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Monday, September 19, 2011

Motherhood Mondays: Sleeping in Denmark (this made my jaw drop!)

We talked last week about taking kids outside to play every single day, even in cold weather. Well, listen to this...

In Scandinavia, it's common for people to take their babies outside for naps. And, when they go into restaurants or shops, they'll even leave their sleeping babies alone in prams outside!

"When I lived in Helsinki, I noticed baby carriages outside most cafés," says my sister-in-law Emily. "I assumed the babies were inside with their parents. Nope, they were sleeping soundly outside in their carriages while their parents were hanging out inside. Now there's a country with a low crime rate for you!"
"The parents are usually really close by, near the window," says photographer and mother of two Jenny Brandt, who lives in southern Sweden and went to Copenhagen to take a few photos for Cup of Jo. "I think the whole thing started because the cafés and shops are so small."

What happens if a baby wakes up? "I've walked into a café letting the guests know that 'the baby in the blue pram has started to wiggle around and looks like he's about to get up,' " says Jenny.

It sounds crazy at first, right? But it would actually be amazing and liberating, I think, as long as your town was safe. How wonderful to just pop into a store quickly without waking up your baby; or to eat dinner with your spouse while your baby sleeps, and then all walk home together.
Plus, many Scandinavian parents believe it's healthy for babies and children to be exposed to cold air for a few hours a day. In fact, the Finnish Ministry of Labour specifically recommends it (see page 24 under "naps"). "Parents feel that their child is more alert and eats better after sleeping outside," says designer and mom of two Elisabeth Dunker of the blog Fine Little Day , who lives in Gothenburg, Sweden.

"My friends tell me that in Swedish daycare, naptime for babies is always outside in their prams, even on the coldest days," says my friend Kim, who lives in Sweden. "They bundle them up and make them cozy, and park them outside. They say it builds health for the kids--physical toughness as well as reducing colds/germs that would spread if they were all cooped up inside."

Not all Scandinavian parents are completely sold on the idea, though. "I've never let my kids sleep outdoors unattended, wouldn't dare to!" says Elisabeth. "I would be afraid that someone would take them."

I have to say, I kind of love this idea! Toby sleeps through the night starting at 7:30pm -- it would be amazing to be able to take him out to dinner, where he could sleep soundly in the fresh air. Think how much money you'd save on nighttime babysitters, and it's really nice for the family to be together, even when the baby is asleep. But then again, New York City is nuts, and there are too many crazy people walking around. (Also, of course, it's illegal in the United States. In fact, back in 1999, a Danish mom visiting Manhattan left her sleeping baby girl in the stroller outside a restaurant--and got arrested.)

What do you think? Isn't this fascinating? Does this all seem nuts or amazing to you? I would LOVE to hear your thoughts -- all the cultural norms and differences are incredible! Every country, city, family and parent finds what works best for their sweet babies. (It reminds me of this wonderful documentary.)
P.S. More Motherhood Monday posts... xo

(Photos taken by Jenny Brandt/Dos Family for Cup of Jo)

344 comments:

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silvia said...

wow that sounds great! but i would be too worried while eating that i will not be able to enjoy it! :)

Wh. said...

Well, it does sound a little crazy at first.. But it may be a very good idea, you know! To have your baby sleeping outside, feeling the cold breeze.. I don't know if I'd dare do this but, if I was in Denmar, I guess i could at least try.
Thanks for sharing! This is so interesting..

Joanna Goddard said...

ha, i know, i think i'd feel the same way! but if i were visiting scandinavia, i think it would try it!

Heba said...

I love all these photos, leaving a baby outside is such a weird idea and I don't think it's healthy at all I mean what if something happened for the baby?!

http://girlynote.blogspot.com

Amy S. said...

My mom swears by this she said she did it with all four of her kids. She was finally able to convince me with my first baby to put her out on the porch to sleep when I couldn't get her to settle. It was October in Canada, but my babe loved it. Bundled up snug as a bug, she never slept as well. :)

Kendall Marie said...

Being a swede, I totally agree with this. I think it is amazing that we can still do this in Scandinavia

Joanna Goddard said...

wh, i know, sleeping in a cool room is so pleasant, too -- you know when you're all bundled up but your nose is cold? it's the best feeling.

Joanna Goddard said...

wow, amy s., -- fascinating!!

Brittany said...

I agree that all kids (even babies) should get more time outside. I don't know where we as Americans got the pre-occupation with keeping kids in an indoor, sterile environment. If I lived in a place that was much safer, I would consider letting my little one sleep outside a cafe if I were nearby.

tamara said...

That's so interesting! I'm not a mama so I don't have a gut reaction, but I do like the idea--of course I think if I lived in Sweden I'd do it, but of course not in the US. I wonder if it would feel too strange if you were just vacationing there to do it. Especially not knowing the language, if someone came in to say the baby was waking, or if some sort of strange problem came up! Amazing photos, and jenny and elisabeth are the best! what a cool blogger community thing that jenny took the pictures for you!

Angry Asian said...

this is fascinating but i could never imagine leaving any of my much younger siblings to sleep outside, unattended. i was just telling my darling love over the weekend that i don't know if i could ever allow any of our children (when we have them) play outside unattended like we used to when we were children.

the idea of babies sleeping outside makes sense but maybe if a parent was sitting right next to them at the outside table, having tea and reading a book...

RVnRN said...

The picture of the mom looking out the window at her child in the pram best represents how I think this concept should be executed! No need to keep a crazy-short leash on your little one - but you should at least be able to pinpoint their whereabouts and well-being! CUTE pictures. Can't wait to travel abroad.

the lil bee said...

