Baby Ailments - Vomiting, Constipation, Diarrhoea
The mother who attends to the directions given in the previous articles for feeding baby ought not to have any trouble with his food. Following exactly the quantities, number of feeds, and other details given in the Chart on page 2416, she cannot go very far wrong in infant feeding. Any troubles will be minor ones if baby is a healthy infant receiving proper mothering. Nearly all the troubles of early infancy are connected with the feeding, and this is why several articles are being devoted to this subject.
If the child shows regular gain in weight of four or five ounces a week during the first few months, absence of indigestion, the signs of which are crying after food, diarrhoea, and vomiting, and freedom from anaemia and rickets, the mother can rest content that baby's diet is agreeing with him. Baby's ailments will be considered in a later article.
At this point we shall deal simply with the commonest troubles which are apt to arise in connection with feeding. The chief of these are indigestion, constipation, diarrhoea. When baby cries and is fretful, either he is not having sufficient food - when the cry is more likely to be whining or impatient - or he is suffering from colic, due to indigestion. In the latter case the cry is more of a scream, and the knees are drawn up as the child suffers from flatulence, and later there is perhaps some degree of diarrhoea. It is at this stage that the doctor's advice should be sought, as the mother who has not had any real practical training in baby manage-ment cannot be expected to know exactly what is necessary. It is fatal to fly to" drugs because baby's food is not agreeing with him. Ten chances to one the wrong medicine will be given, and even although it may appear to cure the flatulence or indigestion' for the time being it only soothes the symptoms, and does not in any way effect a cure.
The wise mother follows carefully her Chart directions, and remains satisfied if baby gains in weight, eats, and sleeps quietly, and cries no more than the ordinary healthy, and perhaps impatient, baby is expected to do. Then if the child does not gain steadily his quarter of a pound of weight per week, even if he looks well and seems to take his food well, the doctor should be consulted.
What is the Matter with Baby
His food may be too hot or too cold.
Perhaps he is having too much food. Over-feeding is commoner than under-feeding, and mothers are too anxious to give too much milk, thinking that the child will grow more rapidly as a result. The meals should always be measured in a graduated glass or a graduated bottle, and any milk left by the child should immediately be thrown away.
Perhaps baby is allowed to dawdle over his meals, or the little hole in the teat is too small for him to suck through. The boiling of the teat sometimes makes the hole smaller, in which case it may be enlarged by heating a clean darning-needle and passing it into the hole.
Baby is perhaps getting his milk too quickly, probably because the hole in the teat is too large. In that case a new teat will have to be purchased. Two teats, two valves, as well as two bottles, should be kept in use at one time. If the boiling of the teats and valves seems extravagant - certainly they do not last so long when they are boiled once a day - hygienic principles will be satisfied if they are cleansed in boiling water before and after use.
When baby is fretful the mother should always make sure that he is quite warm. Cold feet, for example, will upset a child whose only method of showing that he is miserable and chilled is by crying. In the same way the bath may be too cold and the child not dressed quickly enough afterwards, or in cold weather the nursery may be draughty and the child may require an extra shawl.
Sometimes the opposite condition prevails. Baby is over-clothed, and his head perspires, making him really more liable to chill than if he is kept just properly warm. As soon as possible the head flannels should be dispensed with, and the child accustomed to go about the house with the head uncovered.
If baby is sick immediately after a meal it means that the stomach has too much food in it. "An infant's stomach is a very tiny organ, which can be over-filled and distended with a small cupful of fluid. Vomiting is an indication that the child should have less food at each meal. Sometimes the vomiting does not occur immediately, but later, and is associated with pain or colic, and perhaps diarrhoea, with greenish motions. In this case a teaspoonful of castor oil should be given, and the child should have less food for a time, as he is unable to digest what he is having.
Constipation sometimes occurs when baby is on the bottle, and even when naturally fed by the mother. In such a case the best treatment is to add a little fresh cream to the bottle, and an occasional dose of fluid magnesia may be given. When baby is a little older a small piece of fresh butter or a quarter of a tea-spoonful of olive oil makes a natural aperient by increasing the fat in the food.
If the diarrhoea is acute the milk ought to be stopped, and baby kept on white of egg and water. Diarrhoea is an extremely dangerous ailment, and a baby should always be under the care of a doctor as soon as possible.