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Childhood in Rostock, on the Baltic Coast, as seen through the Lens of the Enlightenment and Rationalist Medical Science (1807)

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By contrast, the majority of children born in a legitimate marriage generally not only enjoy very good health – for some exceptions occur here as everywhere else – but also distinguish themselves by a beauty peculiar to this age. [ . . . ]

Most of the local mothers follow the equally beneficial and rewarding natural instinct to breastfeed their newborn babies. Even the women from the higher classes hardly represent an exception to this. With impartial love of truth, I confess publicly here that I encountered more than one tender mother who was barely able to calm down when urgent circumstances prevented her from performing this sacred duty as mother, hardly willing to decide, with heavy heart and tearful eyes, to hire a wet nurse or feed her child by the spoon. [ . . . ]

Those who breast-feed their children themselves or keep wet nurses for them will wean them, for the most part, in the course of a year, or when they have nearly reached this target. As a rule, they are prepared for this already by giving them all sorts of conditioning or improper food on the side. After this period, however, one becomes altogether less concerned about paying attention to the age of the children when selecting meals. At that point, they usually have to eat anything that is served at the table, [ . . . ]. It is understood that they eat quite their fill, and the physician always has to make special allowances for that in case the children become ill. Things are done in a similar way with respect to beverages. Sometimes the children drink water, sometimes beer, but quite often one already makes them used to coffee and wine early on, sometimes giving them so much of the latter that it goes to their head. [ . . . ]

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