Monday, 9 June 2014

Bizarre Vintage Baby Gadgets

Bizarre Vintage Baby Gadgets
9 June 2014

Oh.  My.  Word.

I have never, in all of my life, seen such a weird collection of extremely dangerous and unpractical baby equipment. 

Someone sent me this link, to a site, dedicated to some of the worst and most bizarre vintage baby gadgets ever.  What a treat! 

I’m assuming that many a kid lost a limb because of these.  Even more, in therapy, still to this day.  Furthermore, I would like to believe that no kid actually lost their life.  But sadly, I’m just not convinced.  Some of these contraptions are downright death-traps.  And extreme measures of torture and inhumane behaviour towards small individuals, who could not protect themselves.  Nor speak up to protest their displeasure with these gadgets.

And our kids think they had it bad!

It is true, that times are always a changing.  What is acceptable and the norm with regards to kids and their safety today, might be severely frowned upon in years to come. 

Growing up, us kids never had car seats.  Even as babies and toddlers.  We slid about the back seat amongst our similarly unstrapped and unsecured siblings.  Or we hopped a lift on an adult’s lap.  Maybe even in the front seat.  Occasionally, we even sat on the laps of the DRIVERS OF THE CAR!!!  Moreover, nobody used seatbelts.  Not all cars had them.  And those rare luxurious cars with seatbelts in the front, simply never had them in the back.  Whatever for?  I remember my brother, sister and I constantly fighting over who’s turn it was to sit on the fold down arm rest in the back of the car.  You remember those hot nylon car seats, with the puffed out arm rest, right?  If you were the lucky-perched-one, you had a way better view of the world around you.  The fact that it also put you at a much more advantageous level for forward propelling you directly through the windscreen in the case of the accident, was never even considered. 

My mom recalls being a young student with a baby, and driving one of her lecturers home.  She had to slam on brakes rather abruptly and automatically put her arm out across the front passenger seat, the way she would’ve done to prevent me from sliding right off the seat.  I do believe the lecturer never raised an eyebrow, and simply said, “you must be a very good mom”.  Or something to that effect.  There were also no limits to the amount of people you could transport in a car at any given time.  Everyone had laps right?  And we all know that laps are simply there for the bums of other people to sit on.  And in turn their laps were used for other bums too.  Sort of a towering effect of people.  Biggest at the bottom.  Smallest and lightest at the top.  We could sit or stand on the back of a bakkie or pick-up.  Even sitting on the outside rim.  Or standing on the bumper if you were driving slowly in a fairly unpopulated area, like at our family holiday house for instance.

Though I suppose drinking and driving was discouraged and frowned upon, I do believe that drivers could be doing just that, driving, with a beer or drink in their hands.  The acceptable blood alcohol levels way back then were far less stringent than it is today.

And then there was the smoking.  For years, my folks were both smokers.  Never thought anything of it.  And we would take long car journeys, with three little unstrapped kids in the back of the car, and two adults in the front, puffing away.  I’m assuming they left the windows open a bit, but similarly, I’m assuming that if it was raining, they most likely didn’t. 

Looking back at it now, it seems crazy.  But back then, it was the norm.  Everyone did it.  The whole concept of secondary smoke inhalation was not yet a consideration, never mind a thought.

Personally, I remember being pregnant with Luke though, and buying baby magazines all of the time.  I used to read them cover to cover.  And reading about a handy little attachment I could buy for my vacuum cleaner, to help with mucous build-up.  Seriously!  It left a lasting impression.  Could’ve sucked my kids brains out if I gave it a try!  Anyway, as the years have passed, I’ve always thought I must be mistaken.  Surely pregnancy hormones affected my eyesight.  I must have been mistaken.  Until I googled it.  And yip, they still do them. 

I’m guessing in a few years’ time, it will make a “bizarre vintage baby gadgets” list somewhere.

Anyway, I thought I’d include some of these pics.  They should give you a laugh too.  And a shudder.

Clearly my kids got off light!  And as for me?  Jeez!  I’m lucky I got out alive!

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Right! So at least it's kind of a car seat. Must make weaving between cars in congested traffic quite challenging. Would hate to nip another car, with your protruding baby. Assuming that winter car seat attire includes a brolly attachment? Or maybe simply a pair of goggles.

So by the looks of things, this leaves little Jimmy bobbing away, on a spring. Must be hell on those sharp corners. What it he accidently knocks dad busy steering? Btw - little Jimmy grew up with a strong aversion to roller coasters, see-saws, swings, and any other form of unstable motion.

It looks as if this poor kid is stuck. Either in a washing basket, or a humongous Tupperware dish. I believe it's a safety seat of sorts?

UFO landing. Not sure if it's an upturned washing basket gone wrong or a fallen piece of debris from an unidentified alien object. A space ship of sorts. Firstly, the colour is hugely unappealing. Do I spot some communist propaganda emblazoned on the side? And secondly, is the kid sipping on a beer? Or is it an ale? Maybe only some Stopayne or cough syrup. Sure it gives an equally awesome numb buzz.

This has got to be the craziest of them all. It looks like a wire mesh chicken coop of sorts, haphazardly attached to the side window of an apartment block. A few stories up from the ground. Are you friggin kidding me???

Now this is actually rather clever. By attaching a kid to the front of your bicycle, it is similar to attaching a bumper of sorts. Kind of make them the first level of impact. Driver safety first.

Uhm, straw attached to glass bottle. Straw that could potentially take out an eye or go right down the throat. Though to be fair it doesn't really look as though the tot is sucking on a milk bottle either. Me-thinks maybe some bootlegging moonshine? Check the glazed expression. Big bro on the side has had his share already. He's about to pass out.

Yowzer! Poor kid! No possibility of seeing over that horrendous contraption. Looks like at least half a landfill's worth of plastic went into making this eyesore. I don't even suffer from claustrophobia and this is making me feel restricted.
This kid's face is not a glowing endorsement of happiness. Notice how wet it's looking outside. Nice one, mom!

Now this is starting to ring a bit of a bell. Towards my much older childhood years. Thinking my younger sister might have had one of these. My folks always loved her best - she got a baby car seat. No, wait - they never got me one. So they obviously loved me best. Most likely way safer without than with.

This is so very, very wrong. On so many, many levels.

Nice one!

How to permanently make your kids fear the vacuum cleaner. And white noise in general.


  1. What an astonishing blog...proof that there have been some improvements made but where was the common sense? I remember seeing a picture of a child standing up in a car when the whole dash was steel and there was actually a small holder thing on the glove box to allow the child to hang on while standing up in front of mother dear...very interesting...makes one wonder...

  2. H, that car seat? The blue one? That was what all of you had!
    And it went over the front seat if there was not a passenger!

    Sigh.......and the drinking and smoking???
    I just don' t know what to say except. "Sorry!!"