Baby cages

I admit, I am intrigued by the use of baby cages in recent history. Under what circumstances is outdoor air better than indoor air – from a microbial exposure perspective – is an ongoing and fascinating question. The image of a baby hanging out a window in a chicken-wire cage graphically encapsulates that debate. Talk of baby cages appeared in the New York Times on the New York Today post by Tatiana Schlossberg. It’s quoted here.

Baby cage”: a phrase not normally associated with Eleanor Roosevelt.

But after the birth of her first child, Anna, in 1906, Mrs. Roosevelt bought a chicken-wire cage in which to put her baby during her morning nap and hung it out the window of her town house on East 36th Street.

Mrs. Roosevelt wrote in her autobiography that she had heard that fresh air was good for babies.

“I had never any interest in dolls or little children,” Mrs. Roosevelt wrote. “And I knew absolutely nothing about handling or feeding a baby.”

The cage was in a north-facing window, where it was cold and shady.

Anna often cried, but Mrs. Roosevelt paid no mind until a neighbor threatened to report her to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

“This was a rather a shock for me,” Mrs. Roosevelt later recalled. “I thought I was being a very modern mother.”

4 thoughts on “Baby cages

    1. Woah, that’s scary-looking! And most of those pictures were in a very urban setting, which didn’t look very indicative of “fresh air.”

    2. Crazy. I never even heard of this until this morning. What’s so funny about it is that it’s not as bad of an idea as it sounds at first blush.

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Rachel Adams

Rachel Adams is a Project Scientist at University of California Berkeley.