This section is from the “The Hygienic Care of Children” book, by Herbert M. Shelton


“The first and most important duty of motherhood is the breast-feeding of her baby.
Next to the right of every child to be well born comes the right to his best food, his own mother’s breast milk. Mother’s milk is the only perfect infant food; it cannot be imitated; and anyone who advises a mother differently is guilty of a serious crime against a helpless baby. When a baby is denied his mother’s milk and put upon a bottle he loses half his chance to be kept alive, and nine-tenths of his chances to grow up into a normal healthy man or woman.”
Dr. Tilden says: “if we ever get on to a rational plan of eating, children up to two years of age will be fed on an exclusive milk diet, with orange or other fruit or vegetable juices.”

Certain it is that nature did not intend the baby to chew food until its teeth are sufficiently developed to perform this function. Since they reach this stage of development at from twenty to twenty-four months after birth, there seems to be no earlier need for “solid” foods. If earlier need for such foods exist why does nature not supply the needed chewing equipment at an earlier period?

The natural indications are for an exclusive milk diet for the first two years. We add fruit juices, not because there is any need for them in nature’s scheme of things, but because in our unnatural life, we do not supply them with milk of proper quality. Soft fruits may be used before the teeth are fully developed, but only after they are sufficiently developed to enable the child to mash these up well.

The chief cause of digestive disorders in infants and of all those other complaints that grow out of these is overfeeding. The habit of feeding babies every two hours during the day and every time it wakes up and cries at night is a ruinous one. Such feeding over works the baby’s digestive organs and introduces an excess of food into the alimentary track to ferment and poison the child. It weakens and sickens the child producing diarrhea, colic, skin eruptions, and more serious disorders.

Feeding the baby at night prevents both mother and child from sleeping and teaches the child irregularity in sleep. When the mother’s sleep is disturbed in this way, she is weakened and normal secretions are interfered with, resulting in an impairment of her milk. The impairment of the milk reacts unfavorably upon the child. Feeding at night is not only unnecessary, it overfeeds and sickens the child.

If the child does not relish or desire food it is folly to force or persuade it to eat anyway. Never compel a child to eat. If the child is uncomfortable wait till comfort returns before feeding. Children fed in this way will grow up strong and healthy and miss the so-called children’s diseases. Overfeeding, and wrong food combinations are responsible for most of the diseases peculiar to children. A little intelligent attention to proper feeding will avoid all of these.

Regularity in feeding quickly establishes the stuffing habit. It teaches the infant to eat at certain times as a mere matter of habit, and not because there is a real demand for food. It prevents the development and regulation of natural desire, which, alone, is a reliable guide to frequency in feeding.

It goes without saying that all food fed to infants and children should be fresh and pure. But we do well to remember that the most wholesome food soon becomes poisonous if taken in excess.

NURSE your child as long as you can. So long as it is thriving well on your milk this should form its food. If it does not thrive well on this alone, give it an orange juice and grape juice feeding each day, in addition to your own milk. Indeed I believe that with the poor milk supply of modern woman, these juices should be fed even if the child does seem to thrive well.

MILK with corn starch, or arrow root, or crackers, or rice or barley water, or cereal water of any kind, or farina, or oatmeal, is an abomination. Babies so fed suffer and die from wasting gastrointestinal disorders. These foods set up fermentation, diarrhea, etc.

SUGAR should never be added to milk. It tends to produce fermentation and all of the resulting evils. A child can be given all the sugar it needs in fruit juices.

FRUIT SUGAR, or levulose, is predigested and ready for instant absorption and use in the body. It is this predigested sugar that instantly refreshes and revives the greatly fatigued man or woman.

The best source of sugar for the infant is found in grapes. Take the required amount of fresh, ripe grapes and crush them in a vessel. Squeeze the juice out of these and strain it. Put it into a bottle and give it to the child just like it takes its milk. Do not dilute the grape juice. Small babies may have four ounces of this at a feeding; older babies, that is after six months, eight ounces. Never give bottled grape-juice. Never cook the grape juice.

When grapes are out of season unsulphured figs or prunes may be used instead. These should be soaked over night in the usual way, then crushed and the juice strained off. This juice should be fed in the bottle and may be given in the same amounts that the grape juice is given.

These sweet fruit juices should not be given with the milk but should be given three to four hours after the milk feeding.

ORANGE JUICE is one of the most delicious and attractive foods that can be fed to babies. It contains pre-digested food that is ready for absorption and utilization when taken. This, perhaps, explains why a glass of orange juice is so refreshing to the tired person or to the man who has been on a fast. The sweeter the orange, the more refreshing it is.

Oranges are rich in lime and other alkaline salts and prevent or overcome acidosis. Ignorant doctors who decry oranges because they “make the blood acid” need to be punished severely.

The regular eating of orange juice results in the retention of calcium and phosphorous in the body, and in the assimilation of nitrogen (protein), out of all proportion to the amounts of these elements contained in the juice. The juice actually enables the body to utilize the elements better than it could otherwise do.

