Read PART I: LESSON IV of Parent and Child Vol. III.‚ Child Study and Training, free online book, by Mosiah Hall, on ReadCentral.com.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION

1. Compare the helplessness of the infant at birth with the ability of the young of other animals.

2. At one year of age, what is the comparison?

3. What is the significance of prolonged infancy respecting (a) possibility of adjustment to environment, (b) possibility of training and education, (c) possibility of profiting from experience, (d) the relation to heredity?

4. What advantage is it that man is born with the germs of many capacities instead of with a few activities that are perfectly developed?

5. What is the chief function of education?

6. What does Burbank say respecting the possibilities of training?

7. What common-sense training should every child be given during this period?

Good books, for further study on these points, are: “The Care and Training of the Child,” by Kerr, and “Fundamentals of Child Study,” by Kirkpatrick.

If these volumes are in the library or otherwise available, it may be well to have some member read and give a brief report on one or the other of them.

THE NEEDS OF THE INFANT

The Infant’s First Needs Are Physical, and May Be Summed up in the Word Nutrition

The new-born child differs in nearly all particulars from the adult. It is very unfortunate that the child in the past has been regarded as a miniature adult and treated like “a little man.”

The structure of muscle and bone and the proportion of various parts of the body differ materially; the bones of the child for some time are soft and largely composed of cartilages which may be easily bent out of shape and permanently injured. The ratio of some of the parts is about as follows:

Height of head of adult to that of infant 2 to
Length of body of adult to that of infant 3 to
Length of arm of adult to that of infant 4 to
Length of leg of adult to that of infant 5 to 1

Besides these easily observed differences, there are others of far more consequence not easily seen, such as differences in the size, structure and activity of vital organs, and in the almost total lack of nervous development in the child as compared with the adult. All of these things make of the child an individual so different from the adult that he must be treated in accordance with his own nature and needs and with little regard to the way in which an adult is considered.

Practically everything that the infant needs may be summed up in the one word nutrition. A sufficient supply of pure milk from the mother is the one supreme requirement. If this is assured, everything else is almost certain to follow. Of course, the little one must be kept at the right temperature, which is comparatively high during the first few months. An abundance of pure, fresh air also must be supplied to both mother and child. It is wise for both to spend much time in the open air and to sleep on a screened porch.

The child should be kept quiet and permitted to sleep as long as nature dictates. It is a positive sin to snatch the child from its bed, toss it up and down and screech at it for the edification of curious visitors. Kissing the child in the mouth should also be positively prohibited. The use of patent medicines likewise, or even many of the “old mother remedies” should never be indulged except on the advice of a competent physician. The needs of the child for some time are strictly physical. Inner forces are at work which cannot be assisted except indirectly through care of the physical organism. So far as nervous or mental development is concerned the rule should be, “Hands off, let Nature take her course.”

Immediately after birth certain reflexive and instinctive movements, such as sucking, crying, sneezing and clinging are manifested; and the sense of taste and usually smell are also sufficiently active to enable the infant to take nourishment. No other senses are active and no other movements possible except the automatic action of vital organs and a few vague spasmodic twitchings and movements of parts of the body known as impulsive. Nothing, however, can be done from without to hasten the mental awakening; Nature in her own due time will do this, and do it much better if not hurried or interfered with.