the appointed guardian of its
bodily welfare, but should also extend her care and effect to the proper
development and culture of its mind. By its parent's smile or frown, an infant
reads, as from a book, signs of approval or reproof of every act committed.
Instinctively, little children turn towards their mother on all occasions of
doubt, and unhesitatingly they guide their course by the mute expression they
observe on her face.
This golden opportunity of maintaining a natural influence is too valuable to be lightly regarded, or carelessly risked. From the commencement, therefore, it is desirable that a mother should seize every occasion of turning it to good account. In all her actions towards her babe, she should ever hear in mind that example is the most impressive mode of teaching, and that if she constantly does what is right in the presence of her child, a true principle of conduct is imparted without need of verbal explanation.
There is not a single duty which a mother discharges towards her babe which may not be rendered the medium of conveying the highest principles of morality. In feeding, washing, dressing, and amusing an infant, so many lessons may be taught by the number of restraints that may have to be imposed. The child must also be made to understand that at certain times and in certain places it may not do what at other times or in other places it may do; and it is by withholding or granting things coveted that the ruling influence of the mother's mind is most forcibly felt.
A contrary course of conduct is unfortunately liable to be pursued by parents, who, either from excessive fondness, impatience, or want of intelligence, habitually give their little ones all they ask for. No more effectual mode of spoiling a child can be pursued than by so doing. By thus inverting the order of things, and making themselves instead of their rulers, slaves to their children, they create a double misery - neither themselves nor the children are happy.
It is commonly believed that no harm can come of letting a child have its own way, so long as it is a mere babe. But this is a serious delusion. As soon as a child is of an age to express its wants, whether by one means or another, it is old enough to be brought into habits of obedience. Obedience is the first lesson to be taught and very sensible are all well-managed babes of its meaning. No harsh words, no impatient gestures, need be added to enforce the rule, which consists simply in not doing as the babe demands, if it be not the right time and the proper place for the desired gratification.
Taking food as an example. If children were left to their own choice, they would be eating and drinking perpetually of whatever came in their way, till the stomach could no longer retain the improper substances. Wholesome food would be rejected for more palatable sweets a and dainties. Before long, depraved tastes would be confirmed. Much the same misfortune sometimes befalls over-fed children of the wealthy, notwithstanding the care bestowed in other respects on their nurture; and an impaired constitution is the result. Food, then, becomes alike a means of bodily nourishment and of discipline of the mind. The quality of the food, and the hour at which it is taken, are matters for the parent to decide, to the best of her judgment. Having done so, any fretful impatience on the part of the child should be unheeded. If in a fit of passion the usual meal should be refused, no attempts at persuasion should be wasted, but, after a reasonable time for recovery from any disappointment experienced, the objectionable repast should be put aside, and the child's attention turned to something else. Hunger is an eloquent pleader, and if the refusal has merely sprung from disappointment at not having something else, signs of craving appetite will soon appear. Then it will be time to re-offer the original nourishment, which, in all probability, will be greedily consumed. If, upon observation, it is found that the repetition of the same kind of food is repulsive, the reason should be sought in the health of the child, or in the mode of preparing the meal.
With respect to the time of feeding, irregularity should be guarded against, by not giving children scraps to eat between meals ; neither should they be exposed to the sight of tempting food at unsuitable times.
