Let’s face it, there are some baby products from the past that are downright bizarre. Safety guidelines were much more lax back then and it’s so fun to look back at many of the things that parents were duped into buying. From unusual products to different parenting practices, this list is filled with fascinating retro images.
Car seats weren’t regulated until the 1960’s and it’s crazy to see what baby professionals actually deemed safe when it came to vehicle safety. From a portable car crib to a child harness, it’s a miracle that more children weren’t injured in these devices. Many of these items looked like some sort of medieval torture device or other bizarre contraption.
I scoured the Internet to bring you a collection of baby items that are no longer available on the market. This is the gear that many of our parents were raised with or even used on us when we were babies. Thanks to years of research, there are now strict parenting guidelines in place that keep babies safe. The rules were far less stringent and these products reflect a simpler time. Please enjoy this list of 20 vintage baby products mom won’t find today.
20 Blanket Holder
This baby blanket holder is another baby product that moms would never find on the market today. It’s great in theory, simply clamp the pins on the edges of the blanket and make a knot with the cord to shorten the line. Viola! The blanket was totally held in place by this super dangerous contraption.
I’m starting to wonder how babies stayed alive in the olden days. Parents are now told to keep all cords out of reach of infants because it could accidentally get wrapped around their neck. It just seems wrong and pretty dangerous to use a string to hold down a blanket.
19 Double Baby Carrier
I have serious questions about this photograph. Who came up with this idea? What were parents to do if they wanted to ice skate together along with their baby boy or girl? Oh, I know, they just strapped that baby in a tandem sling and got out there on the ice. Sure, that seems great.
It would take a lot of concentration to use this product at its full potential. Parents had to be totally in sync when they ice skated or risk little Timmy falling out. This product is definitely unavailable for moms to buy now and we don't need to ask why.
18 Car Safety Harness
It’s pretty hilarious to read this vintage ad for a car safety harness. The makers of this device claimed that it actually protected children from crawling, sliding or, falling in the car, so "protect your child with a car safety harness!" You could even adjust the harness to keep your little one close. The price was certainly right at $6.55 and the device can be used in the front or back seat. I shudder to think what would happen if a child was strapped into this thing. This harness would not pass the muster these days.
17 The Tot Guard
The Tot-Guard was designed for crash protection in the 1970’s and it was produced by the Ford company. According to the folks over at the Henry Ford website: “The seatbelt secured the padded shield and seat. This early and effective restraint was not widely used, however. Only with more stringent regulations, public education, and mandated use would children safely ride in automobiles.”
This bulky contraption was at least a step in the right direction when it came to child safety and utilized a seat belt. Yet, this would never be sold on the market today, it’s just too big and clunky.
16 Automatic Baby Feeder
This vintage ad for an automatic baby feeder looks like a scary contraption. Although the idea of a hand’s free way to feed infants might be tempting, this model seems a bit unsafe. Sure, it may prevent colic and holds the bottle at the proper feeding angle, according to the ad, but it also looks like it could squish your baby.
There is no way this device would be made in this day and age. From the janky tri-pod legs to the potentially dangerous springs that held the bottle in place, this item was taken off the market for good reason.
15 Handlebar Baby Carriage
These days most baby products are streamlined and made of plastic materials. If parents want to take their kiddos along on a bike ride, they typically pull their little one behind them in a trailer. Well, this handlebar bike carriage was one of the first designs of it’s kind when it came to cycling.
Of course, you might see a handlebar baby seat on modern bikes but this model looks swanky. It literally looks like some sort of pram that was shoved onto the front of the bicycle. By the look on the kid’s face, it must ave been a smooth ride.
14 Ultra-Violet Name Stencil
To prevent confusion in hospital nurseries these days, babies are given a plastic identification bracelet. This way, every baby goes to the right parent. So, how did hospitals identify infants before the invention of I.D. bracelets? They branded the baby’s initials on their little buns, of course.
You read that right. Nurses would shine an ultra-violet light on the infant with this weird contraption and put the baby’s info right onto their skin. I’m not sure who came up with this idea but that’s just bananas. The mom looks way too trusting in that pic and the baby looks terrified.
13 Crib Toys
I’m sure that most moms reading this have seen photographs of themselves as babies that look just like this one. It was common for infants to sleep in a crib filled bumper pads, blankets, toys, and stuffed animals. The American Association of Pediatrics released new safe sleep guidelines and the crib needs to be free of loose objects.
According to the American Association of Pediatrics' website: “There should be no pillows, sheets, blankets or other items [...] While infants are at heightened risk between the ages of 1 and 4 months, new evidence shows that soft bedding continues to pose hazards to babies who are 4 months and older.”
12 Wooden Potty Chair
Potty training is pretty much a nightmare for any new mom and dad and these wooden potties probably didn't make it any easier back in the day. They were huge and substantial. These days, training potties are streamlined, portable, easy to clean. Parents can easily pack up a potty and take it on the road.
Vintage wooden toilets were the only thing available at the time but you’d be hard-pressed to find one now. They served a great purpose for past generations but I’m personally glad that the current market has made ones like this obsolete. The new designs are much better, for sure.
