Baby on board
"Baby on board" is the message of a small (usually five-inch) sign intended to be placed in the back window of an automobile to encourage safe driving.
History and popular use
First marketed in September 1984 by Safety 1st Corporation, the sign became a ubiquitous fad, flourishing in 1985. Its use in the US rapidly declined in 1986 as parody imitations with lines like "Baby I'm Bored", "Pit Bull on board", and "Mother-In-Law in Trunk" became popular, although its popularity continues in the United Kingdom (along with other versions such as "Princess on board" and "Little Person on board"), in Italy and in Japan (usually saying "Baby in Car", with the sign written in either English or Japanese script) well into the 21st century. The original parent company diversified into infant and child care products.
Despite waning in popularity, the signs have entered the American lexicon. In 1993, The Simpsons episode "Homer's Barbershop Quartet" featured a barbershop quartet tune called "Baby on Board". The song was written by Homer Simpson in a flashback to 1985 when Marge bought a sign, hoping it would stop people from "intentionally ramming our car".
Following popular request and trials in 2005, Transport for London (TfL) began issuing badges with the TfL logo and the words "Baby on board!" to pregnant women travelling on the London Underground, to help other passengers identify pregnant commuters who would like to be offered a seat.
An urban legend claims that the death of a baby led to the creation of the signs. According to snopes.com, there is no truth to this claim. The founder of Safety 1st, Michael Lerner, was inspired in 1984 when he had to drive his baby nephew home in busy traffic and other vehicles were aggressively passing him. He claimed to have heard about similar signs in Europe, when in fact, he entered into a partnership with Patricia and Helen Bradley of Medford, Massachusetts, to market the signs. The Bradleys had been trying to market the signs since Patricia brought them back from Germany, where her husband was stationed. Lerner eventually bought PHOB, the company set up by the Bradleys (for approximately US$150,000), and changed the name to Safety 1st.
Warning decals similar to the "Baby on board" sign have been manufactured for autistic and other special needs children. The purpose of the sticker is to let people know that there is a child with a disability present who may not respond to emergency personnel.
- "Tube trials 'Baby on board' badges for mums-to-be". Transport for London. 2005-03-07. Retrieved 2012-04-21.
- "Baby on Board". Transport for London. 2012-04-02. Retrieved 2012-04-21.
- "Baby on Board". Urban Legends Reference Pages. 2006-09-02. Retrieved 2007-02-06.
- May, Jeff (13 June 2011). "After the One-Hit Wonder". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
- "10 badges for commuters". BBC. 2005-03-09. Retrieved 2012-04-21.