Baby It’s Cold Outside: Baby Cages

What is one of the strangest inventions to come out of the 20th century? 

We know that fresh air is good for you although not everyone has access to it.

What happens if you live in a high rise and you’ve got a baby to look after? You’ve got no garden, getting out isn’t easy and besides, you just want to open the window.

No problem, just get yourself a baby cage!

Yes, that’s right, a cage to put your baby in, one that dangles over the edge of the window. These were basically outdoor sleeping compartments readily attached to any window.

This was something that folks used to do in the 1930s – today it would involve social services, child protection and the Police.

These frightening home accessories were roughly the size of an window air conditioning unit and designed to allow city children in tall buildings to get their recommended dose of fresh air and sunshine.

Take a look at one in this video clip:

So where did the idea come from?

In 1884, in a book called The Care and Feeding of ChildrenDr Luther Emmett Holt wrote of the importance of “airing” out babies to “renew and purify the blood.”
Fresh air is required to renew and purify the blood, and this is just as necessary for health and growth as proper food,
It was believed that “airing a child” would strengthen their immune system and increase their general health and vigour.
Dr. Holt advised simply placing an infant’s basket near an open window but some parents took it a step further!
Emma Read invented one of the first portable baby cages in 1922. She wrote in her patent application, her dream was to give babies an escape from crowded urban environments by suspending them in a cage over crowded urban environments.
Eleanor Roosevelt bought a chicken-wire cage after the birth of her daughter Anna and hung it out the window of her New York City apartment for her daughter to have her naps inside.
 Babies would be placed in cages out of windows so that they could get 'fresh air'

Photos: Getty Images

These baby cages were out of fashion by the 1960s and there hasn’t been resurgence since.

Where are we now? Well, in the COVID-19 dystopia we are all caught up in we are told to ventilate and get fresh air circulating. Not easy if you are self-isolating or in lockdown cooped up in a high rise.

Perhaps these baby cages could catch on again. They look very unsafe but apparently there were no fatalities.

Our understanding of children’s risk has certainly changed! We just need to convince health and safety.

Leave a Reply