We have heard many reputable physicians say that infant feeding is the hardest problem with which they have to deal. This despite the fact that about all the time spent in Medical Colleges, in the study of diet, is devoted to infant feeding.
Every old grandmother knows all there is to be known about the care and feeding of infants. She may have given birth to ten children and half of these may have succeeded in reaching maturity but this terrible death rate does not convince her that her pet superstitions about infant care are not "law and gospel." The fact is these people usually know about as little about caring for a baby properly as the physician does.
When we see or even think of the many senseless abuses to which many thousands of babies are forced to submit we do not wonder that the death rate among infants is so terribly high. A great part of these are actually killed--murdered. Many mothers feed their children so much and so often that the baby is in a constant state of discomfort or actual suffering. Every time it cries from this cause it is fed again. One soon comes to believe that babies are incapable of crying except when hungry. As the crying continues some soothing syrup, which invariably contains opium in some form, is given. Very often an alcoholic is administered and in many other ways baby is drugged.
Then there is a widespread superstition that if a mother allows the baby to "taste" some of each food she eats, her milk will not give baby the colic. We have seen many mothers begin feeding their babies in this way by the time they were a few weeks old and long before they were really capable of properly caring for such foods they were eating, corn, oatmeal, beans, meat, eggs, etc. Such crimes against infants would be tolerated by no stock raiser towards his young animals. He knows only too well that the consequences to the animals would be disastrous.
Dr. Tilden says: "if we ever get on to a rational plan of eating, children up to two years of age will be fed on an exclusive milk diet, with orange or other fruit or vegetable juices."
Certain it is that nature did not intend the baby to chew food until its teeth are sufficiently developed to perform this function. Since they reach this stage of development at from twenty to twenty-four months after birth, there seems to be no earlier need for "solid" foods. If earlier need for such foods exist why does nature not supply the needed chewing equipment at an earlier period?
The natural indications are for an exclusive milk diet for the first two years. We add fruit juices, not because there is any need for them in nature's scheme of things, but because in our unnatural life, we do not supply them with milk of proper quality. Soft fruits may be used before the teeth are fully developed, but only after they are sufficiently developed to enable the child to mash these up well.
Eminent medical authorities and child specialists write voluminously upon the feeding of infants and they go contrary to all of this; but if their advice is good, why the prevailing frightful infant mortality? Why the terrible amount of sickness and suffering in infants and children? Why the deformity and defects among our children? "By their fruits ye shall know them."
Investigations made in Boston a few years ago, showed that a breast-fed baby has six times the chance of living through the first year as a bottle-fed baby. Elsewhere I have shown the great percentage of infant deaths from gastro-intestinal disorders.. Less than ten percent of the cases of death from "diarrheal causes" occur in breast-fed babies, while ninety percent of all infantile deaths are in the bottle-fed babies.
Breast-fed babies have a better start in life. This can be given them by no other means. As a class they are more vigorous and healthy and are more resistent to disease than bottle-fed babies. They develop into better and stronger children.
If Nature has prepared milk for the young animal, it is quite obvious that milk is its natural diet, during the period in which it is provided. The fact that shows clearly and convincingly the splendid food value of milk is that during the period of most rapid growth, in the lives of mammals, milk is the sole food. So efficient is it as a food that a baby ordinarily will double its weight in 180 days with no other article of food. A calf or colt will double its weight in sixty days and a pig in ten to fifteen days on milk alone. It is equally apparent that the milk of the species to which any young animal belongs is the one best adapted to it. That this is very true in the case of human infants is amply demonstrated by the following facts.
Statistics complied by the Child Hygiene Association of Philadelphia covering 3,243,958 infants who died during their firsc year of life showed 50 out of every 100 bottle fed died during the first year of life, as compared to but seven deaths during their first year out of every one hundred breast-fed babies.