They do this in Sweden, too! It is so strange to me. I would be so worried. I love that they feel so comfortable and free to park the strollers outside, but I guess the New Yorker in me would never quite adjust. I can't even sleep without the house double-locked!

Photos are gorge, p.s.

Elizabeth {e tells tales} said...

I want to live there. Seriously. What a happy world that is.

Giulia Doyle said...

It reminds me of a story my grandmother tells me of the outside pram parking at the grocery store here in Canada - imagine lines of strollers with sleeping babies while mom's are doing groceries.

ace faced said...

love the idea, although I could probably only feel comfortable if I sat right in the window and could see the babe. i have been lucky enough to live in suites in houses and have often left my napping babies in the stroller on the porch or yard, so good for them! who wants to wake a sleeping babe at the end of a walk!

Cay said...

I really wish that this could be feasible in New York. I'm in Park Slope, Brooklyn, which is probably one of the most baby-friendly neighborhoods in the city and has so many cute cafes. It would be nice if on a pretty summer night, we could stroll a few blocks over to get lattes and leave baby to sleep soundly outside. Unfortunately, in addition to the laws, you've got NYC drivers who honk their horns every five seconds, ambulances with their sirens, and, of course, the potential for unwanted people to approach your baby.

It seems that with everything I've been hearing, Scandinavia sounds pretty ideal!

Laura Mauk said...

I think this would be AMAZING--as long as I could see my child from a window, because yes, if she started to wake or something went wrong, I would need to know immediately.

But with all of the kidnapping and crazy crimes in the U.S., it's hard to imagine this as a reality anywhere. I mean, are there no crazy, unstable people in Sweden? And how can that be? I need to move there.

Ana Magdalena said...

what a great idea, but I don't think I could sit in a cafe and enjoy a meal while my baby is sleeping outside.

hazel and hunter said...

I noticed this too when I visited Reykjavik!! It was so sweet and if I would have brought a stroller for my daughter, I might have tried it... but of course here I wouldn't let her out of my sight for a second!

Tish said...

I saw something about this on Oprah once. It's fascinating and gives me hope...although I did watch March of the Penguins and see a desperate momma penguin who lost her baby try to take someone elses...so even where the crime rate is low there's still sad penguins. Awesome post, though!!!

rebecca s. said...

my husband and i do not have children yet, but i love your MM posts, joanna.

this really is fascinating. i definitely love the idea of outside time each day for children and napping outside sounds wonderful as well. think about a time you've had the luxury of sleeping outside in a hammock or at a picnic, etc.

sadly, there is no way the shopping or dining thing could happen in the US but it is a nice idea and if we are ever in scandinavia with children, it would be something to try...

ashlie said...

Similar to Amy S. - I'm in Ontario too, and if my baby falls asleep on a walk, I'll often leave her in the stroller outside to keep sleeping. They sleep so much better in the fresh air! Outside a restaurant might be different, but clearly it works for them!

Diana Mieczan said...

I have a Swedish friend who does that too. When she meets up her friends for a coffee they all leave their sleeping kiddos outside. Their little village is very friendly and safe so there is no worry of something bad happenning. I am truly amazed by it all. Fantastic post, Joanna:)

Alessandra said...

Yep, that's how it's done (my mom is Danish). A strong sense of community and civility makes it possible.

Amanda Greer said...

Wow! So interesting! My jaw dropped, too! But, I guess it makes sense. Some of my best naps have been outdoors.

Knoopjes said...

Well they even sell little wooden houses, where you could put your child in outside for a nap: http://www.lutjepotje.nl/
In this shop is in the Netherlands!
xoxox

Monica said...

This is of course a great idea, especially since strollers are so large and a lot of shops are so tiny. I live in Switzerland which is a very safe place...but no matter where I was I wouldn't risk leaving my baby outside. So much could happen, you never know when the day comes that something bad will happen. I would rather have my children entrusted with me. But sure would be nice if I had a 100% guarantee that nothing would happen, but that can't be guaranteed.

Tina said...

It sounds lovely, but growing up in America and in large cities, i just cannot bring myself to ever do it. But major props to Scandinavia for cultivating a culture that allows for something so convenient to mothers to prosper safely.

Liz said...

Wow. That does seem very liberating, but I don't think I could ever do that! Looks like a great idea until someone walks off with your kid. And although they not be ridden with crazies like NY, it only takes one crazy to walk off with a baby.

Elisa Shere said...

That seems totally crazy, but totally cool at the same time! I so envy how the Danes/Swedish/Norwegians live. That does seem so liberating, to be able to enjoy a meal out with your little one all bundled up and sleepy in their pram.

After your last post I am determined to get lots of outdoor time this winter with my 12 month old. We've already purchased a rain cover for the stroller (we live in Seattle) and a parka for me. Thanks for these great posts, I really am enoying them!

Thelma said...

We do this in Iceland, but the real reason why this started in Scandinavia is because mothers wanted their children to get fresh air when they slept, as they didn't think the air inside the houses was clean enough. And this was many decades ago.
We in Iceland are not as keen on doing this anymore because it does get really cold here. Although many mothers still do this... Its been talked about that babies sleep more outside because they're bundled up and the mothers covers the airflow into the stroller, which means less oxygen and more sleep. (not very safe huh) Im expecting my first child in november, and i won't be putting her outside to sleep although i was raised believing that was the best thing to do ..

Kate said...

Wow, that's great. I would love to be able to do that when I had kids but I know that I'd be too worrisome. I love the strollers that they have in these photos too!

kate

Emily | Recently said...

