The Baby Cage

I could never use this, but it does make for an interesting post!

Baby-cages-used-to-ensure-that-children-get-enough-sunlight-and-fresh-air-when-living-in-an-apartment-building-ca-1937

In the 1930s, London nannies lacking space for their young ones resorted to the baby cage. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a wire contraption, patented in the U.S. in 1922, that lets you claim that space outside your city window for your infant. Risky? Maybe, but so convenient.

It seems that this historical oddity is one that constantly comes in and out of the media and causes incredible public shock and outrage every time. It is amazing how attitudes change, so that something invented in the 1920s to do nothing but good now leaves us struggling to believe it ever happened.

In 1923 Emma Read patented the Portable Baby Cage. It was designed to solve the problem of large high rises in urban areas which left families with no open spaces to allow their young children to play. It was agreed that babies needed fresh air to maintain their health, so the baby cage was a simple and safe way to leave babies outside to enjoy the air. In the patent it is explained that:

“It is well known that a great many difficulties rise in raising and properly housing babies and small children in crowded cities, that is to say from the health viewpoint. “With these facts in view, it is the purpose of this invention to provide an article of manufacture for babies and young children, to be suspended upon the exterior of a building adjacent an open window, wherein the baby or young child may be placed.”

The cage could be suspended outside an open window of a flat, allowing the baby to sleep or play fully in the open air with wire mesh protecting it from falling. The baby cage was used in London during the 1930s, when in particular they were distributed to members of the Chelsea Baby Club ‘who have no gardens and live at the top of high buildings’, as documented by Getty.

baby cage

The idea didn’t really catch on for many obvious reasons. Firstly the wire mesh looks awful and must have reminded mothers constantly that they were really locking their baby in a cage: and I’m sure the name didn’t help either. Secondly they look incredibly dangerous, with babies potentially suspended 200 feet from the ground.

baby cage 1

Let me know what you think of this wacky invention!

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40 thoughts on “The Baby Cage

  1. Reblogged this on Avenue Post and commented:
    The moment I saw the photos i laughed, although I think the idea is good and I’m sure given the use of modern materials and technology there is potential for modern use, if only somewhere for your cat to sit and contemplate life.

  2. First, thanks for following my blog. What an interesting slice of life from the past. Can you imagine the horror it would cause today? They would wrap those parents up and put them away! Loved the photos!

  3. I’ve never seen these photos before and yes, they do scare me. I would use them, not for my baby, but for everything else like growing flowers, a small pot garden, or laundry. The baby cages have been replaced by air conditioners, I guess.

  4. Hate the idea of caging children. Still urban dwellers have a lot of pressures. People used to raise ten kids in what today is considered a starter house with three bedrooms.

  5. First of all, that video is priceless. I have mixed feelings. It seems those babies are a lot safer than the ones that were bundled up and put outside in their buggies to get fresh air. Weren’t there a lot of baby buggy kidnappings that way? The fresh air would be beneficial. The only disturbing thing is that it looks like a cage. Can’t be any worse than the leashes they make to keep kids on.

  6. Scary, interesting topic but I could never use that if I had a small baby. Outrageous! Would rather move out of the apartment than use that! Thanks for sharing noneoftheless!

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