The Best Baby or Toddler Sleep Solutions Throughout History to 2022
Here at Dragons of Walton Street we are in an evolutionary mood. Children’s furniture is in our DNA – it defines us. We are driven purely by the belief that where a child sleeps, where a child nests, matters. We are the progeny of fore-bearers who certainly thought so, and in this blog we wish to share with you some insight into the story of the European baby cot bed – its origins, its purpose and its destiny.
Children take centre stage
The plethora of baby bed cots which are now available to all today in the Western world stands as a testament to the central role that babies and toddlers have taken within our societies. Prior to 1620, it's difficult to find any information on baby cot beds. We invite our readers to shed some light on this subject if there are any amongst you who are historians of pre-17th century baby cot beds!
The baby cot bed of around the 1620 mark could best be described as a sort of rocking trough – rough and utilitarian, primarily focused on keeping the prodigy from a nasty (and probably quite deadly in those days!) fall. The material of choice was rough-hewn wood and the design was physically elevated from the ground to keep the baby a reasonable distance from the cold floor. Suffice to say, these particular baby cot beds lacked something of the graciousness and sophistication of the baby cot beds which one can procure from Dragons today. Click here for some amazing examples.
Still, these rudimentary cots probably did a rather excellent job of keeping a baby and toddler warm, cosy and safe and so, we salute the first makers of these life- giving baby bed cots – simple as they were.
If rough-hewn wood didn’t exactly get a mom’s pulse racing then a collective sigh of décor relief was given around 1871 when there was a sudden and emphatic rush to patent offices by inventive sorts who had hit upon (no doubt in the wee desperate hours) the perfect new-fangled baby bed cot – guaranteed to aid in a restful night’s rest for baby, toddler and household alike.
Hitting on the perfect rocking device was a particular obsession of the desperate 19th century parent. In the mid-1800s, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office was inundated with thousands of rocking devices for babies marketed to parents as the answer to their prayers. No one seems to have recorded for posterity the collective light-bulb moment when it was discovered that Sleepless Simon could quite ably discern his parent’s arms from the Rockababy 5001 but this trend for placing excessive hope in the rocking baby cot had fizzled out somewhat by the 1900s. By 1924 some bright spark decided only the force of electricity itself would be sufficient to induce babies to sleep and the electric cradle was invented. Since then we’ve been plugging in all manner of devices in order to attempt to mollify our offspring from the womb onwards, in the hope that when plopped into their baby cot beds, babies will quite reasonably respond with the stoicism of philosophers and toddlers with the sagacity of statesmen. We are in the age of the Bluetooth baby.
But I digress.
Esoteric baby bed cot designs in history
The Smithsonian Magazine has published a rather excellent piece on the golden age of the baby cot bed and it is certainly worth checking out even if only to appease oneself at the lengths previously reasonable adults of all epochs will go to for a kip once they have become the proud parents of Insomniac Isla. We were particularly tickled by the Skinner Box invented by the psychologist who thought a fully enclosed, fully temperature-controlled toddler crate with a glass barrier was a brilliant idea. Though, to be fair, it might be well worth re-visiting whether he was not in fact a man ahead of his time given our recent brush with Covid!
How baby cot bedding evolved
On the softer side of things, around 1750 some rather darling bed cot covers for baby bed cots were available for the chic baby about town (and country). The material of choice? Silk. The idea was that mummy’s lovely silk frock, when it was past its prime, was deftly reinvented as blankie for baby. Reusing - another idea ahead of its time in the West. Check out this beautiful and sustainable blanket on the V&A.
Not to be outdone by V&A levels of baby cot bed chicness, Dragons’ Bashful Bunny Blanket from Jellycat is an exercise in hyper adorableness and, being made of 100% cotton, it certainly has top sustainability credentials as well.
The best baby bed cot of 2022
Which neatly brings us to today and the pressing question of what is the best cot bed available in the world in 2022? Call us biased, but here at Dragons of Walton Street we’re pretty convinced that our Regency Cot Bed takes some beating in the gorgeousness stakes and it is no slouch in the safety department either. It will keep your little one safe and cosy from day one up until 4 years old and is also a keeper for coming generations. Chic and sensible – a win win!
The future of baby bed cot design from Monaco to Mars
So what of the future? What does evolution demand of the baby cot bed? At Dragons we believe that a high-tech approach to all children’s furniture will soon be a la mode. Cot beds that metamorphose into three or four key pieces, taking the owner from childhood into adulthood? We’re working on it. Baby cot beds that cleverly introduce the basic tenants of coding to an 8-month-old? Why not? Technology for children is developing full throttle and as a brand with children at its core, Dragons is asking big questions about how we can support the next generation of children and their parents.
Indeed, if Elon Musk has anything to do with it, humanity will soon be faced with questions about design and child rearing which are out of this world. While we are not exactly designing the Mars Cot as yet, articles like this one by National Geographic show that the question of extra-terrestrial child rearing is already being considered by humanity’s greatest minds.
Closer to Earth though, the fundamental needs of the baby bed cot remain these: safety, comfort, sustainability, and great design. While the designs demands will inevitably change, one thing will remain constant – whether on a crater on Mars, a brownstone in New York or high-rise in Monaco, until we as a species evolve past the need to sleep, a cosy baby cot bed that encourages baby to sleep will never be out of fashion.
Has this blog inspired you to think about the future of furniture design for children? Great! We’d love to hear from you as we are seeking participants for our Design Board to brainstorm with us about how we can create the kind of furniture children will need ten years from now and beyond.
Joy Archer is a trained journalist who defected from her job in the City to become an interior designer. Now, many fabulous projects later she combines her writing skills with her love of all things interiors and babies in her role as PR for Dragons of Walton Street. Joy’s favourite Dragons piece is the huge friendly brown lion which she pats every morning for good luck.