Ever since I read your post about being outdoors I've moved my little guy and I out to the back porch when we're hanging out at home. He is so much more relaxed out there!! I'm sure that same philosophy contributes to the reason for the little babes sleeping so soundly all snug in their strollers. I love the idea!

Liliana said...

This sounds amazing, but I am super paranoid. I know I could never sit comfortably inside while the baby was outside, at least not in a public place. Although I do agree with you Joanna, it would be nice to take the baby out while he slept and the hubs and I could enjoy dinner.

Léa said...

how lovely is that? my mom used to put us outside to sleep, in the north of Holland....i just opened the window for my babies

ida said...

Growing up and living in Sweden it's really interesting to get another view on something that seems so natural. Most people here are certain sleeping outdoors is really good for babies - many daycare centers have a special place for the prams where they can stay outdoors (but under roof safe from rain and snow) very visible for all personnel, and the small babies have their daytime nap in the prams. There are even some daycare centers that don't have a indoor location but where the kids are outside all the time.

Not sure how common it is to leave your kid in the pram in the streets though - I guess it depends on which street you're at...

Dora said...

This is also very common in Slovakia, I would say almost a necessity to the healthy development of your child. The part about the woman getting arrested is quite scary. It was interesting to find out the illegality of something so "innocent". Thank you for the post, i really enjoyed reading it. :)

Jana Miller said...

I witnessed this in Germany when I was in college. I love the idea but I don't think it will catch on here in the states.
xo jana

Mrs. Châtelaine in Paris said...

Yes, I watched a television program here in Paris about it. They just wrap the babies up and bring them outside to sleep! I think it's a great idea -- we're such apartment dwellers in Paris that it's refreshing to be outside more!

xox

KatieMaye said...

This is such a lovely idea, but sadly nothing i would ever consider doing in this country. I never would have guessed that this is the norm in other cultures, you learn something new every day.

Gemma said...

A friend who grew up in the UK but now lives in Copenhagen said that her friends think it's very odd that she won't leave her kids sleeping outside cafes, she just doesn't feel comfortable with it. However she does leave them in her garden to nap and I think, if I have any outside space when I have kids, I would do the same.

Anne said...

..and again not only common in Denmark, but in other (Northern) European countries. Growing up in Northern Germany, my mum used to do the same with my brothers and I. Both, being around in the city (even though she prefered to keep us in a backyard at least :)) or at home. All of turned out healthy and all, so feel free to copy. Having said that... maybe not in crazy nyc. :D Loved that you highlight different attitudes amongst parenting! Thank you, Jo! xx Anne

Sara said...

Some of my family lives in Norway and my aunt did this with my cousin all the time. I've kind of loved the concept of it ever since she told me about it.

Aneta said...

My mom did that with me and my sister when we were little. We grew up in a small town in Poland and prams in those days were too big to bring into stores, post offices, etc.

I saw that in Reykjavik and my boyfriend couldn't believe that parents would leave their children outside while they dined or shopped. What's crazier, leaving your sleeping children outside on the street, or having to cross through a metal detector every morning in so many schools?

Sephira said...

Being half DANISH myself and i've lived in Copenhagen all my life this is pretty "normal" for me. And yes it is very liberating however I think it's very individual whether or not parents wants to leave the stroller outside. Personally if I was a mom I wouldn't mind at all since I know my streets are safe. There are of course some neighbor hoods where I would think twice before just doing it but I generally wouldn't mind at all.

I've also, like you wrote a woman did, told parents if their kid was awake or something. We help each other out I guess? :D
Not that they dont do it other places but yes I love scandinavia, sweden and norway too.

Also you should know that Finland actually is a country where the murder rate is highest, as in most murders occurs there. Personally dont like finland that much PLUS its super cold there lol :P


OH and I do agree that I think it's healthy for the babies to get used to "air" instead of just being inside all the time :)

xx Seph
www.sephira.dk

anna of (green gable) said...

I love the idea of it, and it would be great to live in a place where it would be safe enough to try it, but I think I might be too worried about my baby being outside. I do like the idea of bringing baby out in the fresh, cool air though! I live in AZ, and in the summer, I hated taking my newborn out in 110 degree heat!''

xo, Anna of [green gable]
http://annaofgreengables.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Hi Joanna, I am a little bit too worried to leave my baby outside a shop or a cafe, but something that I really liked when my daughter was younger is that at the daycare they didn't have any beds for children. They were sleeping outside, in their own strollers, even during the winter. Children are supposed to be healthier not just because they are spending so much time outside, but also, they are not sharing beds, so that infections don't spread as much. I like the idea of being bundled up in your own cozy stroller with a blanket, sleeping with a favorite toy.
Oh, I live in Sweden and the winter is really long and cold. :) Jana

Kj719 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chelsea said...

I think it could be good for moms too, like you said Joanna - very freeing. Maybe it's a worthwhile exercise in letting our babies be somewhat detached because mothers worry so much by nature. Interesting thoughts all around :)

Kiana said...

What's interesting is that people believe the opposite elsewhere in the world. I know many mothers (mine is Chilean) who believe that the cold air is bad for children so in cold months you rarely see a baby out in the street!

Eli said...

When I visited Stockholm for the first time in 09, we saw the SAME thing happen and we freaked out and then realized everyone did it. Also, on a different bit, when we were in Stockholm, if the mommy and daddy were together, the daddy was always pushing the stroller. It was so awesome to see how they do things over there. I would move in a heartbeat if I could.

Anne said...

