Nutrition and Hygiene

Nutrition and Hygiene

Another important duty of a housewife is feeding her child(ren). Health or illness, beauty or ugliness, even good or bad temperedness, and cleverness of children are all related to the way they are fed.

Children have a different feeding pattern as compared with that of adults. They have different requirements at different ages and therefore mothers have to take this point into consideration when feeding their children.


"The best and the most nourishing food is milk. Milk contains all that is required for a healthy body. Thus for a baby there is nothing more suitable than the mother's milk. Since milk contains ingredients which are suitable for the baby's digestive system, therefore, there are not any problems in feeding a baby with mother's milk. Besides one does not need to boil it, pasteurize it, or sterilize it. One also need not to worry about its genuineness.

"Imam Ali (AS) stated: 'There is no better and more copious food than mother's milk for a baby'."[141]

"Dr A. H. Taba, the former Head of the Eastern Mediterranean Region of the World Health Organization said: 'One of the important factors, which makes a child susceptible to many illnesses is by depriving him or her of mother's milk which is the only life insurance of any person'."[142]

Thus, mothers who feed their babies with their own milk must remember that all the necessary nutrition for their babies are contained within that milk.

But a nutritive milk is only possible if the mother is fed well, that is, the quality of her milk is related to the quality and quantity of her own food. The better her food, the better her milk would be. Mothers who feed their babies with their own milk can, through carelessness about their food, damage their own health as well as of their babies.

The fathers of small babies are also responsible to supply their wives with sufficient good quality food. Malnutrition is a serious problem for many people and one should not overlook it or else she must be prepared to pay for the treatment of illnesses caused by it.

You can obtain enough information on this subject from your doctor or related books. But as a general rule a nursing mother should consume all types of food from meat, fruit, dairy products. to vegetables.

The important fact is that the mother's milk affects the baby's character and that is why "Imam Ali (AS) stated: 'Do not choose foolish women to feed (your children) with their milk, because the milk makes their base qualities penetrated into the child'."[143]

"Imam Baqir (AS) stated: 'Choose noble women to feed (your children) with their milk, because the base qualities of milk are passed from the feeding woman to the child'."[144]

You must feed your baby at definite intervals. Your child gets used to this regularity and helps him in being patient. It also helps him with regard to a healthy digestive system and stomach. On the other hand, if you feed the baby whenever he cries, then he will not learn to be disciplined. If he gets what he wants through crying, then he will pick up this attitude and use it even when he becomes an adult. He will not have the necessary patience when confronting hardships. He will either use force to achieve his own wishes or he will break down under difficulties.

Do not think that to discipline a child is an impossible task. You must just be patient and have a suitable program for training him according to your standards. The child nutritive experts say that a baby must be fed with milk once every three to four hours.

Hold your child in your arms while feeding. By embracing the child feels your love and it would even affect his/her future personality. Do not feed the baby while lying down, because it has been seen that some mothers have fallen asleep while feeding their babies and as a result some babies have suffocated because their mother's breasts prevented them breathing.

If you do not have any milk yourself, you can use cow's milk. But since cow's milk is much denser than mother's milk, you must add some water to it. You can also use pasteurized milk, which you should boil for twenty minutes or until it becomes safe for babies' consumption.

Do not feed the baby with hot or cold milk, but at the same temperature as the mother's milk.

After every feeding, you should boil the bottle and its nipple, and extra car must be taken during the hot seasons. Be careful not to use leftover or sour milk. It is better to measure the amount of milk for every feeding in order to make sure that your child is not getting too much or too little. In using powdered milk, you should consult a pediatrician. You must always use fresh powdered milk.

After the fourth month of the baby's birth you can start to feed him with fruit juice. From the age of six months, you can also start to feed him with solid foods and soups. You can feed him biscuits or sweet bread. Yogurt and cheese are also useful. You can gradually feed him with slight amounts of your own food.

Remember that your baby feels thirsty just as often as you do. Therefore, feed him with water as well, but do not try to make him drink tea or coffee. Fruits, vegetables, and soups are especially useful for growing infants.

Do not forget to be hygienic with regard to your baby's bedding, clothing, and nappies. Wash his face and hands often. Bathe him regularly, because infants are very susceptible towards dirt and germs and become ill easily.

You must vaccinate your children against such diseases as smallpox, chickenpox, whooping cough, infantile paralysis, scarlet fever, measles, and diphtheria. Vaccines are fortunately readily available in medical and health centers.

You can have healthy children by observing these codes of hygiene and cleanliness.

[141] Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, vol  15, p 175.
[142] Ittela'at, 15th Farvardin, 1353 Solar Hijri.
[143] Wasa'il al-Shi'ah, vol 15, p 188.
[144] Ibid, p 189.