This section is from the "The Young Mother. Management of Children in Regard to Health" book, by William A. Alcott. Also available from Amazon: The Young Mother
On the subject of changing the wet clothing of a child, there is a strange and monstrous error abroad; which is, that by suffering them to remain wet and cold, we harden the constitution. The filthiness of this practice is enough to condemn it, were there nothing else to be said against it.
It is insisted on by many, I know, that as water which is salt, when it is applied to the skin, and suffered to remain long, while it secures the point of hardening the child, prevents all possibility of its taking cold, it hence follows, that wet diapers are not injurious. But this is a mistake. Every time an infant is allowed to remain wet, we not only endanger its taking cold, but expose it to excoriations of the skin, if not to serious and dangerous inflammation. In short, if frequent changes are not made, whatever some mothers and nurses may think, they may rest assured, that the health of the child must sooner or later suffer as the consequence.
Nor is it enough to hang up a diaper by the fire, and, as soon as it is dry, apply it again. It should be clean, as well as dry. Let us not be told, that it is troublesome to wash so often. Everything is in a certain sense troublesome. Everything in this world, which is worth having, is the result of toil. Nothing but absolute poverty affords the shadow of an excuse for neglecting anything which will promote the health, or even the comfort of the tender infant.
Of the impropriety and danger of suffering wet clothes to dry upon us, I shall speak elsewhere; as well as of the evil of suffering children to remain dirty,—their skins or their clothing.