PLAYTHINGS breathing admits air full of microbes into the mouth, throat, lungs and stomach.
Nursery. Baby should have, if possible, a night nursery and a day nursery, that is, rooms of his own in which to sleep and play. This, however, is an ideal which often cannot be attained, but an effort should be made to secure to him at least a night nursery. There he can sleep undisturbed; there his toilet necessaries, clothes, and later, toys, can be kept, and the room can be furnished and decorated according to his needs.
A day nursery should, if possible, face south; failing that, choose a room getting the maximum of sunshine. Large windows, light curtains of cheerful material, distempered walls or walls covered with smooth paper (rough paper collects dirt), a floor of wood blocks or covered with cork lino, are the best fittings.
Have as little furniture as possible, strong and simple, without sharp corners or decoration, and that can be easily cleaned. Of anything that goes into the nursery it should be asked, Is it easy to clean? Is it durable? Is it attractive?
A toy cupboard is essential; nothing is better for the young childs training than having a certain place in which to keep his toys and, in due course, having to learn to store them neatly and tidily. As soon as baby can crawl and pick up things, keep plenty of bricks in the nursery; soon after introduce a blackboard and coloured chalks.
Thorough ventilation of the nursery is essential. When the child is out, have windows and doors open so that the air can stream through. A coal fire has this advantage, that it creates a through draught and keeps the air moving. Young children require a room to be heated rather more highly than for adults: about 60° F. is the best temperature.
However attractive the nursery, the best place for baby in fine weather is the open air. Infants in perambulators are better out of doors in almost any weather, provided they are well wrapped up.
In all consideration of nursery fittings, remember babys size and height. Excellent small furniture in suitable materials can be obtained at reasonable cost. If pictures or friezes are put upon the walls, they should be low down. In thinking of draughts – and while the room should be well aired children should be kept out of direct draughts – remember that a draught striking an adult may pass right over a young child, while floor draughts an adult might not notice, catch him at the full.
Perambulator. In buying this, allow for the length to which baby will grow before he ceases to use it; a smaller pram xa&y be cheaper to buy, but its usefulness will cease sooner. See that it is thoroughly well sprung, and softly padded inside; baby will later kick, jump and roll about in the pram, and will get much the same sensations that we get from a well-sprung, well-padded motor-car or – a truck on wheels!
Use the hood as little as possible full up. Put baby under the shelter of a tree, a hedge, a wall, or put the hood only half up, to shade from sun or wind. Putting the hood right up creates an area of stagnant air which baby breathes over and over again. In hot weather it increases the heat.
See that the safety-straps are properly adjusted; use them as soon as baby is able to move about. An upright or folding pram should not be used until the child is able to sit upright for lonjr periods. See that the foot-rest is propeny adjusted to the length of his legs. Children should not be put to sleep in upright prams.
Playthings. Play is a natural, spontaneous, joyous activity of childhood; and a happy baby very soon begins to play. His first plaything is himself – his fingers and toes. By the fifth or sixth month he can handle objects, and likes a good supply of solid articles in his pram – preferably things he can chew.
Rubber bones, bono or ivory articles are suitable; he should have nothing he can swallow, choke himself with, bite bits off or break. Objects should be light and smooth. Before this time even, he will take pleasure in attractive, moving objects tied to his pram – large leaves, a toy dog or other toy. This should not be such that it glitters or flickers.
After the stage in which everything is put into the mouth comes the ora of cuddly toys – Teddy Bears, woolly dogs, elephants, etc. The love for these toys may persist for years; a favourite animal may be loved until it is quite worn out. Bo on the watch for cracks through which sawdust or stuffing may come out; baby is sure to test it by trying to eat it.
Many children before standing and walking love to tear paper, especially paper which makes a loud rasping noise when torn. A newspaper will often give an hours intense happiness; and the childs path to construction often lies through destruction.
With walking comes the desire to pull or push things – engines, prams, horses on wheels. These can be of the simplest design – the simpler the better.
Rickets. See ILLNESSES OF CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH.
Scalds. See BURNS AND SCALDS in ILLNESSES OF CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH.
Sleep. It is quite possible to teach a baby to adopt regular habits of sleep. He should sleep at least two hours every morning and one hour in the afternoon. Regular habits are necessary conditions to a healthy child. The more excitable, nervous, or precocious a child is, the more rest he requires. It is best not to have baby in bed with you, as he is healthier Bleeping by lumself. Do not rock him to sleep. He cannot miss what was never bogun.
When putting him to bed, make sure that the bed-clothes are well away from his face; to breathe his own breath over and over again is exceedingly bad for him. A cot too close to the wall will have the same injurious effect, and should be avoided.
A child with cold feet will not go to sleep readily. Holding the little feet within reasonable distance of a fire or chafing them with ones hands until they are warm will speedily put matters right. In winter put on a pair of warm woollen socles.
It is best for a child to sleep in a darkened room, but if it is at all nervous, put a night-light on the mantelpiece. Never let a child go crying to bed; if you do, he will probably either not go to sleep for a long time, or fall into a troubled and restless sleep and have bad dreams. Baby will sleep all the sounder if he is sent to bed happy, and will wake in the morning refreshed and contented, instead of crose and peevish.
Baby should not be allowed to sleep with his mouth open. When laying him down for a nap, gently press the lips together, and occasionally look to see that they remain so. Children who got into the habit of breathing through the mouth are very liable to catch cold, because the air is not warmed and moistened before reaching the lungs, as it is if breathed through the nose. Danger from contagion is also increased. If a child soems unable to breathe through its noso, it should be taken to a doctor, as it is possible some growth which ought to be removed is the causo of the trouble.
When a baby rouses and begins to cry, he may be suffering from a kind of cramp caused by lying too long in one position. Turn his pillow, and then turn baby over on the other side to remedy this.
There is no harm in allowing a baby to sleep in his pram out of doors, instead of bringing him into the house, as long as he is well wrapped up and perfectly warm.
Sphagnum Moss. Instead of napkins some mothers prefer sphagnum moss, the dried hay of a plant. A 1-ounco pad of this will absorb as much urine as the child will pass in a night, and so prevents the widespread wetting of napkin and night-clothes whioh so often occurs. It can be used as a pad between the thighs, held in place by butter muslin or a similar light airy material, or baby can he on a large square of it.