Thursday, July 23, 2009

Babies in boxes

BoingBoing's guest blogger tells of the fad in the 20's for hanging babies out windows in boxes to ensure that they received fresh air. The Boggins' Open Air Sleeping Compartment was just the thing. These types of stories are the reason that I don't believe almost any parenting advice because another eras fad turns out to be a really bad idea. Click on any of the pictures below for a larger picture.
The view from the streetThe view from inside. It looks like that window is closed, doesn't it.
Note the handles at the bottom of the window pane.

These were the rage enough that Woodrow Wilson's granddaughter was raised in one.

Here is a picture from 1915 of the open air crib in action.

1915. "Mrs. William Gibbs McAdoo, nee Eleanor Wilson. Baby McAdoo's open-air bed."

and a closeup for the crib in the window.

This box would have worked better at my old town house in Wilmington, there was a good three story drop out the back.

These boxes are from 1915 so it unlikely that most of any of my readers were raised in one. More of you will remember being raised in a sleek, modern, air conditioned Skinner Box.

1947. Boxes For Babies. Baby John Gray Jr. happily playing in his Skinner box, developed by Indiana Univ. psychologist Burrhus Frederic Skinner,. type of new-style crib which eliminates germs, drafts & constricting clothing because of temperature controls & slid-down glass

Note the box above is not really a Skinner box, but an air crib. The two are often incorrectly conflated.

I am concerned that none of these boxes appear to have enough packaging to avoid damaging the baby during shipment.

(via BoingBoing and commenters there, with pictures from Google Book search, Skinners box from LIFE and Google Book Search, 1915 picture via Shorpy who got it for free from but fails to credit the Library of Congress digital collection here)

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