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Rant #367
(published January 31, 2008)
The Bachelors' Guide to the Care of the Young
by L.W. Lower
I have noticed with astonishment the absolute ignorance of bachelors in regard to the care of the young.

To begin at the beginning. It will be noticed in a fresh baby that it is of a pale, prawn-like color, and is bald and toothless, exhibiting all the evidences of senility. This is the usual thing, and the minder is not to be alarmed.

The first thing noticeable about the baby is the yowl. This must be stopped at all costs. There are various methods, but the principle to keep in mind is: at all costs. Watches are very good; a firm hold must be kept on the chain, however, as I have on two occasions lost a perfectly good watch through the child swallowing it.

This mania for swallowing and sucking things may be indulged to an almost unlimited extent. Door-knobs are excellent, though the holding of the baby to the knob is somewhat tiring. This may be overcome by unscrewing the hinges of the door and placing it in an accessible position.

Babies of an artistic nature, or of practically any nature, may be left with a tin of stove-polish or a bottle of red ink or any other medium for an almost indefinite period.

In cases of persistent howling, a belt passed over the top of the head and buckled securely under the chin is an infallible remedy. This must be used only in extreme cases.

In handling, care must be taken that the baby is held in a more or less vertical position, the head being uppermost. The child at times has tendency to jerk from the holder, and in the case of a beginner this may lead to disastrous results. Sticking-plaster and other first-aid appliances will be found very useful on these occasions, and a supply should always be kept on hand.

Where a baby has to be held for any length of time, a short loop of stout twine passed around the neck, and fastened to the wrist of the holder, will prevent contact with the floor.

Never allow a dog to lick the face of a baby, as any number of diseases may be communicated, and, in the case of a valuable dog, this is most serious, and may lead to its loss, or, at the best, a falling-off of condition, and an absence of lustre in the coat.

On two or three occasions I have found the addition of about one-third of a cupful of rum to the feeding milk very effective. Only the best O.P. rum may be used, as babies are very delicately constituted internally. A better way is for the minder to have four or five cupfuls himself, when it will be found that an extraordinary number of ways of amusing the child will suggest themselves.

Should the little one inadvertently eat anything it shouldn't, thoroughly rinse or gargle the mouth with phenol, lysol, or any other good disinfectant.

In undressing the baby for the purposes of putting it to bed, bathing, etcetera, the beginner will find great difficulty in undoing the numerous buttons, tapes, and various other fastenings with which it is lashed.

An efficient and obvious method is to insert a penknife between the skin and the clothing and peel the mass off in one operation.

In bathing the child, never fill the bath right up, as it is only in exceptional cases that it will float. A cold shower and a brisk rub down with a stiff towel will have an invigorating and tonic effect.

In conclusion, a little helpful advice to the unwilling minder will not be amiss. Should you have been lured into minding a baby before, and wish to escape a second demand, a convincing excuse must be made. Lodge meetings and appointments, business or otherwise, are received with suspicion. By far the best is the statement that you feel your diphtheria coming back, and that you seem to be breaking out in funny red spots all over the body. This may be said in a conversational manner just as the request is about to be sprung. I have used this or something similar, for some time now, and it has never failed yet.

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