Another early opportunity of implanting a spirit of obedience will be found in the impulsive habit which little children have of seizing whatever they desire to possess. This habit requires great firmness in checking, and a determination on the parent's part to risk a flood of tears rather than let the coveted article remain in the child's possession. Added to the danger which results to little children from letting this habit of snatching have sway, the destruction of property is liable to be very great. Consequently, a mother should be on the watch to convey a notion that certain prohibited articles are hurtful. By shaking her head, looking gravely, and saying, slowly, "No, no," at such times, a child will soon learn that something is wrong. If the child ceases in his attempt, he will have understood the meaning of a very important word. If, however, the intelligence is not yet sufficiently strong, the object should be removed out of sight, the mother firmly reiterating the refusal, and looking the child in the face while she does so. By repeating this process a very few times, the meaning will become plain, and you will see that the child understands it. Should the child, however, repeat the attempt, the prohibition should be repeated, and the consequences of the child's taking the responsibility should be suffered to appear. Touching fire, candles, heated irons, kettles of hot water, and innumerable articles of a similarly injurious nature, can hardly be prevented in a nursery; therefore, if, after a fair understanding of the prohibition, a child persists in the attempt, a slight burn, or bruise, or scald, may prove a merciful suffering. On such occasions, sympathy at the infant's pain should be tempered with reproof, making him understand that when he was told not to do the deed, you knew it would hurt him.
By the above and various other simple means, obedience receives practical and easy illustration, even in infancy.
With children of more advanced age, the force of reasoning should be employed, to render acts of obedience less painful to perform. Those who have charge of the young should always bear in mind that they are dealing with beings liable to be impelled by impetuous passions into acts of danger, of which, from want of experience they do not realise the extent. Adults, having passed through the ordeal of youth, know the punishment which an uncurbed spirit is apt to bring on its possessor. They have bought their experience dearly, perchance, from having had no guiding hand to direct their course. The result of this experience should be to caution young people against preventable danger. In all warnings - especially [-39-] where schoolboys are concerned - the truth should be plainly spoken, right and wrong made unmistakably clear, and forgiveness freely given, whenever, from waywardness or indiscretion, the youthful wanderer has diverged from the prescribed path. Children that from their cradles have been accustomed to look upon their parents as their truest and most indulgent guides, are seldom wanting in confidence towards them, when, through disobedience, they have unhappily become entrammelled in difficulties.
THE REARING AND MANAGEMENT OF CHILDREN.-X.
MORAL INFLUENCE: LOVE AND FEAR.
THE affection which a mother feels for her offspring, being one of the
strongest instincts of our nature, is sometimes supposed to need no culture. Yet
nothing is more opposed to true maternal love than the excessive fondness apt to
be displayed in caresses, with which, upon all occasions, a mother is tempted to
humour the caprices of a little child. Thinking that one so young is incapable
of knowing right from wrong, a tender parent hesitates to impose restrictions on
her infant's wishes. At the same time such restrictions are needful, and tend,
in the end to establish a more lasting affection than would result from
over-indulgence. When the age of reason arrives and children weigh the actions
of their parents as in a balance the difference between the love which imposed
self sacrifice for the sake of the future, and the thoughtless folly of present
gratification, are strikingly apparent childish hardships if not then forgotten,
merge into grateful recollections, whilst over-indulgence is regarded as the
stumbling-block of life.
The highest test of maternal love is the judicious blending of approval or reproof, according as it is right or wrong to gratify a child's fancies. That description of love which consists in anticipating every wish and humouring every whim, is but the shadow of affection. The time comes when baby-passions are no longer to be quelled by bribes of sweetmeats and toys; and a bond of love which has been formed mainly on so insecure a foundation is ready to be broken at the first sign of opposition.
It is hardly possible to specify the means by which the growth of true maternal love may be secured. The first requisite is, that a mother should be convinced of the necessity of checking herself whenever she feels that she is deviating from the path of duty. If she knows that it is wrong to give way to her babe's will, she may rest assured that by so doing she is losing her hold on its affection. Trivial as the occasion may apparently be, any act which excites a child to an outburst of passion, and prompts to rebellion, is to be regarded in the light of a serious matter. It may seem a small thing to dispute whether a child shall lie down, for instance, before he is tired with play or not; but if the appointed time for taking repose has arrived, there should be no hesitation in causing the games to be ended. Again, if a child wishes to remain with his parent when it is not convenient that he should do so, a fit of crying should not be heeded, proceeding as such appeals do, from disappointment, not pain.
