from When a Child is Born by Wilhelm zur Linden M.D.

copyright©1995, 1998 Rudolf Steiner Press

Healing Arts Press, One Park Street Rochester, Vermont 05767




As adults we know how uncomfortable it is to feel cold and how it prevents us from working properly either physically or mentally. A baby feels even more uncomfortable and yet he cannot complain. If his mother is observant she will notice what is the matter if he is too pale or if there are disturbances in his development. […] What is said in this section applies particularly to the first three years.

         As far as possible, all the baby’s clothes should be made of natural material such as wool, cotton and silk. Synthetic fibres are a very poor substitute.

         The baby’s vests (undershirt, onesie) should be made of wool or pure silk. Cotton and linen are not warm enough, particularly for delicate babies without enough fat. A thin woolen vest is the baby’s most important item of clothing. So long as it is clean it should be kept on all night.

         All fresh clothes should be warmed before they are put on, particularly in winter. A good way is to keep them in the cot with the baby as mentioned above. Otherwise every change of clothing brings about a considerable loss of heat.

         However it must be emphasized that on hot summer days there can be a danger of overheating which can lead to serious diarrhoea. Signs of this are restlessness, a red face and sweaty hair. Therefore let it be said once again that woolen blankets should be used since they allow for ventilation, whereas quilts can retain too much heat.

         While the baby is wrapped in a fairly firm bundle for the first three months (see section on nappies/diapers), at about four months he can start wearing rompers or leggings and is allowed to kick for a few hours each day. But at night he should still be wrapped fairly firmly, though of course never so tightly that he cannot move his legs at all. It seems a baby needs a fairly firm wrapping until the development of his internal organs has reached a certain stage. This does not mean that he should not be allowed to kick while he is being changed or bathed. As with everything one must find the golden mean. Experience has shown that if the limbs are left too free too early, there is a tendency later for scatterbrained lack of concentration, while if they are swaddled too tightly there is a tendency for physical and mental inhibition and clumsiness. […]

         Towards the end of the first year, when the baby begins to stand, it is time to give his limbs all the freedom they want so that he can learn to use them. But at night he should still be prevented from tossing and turning too much. The continental [European] idea of a warm sack for the body and legs attached to a bodice which leaves the arms free is a very good solution. […] In this way he cannot kick off his bedclothes and catch a chill. The sack has a zip down one side to allow for nappy changing.

         When the baby starts to crawl the clothes must be designed to prevent him from catching a chill in the lower part of the body. Heat rises, so the floor is the coldest and draughtiest part of most rooms. Small girls in particular often contract in inflammation of the bladder or worse while they are learning to crawl. They should wear woolly pants, tights and trousers.

         The general rule it that the lower part of the body must always be kept warm while the upper part can be exposed much more to the fresh air. The kitchen of the body where the cooking (digestion) takes place is the tummy. To do its work the liver, the most important digestive organ, needs the considerable heat of 102.2° to 105.8°F (39 to 41°C). The child does not have enough strength to create this warmth if its abdomen is not sufficiently clothed. The mother need then not be surprised if he has no appetite, is pale and does not develop properly.

         If children wear ankle socks or knee socks their knees and thighs wil be far too cold and the chill creeping up towards the abdomen affects not only the work of the bladder and liver but also interferes with the development of all the abdominal organs. The consequences in later life are far more serious than most mothers imagine.

         A child’s foot usually looks completely flat until the third or fourth year because the arch of the foot is filled with a cushion of fat which remains until the muscles of the foot are strong enough to carry the weight of the child. The development of the muscles is hindered if the child wears boots or shoes with special supports or soles. So buy good shoes with flexible soles or good sandals. […]