Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Important medical advice to parents

Something clicked for me today, realizing another important health care practice that generations of parents have used to protect their children that is totally forgotten today. What clicked for me was the realization that modern parents didn't know this obvious information about babies and young children.

If you look at old pictures or speak to someone as old as me (LOL) you'll see that all babies wore bonnets. Bonnets are close fitting caps with an all around rim, usually ruffles or lace. It has dawned on me that this generation thinks that was a quaint fashion decision, but if you think about it, duh, why would everyone have done it for generations if it was "fashion?" Bonnets were one of the essential items that protected babies' and young children's health in two ways.

One is that they regulate the temperature of the baby. When it is hot the bonnet protects the baby from the sun. When it is cold the bonnet keeps the baby warm (that's why wearing a hat is important in the cold, since much body heat is lost through the head). So bonnets were essential for regulating the proper body temperature of the infant.

Equally important, though, and this should be the attention getter for you modern parents. Bonnets were used to protect infant ears from the wind and drafts which cause... yes, chronic ear aches. Babies and young children have very sensitive ear canals and ear drums. When I was a kid all of us got ear aches when we rode in cars with the window down. Every parent knew this, which was why they wouldn't let kids roll down the windows very far in the cars (remember, this is pre-air conditioning). Whenever a baby got an ear ache the family doctor knew that drafts were likely behind it. And I can testify because it is something I've actually not outgrown as an adult. That is why I wear a "do rag" (what we used to call bandannas) that covers my ears when I am outside on a windy day, or if I have the air conditioner on in the car for extended time periods. I still get ear aches when wind or air conditioning blows near my ear. Also, people have wondered why I wear my very long hair forward so it covers my ears (the subject usually comes up when women have suggested I wear earrings, which I don't, only to discover that even if I wore earrings my hair totally covers my ears.) Because my ears have remained very sensitive to drafts, just as when I was a child, I keep my hair over my ears and do not like a "pulled back" hair do, in general.

Now, all you parents know there has been a so called "epidemic" of "ear infections" in babies and young children that are very painful. Duh. This coincides with the society that stopped putting bonnets that cover the ears on their babies AND inundate cars, offices and homes with the cold air venting from air conditioners. While driving today with my do rag on and seeing a young boy riding in a Jeep (driven by his mom) it suddenly dawned on me that you all don't realize this! I'm telling you that many of the episodes of "ear infections" occur because the infant is not wearing a bonnet and is exposed to direct air blowing into the ear. When we were young we never "needed" antibiotics for ear aches because most of the time they occurred it was because a youngster was exposed to direct air blowing in his or her ear, like I said, if the car window was cranked down too low. Babies rarely had ear aches in those days because like I said, bonnets were constantly worn as parents knew about preventing them from, what we called "getting a draft." A draft was not a beer. A draft is a blowing wind, either the natural wind outside or human caused such as fans or air conditioning, that both chills infants and also inflames the inner ear when the tissue is very sensitive and still growing, thus very vulnerable.

I hope this helps open some eyes. Bonnets were essential health needs for babies, not quaint clothes that are "old fashioned." And the "ear ache" epidemic is from another modern society lack of common sense and knowledge that every parent used to have, and of course, now gets called an "epidemic," a "disease," and medicated. Meanwhile the baby is sitting there directly under an air vent or outdoors in the wind with unprotected ears. Duh! I hope you find this helpful.