The time of weaning, anticipated with so much dread by anxious mothers, must be governed by circumstances. Some women are not able to suckle but a few months, while others continue it for two or three years. I know a lady, now a venerable grand-mother, who nursed a child, now a strong athletic man, until he was so large that he was able to stand by her side and nurse. When visitors were present, a little ashamed to indulge in his favorite practice before them, he would call his mother out of the room, as if he had something of importance to tell, when he would commence nursing.
As a general thing, the child should not be weaned earlier than nine months, or later than twelve months. By this time it will generally be provided with teeth, although sometimes they are not developed until the child is eighteen or twenty months of age. Should, however, there be a non-sufficiency of milk, or the health of the mother suffer, weaning can take place at* any time. It should in no case be continued, when it is apparent that it is injurious to the mother. Weaning should not take place, if it can be avoided, when the infant is unwell, or when suffering severely from teething, or during the warm weather of summer. It is best, generally, that the weaning shall be gradual, accustoming the child, before it is entirely deprived of the breast, to be fed with the spoon.
After the child is weaned, its diet should still be of a fluid or soft character, gradually changing as the system requires. Milk, thickened with arrow-root, sago, farina, bread, gruel, crackers pulverized in warm water and slightly sweetened, will at first constitute its principal diet. Regularity now in administering its food, is of equal importance, as in the earlier or later periods of life, and the child should not be accustomed to be fed 17 whenever it cries, or is uneasy, unless there are signs that the uneasiness or crying is caused by hunger. If the child is really hungry, it should be fed, but in those cases a piece of bread will not be rejected, as it probably will in case the appetite is artificial, and only for nice things.