There are certain leading characteristics of a normal, healthy, well-nourished child which every parent should familiarize himself with; for, a lack of such conditions indicates an impairment of health. Such are the following evidences of health:
Mental alertness, brightness.
Cheerfulness and a contented disposition.
Bright, sparkling, wide-open eyes.
A good appetite.
Absence of vomiting and regurgitation of food.
Normal bowel movements, with normal color and consistency. Very little crying.
A steady gain in weight, from healthy growth and not from the fat-disease.
Firm elastic flesh with springy muscles.
Perfect, sound continuous sleep, with eyes and mouth closed. Sound sleep all night.
Constant growth in height, and intelligence, with an increase in circumference from healthy growth.
Symmeterical development of muscular and not fatty tissue. A clear skin with a "peaches and cream" complexion.
An absence of emaciation.
No evidences of pain or discomfort.
A normal rate of development as set forth in the Chapter on Baby's Development.
The signs of impaired health in children are quite numerous. There are various symptoms of disease which are so nearly universal in civilized life that ignorance calls them natural or normal. The universal fat-bloat, and the common habit of spitting are among these. Here is a list of the earlier manifestations of impaired health in infants:
Mental dullness, stupidity.
Crossness, fretfulness, irritableness, and discontent.
Dull, half-closed eyes.
Pasty or muddy complexion.
Lack of appetite--indifference to food.
Vomiting and regurgitation of food.
Flautulence with eructations of gas and with gas from the bowels, with usually a strong odor.
Diarrhea--loose watery stools, green or other abnormal color,
with milk curds in the stools. Stools have strong odor.
Colds in the head," "stuffing up," "snuffles."
Much fretting and crying.
A loss of weight, even emaciation.
Disturbed sleep. Sleep not sound or continuous. Does not sleep all night.
Grunting and crying in sleep. Hard to put to sleep at night.
Restlessness. Hard to take care of.
Pain and discomfort.
Congestion (excessive redness) of cheeks.
Mouth open while sleeping.
Slow or arrested growth.
Lack of symmetry in development.
Soft, flabby muscles.
A too slow, or perhaps too rapid, development, as set forth in the chapter on Baby's Development.
Purging, wetting, nose-running and drooling attest to nature's efforts to get rid of the excess, in food salivated infants. "If a child is awake and fretful, apparently demanding food every two hours or oftener," says Dr. Tilden, "that child is sick, and should be dealt with accordingly."
It is the overfed infant whose inflamed stomach has a never-ceasing craving for food or something to appease the "gnawing" sensation in its stomach. It is such an infant that develops the morbid, dyspeptic appetite, which always demands more food.
Red cheeks, commonly considered a sign of health, are evidences of plethora and irritation and denote a predisposition to febrile diseases. It is a congestion of the cheeks and is no more a sign of good health than are the flushed cheeks of pneumonia.
The first signs of approaching troubles in a child are usually
fretfulness and irritability. There is often an indifference to food
and then, in a short time, a rise in temperature. There is usually a
"running nose," also. The child becomes listless and desires
to lay down. From this time on, if feeding is continued, the child
grows very sick. If drugging and feeding are kept up, what might
otherwise have been but a brief and slight indisposition, may easily
become a serious disease, even ending in death.