Monday, February 19th, 2007
Baby Handcuffs and Straitjackets Make Mealtime a Cinch
George P. Strelakos is an historical super dad.
In 1955, Strelakos saw mothers wrangling combative infants, strong-arming them by pulling one hand behind their backs, in order to feed them purÃ©ed food. Kids fighting for, and playing with, their spoons was not a laughing matter. The prevailing belief of the day was to respond to such transgressions with the exactness of a totalitarian regime, apparently.
He thought there must be a better way, and thus he patented a Means for Controlling Infants’ Hands. He made baby bib handcuffs.
He envisioned a bib that gets tied around a baby’s neck and waist, and the child’s wrists are restrained with vertical straps sewn into the front of the bib. The baby’s hands sit inside a “tubular muff” that is sewn onto the bib. Inside the muff is a vaguely described toy, possibly a bell, “to attract the child’s attention and prevent its struggling while the hands are so held.”
Strelakos really did cite strong-arming babies as a current societal problem needing his bib-cuff solution.
Maybe he realized his foolishness because two years later tried again.
Strelakos patented a similarly named Means for Controlling Infants’ Hands While Being Fed. He invented a super one-piece everyday “straitjacket.” That’s my word for it. He refers to the straitjacket as an “improved form of garment.”
At first glance, this garment looks like a regular one-piece outfit that snaps at the crotch. It can be worn throughout the day, but at mealtime you push the child’s arms back inside his sleeves and snap a flap over each sleeve.
The baby’s arms are trapped between his outfit and his body. The garment is made of stretchable knitted cloth, allowing some movement, “so as not to irritate the child or give it the sense of being unduly confined.”
An unspecified toy gets attached to the front inside area of the outfit to occupy the baby’s attention.
Don’t think this to be a garment intended only for mealtime. No, for meals a standalone bib is attached with snaps. In fact, snap holes are included on the front and back of the garment in case you put on the straitjacket backwards.
Can you imagine if this idea took off in the late fifties? Today you would walk through a store and see a sea of armless children sitting quietly in shopping carts. It would make a nice scene for an alternate future science fiction movie.
See related: flash forward 10 years to the Labor and Delivery Centrifuge.