Many people are shocked by learning that Norwegian parents let their babies sleep outside in their strollers even during winter. You might have come across a photo like the one below and wondered if Norwegian parents are insane, or if it’s really safe.
So what’s the deal with Norwegian babies sleeping outside in freezing temperatures? And is this safe for babies?
It’s true that Norwegian (and Scandinavian) babies are sleeping outside in their strollers in freezing temperatures. The babies have plenty of clothing, and will not take any damage as long as the parent pay attention. It’s very rare to see Norwegian babies become hypothermic.
The benefit of having the babies napping outside in the cold
Frigid napping has been scientifically found to increase the length of daytime sleep and promote better sleep routines, compared to babies napping inside. The reason is likely tied to the fresh air.
Most kindergarten has all the babies sleeping outside in their strollers during the mid-day nap, even when all the other kindergarten children are playing. Many people believe that this makes the babies more used to sleeping even when there’s some noise around them, but this latter part has yet to be confirmed or researched by science.
Many parents claim that the babies sleep better at night after having their nap outside in the cold, but again, there’s no research to confirm if this is really true or not.
When is it too cold for the babies to nap outside?
There is a lot of debate as to when exactly it’s too cold for the babies to nap outside, and the arguments are usually between -10 °C (14 °F) to -20 °C (-4 °F). There is no consensus, but it seems that the children can handle -20 °C just fine as long as they have enough clothing.
Norwegians are obviously usually pretty good at assessing how much clothing to put on themselves and their babies, and it’s common to have a layer of wool, a layer of regular clothing, a thick winter hat, and a thick type of baby sleeping bag that is made for outside napping. Top that up with a blanket, and you got yourself a warm and nice baby nest that will keep the temperature stable even when it’s cold on the outside.
All the kindergartens that I’ve talked to stop putting the children outside for naps between -10 °C and -15 °C. Some parents might let their children be outside when it’s even colder, but that obviously depends.
Outside is for napping, not sleeping
It’s important to remember that babies that are sleeping in their stroller outside in the freezing cold is doing this as part of their nap, not as part of their sleep routine. The nap is usually around 2 hours, and the parents or the people at the kindergarten will pay close attention to the baby when it’s napping.
It’s common for kindergartens to have one person keeping an eye on the sleeping children at all times. They will check the temperature of the babies to make sure that they are not getting cold, and bring them inside if they do get too cold.
Sleeping outside during the night is not common or recommended, and I have never heard of anyone who lets their baby sleep outside during the night.