March 4, 2013

It's My Kind In A Box: Babyhok, The Dutch Baby Hutch

So that BBC story that DT reader Helena pointed us to the other day about Scandinavians kids being totally awesome and pink-cheeked and healthy all the time because their parents are parking them outside to sleep all winter elicited all sorts of harrowing confessions and survivor stories from readers. And it's all true: wool onesies and napping on the porch will turn your kid into a Nordic god.

babyhok_bbc.jpg

Put your kid in a babyhok like the Dutch, however, and all bets are off. A babyhok? Yes, it's Dutch for baby hutch. It's a raised wooden box with a gauze or mesh screen front so your kid can hang out or sleep outside.

Apparently, they're very popular in the Netherlands' northernlands, around Groningen. The stills above are from some hapless BBC reader's home movies of being stuffed in a box by his mother.

outside (human) baby box

Surfing around for babyhok info yields very little very quickly. Flickr user Michiel has a solid photo [above] of a babyhok, which are also apparently called babyhuis [babyhouse], presumably by people who don't want to think they're sticking their kid in a rabbit hutch. Or a chicken coop, which is apparently one of the two suggested adaptive reuses for a babyhok after your kid's gotten too big--or too wily, and can pick the lock.

Babyhoks got their start in Groningen before WWII thanks to a doctor in Hornhuizen, Jitze Posthumus [seriously], who was preaching about the health benefits to kids of fresh air and sleeping outdoors. Posthumus convinced Luitje Lanting, a local craftsman, to make a babyhok for his grandson.

This experiment-on-your-own-family scenario is remarkably similar to America's own babybox beginnings: the Aircrib, designed by Harvard behaviorial science pioneer BF Skinner, which he used to raise his own [ultimately very normal and well-adjusted] child.

The open-air exhibit at the museum in Warffum includes a "Groninger Babyhok, even though they say you can see them in backyards everywhere. And yet I can't find anyplace selling them online. Or even mentioning them outside of "DucthWTF!" features [like this one, I suppose.] There's just the one guy who'll rent you a babyhok for EUR25/mo, which seems a little sad.

noordhuis_babyhuis.jpg

So you'll have to make your own. Which is fine, because noted author/expert of something or other Klaas Noordhuis has helpfully provided detailed plans and instructions for building your own authentic, Posthumussian, Groningenian Babyhok, right in your own backyard. Please post pictures when you're done.

Napping in a hutch and other tales of outdoor snoozing [bbc via dt reader helena]
Afgestoft: het Groninger babyhok [warffum.nl]
Babyhuisje: Gronings baby book, beschrijving met tekeningen [klaasnoordhuis.nl]
Previously, related; Did Buckminster Fuller really design a crib called the Kiddie Koop?
The Aircrib: BF Skinner's Baby-in-a-Box

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