Yes, that is an infant dangling out a window.
You probably remember your mom being a little more freewheeling about child safety than today’s young parents are. Perhaps you roamed aimlessly around the neighborhood until dinner, or rode in a not-so-secure carseat (or, if you were really lucky, a “travel platform“).
Dangling “baby cages” came into vogue after they were invented in 1922, but Gothamist reports that their origin really began with the 1884 book The Care and Feeding of Children, by Dr. Luther Emmett. In his book, Emmett carefully describes how babies need to be “aired” (you know, like a musty rug) to “renew and purify the blood.”
But whatever was a doting, apartment-living mom to do? Responding to a lack of homes with outdoor space, some London communities began outfitting windows with infant-sized cages for babies to hang out in.
As anyone who’s searched for a city apartment surely knows, a terrace or deck can be quite the find. But these menacing, chicken coop-like bins remind us of a misleading real estate listing — not exactly what you (or your infant) had in mind.
Take a look:
If the cages were, in fact, secure (though, we assume that about our air-conditioning units, too), maybe these moms were onto something. The idea that babies need fresh air persists, regardless of the science behind it — in Scandinavia, little ones in strollers are often parked outside restaurants while their moms take a break inside. Still, we bet most moms will stick to walks around the block for now.