I have a confession to make. I forced both of my kids to be outdoor babies. When I say outdoor babies, I mean that they started napping outdoors when they were two weeks old and continued to do so until they were kicked out of their strollers.
This tradition, passed on by generations of Scandinavian parents, was in my DNA, as I raised my two babies in North America. The philosophy behind the parenting choice is simple: fresh air is good for babies. It’s just the way it’s always been. As my mom once said, “Everyone knows that outdoor babies sleep better.”
No matter where your baby naps, it’s important to make sure you’re up-to-date on the latest sleep safety guidelines. And always be near your baby while they nap.
Canadian parents reacted to my outdoor sleeping babies both with horror and with great interest, and it occurs to me that though this practice is second nature for me, it is new to many in North America.
If you’re interested in learning more about outdoor napping for babies, you may want to consult your family doctor first, because although outdoor napping had many benefits for me and for my children, the studies [PDF] from Scandinavia have not been conclusively supportive of the practice.
Still with me? Here’s why I loved letting my babies nap outside and why it might be something that will work for your family as well:
- Babies who nap outdoors have better naps as the colder air helps them sleep longer.
- Babies who nap outdoors may have fewer colds. Spending more time outdoors decreases exposure to germs in enclosed spaces. (See more on that via the BBC: The real reasons germs spread around.)
- Babies who nap outdoors can nap everywhere … even when they get older.
- Babies who nap outdoors are great to take with you on adventures like cross country skiing, hiking trips, canoe trips, snowshoeing trips, and traveling adventures.
- Babies who nap outdoors have more exposure to nature and get to look at swaying branches or the sky while they are falling asleep, which is known to have a calming effect on them, according to Norwegian Pediatrician Gro Nylander (check out her book, Becoming A Mother).
- Babies who nap outdoors have parents who spend lots of time outdoors and that helps keep the adults in the family physically active and supports mental health. This creates good habits and role-models behaviour you’ll want your kids to adopt when they’re older.
Whether you decide to give your baby outdoor naps, or if you just want to spend more time outside with your baby this winter, it’s important that you dress them properly. So be sure to read my 9 tips for dressing babies for winter.