Game #1: What was the inventor thinking?

A black and white drawing of a mystery invention comprised of two cylinder-like objects connected by a strap-like object. A loop made from a thin strap-like object is located at the center of the wider strap.

Guess the purpose of this invention using the comment form. Enter as often as you like. Begin your guess with "This is a…" or "This is for…"

Two winners will be named, one for the correct guess and one for the funniest guess. And yes, this invention pertains to young children and/or parenting young children.

No links! If you discover a website describing this invention, keep it to yourself. All will be revealed in time. [This game is sheepishly inspired by Neatorama's What Is It? competition.]

You are competing for the glory.

Update: Glory Dispensed

Natalie gets a dollop of glory for devising an insane and highly detailed explanation for how the invention could be used to assist with cleaning poopy diapers.

Erica gets a heap of glory for correctly guessing how the invention functions, and envisioning a plausible purpose that not even its inventor directly considered — an anti-thumbsucking and anti-nail biting device.

Thank you to everyone who ventured a guess without any thought for personal gain as is so common in blog contests. All for the glory!

Drawing of a baby playing with a mixing bowl while her elbows are constrained in rigid cylindrical sleeves.

The Answer

A "Baby-Protector" was patented in 1913 by Jacob Everette Dodd of Yoakum, Texas.

The device is comprised of two cylindrical rigid cardboard sleeves through which an infant’s arms are placed to cover his elbows.

Straps are attached to the sleeves, joined together with a loop that goes around the infant’s head. The loop, or an optional safety pin attached to the infant’s clothing, keep the sleeves in place so the sleeves don’t slide off the infant’s arms.

Here is what the inventor was thinking…

"This invention relates to baby protectors, the object in view being to provide a simple device adapted to be easily applied to an infant, and which when properly applied will prevent the child from bending his elbow sufficiently to enable the hands to reach the mouth. [...] At the same time, in crawling these inflexible sleeves assist the infant by bracing the arms."

That’s right, it’s a babyproofing device. He goes on to indicate his concern is foreign objects ("…the child is prevented from placing articles, too numerous to mention, in the mouth").

One wonders how a baby would crawl without bending his elbows. Think also about tiny bones snapping as a walking toddler tries to brace his fall with rigid elbows.


24 Responses to “Game #1: What was the inventor thinking?”

  1. Susannah says:

    I say “curlers”.

    May 23rd, 2008 at 4:25 am

  2. jen monster says:

    these are stance correcting stilts

    May 23rd, 2008 at 4:55 am

  3. Kathleen says:

    Toddler torture device?

    May 23rd, 2008 at 5:42 am

  4. Dallas says:

    This is a baby version of those “beer hats” you see folks wearing at ballgames. A bottle on either side ensures your baby will always be prepared.

    May 23rd, 2008 at 6:50 am

  5. Goutham Bellary says:

    This is a device for dads who have twins, and who feel overly jealous of their lactating wives and want to enjoy the same level of closeness while feeding their kids. (Hey I’m aiming for the funny guess)….

    May 23rd, 2008 at 7:10 am

  6. Goutham Bellary says:

    A holster for little cowgirls (The ribbon bowties were a dead giveaway!) to carry their water guns.

    May 23rd, 2008 at 7:16 am

  7. Goutham Bellary says:

    This is a dog muzzle and walker for folks having a couple of snappy dachshunds.

    May 23rd, 2008 at 7:22 am

  8. Jennifer says:

    This is to prevent kids from hitting their funny bones too much

    May 23rd, 2008 at 9:05 am

  9. Erica says:

    My first guess was some sort of bottle holster, but as that guess is already taken I’ll say it is something to keep kids from thumb-sucking and nail-biting. Their arms go through the cylinders, which cover their elbows and keep them from bending their arms toward their mouths. This makes them look slightly like Ralphie from “A Christmas Story” in that snow scene, but it’s annoying enough to get them to stop pretty quickly.

    May 23rd, 2008 at 9:40 am

  10. Katie says:

    This is a device for attaching cans to a child. Like, when little kids take old cans and put strings through them and use them as stilts by hanging onto the string. Except this attached to the child instead of having to hold the string. Maybe.

    May 23rd, 2008 at 9:41 am

  11. Christina says:

    This is a breast pump. Strangling the lactating woman stimulates milk production.

    May 23rd, 2008 at 10:21 am

  12. Jen L says:

    Posture correction device – tubing is for the arms and the elastic acts as a hoisting choker. Fun stuff. :)

    May 23rd, 2008 at 10:30 am

  13. Kate says:

    They definitely look like curlers, but why two? And why are they attached? I think they are pigtail curlers.

    May 23rd, 2008 at 11:14 am

  14. Natalie says:

    This is a device to assist new parents with diaper changes – the diaper pin at the top is a giveaway!

    You insert legs of infant into tubes which open for the purpose and are tied with dainty little bows, and then you have a one-handed hoisting device to keep the baby’s feet and legs out of that poop-splosion you are trying to clean up. A must-have for all inexperienced, squeemish parents!

    And then you attach the device to the changing pad, so you have time to hand-fold a fresh diaper without worrying about the baby rolling off the table. They also keep the baby’s legs still, so you don’t stab your little darling with the diaper pins!

    May 23rd, 2008 at 1:01 pm

  15. Robert says:

    Baby nunchuks maybe?

    May 23rd, 2008 at 1:41 pm

  16. lindsey says:

    bottle holders to make feeding twins easier?

    May 23rd, 2008 at 2:19 pm

  17. Christina says:

    Stilts? Older toddler / preschooler stands on the cylinder bits, and the loop of ribbon goes around their waist. Hilarity ensues.

    May 23rd, 2008 at 6:14 pm

  18. LiteralDan says:

    I’m guessing some kind of ankle/leg supporters– looks like a belt/pin arrangement at the top to keep it on, then the legs go through the tubes

    May 24th, 2008 at 8:29 am

  19. AJ says:

    And thus, the answer has been revealed (see above). Please do weigh in on what you think of the invention’s true purpose, or continue devising new ways this thing could be used.

    May 26th, 2008 at 12:34 am

  20. summer says:

    Hmmm. Perhaps this could be made for adults rather than children to help them with dieting. Can’t get food to your mouth in turn lose weight. Problem is for people who love food, we’d probably outsmart it by just bending over and eating with our mouth. Darn… thought it might work!

    May 26th, 2008 at 7:36 am

  21. Erica says:

    Yay for glory! (Reveling…) I think the product is quite dumb, but it does not diminish my feelings of glee for the heaps of glory. Thank you, thank you.

    May 26th, 2008 at 8:44 am

  22. Jennifer says:

    Yeah, and since an baby learns through oral exploration…

    I am so glad this never quite caught on.

    May 26th, 2008 at 9:15 am

  23. grace says:

    while this doesn’t make sense in terms of baby-proofing, a couple of years ago, my son was actually given something like this to wear after he had eye surgery when he was 3 months old. it’s called a “pedi-wrap”. the only difference is that they velcroed on his arms and didn’t have a string attached. the device kept him from bending his arm to rub his eye or pull the stitches out. they were absolutely ingenius and invaluable, in our opinion.

    May 26th, 2008 at 2:11 pm

  24. kathleen w. says:

    It looks like a contraption that Nellie Olson would use on Little House on the Prairie to get those perfectly curled pigtails. Wrap the top around your head, part your hair in the middle, and wrap each section around the curler.

    May 30th, 2008 at 6:51 pm

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