Brave The Cold

Why Norwegian Parents Let Babies Nap Outside In Below-Freezing Temperatures

You thought baby Thor napped in a cozy crib by the fire?

Originally Published: 
A baby win a winter jacket sleeping outdoors in a stroller.

If the parenting info you’ve gleaned from watching (sorry, researching) superhero movies is correct, then you know a couple of things to be true. First, your kid will end up being an alcoholic flying-suit genius if you happen to be an alcoholic billionaire. (Whew, safe there.) Second, Norwegians only produce mythical flaxen-haired gods for offspring. How? Freezing naps and endorsing babies sleeping outside, apparently.

In Finland, Norway, and most other Scandinavian countries, children nap in the outdoors starting as young as two weeks old. But they’re not simply basking in a sunbeam on a mild summer afternoon. These kids are parked in prams on busy city sidewalks and terraces in all weather, including days as cold as -4 Fahrenheit, for up to three hours.

There is actually some pretty solid reasoning behind this practice. According to some Thor-ough research by Marjo Tourula of the University of Oulu, Finland, frigid napping not only promotes better daytime sleeping, but it also increases the duration of sleep. More subjectively, parents felt that napping in the fresh air promoted health in their infants.

Other benefits, not yet borne out by research, purportedly include children being happier, more energetic, able to sleep better through the night, and capable of snoozing in any environment, even loud and bright ones.

Before you go chucking your kid outside this winter, understand that Scandinavian parents have been arrested for the practice in the U.S. Also, babies sent to nap outside are equipped with weather-appropriate bundling and sophisticated baby monitors for safety.

So, although it’s unlikely you’ll be able to grow an Asgardian wonder by leaving your baby out for the night, it’s good to know there’s always an option to move to northern Europe, where they really seem to have this parenting thing down.

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