Courtesy Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield, MA

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Box-like cradles helped keep infants confined and warm in drafty, poorly-heated houses. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, infants were wrapped in swaddling bands that prevented basic movements such as kicking and stretching. The soothing motion of a rocking cradle helped lull them to sleep. Some adults believed that children would walk sooner and develop better posture if they slept lying straight as infants. The long and narrow shape of 17th and 18th-century cradles helped keep babies from rolling onto their sides or bending their legs. By the 19th century, the box-shaped cradle gave way to more fashionable slanted sides. Five generations of the Nims family from Deerfield, Massachusetts, used this cradle.

Date: circa 1720 
Topic: Household 
Materials: Wood
Dimensions: H: 21in., L: 42 in., W: 23 in.  
Accession #: 1880.036.02

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