In Denmark, children up to 3 years old sleep outside during the day. In the garden, the balcony, the terrace… even in the street. It doesn’t really matter if it’s sunny or rainy, or if it’s hot or cold. Even during the coldest winter days in Denmark children are allowed to take their naps in the strollers outside, until it’s -10C. Newborns are allow to do it ‘only’ until it’s -5C.
What do people think about this?
When foreigners see this for the first time, the general response seems to be one of shock and concern.
Outside? Alone? What if someone comes and takes them?
Well, this doesn’t seem to happen in Denmark and Danes have been doing this for many many decades, proving to the rest of the world the wonders this unique practice can have on the kids, and parents as well.
Why do they do it?
When you ask Danes why do they put their children to sleep the nap outside, regardless the weather, most of the answers will be related to the believe that the fresh and cold air is beneficial for the lungs and general health of the babies. Some others say it will allow them to be more resistant to the cold, while a last group will simply affirm that is because they sleep better than inside. Yet, whatever the real reason for doing so, the important fact is that indeed children do have way much better naps while sleeping with fresh air, making it a common practice not only for each individual family, but also in nurseries and daycare providers.
So in case you are a new coming family with a small child, and are thinking on putting him/her in a daycare institution be sure that this will be the most accepted practice, and hence some arrangements shall be made.
Additional to these eye-opening facts, one of the most shocking image for foreigners is that of seeing prams parked outside a restaurant, a shop or a café. Many Danes will do this while they do a quick errand, enjoy a cup of coffee or even while having a meal indoors. Many restaurants and cafés don’t allow their customers to bring prams inside because of limited space, but they will often suggest a place where customers can park their pram. Which to be honest its quite practical and convenient as parents get things done and the child has a better nap instead of being inside a noisy place.
We promise they are more than fine
For those worried about the children getting cold, there is no need to do so. Over these decades, the Danes have mastered the science of layers. They know exactly how to dress their children for each of the climatic conditions found in this region. Not only the children are perfectly wrapped with their wool suits, hats, gloves, duvets and sleep bags, but also some of the most popular brands of prams and strollers are specifically designed for this, with special insulation systems that allow them to keep the baby in the perfect temperature.
Now, regarding the isolation of the baby when no one is around to hear if he/she woke up, parents in Denmark use baby monitors to check on their children while enjoy some alone time over a coffee or while doing some cleaning at the house.
So next time you visit Denmark and see an abandoned stroller with a baby inside, please do not call the police. It will not happen much since most probable that child has some caring parents, monitoring him/her from a close distance. However if this happens somewhere else, it might be a good idea to consider doing a call. It could lead to a case like Annette Sorensen’s in 1997, but it can also be an emergency to be taken care off. But for now, lets continue learning about all these practices the Danish culture shares with us on daily basis.
Would you do it? How long it took you to do so? Do you find advantages? Share your story with us!