A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46

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In December 1945. The Social Survey carried out an inquiry for the Surveys Division of the Board of Trade into housewives’ stocks of saucepans and kettles and their preferences for different types of ware. A sample of 2625 housewives was interviewed, representative proportions being included in different regions of Great Britain and different economic groups. The Surveys Division also wished to obtain information about domestic stocks of cot bedding and the difficulties that mothers might be experiencing in buying cot bedding, and it was decided that this information could be obtained in the same inquiry.

Amongst the 2625 housewives interviewed there were 643 mothers of children aged under five, and those who had children sleeping in cots, or in any substitute for a cot other than a bed, were asked questions about their stocks of cot bedding.

Most items of cot bedding have been in short supply for some years, and the purpose of this inquiry was to provide general information as to how the shortage was affecting the public. It should be noted at the outset that all mothers of children who sleep in cots might not, even in normal times, wish to buy ready made cot bedding. Some might prefer to make cot bedding themselves out of bought material, others might find it more economical to cut down full sized sheets and blankets which were beginning to wear out, or to use ordinary sheets and blankets, folded over which could still be used on ordinary beds when their children grew too old for cots.

This inquiry was concerned with ready made cot bedding and material bought for the purpose of making cot bedding was not considered. Mothers who did not use ready made cot bedding were however, asked what they used as a substitute for this.

The 643 mothers had between them 849 children aged under five. The types of sleeping apparatus used for these children were as follows:

No. of Children % Children aged under 5.
Ordinary beds 338 40
Cots 443 52
Substitutes for cots 68 8
Total 849 100

No information was sought about the bedding used on ordinary beds. There were 462 mothers in the sample who had children sleeping in cots or substitutes for cots, and as shown in the table above, there were 511 children sleeping in cots or substitutes.

About half the children who slept in substitutes for cots slept in their pram, and the remainder slept in a variety of articles such as washing baskets, cradles, “Moses” baskets, home-made boxes, etc.

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