Sympathy with unavoidable infantile sorrows may be most freely indulged in. But the sympathy should be of a kind which indicates that the grief of the child, although shared by the parent, must be borne patiently Where very young children are concerned, gentle firmness of manner is the most convincing argument on these occasions. Wayward children should be suffered to perceive that their waywardness is a cause of real sorrow to their parents. And it is surprising how keenly affectionate reproaches are felt by sensitive little hearts.
Children like to feel themselves of sufficient importance to produce an effect on their elders, and, being naturally tender-hearted, they lend their efforts to dispel any cloud they may perceive upon the parent's brow. The knowledge that they are doing something against their will for a purpose, often induces them to overcome a repugnance to perform a required duty.
The sense of justice is strong in very little folks. In order not to do violence to this feeling great care is needed on the part of parents in making the reason of their actions plain whenever misrepresentation is liable to take place. Children of delicate health are especially exposed to trials of temper in this respect. They see their playmates taking of certain pleasures which are denied to themselves, for no sufficient reason, as far as they can perceive; from not realising the motives which prompt their parents to make them exceptions to the general treatment, they only feel the result. An intelligent mother will be careful not to make these privations more painful than they must inevitably be. Whenever any pleasure is interdicted to a single member of a family circle she should endeavour to find some adequate compensation for the disappointment of the sufferer. By so doing, a brooding spirit of discontent is prevented, and a feeling of grateful confidence becomes established between parent and child.
Without perfect trust in the guidance of a parent, no affection can be very lasting. Therefore, whether it be in giving pleasure, or in causing unavoidable pain, the child's ultimate good should ever instigate a mother's actions. The folly of telling an untruth to gloss over a disagreeable task is productive of endless trouble. If suffering has to be borne, or a dose of nauseous physic has to be taken, what is so likely to produce a rebellious spirit on the recurrence of the trial, as for a child to have been led to believe that a painful operation does not hurt or that a repulsive dose is not nasty? It is far better to say at once, "What is going to be done will perhaps hurt you for a minute, but it will take away your pain afterwards," or, "The medicine is certainly not nice, but it will make you well." The promise of a reward in either case is fair enough - ay, and it is better to make the reward excessive in the child's mind, than that it should fall short of the expectations raised. If once it can be proved that the mother's predictions are verified, a great step will have been made towards securing perfect reliance on her judgment; in fact, there is no surer method of implanting true filial affection than by telling the truth to one's child on all occasions where alike pleasure or sorrow are concerned. No one is so apt to prescribe the antidote to distress of mind as a mother. She is equally fitted to temper exuberant mirth with discretion.
Second only to the power of love in the management of children is the rule of fear. Mothers usually intimidate very sparingly - some threatened correction is the ordinary mode by which they exercise fear. The indifferent and uneducated persons generally, find terrifying young children a most effectual mode of ensuring submission. Hence the nervous dread of darkness, mysterious sounds, and unaccustomed appearances. The agonies which many little folks endure from these cruel tyrannies are enough to make a strong mind quail when later in life, the sufferings are remembered. Dark closets, bogies, and ghosts, are the horrors by which ignorant servants are liable to get their end accomplished, whenever they have to do with a refractory child. Happily public opinion is becoming so universally opposed to this system of terror, that young children of the present day suffer less from fear than in past times. Still, the practice undoubtedly exists largely in nurseries where the supervision of the mother is not very active. And what makes the vicious habit particularly difficult of detection as the secresy which is imposed on the infant mind relative to the infliction. Few little boys and girls will betray their nurse's malpractices, without they are unwittingly led to an avowal. There are sure signs, however, by which such treatment may be discovered. These will be found us anxious looks and shrinking movements when places of terror are approached. If asked on the spot, the children will probably deny the existence of any terrors of the kind, for the dread of being "found out in telling tales" over rules all other nursery fears, but observation and tact will always bring about an open confession, provided a parent be desirous of learning the truth.
