Every mother should, if she can, nourish her own child, from her own breast. This is nature's law, as well as the law of love.
Some mothers, unfortunately, cannot furnish nourishment for their offspring. Either they have no milk, or very little, so little that a child cannot live on it; or they are in such feeble health that it will risk their lives to afford it; or indisposition may make their milk unfit, unsafe for nourishment. What then ?
The usual resort is to the bottle. First, however, ascertain whether the mother has not some good milk, even though not enough. If she has half enough (as is the case with quite a number) let her give the babe the benefit of this, if it lasts, until the child has passed through the most of its teething, or at least has weathered its first summer. Let her nurse it two or. three times in the day and evening, and give it (or have given to it) the bottle for the rest of the time.
Indeed, it is a good plan, under all circumstances, for a child six months old to learn to use bottle-food, so as to make the change more easy later, especially if illness or some other cause should oblige the mother to wean it suddenly.
This never should be sudden, if it can be helped. If a mother can nurse her infant a full year, it will be well; if eighteen months, still better. When she has, up to two years, half enough for it, let it get what it can from her, and eke out the rest with outside nourishment. Never let a child be weaned in summer if it can be helped.
The bottle is vastly better than the spoon. It imitates nature better ; it allows the food to go more slowly into the stomach; and it gives the infant desirable exercise in taking it. Get a glass bottle, holding about half a pint, with a rubber nipple, but without a tube. Two bottles, or at least two nipples, will be well to have, for alternate use and thorough cleansing of both. For a babe less than a month old, half a bottle at once will do for a meal. In a few months, it will readily take nearly or quite a whole one, several times a day. A child six months old can, and ought to, appropriate three pints of milk or more in twenty-four hours. Remember a child has to grow as well as to live. When too much has been swallowed, it will often (and had better) be thrown up. If it be milk, this is then usually curdled. Untaught persons are frightened at this ; but the fact is that milk is always curdled at the beginning of digestion. The natural acid of the stomach acts upon it.
After each time of use, the bottle ought to be scalded (that is, washed out with hot water) ; in summer time, or where the child is delicate, an added precaution is to add soda to the water with which it is cleansed.