PS: When the nuclear Chernobyl disaster happened, my mum had to make sure, I slept underneath some sort of roof/cover for protection from radioactive contamination... But despite of the contamination, people continued to let their kids sleep outside. Don't know if I had the nerves...

Karissa {Tragic and Lovely} said...

I love the idea!
I think Americans are too distrustful (for good reason) for it to take off here though :(

Belinda @ Wild Acre said...

Back in the 70s in ,(usually when popping into the local cornershop), but leave our big dog tied up by the pram, no one was going to get near us! A useful combo for peace of mind?

Laura said...

I'm due with our first (a boy) in 5 weeks and SO not into the idea of leaving my baby anywhere just yet!

My parents lived in Switzerland in the 1970's when my older brother was born. My mom remembers women leaving their strollers & babies outside the grocery store and opting instead for the weird looks and comments she got for wearing one of the very first Snugglies/BabyBjorns. My mom was also encouraged by Swiss friends to just leave my infant brother home alone if he was sleeping!

Anonymous said...

This used to be common in America..I have a great aunt who, in the 1940s, was left outside with the other babies in strollers while their mothers grocery shopped. Unfortunately, my aunt was STOLEN and returned a week later and, according to family legend, "was never the same". Such a creepy story, my whole extended family never leaves their kids unattended now!

George said...

I believe this practice was pretty widespread in Europe until fairly recently - if you watch some Monty Python there are some scenes where there is an adult in one of the prams outside (although this is dredging the depths of my memory so don't ask which film or episode!)

Anyway, I think the idea of this is great, but sadly I don't think you would ever feel fully comfortable doing it unless you didn't see the practice as 'strange' - either everyone does, or no one. I can't believe it's illegal in the US! What a ridiculous waste of police time.

gemma said...

i love thi spost! interesting to see how different cultures do things. in my england town, childrne rarely eat dinner with their parents. the children eat at six and the parents eat at eight when the children are in bed. i know that my american friends think that is crazy, but it works for us! everyone is differnet.

Belinda @ Wild Acre said...

oops, blogger seemed to eat some of my comment above! To clarify this was in London in the 70s, when my mum would leave the pram with the dog outside local shops.

munalove said...

Eh, I have no children yet but something about the combination of New York and this idea doesn't sit right in my belly. A fenced in garden with a sunroom sounds a bit better. As freeing as it would be, (and I'm sure the idea crossed my mother's mind when taking all five of us kids to the store), I don't think it will ever touch the surface of becoming OK or breach social norm in the states.. but those pictures look cozy and make me think of Fall. :)

-Genna

Stina said...

I'm from Norway and my mum told me she let my sister and I sleep outside all the time, also leaving the buggy outstide the shops if she was popping in to get something. Now I live in London and would never do this if I had a baby.

Anonymous said...

This really is a nice thought, but there is nooo way I'd do this. I'd just be too paranoid.

Allison said...

I just moved to Gothenburg, Sweden from Berlin (and am American). I'm keeping my eyes out for this phenomenon, but I haven't seen it yet!

Anonymous said...

i think it is a wonderful testament to their society. it is illegal in the US because you can't leave your baby outside without incident. our society is not conditioned to be that respectful. i like knowing there is a place in the world that is safe and where mutual respect is so valued, you can leave your infant sleeping outside. i've been to stockholm and i was amazed to see people leaving their babies in prams outside of stores and cafes. it was surreal and beautiful.

Jam-packed Life said...

I grew up in Russia, and in the 1980s many people did the same thing. My mom would take my brother, who was born in 1992, out to the balcony in his pram and leave him to sleep there in the chilly air.

ethanollie said...

the only thing that sounds nuts to me in this post is that it is actually ILLEGAL in the US to leave your baby where you wish. not smart, but illegal?

Adalgisa Campos said...

when living in berlin and visiting a museum with a good friend of mine, i was also astonished to see her leaving the stroller (with the sleeping baby inside!)near the place where the visitors put their bags (i don't know the word in english...). once the shock passed, i think it's good signs: of a safe city AND of a good/sane baby-mother relationship.
completely inthinkable in são paulo, tough.

Natascha Maja said...

I'm from Denmark and live in Copenhagen - to me, it seems absolutely natural for people to leave babies outside, nearly everyone here in Denmark does so:)

Dress me/love me said...

How wonderful would it be to live in a world where this was possible for ALL of us......

Extremely scary to think that you could actually spent some hours (a day?) in jail over this...

When my daughter was born and my parents (from Europe) came to visit they would always have my daughter nap outside (on our patio) in her stroller...she loved it.

Lenka said...

Hi, as far as I know (watching my little brother and my cousin's kids grow) it is common here in Slovakia as well to leave the kids outside to sleep. Not like this usually (walking in the caffee and leaving your baby outside) but leaving your baby sleep in the balcony of your apartment or house is completely normal at least where I come from. Of course this is possible only until your baby is able to get up and crawl from the pram - that would become dangerous I think. It's actually funny what kind of things you find amazing that are completely normal in Europe. For example taking your baby or kid outside no matter what the weather is like. Many people say they get healthier lifestyles after having a baby because of the fact that they want to feed them good and healthy food as well as getting the fresh air every single day. Love your blog, Lenka

Joanna Goddard said...

my friend just wrote this, which made me laugh:

"When I visit my sister, who lives in the Unite States, I always let my baby sleep in the pram outside on the porch. And the neighbors, who are friends, think we are crazy! Saying 'Crazy Swedes.' And then when I go back to Sweden I tell my friends about how the american reacted to this and then they say: "oh the americans are so crazy, always paranoid" :)

ha!

