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Injury proofing the child

This post from The Duchess of Devonshire’s Gossip Guide to the 18th Century as well as my own recent experience watching my two youngest cousins got me thinking about the things we do to protect children from the world and their own exploratory instincts.

The two items that were used in the Regency that I’m going to mention here are leading strings and pudding caps.1

Leading strings were cords or strips of cloth attached to a young child’s clothing at the shoulders and used to help children learning to walk and to as a leash for children who might get into things they shouldn’t,2 similar to the way that children today are sometimes put on leashes or harnesses to prevent them from escaping whilst in public.

The second item was the “pudding cap,” which was basically a padded cap meant to protect children’s heads from injury when they fell,3something that makes sense when you realize that back then carpet was a luxury item so young children would frequently be falling onto wood floors, increasing their likelihood of injuring themselves.

1Jill Condra, The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Clothing Through World History (Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2008), 156, 181, 284, 290.

2Linda Baumgarten, “Children’s Clothing,” Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, (accessed February 27, 2009).

Heather Carroll, “Baby-proofing,” The Duchess of Devonshire’s Gossip Guide to the 18th Century, posted January 12, 2009, (accessed February 26, 2009).

Condra, 156, 181, 284.

Marilynne K. Roach, In the Days of the Salem Witch Trials (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1996), 47.

3Condra, 181, 290.

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