Here’s Why Nordic Moms Send Their Infants To Nap Outdoors
If you live in a culture in which anxiety and new babies go hand in hand, it probably seems like a wild idea to have your infant nap out of sight, never mind out in the cold.
If you’re a Nordic mom, though, it probably sounds like just another day in paradise.
It’s so normal, in fat, that you’re likely to see a bunch of strollers (or prams or push-chairs) filled with small babies napping outside of cafes or other small shops, all alone while their parents grab a drink or attend other business.
Midwives and mothers alike feel that the fresh air boosts kids’ health and expresses ancient cultural traditions.
The practice is common in a majority of Nordic countries, Russia, and parts of Eastern Europe.
A TikTok detailing the practice in Denmark recently went viral and the commenters were curious and mostly polite – though some definitely expressed envy.
“Imagine feeling this safe in a country,” said one person.
“As an American, I cannot even fathom a society this safe…which is sad,” said another.”
Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and other Nordic countries typically rank as some of the happiest in the world, with high levels of social cohesion, good healthcare, and relatively low crime.
Which is why people feel comfortable leaving their sleeping babies lining the street.
A 2008 study found that the practice typically began when children were around 2 months old and the outdoor naps took place an average of once a day – even when the temperatures were as low as 5 degrees Fahrenheit.
Parents reported that children took longer naps outside, and around 66% of Finnish parents thought their babies appeared more active after outdoor naps as well.
88% reported that their baby “clearly enjoyed” sleeping outdoors.
There is a common belief around the world that being exposed to frosty wilderness can toughen an immune system, though it’s never been thoroughly proven by a scientific study.
A 2013 study looked at the cultural meaning of the practice and found that families felt it boosted well-being and played a role in helping children adapt to freezing winters.
Either way, it’s a popular tradition that surely does more good than harm, and all cultures have their ways of passing down knowledge.
And besides, everyone knows a little fresh air never hurts.