This section of the book is from the "Household Companion: The Family Doctor" book
Let the clothing of infants, from birth, be warm enough and loose enough for comfort. No tight bands should ever be put on them. Some parent*, in over-anxiety about cold, put on three times as much as is needed, and then shut all their chamber and nursery windows and doors, with big, hot fires; wondering, then, that their babies are fretful, get skin diseases all over, and often seem to catch cold almost every time they are taken out.
Babies resist actual cold less safely than older persons; but just enough clothing is always better than too much for them. And they do not need to have the rooms they live in any warmer than we do say 68° to 700 Fahr. usually. They are also more hurt by close, foul air than grown people are.
When they are old enough to wear short clothes, a common mistake has been of an opposite kind: to leave their arms and legs bare; they are so pretty thus ! But many an attack of croup and of inflammation of the lungs, sometimes fatal, has followed such exposure in a chilly atmosphere. Children should have no less protection of their limbs from cold than men and women. Even though, when healthy and active, they do not seem to feel it; it is not safe.
Very important is the changing of clothes with infants. When their thighs are wet, and all next to them is soiled, they should be changed at once, always. Neglect of this may cause chafing of the skin, very disturbing to the child, and sometimes as bad as a burn. A soft sponge is, when the skin is tender, better than a rag or towel; but a sponge must be well cleansed every time, with soap and hot water, to be used again. Dusting with a little " pat" filled with fine starch or arrow-root powder is very soothing and protective.
When the skin has become sore about the thighs, the child will show it by a sharp cry on wetting itself. Redness also, as well as tenderness to the touch, will be found on examining it. Then tallow, cold cream (of the apothecary), or oxide of zinc ointment, should be applied gently every night and morning (or oftener if need be) after changing it. The worst cases, such as come only from considerable neglect, may need to be treated like burns, with soft rags, wet with lime-water and sweet oil (equal parts, mixed), and covered with oiled silk.
Babies, as well as adults, should have the head kept cool, and the feet warm. Out of doors, a cap is all right thick or light according to the season; but there is no need of any cap being worn in the house. They are better without it.
A frequent trouble is with the bed-covers at night. First, never forget that covering ■makes no warmth of itself, It only keeps (by non-conduction) what warmth the body has of its own. So, if a baby is put cold into a cold bed, especially if it be sick, it may scarcely get warm all night. In that case the bed clothing should be warmed first; by passing a hot flat iron under and over it; or, for an ill baby, keeping a warm brick or bottle or tin of hot water in the bed while needed.
Restless children will often fling and kick the bed-covers all off at night; and this exposes them to taking cold. Watching them all night is hard service. Much better will be the canton-flannel night-gown, sewn up tight (like mittens) at the ends of the hands and feet. If they do throw everything else off, this will keep them still pretty warm.
Must infants always wear flannels in the daytime? Delicate ones certainly should, in our climate; thick (though soft) flannel in winter, and light flannel in summer time. When an infant shows itself, at two or three years of age, to be hardy, its summer flannel may be left off safely. Silk, or merino, will do for all but weakly children.