This section is from the book "Health", by W. H. Coefield.
In mentioning foods that were not fit to give to infants, I mentioned starchy foods, and starchy foods, unless extremely well cooked, are positively indigestible. I mentioned also broths and soups, and so on. Some of you may be astonished to hear me mention these, but there can be no sort of doubt that infant stomachs are not capable, as a rule, of digesting meat, even in the form of beef-tea, broth, and soup, and that they are not capable of digesting animal food in any other form except milk, and if they are given these foods they get convulsions, get disorders of their digestion, and various other disturbances. In a large number of cases, infants who have convulsions get them through being fed on improper food-one of the last things that people look to.
In many cases of wasting disease, it has been found that one of the very last things you would expect, after what I have been saying, has been of the greatest benefit, viz. raw beef with the fat and fibrous tissue taken out carefully, and then the muscular part chopped up thoroughly until it is of the consistency of a thick syrup, so that it can be given with a spoon. It has often been found that infants will digest, and live upon this, and even get well, when nothing else seemed to do them any good at all; and I can safely say that I have seen a larger number of lives of children suffering from severe diseases saved by this means than by any other that I know oŁ
Another thing that causes a great amount of mischief among infants in their digestion, is that they are fed too often; I do not mean that they are fed too much, because, as Hippocrates well said, " Children do not well support a fast." He was perfectly right; they are growing very quickly, their respiration and circulation are very quick, and they require a great amount of food; but a great amount of mischief is caused by feeding them too often. As a general rule, as soon as a child begins to squall out, something or another is stuffed down its throat by the fond mother or attentive nurse, but this is a mistaken practice. One of the most famous physicians in Europe, who has paid the greatest amount of attention to children's diseases, has laid down the rule that in the earliest part of infancy the child should be fed not oftener than once in every two hours, and that the intervals should gradually be lengthened to three hours ; but that children ought not to be awakened to be fed. In that way they have time to digest the food which they take; but if the system of feeding them whenever they cry is resorted to, they soon get to know that whenever they want to be fed all they have to do is to cry out; they get fed irregularly, and soon suffer from indigestion.
No doubt the disturbance caused by teething often upsets infants, but this is of small importance compared with errors in feeding.
Infants are especially affected by foul air, and a high children's death-rate is a sure sign of the general insanitary state of a place.
Where there is foul air in and about houses, you may be almost certain that there will be found a high children's death-rate.
There is a class of diseases that are especially prevalent during infancy and childhood,-I mean infectious or communicable fevers.
These diseases have certain peculiarities. I will not mention all of them, only two of the most important; one is that they are communicable from one person to another, and the other is that when a person has had one of these diseases he is not likely to have it again. Now, do not run away with the idea that he is certain not to have it again, for persons may have any one of these diseases twice, three times, or even more; and such persons, by the way, are admirable examples of idiosyncrasies.
A person who has had small-pox twice or three times must be said to have an idiosyncrasy, and such an idiosyncrasy may run in families. I once came across a family, and only once, in which all the members had had almost every kind of infectious disease, and several two or three times. This is a curious example of a very peculiar inherited idiosyncrasy; so you see that it is not impossible for a person to have one of these diseases more than once; but it is unlikely.
As I shall devote two lectures to the consideration of these diseases, I will merely tell you now that a child suffering from one of them should be kept apart from other children, and that it is necessary to have all children vaccinated before they are three months old.