Anna Claire said...

This idea seems completely foreign to me (because it is!) as I live in Alabama, but I think it would be amazing to live in a place where that level of safety and trust was the cultural norm.
I will say, I'd absolutely put my baby in a stroller to sleep while I took a brisk walk with him in the cold air, provided he was bundled enough!

Susie said...

How adorable!


xoxo Susie


http://ladecalcomanie.blogspot.com

Kristy | Bulk Roses Co said...

I'd feel strange to tell you the truth... but i think the idea of feeling thta safe is awesome!!

Sara Szatmary said...

I adore this idea. Not sure I'd be on board for a 2 hour dinner, but I can't tell you how much I hated waking my kids up from a car nap when I was a nanny. It'd be nice to just leave them in there while you run into the store to do an errand.

Heba Eir said...

In Reykjavík Iceland´s capital (which is more of a sea village then it is a city) this is a complete norm. Everybody leaves their strollers outside. A lot of people have babymonitors, and or sit close by.

I think it is definitely an important thing for mothers here to be able to relax, go out meet friends etc. while the baby takes a nap. :)

13bees said...

I remember reading about this a few years back somewhere and get anxious just thinking about it! though sleeping outside in fresh air in a safe place and left outside a cafe in new york city are kinda different concepts entirely...

Notes from Holly St. said...

wow...so interesting. this sounds so liberating because it is really inconvenient to have a clunky stroller in most cafes or restaurants and my daughter almost always wakes up as soon as we walk into a crowded indoor space. but just looking at these photos makes me nervous. i couldn't imagine doing it but i can see how they might feel comfortable in their country if it's a normal thing.

pam@pixelimpress said...

joanna, love the comment you left right above this from your friend. different perspectives. i guess i'm really paranoid... i won't even tie up my dog and leave her outside a store!

ana {bluebirdkisses} said...

I agree with the sleeping outside, but I would be TERRIFIED to leave baby J alone out there. I don't think I could do that, but then who knows...if I was raised there and wasn't exposed with as much crime as we are here in north america...maybe my mentality would be a bit different.

www.bluebirdkisses.com

Liza said...

I live in Sweden and used to work at an outdoor kindergarden. We did everything outside, eat, draw,sing, sleep, play, spend time in the forest learning about plants and animals. The kiddies doesn't get ill as much and the sound levels are so much better (kinder gartens are usually very loud). The only one who didn't like it was me! I was always cold and it took 6 months to learn how to dress right to keep the cold out.

And about leaving your baby out while eating or being in a shop: Its a pretty good thing to feel that safe. Hope it stays that way!

Maya said...

That is fantastic; however I would never leave my children outside (unattended). If I were to leave them outside I would probably choke on the first bite from worries!
However, speaking from experience, I am supporter of the idea to have the kids out for a walk in the cold for a brief time and with that routine they get less ill than usually.

jennifer smith said...

there is no way on God's green earth (ANYWHERE on it) that i would do that! i admire how calm and lax that scandanavian women appear to be, but that goes beyond not keeping him/her on a "short leash." our babies expect very little from us other than to be kept safe and protected. so. no way jose. haha
cold air, sure! outside, unattended? H no.

Merja said...

I am Finnish, I have three children, and yes, all of them have taken naps outside in strollers. Even in the middle of the coldest winters. They sleep great outside, sometimes even taking four-hour-naps.

To Liz and everyone else worried about someone walking off with the baby: sorry, but that just does not happen in Scandinavia. And yes, we are just incredibly lucky to live here, and not in paranoid and crime-ridden U.S. of A.

Jackie Geschwind said...

i have to say the photos speak for themselves-- there's an eery quality/sense of abandonment in pics of strollers left unattended (even one with woman looking out window).

suellen said...

My grandmother used to tell me a story about putting my father, when he was a baby, outside in his pram for a nap. They lived on the prairies in Canada during the 30's and always put their babies outside for naps, year round. One winter day my grandfather came home and asked my grandmother if she thought that maybe she should bring the baby in because it was 40 degrees below zero.

DENISE. said...

HOLY COW! In an age where our kids can't even ride their bikes in their own neighborhood, I find this really scary. But so refreshing! (Literally, haha). I wish our society could get to this point. What a great story, thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

When I was a nanny I used to leave the kids in the stroller on the front porch if they fell asleep while we walked, even in the winter. I made sure they were warm and I watched them from the window inside. My first baby is due in February and I plan on being outside as much as possible with a bundled baby. I wish I could leave him/her outside of a shop in the U.S., but I wouldn't dare! (I live in Portland, OR so it doesn't get THAT cold, but I think fresh air is good for kids, no matter what temperature.)

Diana @ frontyardfoodie said...

I would be way too freaked out to leave my baby outside while I was inside but I LOVE the idea of sleeping outside. Ever since I read your other post on babies being outdoors I've taken my son outdoors no matter the weather but now I'm think just popping him in the stroller at nap time and taking a walk for an hour or two while he sleeps might be just the thing to do!

Julia's Bookbag said...

I WOULD LOSE MY MIND FROM WORRY. But I do think the whole fresh air deal sounds great! I just wouldn't be able to do it because of the whole LOSING MY MIND FROM WORRY gig.

sara said...

My friend was just telling me about this...how she was at a restaurant and there was a line of strollers outside in the cold with sleeping babies. Sounds crazy but apparently it is very safe.

Joanna M. said...

