Parents in Stockholm, Sweden often set up their babies to nap outdoors; it’s a practice that goes back as far as many can remember. Temperatures in Sweden dip to about 20°F during winter, and when factoring in the wind-chill, it can feel as cold as -4°F. So, what then, drives these parents to have their young babies take naps in the frigid air, daily?
Swedish parent Lisa Mardon said, “I think it’s good for them to be in the fresh air as soon as possible.” Other parents also contend that their babies get better sleep, and for longer, in the outdoor environment. Pre-schools subscribe the idea, and at Forskolan Orren every child naps outdoors until they are 3 years old. Another school does all activities outside, from 9am until 3:00pm. Their belief is that kids will not be as susceptible to catching common colds and coughs, by being out in the cold when they are young. Studies researching this claim are inconclusive because the results contradict each other.
But the fact that very cold weather can be extremely detrimental to young children’s health is not overlooked. “Last year we had a couple of days with a temperature of -20C [-4°F]. On those days we brought the prams inside some of the time the children were sleeping, but most of their sleep they spent outdoors,” says Brittmarie Carlzon, who is a head teacher at Forskolan Orren school. Close attention is also paid to the garments that children are wearing. Martin Jarnstromg, head of a number of preschools, says, “It’s very important that the children have wool closest to their body, warm clothes and a warm sleeping bag.”