Article #1: Feeding Diapers by Dr. Herbert M. Shelton
When I was a lad growing up, it was the general custom for mothers to breastfeed their babies, the two-year nursing period being quite common. Babies were fed every two hours during the day, and every time they awoke and cried at night. Mother’s breast was used as a pacifier, just as the rubber nipple is so used today. As no infant ever secured, even by the most vigorous sucking motion, any nourishment from a rubber nipple, it may be justly assumed from the baby’s evident satisfaction with the pacifier that the baby was not hungry.
No baby, however vigorous, could possibly digest and assimilate as much milk as the foregoing plan of feeding provided. Not only was the baby provided with an excess of fluid, necessitating frequent urinating (polyuria) to free the body of the excess of water, but it was supplied with a redundancy of nutrient material only part of which could be used as growth material. Much of the surplus food was used in the production of fat, thus creating the “butter-ball” so much admired by doting relatives and friends. Much of the unused milk was passed out through the rectum, thus feeding the diaper.
So great was the frequency of urination and bowel action that the mother or nurse was kept busy hanging diapers and cleaning the baby, while somebody had to wash the diapers. The polyuria and frequent defecation continued on through the night, preventing both the baby and the mother from sleeping. As a direct consequence of the around-the-clock stuffing of the infant there was much gas and colic accompanied by much walking-the-floor at night and much dosing with soothing syrups. Constipation alternated with diarrhea, while summer complaint or cholera infantum afflicted great numbers of victims of the butterball brigade. The infant death rate was high and carried over well into the period of childhood.
Teething was a painful ordeal for most babies and was frequently held to be responsible for other diseases. Regurgitation (spitting up) of milk was almost universal, so that the bib was everywhere a part of the baby’s habit. It was the almost universal practice to feed suffering infants, so that what started as a simple and milk irritation evolved into a formidable disease.
At my father’s diary we fed the calves milk twice a day. At long intervals a calf would escape from the pen and gain access to its mother. Almost invariably it would get an excess of milk and this would produce a diarrhea, or what is known in the cattle industry as scours. My father knew the cause of scours and took care of it by permitting the calf to go without food for a day or two. He never used the same method of care in dealing with diarrhea in his children, nor did he feed his babies only twice or three times a day. This is a striking example of our practice of using more intelligence in the care of our animals than we use in caring for ourselves or our children. It seemed more “scientific” to dose babies with Syrup of Figs or Fletcher’s Castoria or Pregoric, or castor oil or laudanum, than to feed them sanely.
The excessive drain on the mother that resulted from the almost continuous nursing, and the loss of sleep occasioned by the night attention demanded by the overfed infant, caused much unnecessary suffering for mothers. Child-bearing received an unmerited condemnation because of the lack-of understanding of the true cause of maternal illness. What a difference in results from a more Hygienic mode of feeding!
In all nature there is not another example among mammalian species where the female permits her young to feed upon demand. All of them exercise control over the nursing of their offspring, whether they give birth to but one young at a time or to a whole litter. The human infant may be satisfied with but three feedings a day and no feeding at night, or it may be trained to raise a rumpus for food 20 times a day. Not even Pampers can keep such an overfed infant dry and comfortable!
In the May 1978 issue of the Hygienic Review we carried an article in which Dr. Charles E. Page briefly recounts his experiences with the three-feedings-a-day plan. Describing the results of this plan of feeding, he says:
“The infant’s physical condition has been perfect throughout. She has uttered no cry of pain indicative of stomach or bowel disturbance, and has caused me no moment of anxiety or uneasiness since the hour of her birth. For ease and comfort and muscular strength she has been a marvel to all who have observed her from day to day. There has been a complete escape from the fat disease, with the pasty complexion so common to infants. The body and limbs have lengthened by normal growth, while remaining well covered and rounded with muscle and flesh, and the complexion has been and remains brown and ruddy, like that of any human being, perfectly nourished, who spends much of the time, as she has, in the open air, during the winter as well as since the Spring began. There has been entire exemption from hiccough, throwing up, colic, constipation, diarrhea, and in fact from all the endless variety of disturbances commonly supposed to be the natural and unavoidable experience of a pioneer in this world of sin and disease. Her breakfast at 6, dinner at 12, and supper at 6 are taken with a keen relish, fully satisfying her appetite and keeping her throughout the twenty-four hours without any exhibition of hunger or lack of nourishment. Her sleep has been perfect, sound, and continuous from soon after supper to near breakfast time. From the beginning she has been put down wide awake a few minutes after supper, with no occasion for disturbing her or her attendants until her awakening in the morning. This also implies that she sleeps in garments free and un-confining, and with the same security as to cleanliness, as is the case with healthy adults. In short, she has been a delight to herself and to us, fully meeting my most, sanguine expectations, in a scientific point of view, thus far throughout her young life. While other infants have to be kept in arms much of the time to pacify them, or to be quieted by the breast or bottle every hour or two through the day, our “three-mealer” is a joy unto herself, requiring little more attention, except in the matter of locomotion, than a healthy kitten.”
Commenting upon Dr. Page’s description of his daughter’s life on three-meals-a-day, Dr. Robert Walter, a leading Hygienist of the period, says: “These are substantially the views long held, and the practices advocated by the editor of this journal. Our own experience in the care and training of children proves that twice a day is amply sufficient for children after the second year and three times a day previous to that age. Our children are healthy, lively, active and vigorous, and not one of the three has ever had a serious stomach or bowel difficulty since birth. The bowel diseases which carry off thousands, and which Dr. Page declares result from overfeeding, are entirely unknown in our family. We are confident the Doctor is right, and commend his ideas to all of our readers.”
This plan of infant-feeding was widely adopted with the most happy results. Outstanding among those who adopted the plan .were Dr. John H. Tilden, George E. Weger, M.D., George Crandall, D.O., and Louis Crandall, D.O. My own experience with this plan of feeding has fully corroborated Dr. Page’ s report.
Reprinted from Dr. Shelton’s Hygienic Review— January, 1979
- 1. Introduction
- 2. Influencing Factors
- 3. The Modern Family
- 4. The Newly Married
- 5. The Infant And The Family
- 6. Adults Within The Family
- Article #1: Feeding Diapers By Dr. Herbert M. Shelton
- Article #2: Introducing Grandchildren To Hygienic Living
- Article #3: How We Can Stimulate Our Children’s Physical Development By Chuck and Mimi Young
- Article #4: Avoiding Compulsory Immunization By Dr. Christopher Kent