A ‘Baby on Board!’ sticker on HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein’s Mercedes AMG in Dubai, 2008. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Baby On Board signs are among the most obviously pointless things in the automotive world. Or, at least I thought they were until about a minute ago.

The point came up while we were discussing the really and truly quite horrible ‘time-out dolls’ (why do I even feel like I need to know their official name) that people leave resting against their numbers-matching Plymouths at car shows.

They reminded somebody of those ‘Baby On Board’ signs, which were swiftly ridiculed.

But several people rather grimly pointed out, that no there is a reason, it’s just really grim and depressing:

Sadly this is not the case. It’s an old rumor. These signs actually popped up as a sort of proactive and really hideously annoying fad in the ‘80s, genuinely hoping to make people on the road less mean and dangerous to cars carrying children, as Snopes explains:

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Though the backstory about an infant who died in a car crash because he wasn’t found in time is one that would chill any parent’s blood, how these signs came to be is far removed from the lore. There were no dead babies, no horrific crashes.

In 1984, Michael Lerner founded Safety 1st for the purpose of manufacturing “Baby on Board” signs. The inspiration for the signs came not from a deadly accident that took the life of a youngster but from a friend who saw similar stickers in Europe.

Of course, the best thing to do with your kids and automobiles is take your children to car shows, as reader Ash78 explained:

I would pay to see this.