The best way to keep your baby healthy (1915)

Breastfeeding: The best way to keep your baby healthy (1915)

Mothers nursing babies - Red Cross tent 1918

The introduction to this article published in the nation’s capital was prefaced with some sobering notes: “It is more dangerous to be a baby in Washington than to be a soldier in the European war. Last year, 1730 babies were born in Washington, and 715 babies under one year of age died.”

Those startling statistics were coupled with this plea: “Won’t you help to save the babies — not only your baby, but every mother’s baby?”

Breastfeeding: What every mother ought to know about her baby

No other one thing a mother can do for her baby means more to him than to feed him at her own breast.

Babies who are fed entirely at the breast usually do not have diarrhea, unless over-fed, but bottle-fed babies are very likely to have this trouble, even if their milk is carefully prepared. This is true at all seasons of the year, but it is especially important in summer when the heat and flies make bottle-feeding so dangerous.

A mother can usually nurse her baby if she has been properly cared for before the baby’s birth and at the time of birth, and no mother who wants to give her baby a good start will consent to deprive him of breast milk, at least during the first few months of life.

After the mother’s milk comes, usually on the third day, the baby may be nursed every three hours, at 6 and 9 am, at 12 noon, and at 3, 6, and 9 pm, with one feeding during the night. On the four-hour plan, the nursing will come at 6 and 10 am, and 2, 6 and 10 pm. In the intervals, she should give him a little water which has first been boiled and cooled.

When the baby is four months old, he should no longer be nursed at night, and at six months the mother should begin to lengthen the time between feedings a quarter of an hour each week until the length of time between nursings is four hours. If the milk is plentiful, the breasts should be nursed alternately, but it may be necessary to give both breasts at one feeding in order to satisfy the baby.

The baby requires no other food, save breast milk and drinking water, until he is eight or nine months old.

US Department of Labor - Infant Mortality 1915 (5)

US Department of Labor - Infant Mortality 1915 (14)