“On the Social Construction of Childhood: Making Space for Babies“, an article at Inequality by (Interior) Design caught my eye over the weekend.
“Baby cages also quite literally extended the boundaries of the home’s “interior” in ways that allowed city dwellers to find space for the baby. Baby cages are a really interesting solution to the lack of architectural and social provisions seen as newly necessary for children, and are an illustration of the transformation of cultural conceptualizations of childhood.”
I think it’s worth a read, if only for the thank you caption the author leaves at the end “to Matthew Martin for the images of the early American baby tender and the lithograph of the child on fire.”
The author, as indicated by blog title, talks about how space and culture interact with each other to form new things that then impact space and culture all over again. I’m left wondering more about the types of conversations involved in setting up such a cage and getting the baby in and out of it on a regular basis. For example, would one hire a certified baby cage technician to install it in a window? Or, “Make sure Timmy’s got his wool in, it’s a brisk breeze up here today.” There also doesn’t appear to be a gate keeping him from tumbling back into the house either.
I think only when you’re actively keeping babies, toddlers and children in your space, on a daily basis, do you really get an idea of how they warp the space. Or twist it. Or alter it. Or get dangerous with it. Let’s. Get. Dangerous.
The piece starts off talking about how something historians thought colonists used to store firewood turned out to be a proto baby cage so that they could be certain the kids didn’t set themselves on fire in the open hearth whilst mom or dad was off doing something else entirely.
While there’s no way on earth I’d install a baby cage on our living room picture window, five feet off the ground (nevermind out the window of a ten story apartment), I find the discussion about how different times and people respond to the changing needs of space in the home as new elements are introduced to be very interesting. At least, in a note-comparing sense. I openly concede that this would make the crying of the annoyed baby someone else’s problem. And this almost makes it redeemable. Can you imagine being the neighbor, used to having your window open during the day until those jerks next door had a baby and mounted them on the window ledge up wind of you? The crying and the baby smell? Yikes.
ETA – I am reminded of this: