Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/743

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723
CHILDHOOD FROM A MEDICAL STANDPOINT.

nourished, not necessarily underfed, stock rather than from the superabundant vitality of robust natures. The cultured mother rarely has sufficient vigor to nurse her infant, and it is brought up on some substitute, which at the best is but a makeshift. Whatever modern life and culture may have done for our women, they hardly seem, in their extreme forms, to have prepared them for the intelligent care of their offspring, whose arrival is often regarded with pathetic helplessness. There is, however, enough of New England's "inflamed moral sense" in our midst to furnish our women with a fair share of conscience, so that their errors are as apt to be due to over-solicitude as the reverse. Take the matter of clothing, for example: this is frequently piled on till the hapless youngster presents the appearance of a bale of millinery, impeding movements, keeping the child overheated, and forming a conspicuous part of the hot-house life which the child is henceforth to lead. Literally "hot-house," for there is something in our houses, their heating apparatus, or the habits of the people, which keeps our residences at a tropical heat during the cold season. I am inclined to think it is partly a result of our high-pressure life. A tired brain and exhausted nerves crave warmth; and indolent or sedentary habits do not predispose one to bear a bracing temperature. Be that as it may, the little ones grow up in an atmosphere of steady, relaxing warmth, and the continual endeavor is to protect them from anything approaching cold. Their baths are usually hot, and there is a noticeable absence of that skin culture which comes naturally to country children, living out of doors, sleeping in a cold room, skating or snow-balling in winter, and swimming in the neighboring pond in summer. It seems that the whole tendency of city life is toward "making it easy," physically, for the individual by the elimination of all except the simplest demands on the organism, forgetting that our powers are developed by their cultivation, and inevitably deteriorate with disuse. Our life is so artificial that we require gymnasiums, field-sports, and outings to keep a decent physical equilibrium, and we ought in addition to give particular attention to vascular gymnastics and to the culture and development of the unstriped muscular fibers, which play so fundamental a part in vital economy, by placing more dependence on their adjustive and resisting powers, through a systematic and judicious exposure of the skin to cold water, cold air, and the vicissitudes of weather. As to the diet of children after the nursing age, it is likely that our city children fare better than many of their country cousins. There is probably no country in the world where there is such an attractive variety of cheap and wholesome food of all classes, meats, cereals, vegetables and fruit, as in our own. The general habit of fruit-eating, which seems to