Dr. Osgood recommends as a night suit for children a single garment, ending in drawers and stockings. Over this, in cold weather, may be worn a flannel sack. At severe seasons, instead of putting an extra coverlet on the bed, he advises the use of a large bag, made of a light blanket, into which the child may be securely placed, and closely buttoned around the neck. Light coverings generally are preferable to heavy ones, if the night-clothing and the room are sufficiently warm, as they do not induce perspiration nor check exhalations.
Eating snow, except in very limited quantities, is very injurious, producing catarrh, congestion and many other troubles.
Jumping the rope is an injurious and dangerous amusement, often resulting in disease of the spine and brain.
For worms, give rue tea; for colic, catnip tea.
Never let the little children go out of doors in winter without being warmly clad. They lose heat rapidly, and easily contract throat and lung affections. Every child should have full suits of underclothing; and especially let the legs and ankles be well protected with thick stockings and leggings.
Bathe children in the forenoon when possible, or, if not too tired, an hour before the evening meal; never for at least an hour after eating. When possible bathe before an open fire or in a warm room near, and rub dry before an open fire. It is injurious to bathe children on rising before breakfast, especially in cold weather. Washing the face, neck, and hands, and dressing, is enough before refreshing the body by eating.
Great care must be taken that the navel of infants takes its proper place. If not attended to it is likely to puff out and produce a breach. If it shows any signs of protruding, round a piece of cork into a ball as large as a large marble, cover with linen, and lay over the navel, fastening it to its place by six or eight strips of adhesive plaster. Let it remain for a month or six weeks, as it will cause no inconvenience.
For constipation, bran water is an excellent remedy. Boil two tablespoons bran in a pint of water for two hours, strain and use as food. It must be made fresh every day, and the fresher the better.
No child should go to bed hungry, but food taken near the hours of sleeping should be of the simplest nature, - a cracker, a bit of bread, or a glass of milk.
A baby should sleep on its side. When lying on its back the food sometimes rises in its throat and chokes it.
Great care should be taken to shade a baby's eyes from the light. If a strong light shines directly in its face, it often produces ophthalmia, an inflammation of the eyelids, which is troublesome and dangerous. A few drops of breast-milk, applied to the eye and worked under the lid, is very healing to sore lids.
Some babies' skins will not bear flannel. In this case a linen shirt should be put on first, and flannel over it.
When chafed, squeeze cold water over the parts chafed. Dry lightly without rubbing, and apply vaseline or cold cream.
In cleansing the ear, penetrate no deeper than you can clearly see. Never scratch or inflame the entrance to the ear. The ear-wax is not dirt, and should not be removed, at least only that portion which is plainly visible should be disturbed. Pins and scrapers inserted in the ear are injurious. The wax will find its way out when too much is accumulated. Scraping produces irritation, discomfort, and calls for a repetition, which, after a time, produces disease. Sweet-oil, glycerine, etc., are apt to clog the ear and produce inflammation. Syringing the ear with tepid water relieves itching. If cold air gives pain a little wool, placed in the ear while out of doors, will protect.
Always hold a baby with feet next the fire, when sitting in a room with a fire in it. The old adage, "Keep the feet warm and head cool," means a good deal.
If the children who attend school are puny and do not seem to thrive, take them away from school. Give the child a robust body, whether he is at the head or tail of his class.
Don't give the baby cordials, soothing syrups, and sleeping-drops. Touch lightly paregoric. All such things injure the constitution of the child.
The New York Sun says: "The pain of teething may be almost done away, and the health of the child benefited, by giving it fine splinters of ice, picked off with a pin, to melt in its mouth. The fragment is so small that it is but a drop of warm water before it can be swallowed, 'and the child has all the coolness for its feverish gums without the slightest injury. The avidity with which the little things taste the cooling morsel, the in-stant quiet which succeeds hours of fretfulness, and the sleep which follows the relief, are the best witnesses to this magic remedy. Ice may be fed to three months' child this way, each splinter being no longer than a common pin, for five or ten minutes, the result being that it has swallowed in that time a teaspoonful of warm water, which so far from being a harm, is good for it, and the process may be repeated hourly as often as the fretting fits from teething begin,"
It is not necessary to wholly exclude the light from the room when the babe is born. The admission of sunlight should be regulated; but a soft and pleasant light is a benefit to both mother and child. The baby should not be carried into a glowing sunshine, but should become gradually accustomed to the light.
