Robert Merry’s Museum advertised many products during its lifetime, but few as bizarre as “Brown’s Patent Baby-Tender,” a contraption which could be transformed from a cradle to a baby-jumper to a footstool to a high chair to a baby walker to …. The baby-tender was advertised in several issues in 1865, both on the back covers of the magazine and in a one-page rave review. The review is probably by John N. Stearns, main editor of the Museum, whose daughter—Nellie—was born in January 1864; likely she is the “delightful little tyrant” mentioned in the article. How many of these were sold is impossible to say, but as furniture it tells us much about shrinking living spaces and about a growing sense that all aspects of a child’s life needed to be controlled or overseen by adults.
Advertisements for Brown’s Baby-tender (from Robert Merry’s Museum, 1865)
“An Excellent Invention” (June 1865; p. 184)
girl with doll in the baby-tender

There is no prettier plaything than a nice baby, and who ever saw one that was not the dearest, sweetest little creature on earth? Surely no mother ever had one of any other description. But for all this, every mother also knows that there is no harder work than to “to tend the baby,” [sic] especially if the child be an active one. There is just such a delightful little tyrant at our house, and it was once a pleasant task, but a real labor, to keep her amused and satisfied. That used to be the case; now, the labor is almost done away with, for much of the work is done by Dr. Brown’s Baby-Tender, a picture of which is given above. It is a most complete invention. When the child needs exercise, it can help itself to a trot up and down, easily and safely. If it be sleepy, the Baby-Tender is quickly arranged as a cradle, and the mother can lull it to rest while sewing by a gentle motion of the foot. There is no rocking; the inventor, who is a physician, believes, as most sensible persons do, that swinging to-and-fro, or rocking in the old-fashioned way, is an unnatural and hurtful motion. It deranges the circulation, and produces giddiness and stupor, not healthful sleep. The Baby-Tender gives a pleasant up-and-down motion, which soothes and does not injure the child. Then the apparatus can be readily converted into a playing-chair, a nursery-chair, “baby-walker,” a high chair, and a spring hobby-horse. Indeed, it seems to meet almost all the requirements of an infant except feeding, which of course the mother can do best. A child will love to spend a large part of his waking hours in the Baby-Tender in some of its many forms, which gives very great relief to the mother. When not wanted to hold the child, this apparatus may quickly be changed to a neat divan or small lounge, both useful and ornamental.

We have not space to give a complete description, but any one wishing to know more about it, should send to Mr. J. T. Ellis, No. 939 Broadway, for a descriptive circular, showing all the uses and forms. We can heartily recommend it from long trial, and if any of our young friends, or their parents, find “tending the baby” laborious, they will do well to try this most excellent invention. The different parts are strongly made, and will not easily get out of order. One, properly used, will answer to tend a large family of children, and then be “handy to have in the house” for the grandchildren. They are made in different styles of finish at different prices.

“Advertisement (June & July 1865, back cover)


the Baby-Tender

The Baby-Tender as a Bed or Spring Cradle (D)—The head-rest, B, and the foot-rest, C, can be lowered, or elevated, or removed. A drawer with a sunken knob is seen at E. The foot pedal, P, enables one to keep the bed in motion while sewing or reading. The bed may be revolved upon the standard, to turn the child’s eyes from a strong light, and its head in any desired direction. The whole rests on castors, and is easily moved around the room. A curved wire can be inserted to support a musquito or fly net above the child’s face.

It is the most complete and useful Nursery Invention of the age. From a charming Spring Cradle it is easily and almost instantly converted into either of the following articles, namely:

A RECLINING COUCH, for children too young to sit alone;


A BABY-WALKER, attractive and useful;

AN OTTOMAN, for the parlor or dining-room;

A HOBBY-HORSE, for children under five years;

A BABY-JUMPER, for security, exercise, and amusement;

A BABY-HORSE; or, when elevated, A HIGH CHAIR, for the table;


The motion of the Baby-tender, which is VERTICAL and NOISELESS, is derived from a spiral spring in the Ottoman; and, unlike that of the common Rocking or Swinging Cradle, is in the highest degree healthy, delightful, and soothing. It relieves the mother from the hardest part of baby-tending.


When packed, the Baby-tender alone measures seven cubic feet, and weighs about one hundred pounds. The horse adds about one fourth to the weight and measurement. Call and examine, or send for Descriptive Circular.

“Brown’s Patent Baby-Tender, or Magic Cradle, is almost as indispensable in a house as the baby itself. We have tried both, and should not know how to do without either. It is easily and quickly converted into a cradle, baby-jumper, hobby-horse, nursery chair, ottoman, baby-walker, etc., which amuses and delights the child, and greatly relieves the mother.”—Merry’s Museum.

No. 939 Broadway, New York.
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