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Clothing

heat, body, skin, child, atmosphere and childs

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CLOTHING.

Clothing has for its object the maintenance of a certain regular degree of warmth, and its nature and amount ought, therefore, to be deter mined by the external temperature. It should vary, that is to say, with the climate and the season of the year. In Section XX. it has been explained that the skin plays a very important part in maintaining a regular bodily tempera ture. When the heat of the atmosphere is higher than the proper bodily heat, it has been explained that the body heat is kept at its due level by the blood flowing in larger quantity to the skin, and by heat lost in evaporating in creased perspiration ; and when the heat of the atmosphere is less than that of the body, a lowering of the bodily temperature is to some extent prevented by the contraction of the blood-vessels of the skin, diminished sweat, and consequently a diminution in the loss by evaporation. In climates where the heat of the atmosphere is very different from that of the human body, and where the variations are great, men must come to the aid of the ordinary healthy processes of the body. In warm climates clothing is used which reflects, throws off, as much as possible, the heat of the sun, and is, at the same time, fitted to permit of free perspiration, while in cold climates clothing is used to retain the heat of the body and prevent it passing off. While infants' dress ought to fulfil the same purposes, it must be remembered that the heat-regulating appa ratus, so to speak, of the child's body is not yet in full working order, and the child is conse quently much more sensitive to changes in the surrounding atmosphere, and much more strongly affected by them. A slight change in the heat of the atmosphere, to which a man's body so readily adapts itself that he is barely conscious of it, may strongly affect a child ; and this should always be remembered by mothers and nurses.

The second special point to notice regarding infants' dress is that it should be so put on as to interfere as little as possible with all natural movements. This requirement is not satisfied

when free movement is permitted to arms and legs ; care must be taken that the movements of breathing are not hindered. Most of mothers and nurses make this mistake at the very out set. They apply the binder so tightly round the child's belly and chest, in the delusion that its back is thus supported, that its breathing is greatly impeded ; and often permanent injury is inflicted on the lungs. Acting under the same mistaken idea they encase the child's body in stays (so-called), and with a multiplicity of other wrappings reduce the infant to a con dition of miserable bondage.

A third point worth remarking upon is that an infant's skin is not only very sensitive to changes of temperature, but is also very readily irritated in various ways. The mere mechani cal irritation produced by the rubbing of rough cloth will often cause the appearance of a rash on the skin, and will at least be a source of great discomfort to the child. This is a cause of annoyance not to be overlooked in dealing with a fretful child. For this reason the child should have next its skin some very fine soft material. For the same reason wet napkins should be quickly removed, as well as any other article of dress that has become damp. The akin is very speedily inflamed, and cracks and fissures are very readily caused, by contact with wet clothing, especially when wet with irritating material such as that of the dis charges. Before replacing dry napkins the skin should be carefully dried and dusted, if pre viously sponged so much the better. it may be added that the napkins or diapers should not be washed in water containing soda.

Pins, even safety-pins, should, as far as possible, be avoided in an infant's dress. Extreme restlessness, crying, and sometimes even convulsions have been caused by care lessly applied pins, whose points had worked themselves into the child's skin.

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