Why Scandinavian Parents Leave Their Babies Outside To Nap All Year Around
Naps are important for babies and young children. That’s why preschools and daycares include nap time as part of the daily schedule. Yet, not all children like to nap.
As parents, we’ve discovered that motion can help our children fall asleep. We have sometimes resorted to strapping our kids into their carseats and driving around in order to get them to fall asleep at nap time. We’ve also rocked them in sleep in our arms and taken them for long walks in the stroller.
One thing we have never done is leave our sleeping child in the stroller outside while we go inside a cafe to have a latte. Apparently, doing just that is actually quite common in Norway, and it’s not considered bad parenting. Literally nobody will judge the parent’s decision to leave the sleeping baby alone outside with a baby monitor while the parent goes inside with their friends.
The reason parents leave the sleeping baby outside has nothing to do with abandoning the baby. Instead, it’s because it is commonly believed in Scandinavian countries the babies sleep better outside.
Preschools and daycares in Scandinavian countries even have nap time outside. Just picture all of the babies sleeping outside in the middle of the day while the daycare workers keep an eye on them. It seems quite odd, but perhaps it’s not a bad idea.
There are multiple reasons Scandinavian parents choose to let their babies nap outside year round (yes, in cold months too). According to one Finnish study, babies and adults sleep longer outside than they do when they’re sleeping inside.
In addition, it’s thought that it’s healthier for kids in day cares to sleep outside where they get fresh air instead of inside where they are breathing each other’s air and thus sharing germs. One mom reported that her child in day care in Norway, where he took naps outside, hardly ever got sick. Meanwhile, I can report that in the United States, my children frequently bring home colds from preschool.
More than anything, parents in Scandinavian countries let their babies sleep outside because that’s the way it has always been done, and traditions are hard to change, especially when there’s even a tiny bit of scientific and anecdotal evidence to back it up.
Have your children ever taken naps outside? Does it surprise you that in Scandinavian countries it’s common to leave a baby in a stroller outside while the parents go inside for a latte?