". . .the children's room,
with drawers and clothes-press, close to the bath and water-closet and
back outside door, so that children can run out and in without using
other parts of the house."
Catherine E. Beecher, "How to Redeem Woman's Profession..."
BY J. CLEMENT.
THY heart's fond treasure, doting mother,
Is fresh from skies divinely bland;
Its eyes' soft lustre is no other
Than radiance of the sunny land.
So fragile and so low descended,
So far removed from its celestial power,
It need with angel care be tended,
Or it may wither in an hour.
Then gently to thy bosom press it,
And breathe thy love notes in its ear;
Their music has the power to bless it
With dreams of its own native sphere.
A seraph chord astray from heaven,
Oh, may it here no discord learn,
But, mellow as the voice of even,
Back to the sunny land return!
GODEY'S LADY'S BOOK
Philadelphia, November 1850
THE aspect of a day-nursery should be light, airy, and, if attainable,
exposed to the south. It is impossible to over-estimate the worth of this
situation in the attempt to rear children in full health and buoyancy of
spirit. The ruddy bloom of a well-trained child betokens something more than a
sound constitution-it indicates a joyous temperament and keen enjoyment of
life. Children immured in gloomy apartments never wear this look. In all save
their clothing they are liable to resemble the ill-fed population of crowded
cities, whose playground is the nearest gutter.
Doctors agree that the best place for children is the upper
part of a house, where the air circulates more freely, and the odours of the
basement are less penetrating. Not that nurseries should be in what is termed
the "roof of the house;" still less should a child's playroom have a
sloping ceiling, such as attic apartments too often have. What children
require is, a cheerful prospect without, and an airy, roomy space to romp in.
The custom, which is gradually gaining ground, of converting the
breakfast-room on the basement-floor of suburban villas into day-nurseries, is
very objectionable. One can quite understand that want of space and
insufficiency of attendance often render these arrangements arbitrary but the
error invariably discovers itself in time in the increased want felt for
stimulating food tonics, and other remedies for enfeebled constitutions.
In case of an outbreak of any infectious complaint such as
fever, measles, whooping-cough, &c., the sick child should retain
possession of the nursery, or some room on that upper floor (as infection
always ascends), and the other children should be given a temporary nursery on
a lower floor, every article of clothing, bedding curtains, and carpets being
removed at the same time It should always be remembered that children are more
susceptible of infection than grown people. The maid in attendance on the sick
child should never attend in the nursery of the other children.
The furniture of nurseries requires a few words of comment.
The bare necessaries of comfortable 1iving are all that should be admitted
into apartments where space and cleanliness are indispensable. A large room
full of furniture is less healthy than a small one scantily fitted up.
Beginning with the walls: It would perhaps shock most
people to tell them that the very best walls for a nursery are those which are
simply plastered and whitewashed Every year, in the spring, the whitewash may
be renewed at trifling cost, doing away with the harbour for fleas and more
objectionable insects. Next in fitness is a painted wall, admitting of easy
cleansing when required. Equal in excellence is marbled paper varnished, like
that of halls and staircases of modern houses.
Bedding is an important question, particularly if there be
many children to provide for. If possible, each child should sleep alone;
never with its nurse. Small iron bedsteads are best; but where there are many
children especially little ones, it will be a good plan to have wickerwork
cradles, made in the shape of the bassinet without the hood. A basket of this
description, measuring three feet two inches at the bottom and two feet too
inches wide, will be capable of containing a child till three years of age, at
which time he may be quartered in some other apartment. The advantage these
basket work bedsteads have is that the bedding may be removed from the nursery
by day, and put elsewhere to air, and the baskets themselves stowed away one
upon another till wanted.
Horsehair mattresses are the best if the expense can be
afforded. They are best because they admit of being easily unpicked and put
together again. It is only necessary to unpick the "tabs," and empty
the horsehair into a washing-tub filled with soap and water. When it has been
thoroughly washed, together with the casing, it is as good and sweet as new.
Every one acquainted with nursery management will be aware of the necessity
for such cleansing.
An excellent addition to the amount of bedding allowed will
be under-mattresses of dry chaff. These are very inexpensive, can be made at
home, and may be easily renewed. They are warm and springy. Here and there a
tab will add to their evenness. Bolsters made of the same are comfortable and
economical. For very young infants, especially when teething, a cot
pillow-case of washleather, filled with horsehair, will be most suitable.
Nursery bedding should not be aired in the same room
as that occupied by the children. If, however, no other means exist, the
mattresses and clothes should be laid before the fire whilst the little ones
are out walking, the windows and doors being left open during the process.
The fittings of a nursery should be few and washable. Plain
chintz curtains are preferable on this account to woollen materials. Sand-bags
are requisite along the windows, in severe weather, because children cannot be
kept from looking out and tapping at the panes, thereby exposing themselves to
It is not advisable to cover a nursery completely with
carpet. A square of felt, bound at the edges, and fastened at the corners and
sides with a few carpet-nails (those made with large flat brass heads are the
best), is easily removed, and easily shaken. The felt should be taken up one
day in every week, and the room thoroughly scrubbed. An excellent addition to
the ordinary means of cleansing consists of a lump of lime in the pail of
water used for scrubbing. The lime not only whitens, but disinfects the
boards. Whilst the nursery is scrubbed, the windows should be left open a few
inches at both top and bottom, and a fire kept brightly burning, except in
A hamper for toys is a good substitute for a cupboard. If
the house be large, and the nursery distant from the main supplies of
provisions, a safe should be established on a landing, or in a spare room,
wherein bread, milk, butter, and the nursery grocery may be kept. One or two
saucepans for warming infants' food, and a kettle for the nursery tea, are
A small kitchen-range is preferable to the ordinary
fireplace. These nursery-ranges, fitted with a boiler, save time and trouble,
when hot water is frequently wanted, as in the case of the morning and evening
Nursery fenders are in such general use that it seems
almost unnecessary to recommend them. No room appropriated to children is safe
without such a protection from fire. To be perfectly safe, however, and beyond
the reach of long sticks, it is needful that a wire guard should be suspended
on the grate within.
In planning the arrangements of a nursery, endeavour to
make the little establishment as independent of the rest of the household as
With regard to ventilation : the well-being of children
much depends on a plentiful supply of fresh air, and dangerous diseases are
generated by breathing over and over again the same atmosphere. If a child
waken languid in the morning, instead of being sprightly and refreshed, it may
be taken as a tolerable indication of the inadequate ventilation of the
sleeping-room during night. Some provision for the admittance of fresh air is
indispensable. The upper sash of one window should be left a little open,
taking care that no draught shall come on any bed. Should the weather be cold,
or damp, leave the bed-room door open, instead of the window. The register of
the fire-place in the sleeping-room must also be left open.
The temperature of a bed-room in winter should be, as
nearly as possible, at 60º Fahrenheit.
The Victorian Dictionary
compiled by Lee Jackson