For restlessness or colic in children, give a warm bath at bed-time, dry quickly with soft towels, and rub well with the hand; dress loosely, wrap in flannel blanket, warm and lay away to sleep.
For colic, give three or four swallows of warm water; place one hand on stomach and one on back, and give a lively trotting. This is better than a barrel of soothing syrup. If one "trip to Boston" on the knee will not do, try two, or three even, with a drink of warm water before starting. For sore mouth or constipation, give three or four good swallows of cold water the first thing in the morning. This is both a preventive and a cure.
One of the best remedies for chafing is cocoa butter, which may be had in cakes, at any drug store. Warm slightly, if necessary, and apply to the chafed parts. Cocoa butter is also excellent for greasing in scarlet fever. Among the old-fashioned and good remedies for the same purpose is the fatty inside of the rind of a piece of smoked ham.
For colds, hoarseness, or indications of croup, slice raw onions, sprinkle with granulated sugar, let stand until the juice is extracted (to hasten the flow of the juice, place in heater for a few moments), pour off juice, and give a teaspoonful every hour, or oftener if the case is severe.
Greasing the navel, bowels, and up and down spine, at night before going to bed, promotes regular action of the bowels, and cures constipation.
If injections are necessary for babies, warm water with a very little pure soap dissolved in it is better than inserting a piece of hard soap, as is often done. Small syringes with flexible tubes, are now made, and are much safer than the old form of syringe.
Sweet flag, which may be obtained in a dried state at any drug store, is an excellent remedy for colic in children. Make a mild tea of it, sweeten, and give a teaspoonful whenever there are signs of trouble coming on.
For teething children, an ivory ring, a silver dollar, or some similar article should be provided for them to bite on. Give plenty of pure water to drink. Or dip the end of the finger in cold water and rub the inflamed gums.
In washing children, do not let the water run into the ears. Children should never be washed in a careless, slipshod manner. The excretions and the exhalations of the skin are often acrid enough to produce great irritation and suffering, and careful washing, with liberal enough use of water to insure cleanliness, and a rapid and thorough drying, removing every particle of moisture in all the crevices of the skin, and that with a gentle hand. Use as little soap as possible, and that the finest kind, and be sure to wash it off thoroughly with pure soft water. After the surface is well dried, any harmless powder, such as corn starch, may be used to prevent chafing.
In the case of a sick child, if the skin is tender when there is pressure, wash with diluted camphor water. Sick children should not lie long in one position, and the bed should be as smooth as possible. If there is any disease in the head, a pillow of finely shredded corn-husks should take the place of a feather pillow. Cool, salt-water baths remove the prickly heat that is so annoying in summer.
The warm bath, the water being at about the same heat as the surface of the body, is best for young children. As they grow older the bath may be made cooler.
Always be able to have a fire in at least one room in the house, even in the warmest season, if there are children in the family. In the Northern States there is rarely a month in the year during which there is not an occasional day or evening when fire would be beneficial.
Children should always play on the sunny side of the yard or street in cold weather. The sun-warmed air is what they need. Children less than four years old ought not to play out of doors when the thermometer ranges lower than 25° above zero.
To ventilate apartments without causing a draft, raise the lower sash four to six inches, and place under it a board perfectly fitted to the casing, so as to shut out all air. The cold, outside air then passes upward between the sash, to the upper part of the room, and is diffused without causing a draft. The night air is not objectionable, except in malarious regions. Indeed, in cities, the night air is purer than what is abroad by day. In the hot season, children should be kept out of the sun after ten o'clock, and may sit up later than usual at night to enjoy the cool evenings. Excessive heat is as fatal as excessive cold. Keep the baby cool by baths, but never put it to sleep in a room from which the sunshine is constantly kept. No room can be wholesome where sunshine is never admitted.