A baby cage was a bed in a wire cage suspended from city apartment windows. The "health cage", as it was initially called, was invented by Mrs. Robert C. Lafferty to provide babies with fresh air and sunshine while living in crowded cities.
In the early 1900s, many open-air schools were built in an attempt to combat the widespread rise of tuberculosis. The belief that open air and ventilation were key in fighting the epidemic, inspired the creation of baby cages.
In 1906, according to the recommendations of a doctor who insisted on the need for fresh air for babies, Eleanor Roosevelt, a 21 years old young mother, attach at her window of New York a wooden basket with wire grid for the naps of Anna, her first child born the same year; but the neighborhood, alerted by the continuous screams of the child - the same medical advice that was to leave the child screaming or crying -, threat the mother of alerting the New York Society for prevention of cruelty toward children. Later on, the spouse of the 32nd President of the United States reported how she was shocked by the reaction of the neighbors, while she thought she was a modern mother.
Eleanor Roosevelt wrote in her autobiography that in 1908 she had placed her daughter Anna in "a kind of box with wire on the sides and top" out of one of her back windows during her morning naps. She writes she did so because fresh air was necessary.
In 1922, a patent application for a "portable baby cage" has been submitted by Emma Read. This cage was intended to be suspended on the external edge of a window, in which the baby would be placed.
The usage of baby cages gained great popularity in London during the years of the 1930s. The installation had been created for children who live in cities without gardens. These baby cages were given by neighborhood communities, like the Chelsea Baby Club, to every member who didn't have a garden. At the beginning of World War 2, the Battle of Britain led by the Luftwaffe ended the usage of baby cages in all of London. But they appeared again in 1953.
Ultimately, the sale of baby cages progressively declined through the mid-1900s, possibly due to safety concerns and the rise of urban automobile traffic.