Children usually bring out people’s protective instincts, triggering a natural desire to treat them kindly. Throughout history, however, many unfortunate children, whether through ignorance, indifference, or deliberate malice, were unprotected, treated, unkindly, or both. Take the health fad that got people to dangle babies from cages outside apartment windows, in the belief that it was good for them. Or the many royal children whose existence blocked somebody’s path to power. Following are thirty things about those and other unfortunate children.
30. This First Lady Was an Early Pioneer of Putting Babies in Cages Outside Windows
The nineteenth-century saw the growth of modern health fads. One of them eventually led to dangling babies in cages outside apartment windows. It began in 1884 when Dr. Luther Emmet Holt published The Care and Feeding of Children. In it, he advocated that babies should be “aired”. As he put it: “Fresh air is required to renew and purify the blood, and this is just as necessary for health and growth as proper food … The appetite is improved, the digestion is better, the cheeks become red, and all signs of health are seen“.
Fresh air and exposure to cold temperatures, both from the outdoors and from cold baths, would supposedly toughen the babies, and increase their immunity against illnesses ranging from the common cold to tuberculosis. Dr. Holt and other physicians advocated that parents simply place a baby’s basket near an open window. Some parents, however, took it further. They included Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. As seen below, Mrs. Roosevelt had a cage built outside her apartment window, in which she stuck her daughter Anna.