Forty years ago when I was a wee babe in England my parents would wheel me over to the pub and leave my outside sleeping in my pram while they enjoyed a drink. Some years later when we moved to Canada my mother would leave my then baby brother to sleep outside unattended in his pram on the front lawn. Ahhh, the good old days!

brianne said...

I mean, think how wonderful you feel when you get back from a weekend of camping and sleeping outdoors. If it feels great for adults I think it would feel great for babies. I think this is an awesome idea, and after living in Helsinki for a summer I'm not surprised at all (I don't remember noticing it, but I was also 20 at the time so probably didn't have babies on the brain like I do now)

Channeling Contessa said...

This is truly fascinating! The concept that babies sleep better and actually experience health benefits from the cold is so interesting. Though, perhaps it makes sense. I grew up in a very old house in the Hudson Valley (built in the 1700s!), and it was quite drafty. Despite the cold, my younger brother even used to sleep with the window open! We loved the feeling of getting really bundled up under down comforters. Who knows if it had anything to do with it, but my family rarely got sick and overall is extremely healthy.

Mighty Burns said...

if my city and the people in it/visiting it was a safe enough place, then this sounds fantastic! Unfortunatly, NYC or any other US city is hardly the place to try this out.. boo.

Manhattanette said...

I was visiting a friend in Copenhagen this past March, and almost had a heart attack when I saw a stroller parked outside a shoe store. The mom had left not only her baby but also her PURSE just sitting outside on the street. While I was shocked and wanted to call someone for help, my friend calmly explained to me that this is normal. The Danes just trust each other! And honestly, they have the low crime rates to back it up.

It would be fantastic if we could do that in NYC, but I see zero chance of that ever happening.

Baleen & Hopalong said...

Jo, my wife just introduced me to your blog and it's fab, especially as you've got a two year head start on us w marriage and kids so your blog is a wee bit like a tutorial for me. One comment, I loved your My Balance guest blog section in July and 1) find it motivating that so many moms are so creative; and 2) have to deal w things we don't, like finding their own health care, but how about an entry from a mom who works a 9-5 at a set location 5 days a week that she drives to? Less exciting than the others, but maybe more representative, esp after reading the link to Alex's cautionary article ab the unexpected difficulties of following the dream job vs the practical one. Thanks.

Julie said...

I have girlfriends who can attest to how well their babies nap outside in the cold. They often will take them for a little walk around the block, and then park the pram in the backyard or somewhere on their property where they can easily see them in the stroller. They do sleep really well, too. Which makes sense- I don't sleep well when I'm overheated, so I don't imagine babies do either!

Nora said...

we grew up in eastern germany and my mom did this with us too and i see it also today. but i would do this only on private balconys or gardens. i couldn't eat while my baby stands in front of the restaurant.
it's funny to see some kinds of parenting here (like going out in winter and now this), that i thought were everywhere done and normal things, that parents just do so.

Anonymous said...

i'm sorry but i would just start running down these streets stealing babies. it's why i don't tie my dog up when i walk into CVS. can't trust anyone! no matter how safe a town may seem.

kasey said...

I love it. It's funny that women here and now don't even leave their home for the first few months after the new baby comes because they are afraid of the baby getting sick or whatnot.
Bravo! I would have loved to sit at a little cafe with my baby snuggled outside.

Maryli said...

I live in a ground floor apartment in a relatively safe neighborhood in my city. I leave my son right outside while he finishes his naps all the time, and I definitely wish I could do it in front of shops and restaurants too, at least during the day. But even though I always wonder who would even want to steal a baby, I'd probably worry the entire time I was inside...

Tucker said...

I have never heard of this! it is a wonderful thing to do in a safe country.

i live in Switzerland and I am fascinated by the kindergarteners {!!} who are on the bus/tram every day with me. unattended. Everyday they have 2 and a half hours for lunch and most go home to their parents... I see them just getting off one by one at the different stops. My fave is when they have picked up the free newspapers and are acting like little adults.

but again, this is something i wouldn't dream of in the USA where I am from.

lealou said...

Wow! I think sleeping outside is the best -- just imagine how great you feel after a snooze in the park! I'm sure cold, fresh air would feel amazing. I think I'd be ok with letting the babe sleep outside if I was by the window watching over...

MamaLiza said...

...and now all the psychos in the world are going to flock to these places and check out the free baby market. *sigh*

I have recently weaned my 2 yr old from "the boob", nap times were a horrible mess...till I figured out that he would be most happy if we took a walk. He would take the longest naps. Even when we were done walking around. I would just sit at the park and let my 4 yr old play till he woke up. I love outside naps. :-)

Sarah said...

Wow! Excellent post. Really, really interesting :) I love the idea of leaving the stroller outside while eating dinner. Would never do it though!

Margot said...

Haha! I'm from Estonia (next to Sweden) and this idea seems not amazing nor weird, but just natural. I used to sleep outside all the time as a baby. These days it's almost as common. Not all people leave their babies outside, but it's pretty average to do so. It would be more risky to leave the stroller outside and take the baby with you to a restaurant, because an empty stroller could get stolen, but no one would steal a stroller if it has a baby inside.
I wouldn't do that if I was in a crazy city like New York though.

Heart With Companion said...

I've lived in Denmark my whole life, and yes, this is how it's done here. No one would think it strange to leave a child sleeping outside while you where in a store or cafe. And I have never heard of babies being stolen here in Denmark. I did it with my daughter too, but only as long as she was still within sight, mostly in case she woke up.

Hilary Nicole said...

I watched a story about the happiest places to live on earth. Denmark was up there in the top five for the reasoning of being extremely safe. I would love to be able to leave my offspring outside with no fear. being as paranoid as me would definitely prevent this. Props for Denmark for sure.

