Dumb Baby Inventions of the 20th Century

I’m taking care of a sick little boy today (and possibly tomorrow as well) and so I need to delay my next installment of “25 Ways for Dads to Change the World.” In the meantime, I thought I’d share some baby-related highlights from Life magazine’s “30 Dumb Inventions List.”

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First up, we have a baby cage from 1937. “The cages were distributed to members of the Chelsea Baby Club in London who have no gardens, or qualms about putting a child in a box dangling over a busy street,” notes Life. My wife, incidentally, didn’t think this invention was dumb at all–”It’s like a portable balcony,” she said. I’ll let you make up your own mind.

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Next comes my personal favorite: “A pair of artificial breasts with a built-in heartbeat, an invention from — where else? — Japan intended as a sleeping aid for very young children.” Now I’m the one who doesn’t think this is dumb. These robotic ta-ta’s might have come in handy for me back in ’04, when my son wouldn’t sleep without the breast.

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Speaking of boobs, here we have Charles L. Langs posing with his “strapless, backless, wireless, support-less bras”–apparently, you just stick those pointy things on and they provide…what? Pointy-ness? Perhaps they possessed some erotic value for Mr. Langs, pictured here with his “justifiably dubious” wife? I, for one, think they would make nifty hats.

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Finally, here we have Jack Milford, player with the Wembley Monarchs ice hockey team, and his precariously balanced family. Jack invented this device that allows parents to take their little baby with them for fun on “a rock-hard surface with very little friction,” as Life says. It’s not completely unlike the Baby Bjorn, when you think about it… just 500 times more dangerous.