This section is from the book "Practical Dietetics With Special Reference To Diet In Disease", by William Gilman Thompson. Also available from Amazon: Practical Dietetics with Special Reference to Diet in Disease.
With regard to infant nursing, it is never sufficient to give general directions about an infant's food. The physician should supervise the exact mode of its preparation, and order both the quantity to be given and the intervals at which it is to be given.
Mothers seldom know what is best for their infants in these matters.
It is therefore well to explain to them fully the facts as to the proper hours for feeding and the amount of food required, and also to give them some idea of the size of the infant stomach, for many have a vague idea that the word "stomach" includes almost the entire abdominal cavity.
Rotch gives the following table of capacities of infant stomachs:
1. Premature 8 months' infant ............... 8 cubic centimetres.
2. Infant 5 days old....................... 25-30 " "
3. Infant 4 weeks old...................... 75 " "
4. Infant 8 " " ...................... 96 "
5. Infant 16 " " ...................... 107 "
6. Infant 20 " " ...................... 108 "
It is advisable to show the mother or nurse an empty bottle representing the capacity of the infant's stomach, in order to impress upon her the danger of overloading it.
It is sometimes said that overfeeding kills more babies than starvation, and certainly it is responsible for a large proportion of the ailments of early infancy, such as gastric catarrh and diarrhoea. This is especially true in summer, when the fretful-ness of the child, which is often mistaken for hunger, may be due to thirst, the external temperature, too warm clothing, or indigestion. At such times Holt advises reducing the bulk of each meal by one quarter and giving the infant more water to drink, for, as he says, infants, like adults, require less food in excessively hot weather.
It is difficult to impress mothers with the fact that milk should never be given to soothe a baby's fretfulness merely, and "unmethodical and improper feeding is quite as bad as feeding with improper aliments" (Adams).
The new-born infant secretes ptyalin only from the parotid glands. After the second month the amylolytic ferments are secreted from other glands, namely, the submaxillary and the pancreas. Not until the sixth month, however, or the period of teething, are these ferments strong enough to enable the infant to digest much starch.
Infants may be given their food in one of five ways: I. By mother's milk. II. By milk from a wet nurse. III. By bottle feeding. IV. By mixed feeding - i. e., when the mother's or nurse's milk is supplemented by bottle feeding. V. By gavage.
There is no room for doubt that infants brought up on breast milk are stronger and better able to remain in good health and resist disease than those who are hand fed, for no infant food has ever been devised which is as satisfactory as good mother's milk.
This method is unquestionably better for the infant in all cases where it is feasible than any method of artificial feeding. In lands without cow's milk, such as Japan or the arctic regions, infants are singularly free from digestive disorders. Artificial feeding, if carelessly performed, is full of dangers to the infant. Statistics might be cited indefinitely, showing the relative high mortality rate among artificially fed infants. For example: In Munich, the mortality rate has been 15 for breast-fed infants, against 85 for those artificially fed; and in England, 42 per cent of the infant mortality is due to digestive disorders, largely among the artificially fed.