• 45°

Scarvey column: How much for that baby in the window?

I recently came across a fascinating vintage book called “The Health-Care of the Baby: A Handbook for Mothers and Nurses” by Louis Fischer, M.D.
The book must have been popular, since it went through numerous editions, first appearing in 1906.
Fishcher talks about both protecting and “hardening” the infant ó hardening, meaning, presumably, “to make hardy.”
He felt that “the giving of fresh air to the baby” was often “sadly neglected” by parents who worried about their babies “taking cold.”
He believed in fresh air so much that he advocated use of a rather ingenious device called the Boggins’ Window Crib, an open air sleeping compartment. This metal cube was, he wrote, “admirably adapted for city apartments.”
How much for that baby in the window?
Apparently, it was a well-known piece of baby gear at the time, although it’s strange to think about a baby in a box, suspended outside the window. As I read about it, I had a flashback to that image of Michael Jackson, dangling his baby off a hotel balcony some years ago.
Fischer’s advice on the selection of a nursemaid is also pretty entertaining.
“Her teeth and gums should be examined,” Fischer wrote. “If pus exists at the roots of her teeth, a mouth infection can be transmitted to the infant by an innocent kiss.”
I’m trying to imagine conducting a job interview with a potential nanny: “Could you please open your mouth? I need to inspect your gums.”
Your baby’s caretaker, Fischer continues, “should be a woman between twenty and forty years of age….and one ‘that does not ‘know everything.'”
“So, Erin, we’ve established that you are pus-free. Now I need to know whether you’d describe yourself as a know-it-all bossy boots.”
Fischer also addresses baby hygiene: “After baby is drest, his nose and ears should be cleaned by means of wooden tooth picks on which a little absorbent cotton is twisted…”
I’m picturing a budding entrepreneur reading this, a light bulb going off over his head, pronouncing: “And it shall be called … the Q-tip.”
Apparently, Dr. Fischer thought that potty training could begin quite early: “When baby is three months old he can be taught to use the commode.” I know parents who would have been happy to have their kid using the potty by three years.
Fischer gets pretty detailed when it comes to feeding baby: “Six teaspoons of spinach juice are to be given at 5:00 p.m.” Not four, and not seven, mind you. Spinach juice sounds a lot better than the teaspoon of castor oil that he suggests administering at sign of illness. I think I’d rather be the baby that got the “aromatic sirup of rhubarb,” which is also suggested.
Bathtime, as recommended by Fischer, doesn’t sound quite as soothing as the ones I remember: “After the morning bath he should receive a dash of cold water over his spine” given by means of a large sponge, squeezed outdown the baby’s back.
Who doesn’t love a nice shot of cold water after a soothing bath?
The goal was to “contract the blood-vessels and prevent chilling of the surface,” which Fischer deemed “admirably adapted for hardening the baby, thus preventing him from taking cold easily.”
Some of Fischer’s advice is a little bizarre to modern sensibilities; but a lot of it ó like how to distinguish between different types of crying ó seems pretty good to me.
Still, I don’t think I’ll put the Boggins Window Crib on my list of baby shower gifts.

Comments

Comments closed.

Coronavirus

10% of Rowan residents receive first dose; eight COVID-19 deaths reported this week

News

North Carolina State Highway Patrol commander to retire

Education

UNC School of the Arts may go for online learning due to COVID-19 spread

Coronavirus

Greensboro site to administer 3,000 daily vaccine doses starting March 10

Nation/World

$1.9 billion relief bill closer to passage in House

Nation/World

Lady Gaga’s dogs recovered safely

Coronavirus

Advisers OK single-shot COVID-19 vaccine from J&J

Local

Post wins 18 N.C. Press Association Awards

Education

Cooper vetoes bill that would force K-12 schools to reopen

Local

Lanning named Spencer’s fire chief

Crime

Blotter: Feb. 26

Crime

Salisbury, Kannapolis men charged with soliciting sexual acts

News

Racial bias ‘deeply entrenched’ in report critical of Apex Police Department

Nation/World

US bombs facilities in Syria used by Iran-backed militia

Elections

City council again dismisses idea of adding new member, focus now on recommendation to delay elections

Business

‘Let’s make some money:’ Loosened restrictions praised by bar owners, baseball team

High School

Salisbury High bucks historical trend in dominant shutout of West Rowan

Enochville

Garage declared total loss after Enochville fire

Crime

Cooper, N.C. prison officials agree to release 3,500 inmates

Coronavirus

Two more COVID-19 deaths reported in Rowan, six for the week

Crime

Blotter: Man brandishes AR-15, runs over motorcycle at Rockwell-area gas station

Crime

Salisbury man charged with exploitation of minor

Crime

Road rage incident results in assault charges

Local

Dukeville lead testing results trickle in, more participation needed