Nothing can be more helpful to children, and particularly undernourished children than orange juice not two or three spoonsful a day, but from a glass-full to three glasses full. Don’t be stingy with the orange juice; stop kidding yourself and the child with tea-spoons full of the juice.

Orange juice may be given to infants from birth as may grape-juice. The two weeks old infant should be given juice of one-half an orange, about two ounces, undiluted. By the time the child is three months old it should be taking four ounces at a feeding of undiluted orange juice. At six months it should be taking eight ounces. Never add sugar or other substance to the orange juice.

Lemon juice, lime juice, tomato juice, grape-fruit juice, melon juice or the juices of other fruits may also be used, but are not always to be had, as is orange juice. Most children will relish grapefruit juice although many of them refuse tomato juice.

Never give canned or cooked fruit juices to infants and childred. Never add sugar, oil or other substance to them.

The orange juice feeding should be given three to four hours after the milk feeding.


Baby’s feeding schedule should be as follows:

6 A. M. Milk.

10 A. M. grape juice or other sweet fruit juice. (In the south fresh fig juice may be used in season.)

12 M. milk.

3 P. M. to 4 P. M. orange juice or tomato juice or grapefruit juice, or other juice.

6 P. M. Milk.

If four milk feedings are given these juices should be given not less than thirty minutes before the second milk feeding of the morning and afternoon.

ARTIFICIAL INFANT FOODS are undesireable. Dr. Robert McCarrison of England, says that the “seeds” of diseases that inevitably kill their victims in middle life are often introduced into the body with the first bottle of cow’s milk or artificial baby food–and he is not referring to germs, either. Dr. Page condemned these various artificial foods, advertised as “substitutes for mothers milk” and, although, “many infants manage to subsist on them, and in many cases, thrive on them,” he did not consider that such foods are good.

Dr. Tilden says: “There are many brands of artificial foods on the market, and there are tons of these foods used in this country every year, but so far as being of real benefit is concerned, it is doubtful if they are beneficial when it comes to supplying a need that can’t be supplied by something of greater food value.

Scurvy, rickets, anemia and malnutrition are often the results of the use of artificial foods. Many children seem to thrive on them for a while, may actually appear to do better than children fed on their mother’s milk, and then disaster overtakes them. Be not deceived by the advertisements of those who have infants foods for sale. These concerns exist for profit and not for baby’s welfare.

Condensed milk, evaporated milk, dryed milk and other artificial foods are unfit for the baby and no intelligent mother will ever feed these to her child.


Three to four feedings in twenty-four hours is enough for any baby. No feeding should be done at night. Babies fed in this way develop faster than those stuffed in the old way. Over nutrition actually inhibits function and retards growth and development. No feeding should ever be done between meals. Every time a child cries it is not hungry.

An infant is nourished in proportion to its power to digest and assimilate the food supplied to it, and not in proportion to the quantity of nutrition it may be induced to swallow. Not the large quantity swallowed, but the right quantity perfectly digested and perfectly assimilated can secure best results with infants as well as children and adults.

In spite of the obviousness of this principle, it is almost an article of faith with many parents, nurses and doctors, a dogma so firmly fixed in their minds that they cannot be persuaded to the contrary, that the infant that is fed most thrives best. If the infant is losing weight it always suggests the need for a larger supply of food while every cry means hunger and must be silenced with more food.

What is the great secret of success in feeding babies?

Dr. Tilden well expresses it thus: “FIT CHILDREN TO THE FOOD AND NEVER ATTEMPT TO FIT THE FOOD TO THE CHILDREN.” How? Easy! Watch these few simple rules:

1. Feed the child natural, that is, uncooked, unprocessed, unsterilized, unadulterated, undrugged, foods.

2. Do not stuff the child. Feed it three moderate meals a day.

3. Feed simple meals. Do not feed foods that are mixed in such a way as to cause fermentation.

4. Do not feed between meals, nor at night.

5. If the child is upset, or feels bad, or is excited or tired, or over heated, or chilled, or in pain or distress, or is sick, DON’T FEED IT. IF THERE IS FEVER, GIVE NO FOOD.

No other food except milk or milk and fruit juices should be given the child for the first two years of its life.

At about eighteen months of age soft fruits may be added to the diet. These should form one or part of one meal a day. If four feedings have been indulged in up to this time one of these should now be stopped

No starchy foods or cereals should be given under two years. Artificial sweets–candies, cakes, pies, sugar, etc.,–should never be fed to children.

The child should be taught early to thoroughly masticate all food. This is best done by giving it foods that require chewing when the child first begins to eat solid food. Many mothers feed their children mushes, gruels, and foods that have been put through a sieve (perhaps because the child specialist has ordered it), which may be swallowed without chewing. The result is they never learn to chew.

Never give a child mashed food or mush. If the child can’t chew its food it is not ready for that kind of food.


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