Friday June 18, 2021’s Smile of the Day: The Baby Stroller
On this Day:
In 1879, W. H. Richardson, an African-American inventor, patented the children’s carriage (Patent no. 405599). However, people had been transporting babies for, well, about as long as there have been babies…
Various methods of transporting children have been used in different cultures and times. These methods include baby carriages (prams in British English), infant car seats, portable bassinets (carrycots), strollers (pushchairs), slings, backpacks, baskets and bicycle carriers.
The large, heavy prams (short for perambulator), which had become popular during the Victorian era, were replaced by lighter designs during the latter half of the 1900s.
Wheeled devices are generally divided into prams, used for newborn babies in which the infant normally lies down facing the pusher, and the strollers, which are used for the small child up to about three years old in a sitting position facing forward.
William Kent developed an early stroller in 1733. In 1733, the Duke of Devonshire asked Kent to build a means of transport that would carry his children. Kent obliged by constructing a shell shaped basket on wheels that the children could sit in. This was richly decorated and meant to be pulled by a goat or small pony. Benjamin Potter Crandall sold baby carriages in the US in the 1830s which have been described as the “first baby carriages manufactured in the US” Another early development was F.A. Whitney Carriage Company. His son, Jesse Armour Crandall was issued a number of patents for improvements and additions to the standard models. These included adding a brake to carriages, a model which folded, designs for parasols and an umbrella hanger. By 1840, the baby carriage became extremely popular. Queen Victoria bought three carriages from Hitchings Baby Store.
The carriages of those days were built of wood or wicker and held together by expensive brass joints. These sometimes became heavily ornamented works of art. Models were also named after royalty: Princess and Duchess being popular names, as well as Balmoral and Windsor.
In June 1889, an African American man named William H. Richardson patented his idea of the first reversible stroller. The bassinet was designed so it could face out or in towards the parent. He also made structural changes to the carriage. Until then the axle did not allow each wheel to move separately. Richardson’s design allowed this, which increased maneuverability of the carriages. As the 1920s began, prams were now available to all families and were becoming safer, with larger wheels, brakes, deeper prams, and lower, sturdier frames.
In 1965, Owen Maclaren, an aeronautical engineer, worked on complaints his daughter made about travelling from England to America with her heavy pram. Using his knowledge of aeroplanes, Maclaren designed a stroller with an aluminium frame and created the first true umbrella stroller. He then went on to found Maclaren, which manufactured and sold his new design. The design took off and soon “strollers” were easier to transport and used everywhere.
In the 1970s, however, the trend was more towards a more basic version, not fully sprung, and with a detachable body known as a “carrycot”. Now, prams are very rarely used, being large and expensive when compared with “buggies” (see below). One of the longer lived and better known brands in the UK is Silver Cross, first manufactured in Hunslet, Leeds, in 1877, and later Guiseley from 1936 until 2002 when the factory closed. Silver Cross was then bought by the toy company David Halsall and Sons who relocated the head office to Skipton and expanded into a range of new, modern baby products including pushchairs and “travel systems”. They continue to sell the traditional Silver Cross coach prams which are manufactured at a factory in Bingley in Yorkshire.
Since the 1980s, the stroller industry has developed with new features, safer construction and more accessories.
Larger and heavier prams, or perambulators had been used since their introduction in the Victorian era; prams were also used for infants, often sitting up. The term carrycot became more common in the UK after the introduction of lighter units with detachable baby carriers in the 1970s.
As they developed through the years suspension was added, making the ride smoother for both the baby and the person pushing it.
‘Strollers’ or ‘pushchairs/buggies’ (British English), are used for small children up to about three years old in a sitting position facing forward.
“Pushchair” was the popularly used term in the UK between its invention and the early 1980s, when a more compact design known as a “buggy” became the trend, popularised by the conveniently collapsible aluminium-framed Maclaren buggy designed and patented by the British aeronautical designer Owen Maclaren in 1965. “Buggy” is the usual term in the UK (sometimes “pushchair”); in American English, buggy usually refers to a four-wheeled vehicle known as a quad or quad bike in the UK. “Stroller” is the usual term in the USA. Newer versions can be configured to carry a baby lying down like a low pram and then be reconfigured to carry the child in the forward-facing position.
A variety of twin pushchairs are manufactured, some designed for babies of a similar age (such as twins) and some for those with a small age gap. Triple pushchairs are a fairly recent addition, due to the number of multiple births being on the increase. Safety guidelines for standard pushchairs apply. Most triple buggies have a weight limit of 50 kg and recommended use for children up to the age of 4 years.
A travel system is typically a set consisting of a chassis with a detachable baby seat and/or carrycot. Thus a travel system can be switched between a pushchair and a pram. Another benefit of a travel system is that the detached chassis (generally an umbrella closing chassis) when folded will usually be smaller than other types, to transport it in a car trunk or boot. Also, the baby seat will snap into a base meant to stay in an automobile, becoming a car seat. This allows undisturbed movement of the baby into or out of a car and a reduced chance of waking a sleeping baby.
