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"Medical Advice on the Bodily and Mental Health of Children" (1794)

Bernhard Christian Faust, a court physician in the principality of Schaumburg-Lippe, adopted the familiar literary form of the Christian catechism for his widely read proclamation of Enlightenment medical and pedagogical principles. In the Catholic ecclesiastical principality [Hochstift] of Würzburg, Faust’s work was distributed to all schoolteachers. This self-consciously “modernizing” work is notable for its emphasis on “the rational” and “the natural,” its assumption that childhood is a separate stage of life, in which children’s potential for goodness and happiness should be realized, and – apart from its invocation of the Enlightenment’s God of rational nature – its avoidance of religious accents (especially doctrines of innate sinfulness).

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Medical Advice on the Bodily and Mental Health of Children (1794)

Bernhard Christoph Faust

[ . . . ]

IV. On the Attending and Nursing of Infants.

45. What does the little helpless infant stand most in need of?
The love and care of his mother.

46. Can this love and care be shewn by other persons?
No. Nothing equals maternal love.

47. Why does a child stand so much in need of the love and care of his mother?
Because the attendance and nursing, the tender and affectionate treatment which a child stands in need of, can only be expected from a mother.

48. How ought infants to be attended and nursed?
They ought always to breathe fresh and pure air; be kept dry and clean, and immersed in cold water every day.

49. Why so?
Because children are now, at the time alluded to, more placid, because not being irritable, they grow and thrive better.

50. Is it good to swathe a child?
No. Swathing is a very bad custom, and produces in children great anxiety and pains; it is injurious to the growth of the body, and prevents children from being kept clean and dry.

51. Is the rocking of children proper?
No. It makes them uneasy, giddy, and stupid; and is therefore as hurtful to the soul as to the body.

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