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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/2108

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Children's Food should be nourishing rather than stimulating. They do not need much meat, nor require several courses to make a meal. The meals' should be served regularly at the same hour daily, and irregular eating of sweets, cake, biscuits, fruit, etc., between meals should not be permitted. A minimum of 3 hours is necessary for the digestion and assimilation of the simplest meal, and meal times should be so arranged that an interval of 3 to 4 hours elapses between each. The stomach then has time to digest its contents, and pass these on to the small intestine before it again receives food, and has also time to rest (for it requires rest as much as any other organ if its work is to be done properly). Eating between meals, therefore, is harmful in two ways: first, undigested food enters the stomach and mixes with the partly digested food present, which is hindered in its passage onward to the small intestine till the whole has been digested; second, no time is allowed for rest, the stomach is over-worked, it ceases to perform its functions efficiently, and indigestion ensues. These remarks apply to all foods taken at irregular times, but starchy foods (cakes, biscuits) and sweets are especially harmful in this respect. When sugar is taken in excess, the walls of the stomach secrete large quantities of mucus; this is poured out or mixed with the food, and the gastric juice is thus prevented from reaching it. In other words, "catarrh of the stomach" is produced, a common precursor, of indigestion. The most important thing is to vary the food given; for children, like ourselves, need change of diet. A good dinner from a joint one day may be followed the next by one of macaroni boiled in milk. When the children are young, soup or fish makes a pleasant change; while puddings should be not only frequent, but more varied in flavour than those usually given to children. We are, of course, now only speaking generally, but all children cannot eat the same things, and the mother who values her children's health must study, without pampering, their individual tastes. Plenty of milk should be given to young children, for it is their best and most natural food.


The position of a good Nursery Governess in a household should be that of a lady, and not, as it too often happens, a situation in which the duties of a governess and of a nurse are expected to be performed by one person at a salary far below the wages of a servant. Speaking generally, there is scarcely any class so badly paid as nursery governesses, but the fault does not lie entirely with the employers. Too often the girls themselves are, by their social position and education, totally unfitted for the training of children, and really not worth the wages of a good servant, whose place they would be too proud to take. A nursery governess should be, as she is sometimes termed, "a mother's help," and as such the mistress of the household should endeavour to choose her from her own rank. No one expects the daughters of the