XO Hilary

Elizabeth Buckler said...

This is such a fascinating post! I really think I would try it if I were to visit... never here though! I have to scowl the bums away to even walk around the short north in peace with baby in Columbus, Ohio!

Not your goddess said...

We do this in Iceland too, but not in the evening though... at least I wouldn't and I can't remember ever seeing it... but it's fantastic in the daytime and good for mummies on maternity leave to meet at a café while the babes are sleeping... when they wake up you feed them and then get ready to walk home again... it's lovely and I'm enjoying it myself these days :)

Mariette said...

I'm swedish, and live in Stockholm.
I have two little girls, and they both have been asleep outside, while I've been rushing in somewhere to buy a latte on the go.
I have never felt at ease with leaving the most precious in the world outside so I cant hear them.
What a lot of people dont know is, that in many shops and cafeés in Stockholm there are signs saying that you cant bring the pram inside. That is a huge reason why people put the pram outside...
Although they sleep very good outside, I prefer a safer place, then outside on the street.

Nathalie said...

It think it makes sense that babes would sleep well in the fresh air,and if you lived in a place where leaving you little one outside the shop while you ran in was the norm,then of course you would do it.It's great that parents can be that comfortable,isn't that what we all as parents would like?To know as our child is out in the world that they are safe?

Also,as an aside-I'm totally loving all the old-style prams in the pictures!

Liv said...

1. I want to move there.
2. My daughter doesn't sleep very well, so maybe I need to give her some cool air!
3.I want to move there.

my soul is the sky said...

that is a little alarming. it's almost as if they're saying "please take my baby"

Shani said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shani said...

I think a baby being a fresh air is a good idea. But, I would never leave my child unattended. I don't think I could ever be that trusting of strangers.

http://lovesmodesty.blogspot.com

Susan Borland said...

I have heard about this!
It's a little crazy to me, but I'm jealous that they live in a country where that is the norm and people are so kind & trustworthy

susanborland.blogspot.com

Erica @ Acire Adventures said...

Well, I think leaving your kid in a stroller outside is SCARY! But that's being a person who just saw a small child taken from their bedroom (parents didn't know until the morning) a couple weeks ago not far from where I live. SO I think that I'm coming from somewhere very different from the place that this goes on. As for the sleeping outside, I think it's awesome. My grandma used to bundle my dad up and stick him out on her deck (in a fenced backyard) when he was a baby. My mom also used to comment on how amazing my sister would sleep as a toddler when they would go camping. So I'm sold on the sleeping outside thing, just not leaving babies alone!

LeeLee said...

This is interesting. It shows incredible trust in people. Also, this shows how little the crime is. I would be too nervous to do it.

Lottie Loves said...

i love this idea! we let louis sleep outside in his pram as much as possible but in our back yard or in my mum in laws garden only… wouldn't really trust leaving him on the streets of london… sadly… lovely post, thanks joanna xx

Ugly Sofa said...

wow, that does show how wonderfully trustful it is there. I am lovin the orange and dark wood together. Someday I plan to escape to europe:)

emily said...

i love it. i am not a mother yet but i think it's important to let children live their own cycle- if that means letting them sleep when they need it most! it is too bad we can't do that sort of thing here in nyc-- even if you could take a child everywhere, several places would frown upon it.
maybe we should all just move to scandinavia?

Noor said...

I could never do it I am just to protective about this. I mean what if they woke up, started choking, etc. You never know. Its nice to let them sleep in the cool air as you walk though.

Lauren {Stylized Existence} said...

Joanna, I lived in Prague for some time and the parents did it there, as well! I have to say, it really alarmed me. I suppose I just wasn't used to it!

Julie-White Tapestry said...

That's amazing...however since I am from NJ, I don't think my guard will ever be let down, unfortunately....

Kelsey said...

Oh! There was just a story in our local news about a woman from Sweden who left her baby outside for ten minutes while she went to a burrito place in Amherst, MA. She was reported to the department of children's services, poor thing. I'm sure she was shocked to find she was doing anything "wrong!" (Here's the story, for anyone curious http://goo.gl/roGmI)

julie said...

looooove this.
i read a biography of a russian figure skater a couple of years ago, who told the story of her husband who went to day care as a child.
when nap time came around,
they took the children outside where they had hammocks strewn through all the trees.
because of the glaring snow, they all shut their eyes quickly, and slept soundly!

etoilee8 said...

I wish the US were this safe and laid back. I would definitely do this if I lived in Denmark.

Diana said...

I think it's wonderful that there are still places in this bustling modern world where people feel safe enough to have that kind of distance from their babies in public places. It's so sweet. I'm not sure I would very feel that safe, even if I lived in Scandinavia. I feel worried about leaving my dog alone, so I can't imagine how much I would worry about a wee babe.

Swedish in Atlanta said...

Never would I leave my baby sleeping outside by him/herself. Not in Sweden where I grew up, and not in Atlanta where I live. Not worth the risk. Even though Sweden is a super friendly country, I'm so happy to be living in the USA now:)
Petra

aorecord said...

That's interesting, but I would be too afraid to leave my child outside unattended. What if another parent left with your child, because your carriages looked alike and they don't notice till later =P

ohnomyboots said...

I remember a Scandinavian couple arrested in NYC for doing this somewhere in the Village back in the late 90's.

Yvonne said...

I love your blog and these motherhood posts are great!

I vacationed in Eastern Europe a few years ago and noticed lots of strollers with babies left outside of cafes and I was so surprised by it. However, it makes so much sense considering how annoying it is to drag your stroller inside of a small cafe.

