It is always important for lil’ Sally and lil’ Jimmy to have some sun and fresh air every now and again. However, being outside with a two-story (or so…) free-fall drop does not sound as good of an idea. . . . Nor does thinking that a baby and a cage go together. Not only did Emma Read from Spokane, Washington create such a invention (called the “Portable Baby Cage”), she also had it patented!
Emma came up with the idea after seeing how difficult it was raising babies and small children in crowded cities with large, tall apartments. Out of concern for the health of children and their lack of fresh air, she created an invention to solve those issues.
Emma’s invention was a cage that would be suspended and braced from an open window on the exterior of a building. The cage had a solid bottom with wire around the sides, allowing for fresh air to pass through it. Emma also proposed curtains that could be pulled shut to stop drafts when a baby takes a nap in the suspended cage. The roof would be slanted with overlapping shingles to prevent snow or rain from getting into the cage.
Putting pen to paper, Emma filed for a patent on July 19, 1922 and it was accepted on March 13, 1923. The “Portable Baby Cage” is classified as U.S. Patent #1,448,235. I am unsure as to how popular or used these baby cages were here in the U.S. It has been reported that First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt either had one or was seriously considering getting one when her children were younger.
This was not only an ‘invention’ in the United States, but also in England. In 1937, the Chelsea Baby Club distributed baby cages to London mothers. They were no longer widely used during and after The Blitz in 1940.
Anthony Bond, “Baby taking up too much room?…” Daily Mail, July 24, 2012.
Nicholas Jackson, “Old, Weird Teck: Baby Cage Edition,” The Atlantic, October 8, 2010.
United States Patent Office, “Portable Baby Cage.”