A few years ago, upon insufficient data, I conceived the notion thee every human infant should nurse from three to five full years, the time depending upon whether or not the child was born in the tropics or in the far north. My theory was simply that milk should constitute all or a large part of the child's diet until it has reached a definite stage in its physical development. I believe, also, that this period, during which the child or the animal should normally take milk, bears a definite relation to the length of time the animal requires to complete its physical development. Someday the ratio between the normal nursing period and the period of physical development will be worked out.

When this theory presented itself to my attention I began to search for evidence of it and also to find whether or not anyone else had ever presented this theory. I found Alfred McCann declaring (Physical Culture, March, 1919); "It is sufficient to declare, as a law, supported by incontrovertable evidence, that every child until its twelfth year, should receive on the average one quart of milk every day."

This, of course, I knew to be bunk. There is no such law. On the contrary, I declare it to be a law, supported by incontrovertable evidence, that every child will be weaned and its natural milk supply cut off long before its twelfth year. I have seen so many cases where children after the age of three or four years, have persistently refused all milk that I have become convinced that were the diet of the child otherwise all that it should be, every child would instinctively turn from milk at about this age. McCann, of course, is a laboratory man, pure and simple. He is a food chemist, but not a dietitian; nor is he a close student of nature.

Milo Hasting declared in an article in Physical Culture (The Extravagance of Meat), a few years before, that, "The natural period for nursing the human infant is three to four years. And as the mother rarely conceives during the nursing period she would under such circumstances only bear five or six children in her lifetime. Civilization shortened the nursing period with the aid of the cow and has now in many instances eliminated it altogether. Two results followed this change. First, our utter dependence upon the cow; second, the absolute need of birth control to prevent too frequent child bearing. Someday under a perfectly rational civilization the longer period of nursing the human infant may return, but there is little chance for it in our time and hence the cow is a necessity for the nutrition of our children."

Dr. Page said:-- "In the absence of particular circumstances compelling premature weaning, I believe that the Mother's milk, providing the mother be in fair health, and the babe evidently thriving on her milk, is the best food for the infant during the first eighteen months, and even until the end of the second year."

Thus I found that my idea was not new, but neither of these men offered any evidence to support their views. Dr. Page offered his view as a belief, while Mr. Hastings presented his just as though it is generally known that the longer nursing period is the natural one. There are a few students who know that the three to four or five year nursing period is the normal period for the human infant, but the layman and most, if not all physicians are ignorant of this face. Dr. Felix Oswald (Physical Education, Page 29), had declared that "the appearance of the eye-teeth (cuspids) and lesser molars marks the end of the second year as the period when healthy children may be gradually accustomed to semi-fluid vegetable substance. Till then, milk should form their only sustenance. But mothers whose employment does not interfere with their inclination in this respect may safely nurse their children for a much longer period."

In support of this he says:--"The wives of the sturdy Argyll peasants rarely wean a bairn before its claim is disputed by the next youngster and the stoutest urchin of five years I ever saw was the son of a Cervian widow, who still took him to her breast like a baby."

So far as I can learn from my researches, the long nursing period, three to five years, is universal among those people who have not learned to substitute the mother with a cow or a goat. A few examples will suffice.