This most important matter of good sleep for the child depends not only on the health of the body but on the ease of the infant’s mind. It is wrong to treat the child otherwise than through understanding, where he is afraid, or in a strange place. Waking up, after being put to sleep in a strange room, the little one may receive a shock which may prevent sleep for the rest of the night. If he is patiently soothed and matters explained, all will be well; but it is a great cruelty to thrash or threaten in such a case. To do such a thing as to frighten a child with ghost stories is to commit a serious crime. It is not dealt with by the law, but it certainly deserves to be.
Never bring before a child’s mind any imaginary terrors; rather teach it to understand them in such a way as to remove any cause of fear. But do not force a child to examine an object of its fear; you may do terrible damage before you can explain. All fears should be most carefully dealt with, and no force employed; the little one who has no imaginary terrors, and is kindly taught to think every fearful image at bottom some innocent cloak or shadow, will sleep sound and grow healthy in mind.
When, however, ill health is the cause of wakefulness, other means must be used. Cold feet and chilly feelings generally, frequently keep children from sleep. Pack in such cases the lower limbs up to the waist in thick folded flannel fomentation. This will often not only give sleep, but prevent more serious trouble.
Often the child is sleepless from feverish heat instead of coldness; then cooling applications should be used. These may take the form of two caps for the head of thickest cotton cloth; one, tight fitting, to be wrung out of cold water and put on, the other, looser and dry, to be put on over the first. This alone will often secure a night’s sleep.
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