By Mrs. F. L. Mather, Central Midwives' Board, A.rsan.i.

By Mrs. F. L. Mather, Central Midwives' Board, A.rsan.i.

Health Lecturer to Northumberland Education Committee; Author of "Health and Home Nursing" " Hygiene and Temperance,"

"Home Nursery," etc., etc.

Baby's ultimate welfare Depends mainly on its Early Feeding - Nature has Provided the best Diet; but, if Cow's Milk must be used, it should be Sterilised and Modified - the Diet should not be

Changed except on a Doctor's Recommendation

Infant mortality returns show that one-fifth of all the babies born into the world die before they are one year old.

Vital statistics show that 75 per cent, of these deaths are due to the use of harmful foods. Of those who do survive many are enfeebled and crippled, and, it they do not die during childhood, grow up to swell the ranks of the "physically unfit."

This "massacre of the innocents" would soon cease if all mothers could and would suckle, or nurse, their own babies.

A baby fed naturally by its mother will be strong and healthy often amidst the most unfavourable surroundings, while, even in the most hygienic and up-to-date nurseries of the rich, the baby deprived of its mother's milk will be small and sickly.

As already stated in a previous article, the future life and health of every child is almost invariably determined during the first few months of its existence.

Under these circumstances, and with a rapidly falling birth-rate, the care and feeding of babies becomes a very important thing, not only to the mother, but to the nation as well. Dr. Cheadle calls it a matter of " national hygiene."

Of the great factors in the maintenance of health food is the most important as far as the baby is concerned.

We all need food to nourish and maintain the body, but with children there is the actual formation of new tissues, or, in other words, growth to be considered.

Nature's Diet

If, then, baby is to grow and be healthy and happy, it must be carefully and perfectly fed. It must have a food that will nourish, that will suit its immature digestion, and food which is pure, fresh, and free from contamination of dirt or disease.

Nature usually provides for baby, mother's milk, a ready and suitable food. It contains all the elements necessary for life and growth in the right proportion in an easily digested form; it presents no large quantities or hard masses; indeed, there is no food to compare with it.

Every mother, then, who can nurse her baby should make it her duty, as well as her pleasure, to do so, and, provided she is reasonably healthy, looks after herself properly, and feeds the baby at regular intervals, there is no reason why her milk should not amply suffice.

It is a well-known fact that breast-fed babies very rarely suffer from rickets, diarrhoea, convulsions, or any of the troubles which beset the baby brought up by hand.

Baby should be put to the breast as soon as possible after it is born, and should be fed regularly by the clock every two hours during the day, and three times during the night, for the first month of life.

During the second month baby should be fed every three hours during the day and twice during the night, and so on in proportion as the child grows older till weaning takes place.

Baby must be fed regularly. It must be taught to take its feed slowly, each meal taking fifteen minutes. The breasts should be used alternately, the contents of one being enough for a meal.

After a meal baby is generally placed in his cot or perambulator, and should be laid on his right side.

The mother will soon know if baby is thriving on the milk.

First, by increase in weight. Weight should increase by about four ounces per week, or one pound per month, from birth, and at birth the weight usually is about seven pounds.

Baby should be weighed regularly, and his weight noted on a chart or notebook kept for the purpose. If losing weight a doctor should be consulted at once.

Second: Baby will look rosy, with fine, firm flesh.

Third: It will be ready for meals, and will be generally contented, crowing, kicking, and stretching.

Fourth: The teeth will appear at the proper time.

Of course, to be able to do this the nursing mother must be very careful of herself for baby's sake. She should eat good, plain food, with milk and cocoa, or good oatmeal gruel, avoiding too much tea, and, unless ordered by the doctor, all alcoholic drinks.

She must avoid hot places of amusement, late hours, and worry or excitement.

Regularity in feeding is one of the great secrets of success, and baby must not be given food merely because he cries; this it probably does because already it has had too much.

Baby may be thirsty, and should be given a little pure water occasionally, especially during teething time.

The Mother who cannot Nurse her Baby

If, through ill-health or the exigencies of civilisation, a mother cannot nurse her baby she should consult her doctor.

In most cases cow's milk will have to be used, but as cow's milk was meant for the. calf, it is obvious that it must be modified before it can approach the human standard.

Comparing the two we find: (1) That the proteids in cow's milk are greatly in excess, especially the casein, or curd. This causes a hard curd to form in baby's stomach, differing in this respect very markedly from the light, flocculent curd of mother's milk.

(2) That cow's milk contains less lactose, or milk-sugar, than mother's, while the cream, or fat, is about the same.

(3) That mother's milk is fresh, alkaline, and sterile - that is, free from disease germs. By the time cow's milk reaches the purchaser it is often stale, acid, dirty, and leden with disease germs.

The first requisite is to get a pure milk, that is, reasonably free from bacteria. When the milk is brought direct from the cow to the baby it may be unnecessary to interfere with it. This would be excellent, as fresh milk possesses the fine anti-scorbutic property, which, when wanting, causes scurvy and rickets.

But the ordinary milk of commerce is anything but pure; it has been tumbled about in railway waggons and exposed in dusty places.

Under these circumstances the milk must be sterilised; otherwise it may bring disease and death to baby. Sterilisation can be effected simply by boiling, but to this there are objections. First, such milk is constipating. This, however, can be overcome by adding a small quantity of carbonate of magnesia to each bottle.

Second, boiling destroys the anti-scorbutic property of milk and causes a loss of pro-teid, which rises in a skim to the surface.

It is for these reasons milk is not sterilised, or Pasteurised, more often than it is.

Sterilisation And Pasteurisation

The best way to sterilise milk is to take a Sohxlet apparatus or a cruet frame of wire (this the local tinsmith will make), and into this frame to fit five bottles, each containing a feed. The bottles should be fitted with indiarubber caps and, when filled, placed in a saucepan with cold water. Then place the lid on the saucepan, bring the water to the boil, and leave it to boil for forty minutes.

Next lift out the frame or cruet containing the bottles, and cool rapidly by placing in ice-cold water.

To Pasteurise, proceed as for sterilisation; but, as soon as the water reaches a temperature of 1600 F., remove from fire, but leave unopened for twenty minutes, then cool down.

Modification Of Cow's Milk

To reduce the proteids it is usual to add thin, freshly made barley-water, in the proportion of one-third milk to two-thirds of barley-water, during the first month.

The proportion should be lessened as baby grows older. To increase the sweetness sugar must be added. This should always be sugar of milk, not cane sugar, which ferments and gives rise to discomfort and pain on the part of baby.

A little fresh cream, free from any preser-vative, should also be added, since fat is so essential in baby's dietary, helping to keep down rickets. This modified cow's milk, warmed to a temperature of 990 F., is now ready for baby.

The amount of food to be given varies with the age and capacity of baby, but most mothers make the mistake of giving too much, and this distends the child's stomach, causing pain and flatulence.

During 1st and 2nd week, 1 1/4 fluid ounces per feed.

During 1st month, 2 fluid ounces.

During 2nd month, 2 1/2 fluid ounces.

During 3rd month 3 fluid ounces.

During 4th and 5th months, 4 fluid ounces. And so on, increasing the amount of the feed slowly as the child grows and thrives.


Needless to say, bottles should be without tubes. The long rubber tube of the ordinary feeding-bottle is well named the " baby-killer." Its use has been made illegal in France and in several states of America.

The bottle used should be so shaped as to be easily cleansed, should have a teat on one end, and an opening to allow the entrance of air behind or above the milk.

When giving the milk the mother must hold the feeding-bottle, and see that the baby is carefully fed, neither choking nor dribbling. It is Wise to have two bottles. The one not in use should be cleansed and put into cold water containing a pinch of salt or boric acid. Bottles should be boiled at intervals.

Any milk left over from one meal should never be used for the next; it should be made fresh each time.

If this modified milk does not agree with baby after a fair trial, the doctor should be consulted. There are many patent foods for baby on the market, and some of these are good. It is unwise, however, to use any of them until a doctor has been consulted, as the food must be chosen with due regard to the infant's constitution,


Weaning depends on how the baby is thriving, and is usually indicated by the coming of the teeth. It should be done gradually, beginning with one meal a day other than milk. It should not be done during warm weather or if baby is suffering from infantile diarrhoea. Milk should form the largest item of the diet till the child is two years old.

Further articles of advice to mothers will appear in Every Woman's Encyclop∆dia.