The first indication of fear is found in shunning dark-[-141-]ness. A well-managed child knows no dread of night; taught by a wise mother that darkness is a sign that little folks should go to sleep, they look upon night as the curtains which are drawn across the sky, to shut out the light for the express purpose of securing peaceful slumber. No other interpretation of night should a little being be suffered to know from the commencement. But if, unfortunately, darkness is made a period of terror, a reign of ghosts and evil spirits, it is impossible but that children should succumb to the dread of night, making the extinguishing of a candle a fearful calamity. With beating heart does many a little victim to childish fears bury its head beneath the bed-clothes, striving in vain to sleep.
The best remedy for evils of the kind is boldly to assail them. By learning all about the terrible dread, a mother is enabled to prove the utter falsehood of the assertion that such things as ghosts have any existence. She should lead her child hand in hand to the dreaded places, and, knowing no fear herself, dispel its presence from her child's mind. If, however, the nervousness has become confirmed, it will be necessary to leave no scope for its influence. Lamps and night-lights should be placed wherever the little sufferer is likely to be exposed to fright ; a bell should be within reach, and every precaution should be taken to supply supposed means of safety.
THE REARING AND MANAGEMENT OF CHILDREN.-XI.
MORAL INFLUENCE: TRUTH.
So important, from every point of view, is the habit of
speaking the truth, that too much effort cannot possibly be made to render
truthfulness a part of a child's nature, whilst the mind is yet plastic enough
to receive true impressions, and the conscience still sensitive to tender
Over-anxiety on the part of earnest-minded parents sometimes defeats the object they have in view in the cultivation of this principle. Shocked at the utterance of the first falsehood, they determine to check the earliest disposition to lie in the bud, and conceive that the most effectual plan is to visit the fault severely. By so doing, it is possible that they may confirm a habit, which with more lenient treatment would have had no existence.
It should be borne in mind that the random talk of little children is not to be interpreted as the deliberate expression of opinion arrived at after accurate observation.
With them the love of prattling upon any subject that comes uppermost suggests words of which they neither a know the value nor the meaning. Intent only on the evident interest which their narrative excites, little tongues continue to wag as long as they can secure a listener. This disposition to romance is greatly increased, if by injudicious questions the cue is given to enter into minute details. With such aid it is impossible to place a boundary to the limits which the child's active imagination may not overleap. Some sort of check is needed, but the utmost care is required to restrain the untaught mind within due limits, without stifling the play of fancy so natural in early childhood.
As soon as a child is old enough to understand the force of reasoning at all, the first thing to do is to teach him to represent things as they are telling him at the same time that by so doing he is speaking the truth. For this end a patient habit of observation should be inculcated. Whilst very young - mere babes, in fact, on the mother's knee - little children should be induced to take notice of form, colour, and number. Long before they are capable of comprehending the higher object, these lessons may be usefully applied for the purpose of gradual intellectual development. The absence of this training involves a confusion of ideas which it is extremely difficult to overcome, when events crowd upon the child's mind in the more stirrings scenes of life. The teaching recommended need not be of an uninviting nature. The most simple toys afford the necessary means of instruction ; it rests solely with the parent to make the most trivial playthings invaluable sources of mental culture.
For instance, the listless habit of looking at picture-books is not sufficient exercise for the active mind of most young children - they long for some information concerning the objects they gaze at. This disposition gives opportunity for explaining common-place facts. Having done so, the parent or teacher should ask the child to reproduce the information received, any error being carefully pointed out as soon as made. Whenever a child has attained sufficient power of observation to distinguish different objects, to define their colour, shape, and number, he is of an age to be held responsible for statements concerning more objects, and should be checked when discovered speaking at random. If a parent chooses to inculcate the principle of truthful speaking by such means, she will find that the faithful representation of common facts in early childhood has prepared the way for matters more difficult of discernment in mature years.
