Did your mom worry you’d catch a cold if you went outside in winter? Scandinavian mothers have no fear of the cold, even for their babies!
According to the BBC, Nordic parents routinely place their children outside in the cold for stroller naps after lunch. It’s common to see them lined up outside shops while parents enjoy a bite.
Winter temps in Stockholm can go as low as 23 degrees Fahrenheit, but most of these parents believe their children are healthier in the fresh air. Inside, germs spread more easily.
Napping outside in the winter is a long-standing parenting method in Nordic countries. Daycare centers in Sweden commonly line strollers outside for long winter naps.
“At Forskolan Orren, a pre-school outside Stockholm, all children sleep outside until they reach the age of three.”
“When the temperature drops to -15C (5F) we always cover the prams with blankets,” says the head teacher. “Last year we had a couple of days with a temperature of -20C. On those days we brought the prams inside some of the time the children were sleeping, but most of their sleep they spent outdoors.”
The theory behind cold-weather napping is that fresh air and outdoors are healthier for children overall. In fact, they are superior to spending all day indoors swapping germs with a group of other children.
An article on Scary Mommy, says this refers to a practice known as friluftsliv, “which basically translates to ‘spending time outdoors to get a change of scenery and experience nature with no pressure to compete or achieve.'”
Scandinavian parents believe their children are healthier and sleep more soundly as a result of the practice.
“Paediatrician (sic) Margareta Blennow says reports from the Swedish Environmental protection agency show conflicting results. ‘In some studies they found pre-schoolers who spent many hours outside generally – not just for naps – took fewer days off than those who spent most of their time indoors,’ she says. ‘In other studies there wasn’t a difference.'”
Clothing is crucial. There is a Swedish saying that roughly translates – “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.”
Before you bundle up your toddler and set the carriage outdoors, though, consider the culture where you live and carefully observe Nordic practices.
In 1997, The Guardian reported that Danish actress Anette Sørensen and her husband received a visit from Child Protective Services when they let their 14-month old remain outside a New York City restaurant on a cold day in May. They were arrested and their child temporarily taken but all charges were dropped.
Author Linda McGurk explains children should be in a stroller or pram with a woolen underlayer and be clothed in a snowsuit with built-in mittens, a hat, and a bunting bag.
Keep them in view and check on them often. “Make sure you can always see your baby’s face, and there’s no way for them to turn their head and suffocate: they should be swaddled up well.”
God’s outdoors has much to offer. Even to sleeping babies!