Naptime in Nature: Exploring the Scandinavian Tradition of Babies Sleeping Outdoors
In Scandinavia, a beautiful tradition has stood the test of time – babies sleeping outdoors, no matter the weather. While it might sound unusual to some, this practice has been embraced for generations, and there are numerous benefits to be reaped. In this blog post, we'll delve into the Scandinavian way of letting babies nap outdoors and explore the advantages it offers for both infants and their parents.
The Tradition: Scandinavian countries, such as Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, have a longstanding tradition of allowing babies to nap outside in their cribs or strollers. This custom is deeply rooted in the belief that fresh air and nature play a crucial role in a child's development. Regardless of the season, babies are bundled up and placed in a safe outdoor sleeping environment.
Benefits of Outdoor Naps:
- Improved Sleep Patterns: Many parents have noticed that babies who nap outdoors tend to sleep longer and more soundly. The fresh air and natural environment contribute to better sleep quality.
- Enhanced Immune System: Exposure to varying temperatures and natural elements can help strengthen a baby's immune system, making them more resilient to illnesses.
- Better Daytime Naps: Babies who sleep outdoors often have more regular daytime nap routines, which can lead to more predictability for parents.
- Vitamin D Boost: Sunlight exposure provides infants with essential vitamin D, promoting healthy bone development.
- Emotional Well-being: Being in nature has a soothing effect on babies, reducing fussiness and promoting emotional well-being.
- Parental Benefits: Parents also benefit from the tradition, as it encourages them to spend time outdoors and connect with nature, which can reduce stress and improve mental well-being.
Safety Considerations: While this tradition has numerous benefits, safety should always be a top priority. Here are some key safety considerations to keep in mind:
- Use appropriate clothing to keep the baby warm and comfortable. As this is a long-standing tradition, advice has been passed down from generation to generation on how to dress/bundle a baby to sleep outside safely.
- Ensure the baby's crib or stroller is safely positioned and free from hazards.
- Never leave the baby unattended while napping outdoors.
- Many parents place a baby monitor inside the baby’s stroller.
Some time should be taken to study the weather and the clothing baby should be wearing before beginning the practice of outdoor slumber. In Scandinavia, while the weather can be extreme at times, from hot humid days, to freezing cold snow, several other practices have been handed down through the generations that make this tradition much easier.
The strollers used in Scandinavia are more traditional ‘prams’. They are large and offer much more protection and insulation against the weather. These are not your easy-to-fold throw in the back of the car strollers we use in the US.
Items like sheepskin are still widely used to insulate the underside of baby in the pram.
In the winter, all Scandinavian babies are bundled in a ‘flyvedragt’ when they go outside- an all-in-one zip-up suite that is thermal, and waterproof. They will also be kitted out with a warm thermal balaclava, to cover the head and neck so a scarf is not needed. Waterproof thermal gloves are also a must.
In the summer, baby will be in light clothing and positioned to catch a light breeze, but be out of direct sunlight. A muslin swaddle, blanket or car seat cover are good options for this time of year.
The Scandinavian tradition of babies sleeping outdoors is a testament to the deep connection between nature and child development. It offers numerous benefits, from improved sleep patterns to enhanced immune systems and emotional well-being. While this practice may not be suitable for every family or region, it's an inspiring reminder of the positive impact that nature can have on our lives, starting from the very beginning. So, why not consider taking a page from the Scandinavian parenting book and allow your little one to enjoy the wonders of the great outdoors during naptime?