11 Meat Instead Of Milk
Can you imagine feeding your 3-week-old baby meat? That is exactly what the folks over at Swift’s convinced parents to do once upon a time. The ad claimed that the meat was just as digestible as milk. This can of pork was touted as helping to build a baby’s immune system.
The American Association of Pediatrics recommends, “The introduction of solid foods at 4 to 6 months of age, exclusive breastfeeding for the first 4 to 6 months of age, continued breastfeeding to the first birthday and beyond if possible.” So, this product would not meet current guidelines.
Rock-A-Crib is yet another retro baby item that is totally obsolete these days. I mean, what possibly could have gone wrong with parents balancing their baby’s crib on huge springs? The springs themselves look like they’re just waiting to eat a baby’s finger. Not to mention that it seems totally unstable.
It may be tempting to transform your baby’s crib into a rocker that they rock themselves, but the idea just never caught on. I guess that parents in the 1950s had more sense than we think. The Rock-A-Crib was taken off the market and can’t be found in stores anymore.
9 Baby Walkers
These metal baby walkers look like some sort of device that parents used to contain their children. It was very common to see babies waddling around in these but the American Academy of Pediatrics have deemed them unsafe.
Per their website: “In 1999, an estimated 8800 children younger than 15 months were treated in hospital emergency departments in the United States for injuries associated with infant walkers. The vast majority of injuries occur from falls down stairs, and head injuries are common. Walkers do not help a child learn to walk; indeed, they can delay normal motor and mental development.”
8 Portable Car Bassinet
Another example of just how folks were when it came to car safety is this retro portable car bassinet. Parents used these cradles in the 1970’s so that their little one could sleep while traveling. The bed simply rested on the seat of the vehicle and it appears that it used no seatbelts. This means babies were not strapped in while they took a nap in the car. This device would never be on the market now and would totally be deemed unsafe since there are no seatbelts. I can’t help but wonder how this thing ever gained approval.
7 Wooden Walking Aid
This antique contraption looks pretty... interesting. It is hard to locate any information about this pic but my guess is that it was used to help a toddler learn to walk. It seems good on paper that strapping two slats of wood onto your kid and yourself might keep your little one on their feet. Yet, in reality, it was probably not very useful. Parents, during that time, would have to make sure not to take the wrong step so both parties don't get sent to the ground. This would never meet current child safety guidelines.
6 How To Stop Thumb Sucking!
The Baby Alice Thumb Guard may look like some sort of medieval device but parents in the 1920’s used this item to prevent their infant from sucking their thumb. It was made out of Monel Metal wire and a leather strap. It looks pretty crazy, despite the fact that the ad claims that this product was safe, sanitary, and comfortable.
I somehow question the credentials of the leading baby specialists that approved this thing. I’m sure that it successfully prevented thumb sucking but I bet that it also managed to traumatize every child who was forced to wear it.
5 Hanging Vehicle Seat
It took a while for the world to figure out car safety when it came to keeping babies secure in a vehicle. Throughout history, the infant car seat has had quite an evolution and it is interesting to look back at what was considered safe at different moments in time. Case in point, this hanging baby car seat.
Parents pretty much hoisted to hooks onto the back of the front seat and put their baby in a soft little chair. It appears that they served two purposes as this poor tyke was left hanging on the side of their parent’s car.
4 The Automatic Cradle
The automatic cradle is yet another antique baby product that moms can no longer buy. The description claimed that the automatic cradle was made by a hammock net and was rocked by the aid of a clock spring motor.
That almost sounds like something my crazy uncle Bill would fashion together in his wood shed. I can’t help but wonder if this was an actual product or if it was just a mock drawing drawn by a failed inventor. Either way, the automatic cradle didn’t last very long. You certainly won’t find this at any baby stores.
3 Baby Window Cage
Child safety use to be so much laxer than it is these days and outdoor baby cages are proof that parents of the 1930’s were bonkers. It became all the rage to hang your baby outside the window, in a cage, that dangled precariously above a busy city block. Who would advise parents to do this? According to the folks over at Good Housekeeping, the answer is Dr. Luther Emmett.
Dr. Emmett was the 1890's author of the book, The Care and Feeding of Children, and he believed that children needed to be “aired out” in order to preserve their health. City-dwelling parents totally took his advice to heart.
2 Wooden Playpens
Playpens from the past were typically made of wood and while they may look more substantial than the portable ones that are more popular today, they were totally unsafe for little ones. The bars were too far apart and little heads often became stuck between the rails. The guidelines have improved and playpens like this one are now a thing of the past.
Not to mention that many of them were covered in lead-based paint. Experts have found that lead-based paints are toxic to children. Yet again, it’s a wonder that these products made it to market.
This bizarre stroller was designed during World War II to protect babies from a potential gas attack. The image is totally chilling and reflects the fear that parents must have felt during that era. It’s huge and looks a bit like a smoker and thank goodness, there is no need for this kind of stroller these days.
Yet, during WWII in England, the danger of a gas attack was very real. It’s just as scary to see the caregiver wearing a gas mask as she pushed the stroller along. This is a historical image that shines a light on a scary moment in time.