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Baby On Board Signs

By Patrick Mondout

In the mid-Awesome80s, a new road sign started appearing - this time inside our cars. These signs, which attached to the inside of a window via a small suction cup, warned other road warriors about the contents of your car. At first, they simply read "Baby on Board" (so annoying today that we will hereafter refer to them simply as "BoB"). By 1986 it had become a full-fledged fad with millions sold. Before the Awesome80s were over, there were literally hundreds of variants (see image on right) in the closeout section of your local K-Mart.

Where Did They Come From?

A company called 1st Safety began marketing them to parents of young children in late 1985. They were supposed to warn others drivers to drive with caution because there was a baby inside. Like I'm supposed to notice the sign and swerve into the oncoming 18-wheeler instead of rear-ending the Minivan or Volvo with the ubiquitous BoB sign! Yeah, right!

A more sensible use was for emergency crews who would look frantically for the "missing" kid when they came to the scene of an accident with a BoB sign and no kid.

Safety Feature or Hazard?

Not long into the fad, some raised concerns about the safety of the signs themselves. In an effort to get the lead-foot behind them to back off, mothers were putting these little signs in areas of the car that obstructed their view thus making it even more likely they'd get into an accident. Legislation was even proposed in a few states regarding the positioning of these signs.

Parody on Board

The first variants of the sign warned of other hazards, such as "Student Driver on Board." But then the clever folks stepped in and started making parody signs warning of such hazards as "Mafia Hitman On Board," "Drunk Driver on Board," and "Mother-In-Law in Trunk." Copy-cats and parodies are usually sign that a fad is about to run its course and while millions were sold in 1986, it was passť to have one in your car by 1987. In 1985, having one of these implied that you cared about your baby and was met with approval by fellow drivers. By 1988, they were no longer seen as a safety necessity and the parodies were no longer funny.

Where Are They Now?

Check your local landfill (or eBay - check our links to the right and below). First Safety still markets "Baby on Board" and "Child on Board" signs though sales are somewhat less brisk than they were in 1986.

As with the Davy Crockett fad of the 1950s or the Pet Rock fad of the Super70s, the Baby on Board fad never came back. Thus we were spared the "O.J. on Board," "Osama on Board," "Dot Com Billionaire on Board" and "White House Intern on Board" variations. (If a light just went off in your head, please put down the crack-pipe and step away from the keyboard!)



Share Your Memories!

Do you have any interesting or amusing stories to tell about Baby On Board Signs? Share your stories with the world! (We print the best stories right here!)

Your Memories Shared!

"I saw PJ driving a toy car with a "Baby on Board" sign in a "Family Circus" cartoon one time--after people began to get annoyed with the fad. Usually when the characters in a cartoon such as "The Family Circus" begin to take note of a fad or a current event, it means that the fad or event is no longer current. That may be due to the fact that "The Family Circus" is done well before it appears in the newspapers."


"I am due very shortly and I really want to get one of these signs for my car. I intend to check with the police as far as positioning it... but I live in a metro and people drive like maniacs! I hope that it will help even still. I haven't seen any of the parody signs in YEARS, so I doubt that the introduction of a Baby On Board sign in this day would be met with so much trouble."


"The sign doesn't make any sense to me. What I am amazed about is how many people with these signs drive so poorly. Speeding, running lights, no turn signals. it totaly contradicts the message they are sending."


"Okay, okay, I admit it... I had a "Giants Fan on Board" sign - hey, I was young, okay?"


"Be careful, you're exhibiting some old-fashioned sexism when you say "mothers" put the signs in their cars in a way that obstructed their views. [Editor's note: Two points. Number one: It was mostly mothers driving their kids around that had these signs in their cars. No sexism there just a fact. Number two: If I want to be sexist on my web site, I will be and there is not a thing in the world you or anyone else on Earth can do about it. Not that I would be sexist but the "be careful" you started off your message with is just plain silly.]"


"What I most remember about the drivers of vehicles with these signs is that they seldom used the turn signals, changed lanes often (trying to get to the sales 2 seconds sooner), and tended to drive in an overall haphazard manner.

I think rather than being a safety factor, these drivers thought it gave them the right to drive unsafely while we were supposed to stay out of their way and let them do so."


"I made a BOB sign which read "NO baby on board, so take your best shot". Got a lot of dirty looks from the BOB mom's as they blazed by me. [Editor's note: If BOB-moms are blazing by you, it may be time to get your Yugo tuned-up!]"


"I couldn't agree with you more. This sticker is uneccessary and people should always drive courteously, and now I'm annoyed because after hating these stickers for years I have to write a review promoting the new Toyota car sticker that parodies it again (10 year later! yawn). . . baby on hold.
Oooo how original."


"I think that these signs are pathetic - whats the point? They aren't just an Awesome80s fad - almost every parent in the world still has one on their car! Pathetic! [Editor's note: Not sure where you live, but it has been years since I saw one up here in the Pacific Northwest.]"


"I actually found an "ooga baby on board" sign in a dollar store with a scary picture of that cha cha baby (seen on Ally McBeal) of course, I bought it -- two decades collide!!"




Yellow BoB signs and the yellow Pac Man replaced the yellow smiley face of the Super70s as the cultural icons of the Awesome80s.

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