Another modern design showcases a stroller that includes the possibility for the lower body to be elongated, thereby transforming the stroller into a kick scooter. Steering occurs by leaning towards either side. Depending on the model, it can be equipped with a foot- and/or handbrake. Speeds up to 15 km/h (10 mph) can be reached. The first stroller of this kind was the so-called “Roller Buggy”, developed by industrial designer Valentin Vodev in 2005. In 2012 the manufacturer Quinny became interested in the concept and teamed up with a Belgian studio to design another model.
The modern infant car seat is a relative latecomer. It is used to carry a child within a car. Such car seats are required by law in many countries to safely transport young children.
Bicycles can be fitted with a bicycle trailer or a children’s bicycle seat to carry small children. An older child can ride on a one-wheel trailer bike with an integrated seat and handlebars.
A “travel system” includes a car seat base, an infant car seat, and a baby stroller. The car seat base is installed in a car. The infant car seat snaps into the car seat base when traveling with a baby. From the car, the infant car seat can be hand carried and snapped onto the stroller (per Wikipedia).
First, a Story:
Babies usually know it is time to be born when they run out of womb.
Second, a Song:
Grogu (also known as “Baby Yoda” among fans and the media) is a character from the Star Wars Disney+ original television series The Mandalorian. He is a toddler member of the same unnamed alien species as the Star Wars characters Yoda and Yaddle, with whom he shares a strong ability in the Force. In the series, the protagonist known as “the Mandalorian” is hired to track down and capture Grogu for a remnant of the fallen Galactic Empire, but instead, he becomes his adoptive father and protects him from the Imperials. The character’s real name was not revealed until “Chapter 13: The Jedi” (released on November 27, 2020), which also explained that Grogu was raised at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant during the Clone Wars. Prior to this, the character’s official name, as used in subtitles and captions, was “The Child”.
Grogu has appeared in every episode of the first two seasons, with the exception of “Chapter 15: The Believer”. He was created by The Mandalorian creator and showrunner Jon Favreau based upon his desire to explore the mystery around Yoda and his species. The character was further developed in early conversations between Favreau and executive producer Dave Filoni, and the character’s imagery was defined by concept artist Christian Alzmann. Grogu is mostly a work of animatronics and puppetry, although accentuated with computer-generated imagery.
The puppet was designed by Legacy Effects. Actor Adam Pally has stated that showrunner Jon Favreau told him it cost about $5 million to make. It is controlled by two technicians, one who operates the eyes and mouth and another who controls other facial expressions. The character’s voice and sounds were created using a combination of adult and infant vocals, as well as recordings of a bat-eared fox and kinkajou. The dynamic between the Mandalorian and Grogu embodies a theme of parenting and fatherhood prevalent in The Mandalorian, with the character also raising questions about good and evil and nature versus nurture in the series.
Grogu has received a positive reception from fans and reviewers, is widely considered the show’s breakout character, and quickly became a popular Internet meme. The Guardian called him “2019’s biggest new character”, and The Hollywood Reporter has said the character “represents the future of Hollywood”. Many writers have described Grogu as a key part in the success of Disney+. Grogu was kept secret and was deliberately withheld from The Mandalorian’s pre-release marketing and merchandise plans to avoid leaks before the show aired. As a result, merchandise of Grogu was not immediately available after the first season debuted in November 2019, which some analysts say cost Disney $2.7 million in revenue, but Bob Iger, Disney’s CEO at the time of The Mandalorian’s premiere, has defended the strategy.
A member of the same alien species as the Star Wars character Yoda, he is 50 years old during the events of The Mandalorian, but still appears to be an infant because of the pace at which that species matures. The species has never been given a proper name because Star Wars creator George Lucas wanted Yoda to maintain a sense of mystery. Until Chapter 13 (i.e. episode 5 of season 2) of The Mandalorian, Grogu was not identified by a proper name, being referred to by sympathetic characters as “the child”, “the kid”, or “the baby”, and by the antagonists as “the asset”, “the bounty”, “the target”, or “the donor”.
Here is the Baby Yoda Song – A Star Wars Rap, by ChewieCatt, set to clips from The Mandalorian, where you see images of Baby Yoda in what is arguably the most unique baby carriage ever. I hope you enjoy this!
Thought for the Day:
“A baby is born with a need to be loved – and never outgrows it.” – Frank A. Clark
Further to the Roller Coaster Smile, Lindsay Meredith of Port Moody, BC, Canada writes:
“Good job Dave – Lindsay”
and Eric O’Dell of Surrey, BC, Canada writes:
“Reminds me of son Eric and myself on the Revelstoke Slider. I was pretty cautious, although another time I would not be braking quite so much!”
Have a great day!
Dave & Colleen
© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky