Light for the Nursery
Baby is at last counted worthy to share with its elders the advantages of all the health-giving devices of the twentieth century, and the deplorable remark, " What a pity to turn this fine room into a nursery! " is now but rarely heard.
This is as it should be, for it is as impossible to rear fine, healthy children in dark, airless rooms as it is to rear healthy plants in out-of-the way corners, inaccessible to sun and air.
No matter whether engaged in the momentous task of preparing the nursery for its first tiny occupant, or whether it is already overflowing with little olive-branches, see, at all events, that the aspect and position of this all-important room is as good as it can be.
Never mind which way the spare room faces, or how many steps lead up to it, but choose a south or south-west aspect for the children; for, no matter how costly and hygienic the fittings, a sunless room facing north will never make a healthy nursery.
The excuse is made sometimes that a sunny room is too hot in summer, and makes its youthful inmates pale and listless. This is certainly the case. But our English summers are, alas ! too short; and even if the nursery cannot be changed during the heat, at all events some other room can often be temporarily given up, or, best of all, the children kept in shade and shelter out in the open air.
If it can be managed, the nursery ought not to overlook the street - a quiet room is very necessary - and never be persuaded to " sky the little ones. Have you ever noticed that in hundreds of homes the window-bars that denote the position of the nurseries are often on the highest story, in order to banish childish voices and restless feet as much as possible ?
Now, rooms at the top of a house are often less lofty, have smaller windows, gain additional heat and cold from proximity to the roof, and last, but not least, receive all the used-up air from the lower rooms, because heated, impure air rises. Cramped nursery quarters are very undesirable.
The size of a room for a nurse and one child should not be less than fourteen or fifteen feet square, and eleven or twelve feet high.* Where this is quite unattainable, take extra precautions to ensure good ventilation.
Pure air, fresh air, is as important for children as food. True, they may live in vitiated air that has been breathed in and out and contaminated by other human beings, but only at the expense of mental and physical health. Well-ventilated rooms are easily secured in quite simple ways.
Firstly, there must be an open chimney in the room, for this acts as a most efficient ventilating shaft. Therefore, the register must never be closed, or the chimney blocked in any way.
Secondly, direct that the upper sashes of the windows are left open night and day - and see the order is carried out.
If the weather is too inclement or there is any special reason against doing this, have ready for such an emergency a piece of wood the width of the window and about four inches deep.
A nursery frieze that would delight children
Open the lower sash, fit in the piece of wood, shut the window down on to it, and a space will be left between the upper and lower sashes in the vicinity of the fasteners through which the outer air will rise without draught.
Never imagine that fresh air means draughts through badly-fitting windows and ill-laid floors. If these exist, tack the indiarubber tubing made for the purpose, and costing but a few pence per yard, under the doors, etc., and fill cracks in the floor with putty or cement.
Nursery windows should be protected by outside iron bars, for children simply love to look out, and in no other way can their safety be ensured. Supposing bars are not possible for some reason, hammer a strong nail into the window frame above the lower sash, so that it cannot be raised more than about six inches.
The most hygienic plan is to have the nursery windows free from blinds, as, with the exception of the Venetian variety, they all exclude air, and the latter, alas ! are veritable dust-traps unless constantly washed.
Still, it is convenient to be able to screen the windows at times, in order to soften the light or make the room cosy in winter; so soft casement cloth curtains, in tints to harmonise with the room, are often used, for they wash perfectly, and only need to be plainly ironed.
Perhaps the greatest favourite for nursery-wall coverings is some form of washable distemper, or enamelled paint in pale tints, with decorative bands or friezes of paper made in designs of quaint figures, animals, birds, etc., affording the youngsters something bright and entertaining to look at during meals or rainy days.