Quirky History of Baby Cages

The peculiar trend of “baby cages” took flight in 1922, yet its roots trace back to Dr. Luther Emmett Holt’s 1884 book, “The Care and Feeding of Children.” Dr. Holt emphasized the necessity of fresh air for infants, asserting its role in renewing and purifying blood—a crucial element for health and growth. According to him, exposing babies to cold temperatures toughened them up, enhancing their ability to resist common colds.

The cages gained popularity among apartment dwellers who lacked access to backyards.

The Extra Mile: From Advice to Actions

In response to the scarcity of homes with outdoor areas, individuals started installing infant-sized cages on windows, providing a hanging space for babies in 1934.

While Dr. Holt advocated placing an infant’s basket near an open window, some parents, like Eleanor Roosevelt, went above and beyond. Admitting her lack of knowledge in baby care, Roosevelt purchased a chicken-wire cage for her daughter Anna. Suspended outside her New York City apartment window, Anna enjoyed naps within—until a concerned neighbor intervened, threatening to report Roosevelt to the authorities.

The Commercial Venture: 1922’s Patent

If indeed the cages were secure (although, we make a similar assumption about our air-conditioning units), perhaps these mothers were on to something in 1936.

The first commercial patent for a baby cage was filed in 1922 by Emma Read of Spokane, Washington. These cages gained popularity in 1930s London, particularly among apartment dwellers without access to backyards.

Fading into Obscurity: Child Safety Concerns

A baby confined in a cage in the year 1948.

The decline in the popularity of baby cages remains shrouded in uncertainty. However, it is likely linked to escalating concerns for child safety in the latter half of the 20th century.

Conclusion: A Quirky Chapter in Child Rearing

The trend demonstrated enduring popularity; there were even pun-filled promotional videos extolling the virtues of baby cages in 1940.

In retrospect, the baby cage phenomenon from 1934 to 1948 stands as a peculiar chapter in child rearing. From the well-intentioned advice of Dr. Holt to the extremes taken by parents like Eleanor Roosevelt, the baby cage era is a fascinating exploration into unconventional parenting practices.

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