Healthful Living


Hygiene for Children

General Statements

622. Several instances have come under my notice where children are being murdered by inches by the mistaken kindness of parents.—The Health Reformer, September 1, 1866. HL 144.1

623. The calm, self-possessed course the mother pursues in the treatment of her child has very much to do in molding the mind of the infant. If it is nervous and easily agitated, the mother's careful, unhurried manner will have a soothing and correcting influence, and the health of the infant can be very much improved.—How to Live 2:39. HL 144.2


624. It ever has appeared to me to be cold, heartless business for mothers who can nurse their children to turn them from the maternal breast to the bottle. But in case that is necessary, the greatest care must be exercised to have the milk from a healthy cow, and to have the bottle, as well as the milk, perfectly sweet. This is frequently neglected, and as the result, the infant is made to suffer needlessly. Disturbances of the stomach and bowels are liable to occur, and the much-to-be-pitied infant becomes diseased, if it were healthy when born.—The Health Reformer, September 1, 1871. HL 144.3

Hired Nurses

625. Mothers sometimes depend upon a hireling.... A stranger performs the duties of the mother, and gives from her breast the food to sustain life. Nor is this all. She also imparts her temper and her temperament to the nursing child. The child's life is linked to hers. If the hireling is a coarse type of woman, passionate and unreasonable; if she is not careful in her morals, the nursling will be, in all probability, of the same or similar type. The same quality of blood coursing in the veins of the hireling nurse is in that of the child.—The Health Reformer, September 1, 1871. HL 145.1

Frequent Feeding

626. Children are also fed too frequently, which produces feverishness and suffering in various ways. The stomach should not be kept constantly at work, but should have its periods of rest. Without it children will be peevish and irritable and frequently sick.—The Health Reformer, September 1, 1866. HL 145.2

627. The first education that children should receive from the mother in infancy should be in regard to their physical health. They should be allowed only plain food, of that quality that would preserve to them the best condition of health, and that should be partaken of only at regular periods, not oftener than three times a day, and two meals would be better than three. If children are disciplined aright, they will soon learn they can receive nothing by crying and fretting. A judicious mother will act in training her children, not merely in regard to her own present comfort, but for their future good. And to this end she will teach her children the important lesson of controlling the appetite, and of self-denial, that they should eat, drink, and dress in reference to health.—How to Live 2:47. HL 145.3

628. It is much easier to create an unnatural appetite than to correct and reform it after it has become second nature.... Meat given to children is not the best thing to insure success.... To educate your children to subsist upon a meat diet would be harmful to them.... Highly seasoned meats, followed by rich pastry, is wearing out the vital organs of the digestion of children. Had they been accustomed to plain, wholesome food, their appetites would not have craved unnatural luxuries and mixed preparations.—Unpublished Testimonies, November 5, 1896. HL 146.1

Fresh Air.

629. One great error of the mother in the treatment of her infant is, she deprives it very much of fresh air, that which it ought to have to make it strong. It is a practise of many mothers to cover their infant's head while sleeping, and this, too, in a warm room, which is seldom ventilated as it should be. This alone is sufficient to greatly enfeeble the action of the heart and lungs, thereby affecting the whole system. While care may be needful to protect the infant from a draught of air or from any sudden and too great change, especial care should be taken to have the child breathe a pure, invigorating atmosphere. No disagreeable odor should remain in the nursery or about the child; such things are more dangerous to the feeble infant than to grown persons.—How to Live 5:66. HL 146.2

630. But there is an evil greater than those already named. The infant is exposed to a vitiated air caused by many breaths, some of which are very offensive and injurious to the strong lungs of older people. The infant lungs suffer and become diseased by inhaling the atmosphere of a room poisoned by the tobacco user's tainted breath. Many infants are poisoned beyond remedy by sleeping in beds with their tobacco-using fathers. By inhaling the poisonous tobacco effluvium, which is thrown from the lungs and the pores of the skin, the system of the infant is filled with the poison. While it acts upon some as a slow poison, and affects the brain, heart, liver, and lungs, and they waste away and fade gradually, upon others it has a more direct influence, causing spasms, fits, paralysis, palsy, and sudden death.—How to Live 5:68. HL 147.1

Dress of the Infant

631. The garments are made extravagantly long, and in order to keep them up on the infant, its body is girded with tight bands, or waists, which hinder the free action of the heart and lungs. Infants are compelled to bear a needless weight because of the length of their garments, and thus clothed, they do not have free use of their muscles and limbs. Mothers have thought it necessary to compress the bodies of their infant children to keep them in shape, as if fearful that without tight bandages they would fall in pieces or become deformed. Do the animal creation become deformed because nature is left to do her own work? Do the little lambs become deformed because they are not girded about with bands to give them shape? They are delicately and beautifully formed. Human infants are the most perfect, and yet the most helpless, of all the Creator's handiwork, and therefore their mothers should be instructed in regard to physical laws, so as to be capable of rearing them with physical, mental, and moral health. Mothers, nature has given our infants forms which need no girts or bands to perfect them. God has supplied them with bones and muscles sufficient for their support, and to guard nature's fine machinery within, before committing it to your care. The dress of the infant should be so arranged that its body will not be in the least compressed after taking a full meal.... Another great cause of mortality among infants and youth, is the custom of leaving their arms and shoulders naked. This fashion cannot be too severely censured. It has cost the lives of thousands. The air, bathing the arms and limbs and circulating about the armpits, chills these sensitive portions of the body so near the vitals, hinders the healthy circulation of the blood, and induces disease, especially of the lungs and brain.—How to Live 5:67-69. HL 147.2

632. Mothers who dress their children in accordance with fashion, endanger their health and life. Fashion leaves the limbs of children unclad, save with one covering, or, at most, two. If they are exposed to the chill autumn, spring, or winter weather, their limbs are bathed in a current of cold air. Over the heart, where is the greatest amount of vitality, there are from four to eight coverings. These unclad limbs and feet become habitually cold. While traveling, it is customary to see little girls dressed fashionably, but not healthfully. The upper portions of the body are abundantly clothed with warm cloaks, and over these are furs, while the limbs are scarcely covered.... Christian mother, why not clothe your daughter as comfortably and as properly as you do your son? ... His limbs are protected by from three to five thicknesses; hers by only one. Is she feebler? Then she needs the greater care. Is she indoors more, and therefore less protected against cold and storm? Then she needs double care.—The Health Reformer, January 1, 1873. HL 148.1

633. Societies are formed in our cities for the prevention of cruelty to dumb animals. It would be well to go still further, and, inasmuch as accountable intelligences, capable of obtaining life eternal, are of more value than the dumb beasts, there is greater need of societies to prevent the cruelty of mothers in dressing their darling little girls in a manner to sacrifice them at the shrine of cruel fashion.—The Health Reformer, January 1, 1873. HL 149.1


634. There is a disposition with many parents to dose children perpetually with medicine. They always have a supply on hand, and when any slight indisposition is manifested, caused by overeating or exhaustion, the medicine is poured down their throats, and if that does not satisfy them, they send for the doctor.... The child is drugged to death, and the parents console themselves that they have done all they could for their children, and wonder why they must die when they did so much to save them.... Upon the gravestones of such children should be written, “Died of Drug Medication.”—The Health Reformer, September 1, 1866. HL 149.2


635. Many mothers feel that they have not time to instruct their children, and in order to get them out of the way, and get rid of their noise and trouble, they send them to school. The schoolroom is a hard place for children who have inherited enfeebled constitutions. Schoolrooms generally have not been constructed in reference to health, but in regard to cheapness. The rooms have not been arranged so they could be ventilated as they should be without exposing the children to severe cold. The seats have seldom been made so that the children can sit with ease, and keep their little, growing frames in a proper posture to insure healthy action of the lungs and heart. Young children can grow into almost any shape, and can, by habits of proper exercise and positions of the body, obtain healthy forms. It is destructive to the health and life of young children to sit in the schoolroom, upon hard, ill-formed benches, from three to five hours a day, inhaling the air made impure by many breaths. The weak lungs become affected, the brain, from which the nervous energy of the whole system is derived, becomes enfeebled by being called into active exercise before the strength of the mental organs is sufficiently matured to endure fatigue. HL 150.1

In the schoolroom the foundation has been too surely laid for diseases of various kinds. But, more especially, the most delicate of all organs, the brain, has often been permanently injured by too great exercise. This has often caused inflammation, then dropsy of the head, and convulsions with their dreaded results.... Of those children who have apparently had sufficient force of constitution to survive this treatment, there are very many who carry the effects of it through life. The nervous energy of the brain becomes so weakened that after they have come to maturity it is impossible for them to endure much mental exercise. The force of some of the delicate organs of the brain seems to be expended.... HL 150.2

During the first six or seven years of a child's life, special attention should be given to its physical training, rather than to the intellect. After this period, if the physical constitution is good, the education of both should receive attention.... Parents, especially mothers, should be the only teachers of such infant minds. They should not educate from books. The children generally will be inquisitive to learn the things of nature. They will ask questions in regard to the things they see and hear, and parents should improve the opportunity to instruct and patiently answer these little inquiries.—How to Live 2:42, 44. HL 151.1