In all cases where the mother can nurse her child with safety, she should certainly do so, as the mortality among infants thus nourished is far less than among those who are "brought up by hand," as it is termed. At times, however, from a variety of causes, such as the non-secretion of the mother's milk, disease or death, it is necessary to administer food. In these cases a healthy wet-nurse should be obtained if possible, if not, the food should resemble that of the mother's milk as nearly as possible.
The following analysis of several kinds of milk may guide us in a proper selection.
Sugar of milk
We perceive from this analysis, that woman's milk is the poorest of all, but that it contains most saccharine matter; next to this comes ass's milk. In choosing our substitute we should either prefer the one, which approaches nearest the natural food of the child or endeavor to modify the difference, in what we do take. Thus, a large proportion of water and sugar should be added to cow's milk, a less amount of each to goat's milk, etc.
Cow's milk is generally used on account of its being more readily obtained than most of the varieties. It should be obtained perfectly fresh, from one cow if possible, sweetened, diluted at first with two-thirds water, reducing the quantity of water after a week, or two, to one-half, and again in a short time to one-third, at which strength the child can be fed for four or five months, after which, if it is active, the milk can be given undiluted.
The utmost attention should be paid not only to the temperature of the milk, but to cleanliness. The food should be as nearly as possible the temperature of the mother's milk, at 96° or 98°. The water should be heated and poured on the milk, and in no case should the food thus prepared be heated for use a second time.
A variety of sucking-bottles are used, fitted with an artificial nipple, pierced with small holes. The nipple can be made of sponge, covered with a rag, chamois leather, folds of linen and a variety of materials. The sucking-bottle should never be put aside without, together with the nipple, being thoroughly washed with hot water. This may seem an excess of care, but there is far less trouble in doing things properly than in listening to the cries of the child or in watching by its sick-bed.
After taking its food, the child naturally in the earlier periods of its life feels an inclination to sleep. In this it should be indulged, for if tossed about and purposely kept awake, it will almost surely suffer from indigestion. I have often seen the nurse, after having fed the child, place it on her knees and trot it with an energy as if its life depended on having the contents of its stomach well churned, and have heartily wished, that immediately after dinner she could be placed on some machine, where she might receive a practical lesson in the beauties of trotting.
Sometimes after the first month or two, milk seems to disagree with the child. In this case it may be mixed with well boiled arrow root, sago, farina, or well baked and toasted bread. A very excellent food is "bread jelly." A quantity of the soft part of a loaf is broken up, and boiling water being poured on it, it is covered and allowed to steep for some time; the water is then strained off completely, and fresh water added, and the whole placed on the fire and allowed to boil slowly for some time, until it becomes smooth; the water is then pressed out, and the bread on cooling forms a thick jelly, a portion of which is to be mixed with milk, or water and sugar, for use as it is wanted.
The steeping in hot water, and the subsequent boiling, removes all the noxious matters used in making the bread.
Arrow-root made with water alone, or with milk and sugar is very good food; but as it is somewhat astringent, it is more particularly suited to cases where the bowels are relaxed, in such cases also, boiled milk, or boiled rice and milk, may be given. Pap or panada, and gruels made in the usual way, also form a very good variety of food.
Not unfrequently a change from its usual food to some of the above articles, produces a speedy change in the movements of the bowels. In poor and weak children, weak chicken tea, or beef tea, may be required.