Flagging Health in Hot Weather - Suitable Clothing a Most Important Point - The Ideal Garments for a Baby in Summer - The Uses of Water - Bathing and Drinking - Ventilation of Rooms-outdoor Life - Food
Many mothers imagine that flagging health in the nursery is almost inevitable during the hot season. Baby gets pale and listless, loses appetite, and if weighing is carried on systematically the effect of the hot weather is very apparent in insufficient gain of weight.
Fortunately for the children, the answer is in the affirmative, and every mother should study a few rules, which, if faithfully observed, will go far to keep the child cool and prevent him from flagging in health during the warm weather.
In the first place, the wise or unwise clothing of babies affects considerably their comfort and health. There is something pathetic about the fashionable baby, swathed in innumerable expensive, over-trimmed, and heavily embroidered garments, from which the small face looks wistfully forth, or the small lungs bellow resentment at the folly of the mother. The right way to clothe a child in warm weather is to supply it with as few garments as possible, to have these loose and of the material which will provide a free passage of perspiration off the skin.
What chance has a child attired in a summer pelisse, an elaborate robe, a couple of petticoats, and under-gar-ments of wool, of keeping cool in hot weather ? What are the ideal garments from the doctor's point of view ?
First, a little knitted vest, then one single garment of light wool and a nuns'-veiling dress, which may be made as daintily as you like, so long as it is not too long and the child's limbs are allowed full play in kicking. However hot the weather, baby will hardly suffer at all if he is laid in his pram in a shady place in such garments and allowed to kick to his heart's content, the small limbs destitute of shoes or socks, the head bare of heavy bonnet or hat, and the body loosely and lightly clothed. The Uses of Water
Occasional sponging with tepid water to which perhaps a little eau-de-cologne has been added is a delightfully cooling experience for baby in hot weather, for the skin naturally passes off a great deal of perspiration, which contains toxins, or waste matters shed by the system. If the skin is not kept clean by frequent sponging, some of these matters are almost necessarily reabsorbed, and at least the function of the skin is impaired if it is not kept absolutely clean.
Then baby will derive health by having a tepid bath twice a day in hot weather - morning and evening. In hot climates everybody bathes frequently, because they realise by experience the benefit of clean, cool water in contact with the skin. In England, during the summer months the heat is often severe, and the babies cannot tell us when they suffer from the heat, but their pleasure and delight during the bathing are evident.
The child's fretful cry when thirsty is frequently heard on hot summer days, if the nurse or mother is not careful to moisten his lips and mouth with occasional teaspoonfuls of cold water. A child can suffer agonies of thirst, and the average mother is too apt to think that baby gets sufficient fluid with his milk for all he needs. She is entirely wrong. Indeed, milk induces thirst, as anyone who is put on milk diet can vouch for. A child requires a definite amount of water, in hot weather especially, and should be given a small teaspoonful occasionally by day and night, and have the lips moistened whenever they look dry. Restless nights can very often be cured by attending to the child's need for water, but it must be remembered that, if the water is not absolutely reliable, it should be boiled before it is given to baby.
A baby enioys a tepid bath twice a day in hot weather, and shows his pleasure and delight
Careful ventilation of the nursery by day and night will also make a great difference. The child is bound to be hot, restless, and uncomfortable if there is not sufficient air in the room in which he sleeps at night, and he will be ever so much better if the windows are kept well open top and bottom. A screen will protect the bed from any draughts. It goes without saying that baby should be out of doors as much as possible in hot weather - in the shade, of course, when the sun is strong. Let him tumble about on a rug out of doors whenever the weather permits, clothed as simply and loosely as possible.
Up to the age of nearly a year baby will be having nothing but milk, so that it is not so much the choice, but the quality of food that will have to be attended to. Baby cannot possibly keep well unless the very strictest care is exercised that the milk is fresh and clean and free from germs. This has already been considered, and it will be sufficient to say that baby will keep much cooler and healthier if he is fed only at the stated intervals, and in the quantities stated in the "Nursery Feeding Chart" (given on page 2416), which should be studied carefully. To be continued.