Why Scandinavian babies sleep outdoors during winter

Nordic parents believe al-fresco naps are the key to childhood health


Come winter, British parents may be reluctant to take their baby outside during freezing temperatures, but across Scandinavia, mums and dads are more than happy to leave babies napping outdoors, wrapped up in their prams.


Parents in Sweden and other Nordic countries believe children are healthier and less likely to catch winter bugs when exposed to plenty of fresh air.

The practice of leaving children to take their afternoon nap in the open is widespread, with some Scandinavian pre-schools having compulsory outdoor sleeping until the age of three.

As winter temperatures in Stockholm can drop to a shiver-inducing -15C, carers always ensure children are warmly wrapped up with thermals and blankets.

Stockholm-based mother Lisa Mardon told BBC News that outdoor naps boost her children’s health, saying, “It’s good for them to be in the fresh air as soon as possible. Especially in the winter when there’s lots of diseases going around… the kids seem healthier.”

Some studies have shown that children left to sleep outside take longer naps and are less susceptible to bugs, although the results are not conclusive.

“In some studies they found pre-schoolers who spent many hours outside generally – not just for naps – took fewer days off than those who spent most of their time indoors,” says paediatrician Margareta Blennow.

However she also added the caveat, “In other studies there wasn’t a difference.”


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