The best food for the baby is mother’s milk. There may be a few exceptions. There are occasionally instances where the mother does not furnish sufficient milk and then there are some instances when the milk does not properly nourish the baby. But the breast-fed baby usually has more vitality than those fed with the bottle.
The protein of the mother’s milk as well as its other food ingredients is superior for the nourishment of the child to any foods derived from other sources. In spite of all the development of the science of infant feeding by the modification of cow’s milk the fact remains that breast-nourished babies always are and probably always will be the best nourished.
Civilized woman’s failure to nourish her child, whether this be a matter of her own decision, or necessitated by the artificial condition of her life, is one of the crimes of civilization. Pages of statistics might be quoted as to the greater death rates and inferior health and growth of the artificially nourished baby. Happily, however, for the mother who cannot nourish her child, it should be stated that the chief loss of child life through artificial feeding is due to carelessness and ignorance. And while natural nursing is always preferable, artificial feeding can be made fairly safe and efficient.
If the Mother cannot nourish the baby, the next best food is cow’s milk or goat’s milk.
The high mortality record which prevails among infants is due largely to the mistakes made by mothers who are unable to feed their children by natural methods, that is, from the breast. There are all sorts of formulas advocated for feeding bottle babies. Although many of them may be of value, in the end, one usually learns, as the result of experience, that the simple combination of cow’s milk, sugar of milk and the juice of an orange will form a basis for a baby’s diet which cannot he improved upon. There may be occasional . instances where lime water may be essential, though as a rule when the proper quantity of orange juice is furnished the lime water is not needed.
The use of cow’s milk, as stated, can be continued without any other additions than those mentioned, until a baby’s mouth is literally full of teeth. Then, of course, it is ready for solid f ood.
Very hard bread, like zwieback or food of this nature can be used occasionally to encourage the inclination of the infant to chew and also may help in the teeth-cutting process. As out-lined in the table which will follow, when an infant is very young the quantity of cream must be greatly increased. In fact when it is a few days old the food should consist largely of cream, diluted with water and with sugar of milk as stated. As it grows older the quantity of cream can be gradually decreased until the full cow’s milk is being used. The exact time when this change should be made will depend largely upon the vitality of the infant. Usually the sooner it can be made the more advantageous it will be to the baby.
It is quite frequent in infant feeding to neglect to give a sufficient quantity of water of the proper sort. Pure water is absolutely essential. Distilled water is usually best, though boiled water which has been aerated is satisfactory.
And please remember that the best distillation process is furnished by nature in the rain that falls from the clouds. Naturally in the city, this rain is usually quite dirty, but rain which has been taken from a clean roof and stored away in a clean vault not only makes a perfect drinking water but is the most satisfactory water for a baby. If your roof in the country is allowed first of all thoroughly to cleanse itself with the beginning of a rain, the rain that falls thereafter can be enclosed in a clean vault and this sort of water for human use cannot be improved upon.
When water is first given to a baby (use a bottle) it is usually desirable to sweeten it with sugar of milk. This encourages the child to begin taking the water, and the sugar of milk can be gradually lessened, unless you are feeding the child with cow’s milk, and in that case a certain amount of sugar of milk is essential thoroughly to nourish the child.
As soon as an infant secures sufficient digestive power to be thoroughly nourished, it is usually better gradually to change its feeding to full cow’s milk, one feeding to be given every three or four hours, though water should be given half way in between feedings, sweetened with sugar of milk.
As showing the tremendous importance of water for an infant, I remember prescribing on one occasion for a baby that was little more than a skeleton. It was about eight months old and weighed a little over seven pounds. After making careful inquiries as to the methods which had been used in feeding the infant I concluded that they were not giving it sufficient water. It was actually “drying up” for the need of water. I prescribed from six to eight ounces of cow’s milk every three or four hours and the same quantity of water sweetened with sugar of milk, half way between each feeding.
As a result of this change in its feeding habits, the infant almost immediately began to gain a pound a week and continued gaining until it had acquired normal. weight.
Perhaps the greatest of all mistakes that are made in the feeding of infants is the inclination of the average mother to over-feed. Whenever a child fails to gain proper vitality, every inducement is made to increase the amount of food taken. This tendency, itself, in many cases is the actual cause of serious diseases. Over-feeding tends to bring about digestive defects and interferes materially with proper assimilation. What the child really needs is a digestive rest and while it is taking this rest it can be given water freely, but milk should be avoided altogether. This can be continued from one to three days with perfect safety. In fact, where necessary, this fasting regime can safely be continued even beyond this period.
The average mother is, of course, afraid to fast her infant even for a day, but in many cases this is really the only means to bring about a change for the better. I have often fasted my own infants from one to three days when but a few months old. Such a fast can be made entirely comfortable by giving the infant water sweetened with sugar of milk or with a small amount of strained honey.
