Should babies have their naps outside?

Some nurseries have outdoor nap times, whatever the weather. But is outdoor sleeping OK – and does it help your baby sleep better?

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Letting your baby sleep outdoors, whatever the weather, is commonplace in Iceland, and Scandinavian countries – and used to be popular here, back in the 1950s and 60s.

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And now, mainly thanks to the growing popularity of ‘forest’ nurseries (which encourage total outdoor learning), it seems it’s coming back into fashion in the UK.

Speaking about it to The Telegraph, Hayley Room of Dandelion Education in Norfolk, said:

“Nature provides extensive opportunities for learning. With the appropriate weather clothing, suitable bedding, a pram and appropriate supervision, there is no reason not to let children sleep outdoors!”

But, is it OK to let your little one nap outdoors? Dr Rahul Chodhari of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health told the Telegraph that, as long as it is not raining and the area is secured from animals, sleeping outdoors (appropriately wrapped up) carries few dangers – even in cold weather.

And we asked our own doctor in residence, Philippa Kaye, who told us:

“I am not aware of medical evidence that it is beneficial for babies to sleep outside but also not aware of any evidence that it is harmful.

“And actually I put all my babies to sleep outside for their daytime naps! Anecdotally, many people say that their babies sleep better.

“Whether inside or out, you shouldn’t let your baby sleep in a car seat for a long while, so if you are putting your child down for a nap, then you will need to use a true lie-flat pram or cot.

“Make sure that they are wrapped up well if it is cold, but not too much if it is hot, and keep them in the shade in summer time.

“Make sure that they are safe from animals and that you can hear them. Otherwise, for me and my children, it worked!”

Dr Philippa Kaye is a London GP who has written several books on pregnancy and childcare including The First Five Years. See www.drphilippakaye.com and follow her on twitter @drphilippakaye

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