The importance of washing the whole body in water will be insisted on in the chapter on Bathing; it is therefore unnecessary to say anything farther on that subject in this place, except to observe that whether the washings of the body be partial or general, they should be thorough, so far as they are carried. There are thousands of children who, in pretending to wash their hands and face, will do little more than wet the inside of their hands, and the tips of their noses and ears unless great care is taken.
Few things are more important than suitable changes of dress. There are those, who, from principle, never wear the same under-garment but one day without washing, either in summer or winter; and there are others who, though they may wear an article without washing two or three successive days, take care to change their dress at night—never sleeping in a garment which they have worn during the day.
It is a very common objection to suggestions like these, that they will do very well for those who have wealth, but not for the poor;—that they have neither the time nor the means of attending to them. How can they change their clothes every day? we are asked. And how can they afford to have a separate dress for the night?
There must be retrenchment in some other matters, it is admitted. In order to find time for more washing, or money to pay others for the labor, the poor must deny themselves a few things which they now suppose, if they have ever thought at all on the subject, are conducive to their happiness—but which are in reality either useless or injurious. Something may be saved by a reasonable dress, as I have already shown. Other items of expense, which might be spared with great advantage to health and happiness, and applied to the purpose in question, will be mentioned in the chapter on Food and Drink.
Danger of savage practices. Rousseau. Cold water at birth. First washing of the child. Rules. Temperature. Bathing vessels. Unreasonable fears. Whims. Views of Dr. Dewees. Hardening. Rules for the cold bath. Securing a glow. Coming out of the bath. Local baths. Shower bath. Vapor bath. Sponging. Neglect of bathing. The Romans. Treatment of children compared with that of domestic animals.
Some of the hardy nations of antiquity, as well as a few savage tribes of modern times, have been accustomed to plunge their new-born infants into cold water. This is done for the two-fold purpose of washing and hardening them.
To all who reason but for a moment on this subject, the danger of such a practice must be obvious. So sudden a change from a temperature of nearly 100 of Fahrenheit to one quite low, perhaps scarcely 40, must and does have a powerful effect on the nervous system even of an adult; but how much more on that of a tender infant? We may form some idea of this, by the suddenness and violence of its cries, by the sudden contractions and relaxations of its limbs and body, and by its palpitating heart and difficult breathing.