Did your mother believe in the value of fresh air? Did she insist you spend some of your playtime outside? Did she open your bedroom window at least a little at night, even in the coldest weather? Of course she did. They all did when we were young. And the belief lives on in the Scandinavian countries.
A recent article on the BBC website describes how Nordic parents commonly have their babies nap outside in their prams throughout the winter, even in temperatures well below freezing. In Stockholm, they say, it is usual to see buggies with sleeping babies parked in the snow outside of coffee shops while their mothers sip lattes inside. This is all done on purpose, even when at home.
Just as our mothers, they feel exposure to fresh air during the day is important for the babies’ health, although the data is ambiguous. Of course, the babies are carefully wrapped up in blankets and sleeping bags, as we were in our mittens and scarves. A casual Google search shows many places selling sleeping bags and other cold-weather items for babies in buggies. As a Swedish saying goes, “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.”
“I think it’s good for them to be in the fresh air as soon as possible,” says one mother of three. ”Especially in the winter when there’s lots of diseases going around, the kids seem healthier. When the temperature drops to -15C (near zero degrees Fahrenheit) we always cover the prams with blankets”
“Babies clearly sleep longer outdoors than indoors,” says another. These mothers are simply repeating their mothers’ beliefs.
Daycare centers in Sweden routinely put children outside at nap time. They line up rows of prams in the snow with a bundled-up baby fast asleep in each. The theory is that children exposed to outdoor fresh air, summer or winter, are less likely to catch coughs and colds—and that spending a whole day in one room with 30 other children does them no good at all.
Sounds logical to me. Why didn’t I think of it for myself? I have a sleeping bag I could put on a lounge chair on the back patio. I would just need to tell my wife where I will be.