See how moms used weird baby window cages & other ‘interesting’ child containment devices way back when

Vintage baby window cages

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Baby window cages for an infant’s… health?

Babies are a lot of work, as anyone who has ever cared for one will attest. Over the years, intrepid inventors have tried to come up with ideas that would ease the burden on parents — giving them a little help by helping keep baby safe and contained while they enjoyed the health benefits of fresh, cooler air.

As you can see here, the results were mixed. Contained? Yes. Well-ventilated? Indeed.

Safe? That’s questionable… especially the further back you go — like to when infants were suspended from high buildings in baby window cages (in what was considered fresher air outside — though knowing what we know today, we’re skeptical that was the case).

Would you consider using a baby window cage today?

Many of the older versions of baby window cages — from the 1910s and 1920s — were essentially dog kennels that had been window-mounted like one of today’s small air conditioning units.

Take a look and see what you think of a few of these contraptions from the past — things that more often looked like baby cages than a safe spot to park junior in the afternoon, and gradually morphed into cribs with lids.

ALSO SEE: 47 dangerous old playgrounds that our great-grandparents somehow survived

Baby window cage: Where the President’s granddaughter slept (1916)

Little Ellen Wilson McAdoo, daughter of the secretary of the treasury, and granddaughter of President Wilson,  is a “fresh air baby.”

In the box-like crib shown [here], the young lady takes her daily naps and her evening rest. The crib is so constructed that it may be swung out from the window so as to allow the child fresh air without the care of nurse or mother. It is securely fastened and accident-proof.

Baby in a baby window cage (1916)
Even the grandchild of the President of the United States slept in a baby window cage

Baby window cages

The vintage Boggins open-air sleeping compartment for babies

From The Health-Care of the Baby, by Louis Fischer (1920)

A convenient outdoor sleeping compartment readily attached to any window can be bought under the name of “Boggins’ Window Crib.”

This outdoor crib is admirably adapted for city apartments. It is thirty-six inches long, twenty-four inches wide and twenty-seven inches high. The illustration shows how comfortable the baby can be in this crib, and how he can be kept in view of his mother or nurse.

The metal roof is insulated, so that the compartment is always cool in summer. The reinforced screens make it absolutely safe. The baby can not fall out, and flies or mosquitoes can not get in. 

Baby window cage: Vintage Boggins open air sleeping compartment for babies (1920)
Baby window cage viewed from inside the room
Baby window cages: Boggins open air sleeping compartment for babies (1920)
Baby window cage viewed from the outside

Baby is given fresh air in a baby window cage 

From Popular Science (Oct 1923) – Colorized photo

Babies of flat and tenement dwellers, whose tiny lungs have been forced to breathe stale and overheated air, are offered relief by the recent English invention pictured [below].

A large metal crate is attached to the outside of the window by two stout iron poles. A baby basket can easily be lowered inside. If insects are likely to trouble the child, the crate can be screened.

Baby is given fresh air in a baby window cage - Colorized (1923)
Not sure dad is entirely convinced about this baby window cage setup…

Vintage screened bassinet for baby (1941)

Your baby will be safe in this screened-in crib. You can let him enjoy the sun, yet be protected from undesirable insects or playful pets.

Crib and Pad Built of selected kiln-dried hardwood and galvanized screen wire. Sturdy and strong it will last you many years.

Specially convenient — top lifts up and slides. Complete with link fabric spring and cotton mattress that fit crib perfectly. Your child will be completely comfortable, and completely happy with his “sweet dreams.” Link spring will give him enough support, and the softness of the cotton mattress will lull him to sleep. Bassinet size: 21×36 inches. Height, 31-1/2 inches. Choice of Ivory or Maple finish.

ALSO SEE: See how different antique baby carriages & old-fashioned strollers used to be

Vintage screened bassinet for baby (1941)

Kiddie Koop: A baby crib that closes so mom can do chores (1950)

A bouncy new baby is wonderful fun — but quite a burden, too! Your baby will be safer… easier to care for in Kiddie-Koop – Trimble’s Practical Safety Crib

Young mothers are all alike when it comes to Kiddie-Koop baby care… they like it! In Kiddie-Koop, Baby enjoys his sleep AND his play and exercise in perfect safety. You are free to do the thousand things you must do with a new baby in the house.

This practical safety crib will make Baby even more fun, because Trimble’s Kiddie-Koop makes baby care easier for you… safer for Baby. When you put Baby in safety-screened Kiddie-Koop. he’s there to stay. He can’t get out, can’t throw toys out… pets and older children can’t hurt him… he is safe — and you know it, even if you are out of sight!

ALSO SEE: Vintage baby gear from the 1950s: Playpens, strollers & more

Go to your department, furniture or baby store — ask about the Trimble Kiddie-Koop. You will see how attractive and practical this safety crib is — and it’s economical, for you’ll use it from birth to big bed age, and it comes complete with special wet-proof Vinylite covered Hairflex mattress.

Kiddie Koop: A baby crib that closes so mom can do chores (1950)

Screened and covered vintage baby travel crib bed (1962)

FOR HOME AND AWAY! A full size 18″ x 36″ crib on easy-moving casters, with adjustable height to avoid bending over. Folds quickly into a compact carrying unit, has tubular telescoping legs that convert it to a super-size travel bed.

Heavyweight fabric: washable, durable. Both body and top are screened with rust-proof, flexible fiberglas. Use it indoors or out! Manufactured by the makers of famous KANTWET… the nation’s finest crib mattress.

MORE: See cute vintage baby nursery furniture & bedroom decor they had in the fifties

Screened and covered vintage baby travel crib bed (1962)

Covered baby cribs from 1973

Screen-topped accessories go indoors and out!

Covered baby cribs from 1973

Lady, is this your litter? A bizarre trash can baby cage (1969)

LIFE used to regularly run interesting, strange, amusing or thought-provoking photographs on the last page of the magazine — and the May 30, 1969 issue was no exception.

This photo of a mother and her child visiting the park probably fell under both the “strange” and “amusing” categories: the baby is tucked under an inverted open-frame trash can — a makeshift playpen — while mom peacefully crochets on a bench in the background.

Lady, is this your litter A bizarre park baby cage photo (1969)

See how vintage baby bottles, infant nursers & feeding accessories have changed over the years

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Comments on this story

3 Responses

  1. My earliest memory is of lying on my back in a screened outdoor crib that looked just like this one. It was painted a yellowish cream. Sam, the black cat, was on the top switching his tail as he looked down at me, growling. This was probably in 1952 or 3.
    The crib got in such poor condition in my parents’ damp basement that I threw it out probably in the 1980s. The screens were steel so had rusted, falling apart in spots. The legs had rotted until the casters fell out.

  2. My earliest memory is of waking up in the Kiddie Koop (my parents called it the Kiddie Koop). This would have been in 1954. It was a very pale yellow color when it was my crib and when my little brother was born a couple of years later. When my little sister was born my parents painted it pink. My parents had a ’55 Chevy station wagon, and I remember when we went on trips my little brother and then my little sister rode in the Kiddie Koop in the way back when they were toddlers. I remember my dad removing the casters and cutting a couple of inches off the legs so it would fit in the back of the wagon. He redrilled the holes in the legs to refit the casters when it was used around the house. My parents gave it to my cousin when his daughter was born in the late 1960’s My mom sure missed the Kiddie Koop when my surprise little brother was born a year later!

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