In Scandinavian Countries, Babies Nap Outside – Even When It’s Below Freezing

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Many people like to sleep with the thermostat turned down or with a fan blowing on them. Cooler temps promotes more restful sleeping.

But could you stand napping outside when it’s almost zero or even below zero degrees F? Would you make your child do it?

Let me ask you another question. Do you want your child removed from your custody and raised by other people? Because that’s what would happen – at least in the United States.

Midday nap
But in the cold-climate countries that make up Scandinavia, no one would bat an eye. In fact, infants’ that are only days old commonly put outside to catch a few z’s in sub-zero weather.

If that sounds cold, it’s because it is cold. You’re not nuts.

According to the BBC, it’s not even just parents putting the freeze on their kids. Preschools will routinely wheel the babies outside at nap time in the winter. In the Stockholm area, one school pushes the kiddies out until the age of three.

Head teacher Brittmarie Carlzon says,

When the temperature drops to -15C (5F) we always cover the prams with blankets … It’s not only the temperature that matters, it’s also how cold it feels. Some days it can be -15C but it actually feels like -20C (-4F) because of the wind.

To be clear, that’s a day the kids can nap inside, When it feels -4 F.

Photo Credit: Pxhere

So, what exactly is the deal?

Linda McGurk, author of There’s No Such Thing As Bad Weather, wrote on Rain or Shine Mama about these outdoor naps. She explains that it’s one of those charming Scandinavian concepts that’s hard for Americans to understand at first and impossible for Americans to pronounce ever.

She calls it friluftsliv, which translates to “spending time outdoors to get a change of scenery and experience nature with no pressure to compete or achieve.” It’s a return to nature, learning about nature, an immersion in nature, while also cultivating love and respect for it.

Sticking your baby outside for a nap is part of friluftsliv. There’s no need for music players, wave machines or heartbeat noises because the sounds of nature are lulling and relaxing enough.

Scandinavian style nap: outside

There is also the belief that kids who spend a large amount of outdoors and away from the petri-dish that is preschool are less likely to get sick.

If you want to try this, make sure your baby is reclined in a stroller. They should wear a wool layer under a snow suit with attached mittens, plus a hat and bunting bag. You should be able to see their face and they shouldn’t be able to turn their head. Check your baby often for signs they are getting too cold. Watch for wild animals, nosy neighbors and child protective services.

Or, embrace your American-ness, put them in a onesie and let them sleep inside. That’s okay too.