To destroy the smell is not to destroy the danger; certainly not! The right way to do away with the danger is to remove the cause, and the effect will cease. Flushing a sewer is far more efficacious than disinfecting one. Soap and water, the scrubbing brush, sunshine and thorough ventilation, each and all are far more beneficial than either permanganate of potash, chloride of zinc or chloride of lime. People in these times think too much of disinfectants, and too little of removal of causes; they think too much of artificial, and too little of natural means.
Not only should the ventilation of the house be well looked after, but it ought to be ascertained that the drains are in good and perfect order, that the privies are frequently emptied of their contents, and that neither drain fluid nor privy fluid communicates, in any way whatever, with the supply of drinking water. Bad drainage and overflowing privies are fruitful sources of child-bed fever, gastric fever, scarlatina, diphtheria, cholera and a host of other infectious, contagious and dangerous diseases. It is an abominable practice to allow dirt to fester near human habitations.
Look well to the purity of the well water and ascertain that no drain either enters, percolates, or contaminates it in any way whatever. If it should do so, disease, such as cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, diphtheria, scarlet fever or gastric fever, will, as a matter of course, ensue. If there is the slightest danger or risk of drain contamination, whenever it is practicable, let the drain be taken up and examined, and the defect carefully rectified. When it is impracticable to have the drain taken up and examined, then always boil the water before using. The boiling of water, as experience teaches, has the power either of destroying or making innocuous the specific organic faecal life poison, which propagates in drain contamination the diseases above enumerated.
The water from the drive well is far superior to water from the old pump well; the water from the former is always pure, while from the latter it is usually most impure.
IF IT is ascertained, past all doubt, that a mother cannot nurse her child, then a healthy wet nurse should be procured, as the food which nature has supplied is superior to any invented by art. Never bring up a baby, if you can possibly avoid it, on artificial food. It is impossible to imitate, perfectly, the admirable and subtle chemistry of nature. The law of nature is, that a babe, for the first few months of his existence, shall be brought up by the breast; and Nature's law cannot be broken with impunity. In selecting a wet nurse, I would inquire particularly into the state of her health; whether she is of a healthy family, of consumptive habits, or if she or any of her family have the scrofula, ascertaining if there are any seams or swellings about her neck; any eruptions or blotches upon her skin; if she has a plentiful breast of milk, and if of good quality; if she has good nipples, sufficiently long for the baby to hold; that they are not sore; and if her own child is of the same or nearly of the same age as the one you wish her to nurse.
The nursery ought to be the largest and most airy room in the house. In town, if it is the top story (providing the apartment is large and airy) so much the better, as the air will then be purer. The architect, in the building of a house, ought to be particularly directed to pay attention to the space, the loftiness, the ventilation, the light, the warming, and the conveniences of a nursery. A bathroom attached to it will be of great importance and benefit to the health of a child.
The ventilation of a nursery is of paramount importance. There ought to be a constant supply of fresh pure air in the apartment. But how few nurseries have fresh, pure air? Many nurseries are nearly hermetically sealed - the windows are seldom, if ever, opened; the doors are religiously closed; and, in summer time, the chimneys are carefully stuffed up, so that a breath of air is not allowed to enter. The consequences are that the poor unfortunate children are poisoned by their own breaths, and are made so delicate that they are constantly catching cold; indeed, it may be said that they are laboring under chronic catarrhs, all arising from Nature's laws being set at defiance.
A child ought not to be permitted to sit with his back to the fire; it weakens the spine, and thus the whole frame; it causes a rush of blood to the head and face and predisposes him to colds. Pure air and pure water, let me add, pure milk, are the grand and principal requirements of health for a child.
Look well to the drainage of the house and neighborhood. A child is very susceptible to the influence of bad drainage. Bad drains are fruitful sources of scarlet fever, diphtheria, diarrhea, etc.
Do not have the nursery wall covered with green paper hangings. Green paper hangings contain large quantities of arsenic - arsenite of copper - which is a virulent poison, and which flies about the room in the form of powder. There is another great objection to having your nursery walls covered with green paper hangings; if any of the paper should become loose from the walls a little child is very apt to play with it, and to put it, as he does everything else, into his mouth.