While it might seem crazy to parents in the US, many Nordic parents swear by putting their babies down for naps outside in below-freezing temperatures. Yes, you read that correctly, their babies take naps outdoors, and they swear it results in longer naps. This information often shocks those of us who believe that babies should always be fully bundled to go outdoors and rarely exposed to the elements.
Would you put your baby outside for a nap in near or below freezing temperatures if it meant a longer naptime and potential health benefits? Let’s learn a bit more about why this trend has become so popular among Scandinavian parents.
Outdoor Naptime in Sweden
This trend was first shared globally in an article by BBC, sharing the daily routine of many Nordic parents that involves a daily outdoor nap. In Stockholm, you may see parents sipping coffee inside a café while their baby sleeps outside in their stroller. If you are visiting and need to put your baby down for a nap, it is more common to be offered the balcony instead of a bedroom. Many daycares and preschools also do naptime outdoors, lining up prams of sleeping children in the snow.
While this can be shocking to some, Swedish parents believe there are multiple benefits to outdoor naptime for their babies. They claim that the fresh air is beneficial and keeps them healthier during a time when many kids get colds or the flu. They also say that babies sleep for longer outside, sometimes up to an hour and a half longer than an indoor nap.
Parents and caretakers do keep an eye on the temperature, bringing children inside or adding additional layers when temperatures drop to 5-10 degrees Fahrenheit. They insist that as long as the babies are dressed properly, babies will be safe and sleep longer while enjoying the benefits of the fresh air.
The Evidence Behind Outdoor Naps
Unfortunately, outdoor naps have not been heavily researched so many of the claims above are based on anecdotal evidence. Pediatricians at the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency have reported conflicting results, with some studies showing preschoolers who spend more time outdoors (in general, not just for naps) take fewer sick days than children who spent more time indoors. However, this result is not consistent across studies and has not been replicated.
Other studies have involved surveys of Nordic parents about their babies’ napping habits. These results show that babies slept for 90 minutes to three hours outdoors, compared to only one to two hours indoors. The research across other areas of the world is lacking, but it is not unheard of for many parents to take their baby on a cool, afternoon walk and let them continue sleeping on the porch for a while. Other parents claim that cold air while sleeping has all sorts of benefits from helping their baby fall asleep faster to curing unknown lung conditions. It seems the rumors of fresh, cold air being good for the immune system have traveled far and wide.
To Nap Outdoors or Not?
Ultimately it is your decision, as your child’s parent or caretaker, to decide whether sleeping outdoors or near-freezing temperatures is the best choice for them. All children are unique, and some may enjoy different sleeping environments than others. As long as you are keeping a close eye on your baby and ensure they are dressed properly, experimenting to see if they enjoy sleeping in cooler temperatures or outdoors with some fresh air may be worth trying. Even if it just means a bit of extra naptime, we’ll take it!
Petite Dreamers is here to help.
As I certified sleep consultant, I am trained to work one-on-one with families to ensure the best night of sleep for everyone in your household. If you need help getting your baby to sleep or just have questions about how to handle sleep during the winter months, give our sleep experts a call at Petite Dreamers today.