September 12, 2008

Welcome Back To School, Children! Our First Lesson: The Baby Box


Apparently, the annoyances of blogs in the 2000's--hyperbole, lack of context, not linking back, acting like you're the first to discover everything--is merely a speeded up re-enactment of magazine stories in the 1940's.

Take, for example, this March 1947 Popular Mechanics Mechanix Illustrated article about Papa John Gray of Sea Cliff, Long Island, who built his son a temperature-controlled "glass house" where he lives in clothing-free bliss. There's not a single mention of Harvard's famous behavioral psychologist B.F. Skinner, who invented that "glass house," which he called the BabyTender, for the birth of his second daughter. He wrote about it in 1945 in in the Ladies Home Journal, in a widely discussed article titled "Baby In A Box."

There was eventually a Skinner-approved commercial version of the BabyTender called the AirCrib, and there were knockoffs with even crazier names. But most baby boxes were built like Papa John's: at home, using Skinner's published plans.

Which perfectly illustrates another blog annoyance: smugly pointing out that you totally blogged about that like two years ago, sheesh, people.

Showcase Baby, Popular Mechanics, Mar. 1947 [modernmechanix via boingboing]
Previously, In July 2006: The AirCrib: BF Skinners Baby-in-a-Box

1 Comment

In my blog, I credit Skinner! (Take that, Popular Mechanics!)

Twenty-five years ago, my baby slept in a Skinner box, and, a long, long time ago, I slept in one, too. (My grandparents were at Harvard with Skinner. He and my grandmother were colleagues in the same department.)

My helpful, but decidedly not technical, tips on building a Baby Box are here.

By the way, there aren't any flat head problems with a box -- you don't need any blankets or other crib bedding, so it doesn't matter in the least how the baby wants to sleep. That kind of freedom is pretty much the point of using the air crib in the first place.

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