In most of the affairs of life in which a child has to take part, his statement is not of much moment; but it not unfrequently happens that questions affecting the character and honesty of a servant are weighed simply on the representation of little children. It then becomes a serious question, whether such witnesses are capable of distinguishing one fact or object from another. The misfortune is, that people in disputed points of the kind are apt to rely too implicitly on the disinterested judgment of a young child. "What motive," they ask, "can a child have in making a false statement?" The question, however, is not whether the child has any motive in speaking for or against a person, but whether he has been trained to speak correctly. It was this habit of observation which Dr. Johnson wisely directed to be cultivated, when he remarked that if a child said he saw a thing out of one window, when in fact he saw it out of another, he should be set right.
An undoubted source of untruthfulness is to be found in the habit of imposing secrecy on young children. Some persons are constantly cautioning little folks against speaking of what they have seen and heard. Too frequently threats of punishment, if found out in the act of "telling" are added, to give force to the prohibition. The poor little beings, thus threatened, are perhaps equally tempted to betray the secrecy imposed on them by the offer of a bribe. Says a nursemaid, perhaps, "Do not tell your mamma that I took you to such or such a place, or else I'll give you to a policeman." Says mamma, perchance, "Did you go to such or such a place? tell me, and I'll give you a nice cake." Between the terrors of the policeman on the one hand, and the love of cakes on the other, what can a bewildered little being be expected to do? whatever reply is made cannot, obviously, emanate from a conscientious desire of speaking the truth, since the still small voice of conscience is not very audible at the tender age we speak of. In early childhood the power of the senses overrules the convictions of conscience, and it depends mainly whether a child situated as described is physically and mentally weak or strong, greedy for nice things or otherwise, whether he braves out the unknown terrors of the policeman, or whether he succumbs to the pleasures of the promised cake.
The above are tests of truthfulness to which a child should never be subject. It is better to suffer grave doubts to have their sway for a time, than that a little child should be asked to act as a spy on the movements of those to whose care he is committed. If a servant, for instance, is untrustworthy at one time, she will probably be so at another, and the obvious remedy is to part with her. The same rule should apply in all relations where the management of young children is concerned. Those who live in their presence should be open as the day in [-371-] all their doings. They should not do before children things they would be ashamed to be found doing by strangers. If at any time a contrary course of conduct from what is habitual is observed, and a child asks the reason, a good reason should be assigned. Events are constantly occurring in household life, of which it is better children should not be witnesses. The same occurs in conversation. It is not fitting that children should be listeners to all that their elders talk about. Instead, however, of imposing secrecy respecting what is seen and heard at such times, it is better at once to send children from the room, plainly telling them that their presence is not convenient.
Having succeeded in teaching children that it is truth to represent things as they are, the next task is to teach them that the contrary is untruth. They should be taught that truth is something that exists or has existed, and that untruth is the reverse. By this simple method they will soon be enabled to discover what is meant by truth, and to apply the lesson in more weighty matters than everyday pursuits. The foundation of a truthful disposition, as of every other virtue, rests chiefly on example. If a parent or nurse constantly speaks guardedly and acts openly in presence of a child, his conduct will almost to a certainty be straightforward, and his speech an unvarnished representation of facts; but if he is bewildered by the conflicting promptings of his own interest, and the double dealings of those around him, his judgment will naturally be vacillating, his perceptions obscured, and his actions influenced by whatever inclination may be most powerful at the moment.
Some children are said to have no power of speaking the truth. The defect is spoken of as natural, just as a physical malformation might be, and all attempts appear useless to remedy the evil. But these cases, if they exist at all, are of exceedingly rare occurrence, and are seldom heard of amongst the educated classes. Too vivid an imagination, if not judiciously checked, may tend to create an untruthful habit of speech in childhood which may continue to increase with years, or utter neglect of mental culture may produce the sad result. In either case the evil is not incurable. Left to their own guidance, all children would probably be untruthful. It is the value persons by whom they are surrounded set upon truthful statements which constitutes the worth of truth. In nations where a high sense of honour does not prevail, truth is disregarded, and cleverness in lying is accounted a virtue.
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