BABY needs are very simple; they are detailed, but they are simple.
What are they? Food, warmth, fresh air, sleep, oxereise, cleanliness, regularity, a mothers love. Just what nature demands for all her children.
But we have progressed beyond nature. We have fashioned for ourselves a way of life that we call civilization; a way of life that has eliminated for us much of the harshness that is in nature, but which prevents us also from full and free enjoyment of many of natures choicest gifts. We no longer have to starve and shiver through the cold, dark winter, but on the other hand we no longer can luxuriate day and night in the sunshine and warmth of summer.
IT is our problem – the problem of all parents – to secure for our children the utmost benefits that both nature and civilization can so abundantly lavish, and equally to protect them from the dangers of both nature and civilization – for civilization, as we all know, has not brought with it unmixed blessings.
While it has stamped out many varieties of suffering and disease, it has brought diseases almost equally fearsome – the Ecourge of tuberculosis, the curse of cancer. While it has relieved us of innumerable dangers and fears, it has brought other trials – the noise and racket of our modem streets, the strain of a complex political, social and economic fife.
Our grand effort in life, then, is to combine the blessings of nature and civilization for our children. No words could better describe our duty than those of Anatole France, one of the greatest of French writers:
We should be showing ourselves less generous than the cave-men, if, now that our turn has come, we did not strive to make life better and more secure for our children than it is for ourselves. To achieve this end, two things are indis-pensable: knowledge and love; for with knowledge and love the world is made. Important First Years
C1 OR many years now the authorities have been seriously perturbed about that great national possession, St. Pauls Cathedral, in London. It is the foundations that worry them, for if the foundations fail no power on earth can save the building.
Every research in child welfare goes to emphasize the importance of the first years of life, of the building of the foundations. It is quite safe to say that after the first five years of a childs life you may patch and repair him, but no power on earth ean remake him.
A child at five is made as regards health, strength, vigour of body and of mind. The mould is cast, the pattern stamped; all that life will do henceforth will be to file and polish, expose this weakness, develop that strength, alter in detail.
That child will go on developing, but fundamentally he will remain what the first few years created. If you lay a foundation for a jerry-built cottage, you cannot build a mansion on it. Mental Health IN the first few years – notably the first year – physical growth is more rapid and more sensitive to good or bad treatment than at any other time in life. The mind is more receptive, the impressions made upon it are more permanent.
We would emphasize this latter point. Many parents are extremoly capable in looking after the physical development of their children – they feed them and clothe them well, give them abundance of fresh air and good healthy exercise – but they do not realize the immense importance of mental health, of looking after the proper development of the child mind.
It is as though a man had a motor-car which he washed scrupulously every day, kept regularly filled with petrol and oil, looked after tyres, lamps, upholstery and glass – but never thought to examine the cylinders or the crankshaft.
The analogy is not perfect, but it will servo. The mind is the engine, and needs more care than anything else; for this reason we have devoted special attention to development and training of character and mind.
Ignorance v. Knowledge I TAPPILY. To-day baby stands a better chance of being well lookod after than ever before. The present century has seen an enormous spread of knowledge and raising of standards. books on infancy are abundant and cheap; the science of gynecology has progressed by leaps and bounds; trained nursesare every-where replacing the old-time ignorant (and often dirty) midwife – read of Charles Dickenss Betsey Prig, and you will see what she was like – Maternity and Child Welfare Clinics are to be found all over the land.
The following articles point the way to the successful care of baby. They cannot do more than that. Every baby is different from every other; each presents separate problems. But the main lines are here, and, however different in detail any child may be, those main lines remain always the samo.
Bad Habits. Just as good habits cannot be established too early in life, the earlier any signs of bad habits are detected and measures taken to eliminate them the better. The chief bad habits to be on the look-out for are: (I) Thumb or finger sucking. This habit, if allowed to become persistent, can twist the finger or thumb into an unnatural shape, injure the palate, induce irregular growth of teeth, and harm the digestion. It may be begun directly after birth.
Remove the finger or thumb immediately it is put into the mouth; great patience is sometimes required, as the child will replace it again and again. Holding the hands gently, and quietly, and saying in a kind way, No, baby, when effort is made towards the mouth will sometimes,help, particularly just after feeding. Always remove finger or thumb from the mouth of a sleeping child. If the habit defies all such measures, smear the finger or thumb with bitter aloes (which are quite harmless), or use a finger stall.
Sometimes this habit expresses itself as biting or sucking clothing. Persistence in removing material, and as far as possible keeping clothes away from the mouth, should effect a cure.
As soon as the child is old enough to have a bono or hard rubber stick to chew, that is, as soon a3 the teeth are beginning to make themselves felt, giving baby something he may chew will do mueh to prevent or cure this sucking habit. (ii) Nail biting. This occurs in older children as a rule, though it can be begun in infancy, and often develops from thumb or finger sucking. It can be continued through life. Gentle but persistent restraint, as with sucking, is the best road to cure; punishments or threats are not recommended. (iii) Dirt eating. It is easy to see IKMV injurious this may prove to the toddler. Ilemember that the babys natural instinct is to put everjthing into his mouth, so that if when first he is put in a kicking pen out of doors he picks up and tries to eat grass, stones, dirt, he is not necessarily contracting a bad habit. (iv) Bed-wetting. The training given by the mother or the nurse during the first, year should have great influence upon ths child in this respect. Absolute regularity in holding out, especially at ten oclock at night, will often succeed in making bed-wetting a rarity even in the second year. It is, however, quite normal during this year, and may persist into the third. If it has not practically ceased by the third birthday, consult a doctor.
Usual causes are poor general health, irritation connected with making water, the foreskin, or worms; nervousnees, fear, inability to get out of bed.