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Infants' Food

Source: Papers On Health

For infants who cannot be nursed at the breast, cows'
milk in the "bottle" is the best substitute. But all milk used from the
cow should be sterilised and cooled before use. That is unless it is
found on trial that the child thrives better on unsterilised milk. It
is not necessary to have "one cow's milk;" but it is important to have
the milk adapted in strength to the infant's need. If the milk be too
rich, the infant will often break out into spots, or will vomit. A
little more boiling water in the bottle mixture will remedy this, and
often prevent serious trouble. The same proportion of water and milk
will not always do. One dairy's milk, and even one cow's milk, differs
from another; and so does the digestive power of infants. We have to
find out that strength of milk to suit our own baby, and not be led
astray by the advice of other mothers. In health the young infant does
not require food oftener than every two hours, sometimes even every
three. It may cry because of cold, wet, or discomfort, not from want of
food. To overload the stomach with food is harmful and leads to serious
disorders. Its food requires a certain time for digestion, even in an
infant, and as the child grows, the intervals between meals ought to be

A good mixture is two parts of cow's milk to one of water. To every
pint of this add four teaspoonfuls of sugar, and a tablespoonful of
cream. Barley water may be used instead of common water. The water
should be boiling, and should be poured into the milk. The bottle
should be thoroughly cleansed, and boiled in boiling water before
re-filling. It must be remembered that the saliva does not possess the
property of turning starch into sugar till the child is six months old;
therefore starchy food, such as bread, arrowroot, etc., should on no
account be given before that age. Preparations for weaning may then
begin, by giving the child small quantities of oatmeal jelly and
milk, or even of porridge and milk, so that the weaning comes on
gradually. The time of nursing should not exceed nine months. If,
however, a child afterwards be ill, there is no harm in going back for
a time to the bottle, even at two years old. Common sense must guide,
and not hard-and-fast rule. Easily assimilated food must ever be
chosen; and as a food for children, oatmeal porridge, well boiled,
holds the first place--far before bread sops. If porridge be not easily
digested, try oatmeal jelly. Most of the infant foods so largely
advertised cannot be recommended.

* * * * *

It is now suspected that tuberculosis is transmitted to children mainly
from the milk of cows affected with this disease. Cows are exceedingly
liable to tuberculous disease of the udder. It is therefore very
difficult to get milk guaranteed free from the tubercle bacillus, and
recent examinations of that coming into Manchester and Liverpool showed
that from 18 to 29 per cent. contained this deadly germ. (Strange to
say, tubercular disease of the mother's breast is practically unknown,
and children never derive the disease from their mother's milk.) It is
therefore of the greatest importance that only the milk of cows proved
free from this disease should be used. The disease is easily detected,
and if a demand were created for milk guaranteed free from the germs,
dairymen would soon supply it.

Unless it is absolutely certain the cows supplying the milk are free
from disease, the milk should be sterilised by heating to near boiling
point, and then cooling rapidly. If kept twelve hours, the boiled
taste goes off it, and children soon get to like it. Though sterilised
milk will keep for some time without getting sour, it should be
sterilised each day, specially if for infant use.

This treatment makes the milk keep without the use of preservatives,
such as boric acid. We regret to say the use of these is not illegal,
and they are largely used in preserving milk, butter, hams, etc. We
have seen very serious illnesses produced in children (and adults too)
by the heavy doses they have got when both the farmer and milk vendor
have added these preservatives. This they often do at the season when
the milk easily turns sour. Every care should therefore be taken to get
milk guaranteed free from these noxious drugs; and if this is
impossible, condensed milk should be used instead. As there is a great
variety of brands of condensed milk in the market, always choose one
which guarantees that the milk taken has been whole milk, and also

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Previous: Infant Nursing

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