Having already treated of the diet proper for infants, under the article Food, and of their amuse-- ments, under the head of Exercise, we shall at present offer only a few remarks, chiefly relating to their dress.
The most fatal period to infants is, doubtless, during the two first years of their existence; for it has frequently been observed, that greater numbers die under that age. than at any subsequent stage of life. This mortality is supposed principally to arise from the erroneous practice of confining their tender bodies, as soon as they behold the light, by means of tight bandages, so that neither the bowels nor limbs have sufficient liberty to act, in the easy manner designed by Nature.- Another cause, which especially operates in country places, is the pernicious custom of feeding them with butter and sugar, oil of almonds, or similar unwholesome preparations.—See vol. ii. p. 319; the article Food.
In order to obviate the abuses before mentioned, the infant's dress should be so contrived, that it be neither too warm nor too tight, and that not only the influence of the air may have its full effect, but also the motion of the body be duly facilitated. Hence a roller, about six or seven inches broad, should be made, either of linen or woollen cloth, as the season may require, though a knitted bandage would be far preferable; as, from its more elastic nature, it may with less pressure or constraint be turned round its body. It would be superfluous to enumerate the other parts of the upper dress, as every judicious parent will readily accommodate it to age and circumstances. The head should be lightly covered; and, while travelling, in cold or hot weather, a cap or hat may be safely used, but again laid aside, as soon as the infant returns to the house, or to a mild temperature, where every compression of the head is useless, and frequently hurtful.—Indeed, the whole dress ought to be as loose as possible, because ruptures, and other fatal consequences, often originate from a contrary treatment.
Stockings are by many considered as unnecessary articles of the dress of infants; yet, as our offspring is not intended to go bare-legged, when adults, we conceive no reason for depriving them of proper hose, especially if they can be kept dry, and be adapted to the length of the foot, both in the winter and summer; though such covering will be more useful in the former season: their shoes also ought to be sufficiently wide.—See Foot.
From the first moment of their existence, infants are liable to the attacks of disease. It deserves, however, to be remarked, that the descendants of sedentary, idle, nervous, or weak persons, are chiefly exposed; while those of the peasant and husbandman, being early inured to fatigue and hardships, are not only more healthy, but also less reduced by occasional indisposition, and better able to bear externa, injuries.—We cannot, in this place, enter into any details respecting the management of infantine disorders, as they are discussed in the alphabetical series. (See also vol. i. p. 257, Vitiated bite): hence we shall conclude these remarks with adding, that, 1. The dress of children ought materially to differ from that of adults: 2, No distinction' ought to be made in the dress of either sex during the first years of infancy; and, 3. Let the dress of children be clean and simple, but never too warm.—See also Sleet.