Buffon, in his “Natural History,” says that in France, an infant has hardly enjoyed the liberty of moving and stretching its limbs, before it is put into confinement. “It
is swathed,” says he, “its head is fixed, its legs are stretched out at full length, and its arms placed straight down by the side of its body. In this manner it is bound tight
with cloths and bandages, so that it cannot stir a limb; indeed it is fortunate that the poor thing is not muffled up so as to be unable to breathe.”
All swathing, except with a single bandage around the abdomen, is decidedly unreasonable, injurious and cruel. I do not pretend that the remarks of M. Buffon are
fully applicable to the condition of infants in the United States. The good sense of the community nowhere permits us to transform a beautiful babe quite into an
Egyptian mummy. Still there are many considerable errors on the subject of infantile dress, which, in the progress of my remarks, I shall find it necessary to expose.
The use of a simple band cannot be objected to. It affords a general support to the abdomen, and a particular one to the umbilicus. The last point is one of great
importance, where there is any tendency to a rupture at this part of the body—a tendency which very often exists in feeble children. And without some support of this
kind, crying, coughing, sneezing, and straining in any way, might greatly aggravate the evil, if not produce serious consequences.
But, in order to afford a support to the abdomen in the best manner, it is by no means necessary that the bandage should be drawn very tight. Two thirds of the
nurses in this country greatly err in this respect, and suppose that the more tightly a bandage is drawn, the better. It should be firm, but yet gently yielding; and
therefore a piece of flannel cut “bias,” as it is termed, or, obliquely with respect to the threads of which it is composed, is the most appropriate material.
If the attention of the mother were necessary nowhere else, it would be indispensable in the application of this article. If she do not take special pains to prevent it,
the erring though well meaning nurse may so compress the body with the bandage as to produce pain and uneasiness, and sometimes severe colic. Nay, worse evils
than even this have been known to arise. When a child sneezes, or coughs, or cries, the abdomen should naturally yield gently; but if it is so confined that it cannot
yield where the band is applied, it will yield in an unnatur