Everyone knows the importance of fresh air and sunshine, but in the early 1900s, new mothers took this suggestion a bit too far. In 1922, a woman named Emma Read from Spokane, Washington, patented a unique design for a large – apparently secure – wire crate that could be attached to the outside of apartment windows, providing city-dwelling infants an opportunity to catch some rays. And they looked just as precarious as they sound.
The idea was that parents living in city-based apartments didn't have the same access to backyards and parks as country dwellers; thus, they needed a plan B. So, as cities became more dense and apartments increasingly smaller, so-called "baby cages" only got more popular.
In 1930s London, country homes gave way to small apartments as families moved en mass to cities for work and greater opportunities. Sadly, this came at a price, as early cities weren't necessarily equipped with the amenities that modern cities enjoy – including adequate outdoor space to let your young ones crawl about safely. Lucky for them, Emma Read of Spokane, WA, had already thought up the perfect solution: baby cages.
These baby cages – which more closely resemble a cage that you would keep a pet bunny in than something you'd ever want your child play in – would be suspended from the outside of window frames, much like popular window-based air conditioners are today, fastened with a little ledge for your sweet babe to sleep on.
In 1894, Dr. Luther Emmett Holt published a book that aimed to assist new mothers in caring for their children, as numerous ailments were causing widespread illness in infants. The book, titled The Care and Feeding of Children: A Catechism for the Use of Mothers and Children's Nurses, provided solutions and suggestions, ranging from only feeding children certified milk to "airing" out children and subjecting them to cold temperatures to help them build immunity to common colds. However, he also argued that parents should avoid playing with their children until they are over six months old, as they "are made nervous and irritable, sleep badly and suffer from indigestion" when given too much attention.