Children should sleep in nightgowns, which should be changed as often as twice a week.
During the hot weather, when the days and nights are warm, as they are in many of the southern and central states, babies should not be overdressed. They should sleep under light covering. When the nights are pleasantly cool, they should sleep in pajamas with closed bottoms at the feet.
In very hot weather, babies should be dressed as lightly as possible. To go almost naked is a great comfort to children in hot weather; but when cold weather comes they should have sufficient clothing to keep from chilling.
Clothing that children wear should be of a washable nature--not too heavy. Why should a child be overclothed in a warm house? The feet of children should be watched, and kept dry and warm. Overshoes for winter weather should always be used, and the overclothing should be heavy enough to protect them from the weather. I do not advocate wool next to the skin. Cotton or linen is good enough. Underwear is not necessary. Care for the skin, and teach it to be a protector and not to need protection.
Overheated houses and overclothing cause enervation of the skin; and an enervated skin does not protect the body well. The clothing in the home and schoolhouse, if well heated, should be light even in winter; and then, when the children go out of doors, the outer clothing may be of a much heavier weight--long overcoats and high overshoes and leggings, if they are to play in the snow.
Children should wear long stockings in cold climates. It is all right to have them wear short socks in a temperate climate all the year around, but in the colder climates the long stockings should be used when the weather begins to get cold.
Mothers who are aware of the fact that they are not strong and that consequently their children are not strong, should give their children more careful attention than the mother who knows that she is husky and her children are husky. Too many mothers try to harden their children after they have a bad start at birth. There is so much difference between children that different rules of care must be applied to different families.
All young children must be watched carefully, to see that they do not chill at night; or, for that matter, they must not chill at any time, day or night. If a child is to thrive, it must be kept warm. To allow a sick or frail child to chill every day will eventually kill it, no matter how good care it may receive otherwise. The feet should be felt frequently, to make sure that they are warm. Artificial heat should be used, if necessary. Even in the summer time the feet may chill without artificial heat. A woolen blanket should be used to wrap the feet in when there is danger of chilling. A sickly child has no power to warm its own body, and it must be warmed artificially.
The baby's napkins should be changed as soon as they are wet. When the napkin is removed, the body should be sponged and cleansed wherever the parts are wet. The napkins should always be washed before they are used again. To use a napkin that has been wet with urine and dried without washing causes a great deal of skin irritation. Cleanliness will cure all skin irritations of this kind.
Perfume or talcum powders with a decided odor should not be used; for such odors cover the body odors and often mislead. The odor of the body is a sign which mothers need in caring for their babies. It is all right to use a little plain cream on the irritated parts after washing thoroughly, and a little plain talcum powder; but do not overdo this.
Poised mothers reflect this quality in their children. Mothers who have no self-control and no poise should not expect to have poised children. The habit of poise should be formed long before conception, and then continued during the nursing period and on through maturity.