When giving water to a baby it should always be given in a bottle the same as the milk. If the baby is given sweetened water, as stated above, it will not notice the fast. It will be about as comfortable as when feeding; in fact, in many instances more comfortable when it needs a fasting regime of this sort.
In the case of bottle fed babies, mothers often make the mistake of using nipples that allow the baby to secure the milk too quickly. Usually the slower the milk: is taken the more readily it is digested, and the more benefit the infant secures from it. It is possible to use an opening in a nipple that is too small, but if the child takes about ten minutes for each feeding it is far better than if the milk is gulped down.
Be sure to avoid feeding too soon after a physical disorder of any kind. Wait for the child’s appetite to assert itself. It is usually safer to begin with water, sweetened as stated, than it is with milk or other foods. As already stated, orange juice or the juice of some other fresh fruits should always be used if the baby is not breast-fed and in fact, even breast-fed babies can sometimes be benefited by its use. Don’t use bottled juices or juices from canned fruits. In fact, orange juice is usually much safer than other fruit juices. From half to a whole orange is usually sufficient. If it is given to the baby in spoonfuls at different times of the day, it is usually more advantageous than if given at one feeding. As a rule a child craves this acid fruit juice, indicating the need in the system for the elements that it contains.
The tables which follow herewith should be taken merely as a suggestion. The quantity of the food depends largely upon the size of the infant, its vitality, etc. As a rule the safest way is to feed an infant as long as it takes the milk hungrily, that is, is eager for it. You can then usually be assured that it is not taking too much. But when it begins to play with its food or turns away from it the meal should end there. Furthermore, food that is taken eagerly is digested far better. The stomach is then ready to take care of it and all the organs are in a condition properly to perform their functions.
In fact, this is an excellent guide for a mother as to when a child will need a fast: when it begins to “go off” its appetite. Then, as a rule, it is a good plan to drop one or two feedings and give it a chance to get its appetite back. If you fail to do this and continue to force food upon it and encourage it in other ways to take food, you are treading on dangerous ground. It is under circumstances of this nature that a baby contracts illnesses of various kinds. In nearly every serious illness, you will first of all notice the baby begins to turn aside from its food. This increases until it refuses nourishment altogether. If you will refuse nourishment when it first begins to turn aside from food, you will, in a great many cases, divert dangerous illnesses.
You will note in the table on page 238 that we suggest that whole milk be given from three to four months and thereafter. It can, in some cases, be given before this and in some instances this is too soon to use whole milk but, as previously stated, the sooner you can begin to use whole milk with water in between milk feeding, the faster the child will gain in health and strength. Begin the water feedings very early in the child’s life. Always feed water from a bottle, though when an infant is very young and is breast fed a spoonful of water now and then is often of great value.
When a child is crying, in many instances a little warm water given with a spoon will bring about a feeling of comfort that will quickly induce sleep. Crying of an infant in every case indicates discomfort of some sort, and mothers who have frequent trouble with their infants during the night have only themselves to blame. A child that is properly fed and properly cared for in every way rarely cries, especially at night.
As soon as possible, the habit of feeding the infant all through the night should be discontinued. The last feeding should be about nine or ten o’clock when the mother retires, and the next feeding very early in the morning. One can break an infant into habits of this nature as early as two months and in some cases earlier. Naturally as long as you continue feeding during the night, the stomach will demand it and the baby will cry for it.
When you come to the time that you want to discontinue night feedings, if, instead of milk, you simply give water, the stomach will soon cease its nocturnal demands.
In making this change, it is often necessary to allow the child to cry itself to sleep one or two nights when it wakes for its regular feeding, though, as a rule, this is all the inconvenience associated therewith.
Water can be aerated. by pouring from one pitcher to another or from one vessel to another. Water is more perfectly aereated by nature when it falls as rain. Boiled water should especially be aereated before it is fed to the infant. Otherwise it will taste dead and flat.
You will note our reference to the top milk. We mean that from a quart bottle on which the cream has been allowed to rise you should pour the quantity stated. You will note that when the infant is from three to four months old we have indicated the use of whole milk. This, however, should be only tried as an experiment at this age. If the child thrives with the change then continue it, or if the diet is not satisfactory, increase the amount of cream slightly. I have seen whole milk taken by an infant as early as two months of age with satisfactory results.
When orange juice is used and it is of satisfactory quality, in many instances lime water is not needed. If the child does not seem to digest the milk, that is, it “throws it back”, then the value of lime water should be tested. If the child seems to thrive better with the lime water even when orange juice is used, it is desirable of course that you continue its use.