I asked about it my Danish friend and she told me this was a completely natural thing to do.

She told me that people often leave a baby alarm inside the pram and bring the receiver with them, so they can hear if their baby wakes up.

She also said in her daughter's kindergarten in Denmark ALL the kids were put outside to nap - and they all loved it! If it rained or snowed the prams were put in a shed, though - but without heating. The only drawback is the dressing and undressing before and after the nap - because they are all dressed up like they were ready to go skiing!

One last comment - prams in Scandinavia are generally much better insulated than elsewhere - because of that habit of letting our kids sleep outside in all kinds of weather.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Scotland in the 70's & this was the norm. We still put our babies to sleep outside, although I wouldn't leave them in a pram outside a shop anymore. It definitely helps them sleep better & we all know a well rested baby is a happy baby!

Linn Maria said...

I'm Norwegian, and when me and my sister were babies, we'd spend at least one hour in the pram outside sleeping every day. My mother would go for a walk to make us fall asleep and either let us sleep outside a café or in our own backyard. She'd obviously always keep an eye on her, but it was always a well-known fact that kids benefits from the fresh air.

In winter, we'd have reindeer hides to sleep on, to keep the cold air from penetrating the stroller from underneath, and sheepskin sleeping bags.

Good times :)

Cathi said...

My sons friend that grew up in Germany said that his parents did that too. I was actually pretty shocked when I first heard of it. It's a great idea but in reality, I don't know if I could do it!

Katie Hanson said...

It's so funny you've been writing things about Scandinavia lately, because I just happen to have moved to Copenhagen for four months! Besides fashionable women riding their bikes in the rain with heels on, the parenting styles are very different. I've seen strollers outside with kids sleeping there, but parents are so involved and loving here, it's not a matter of trying to get away. Buildings are smaller, so shops and cafes really can't accommodate strollers. Instead of disturbing your baby, you would just leave them outside!

Blue Is Bleu said...

I'd read about this a while ago and initially thought "What are they thinking?!". But you quickly realise that it's just something normal to them and you're just used to what you've grown up with.

It must be lovely to live in a place where you can leave your child outside without having to worry! I grew up in Singapore and Australia, now living in the States, and I don't think leaving a baby outside in any of these countries would be wise, unfortunately!

Krystal said...

I wouldn't do it, but if their neighborhood is safe enough, good for them! I heard about a country where if the baby is sick with a cold they leave them outside for a while instead of taking them to the doctor. Strange, I wonder if it works.

sidsel said...

dear Joanna - living in Denmark my daughter slept outside everyday at noon - from when she was 1 month old untill 3 years old. I would also happily leave the pram outside shops for quick errands. One of the most important things to consider when playing and sleeping outside in colder weather is the underwear - I preferred to dress my daughter in underwear made of woll - which will keep the body dry - when the child is packed in thicker clothes. Actually we have a saying here that children should wear wollen underwear during all months with -r- in the name - that´s from September to March. Just a little tip for your winter adventures .)

LAIKA said...

i grew up in cold and snowy Poland. when i was a baby my stay at home dad was leaving me outside all the time ( even in the coldest snowiest day) with our dog Lobo (german shepherd). he trained him so when i was awake Lobo would go inside to get my dad. I never got sick in my life and i just LOVE winter.

Carissa said...

as someone who is half Danish, I love these Denmark posts! :) so interesting! I love getting a peek into Danish culture. makes me want to visit even more!

Anabel said...

I love that you wrote about this! My best friend from college lives in Sweden and we've been talking about this a lot lately. I think it makes sense, if you're comfortable with the crime rate/child abduction rate in your community. In Boise, ID, its something I might try, but if I lived in NYC, probably not... and more because of busy bodies who would consider it child abuse. For example, I left my sleeping niece in her car seat with the doors locked and the windows cracked in the shade in Beverly Hills to do a two minute run in and out purchase, and somebody called the police on me. I was horrified... I honestly watched from the store window the whole time, and was literally in the store 2 minutes before a cop rolled up. Luckily the cop that came to the scene thought the accusation was ridiculous, especially after speaking with my sister who is a lawyer and was very frank with the cop. Anyway... Great post!

Briana said...

I was a nanny in Germany and the youngest was 6 months old. Oftentimes, when we were all out together, the mom (not me! I didn't dare) would leave the baby outside while we were in having lunch. Everyone did it, too!

Not sure I'd be as trusting and I'm sure in THIS country, you'd be charged with child abuse or something ridiculous.

Jessie said...

In Iceland, daycare mothers often leave the children they watch (up to five at a time) sleep outside, in all kinds of weather. Mostly this is because they don't have enough room to have the children sleep in their homes. If the weather is severely bad, they won't do it, but even in cold, rainy weather they will.

Coming from the US, I thought this was a great idea to have my baby get some fresh air. But after a couple of weeks, the fun has kind of run its course. Even though she is bundled up in a fleece-lined rainsuit with hat and mittens, then bundled in a warm sleeping bag, and her pram is covered with a rain cover and netting to block out the wind, she has a persistent cold (and so do I).

So, in the winter, it's really not that fun. But, as a former New Yorker, the idea of being able to leave my child outside while I run into a store or meet a friend for coffee is quite amazing. :)

chelsea206 said...

I'm an american living in Prague, Czech Republic, where this is also common. It was extremely shocking to me at first, especially in the winter, but they really bundle the babies up well and it seems to do no harm... but i still don't think i could leave my baby outside alone!

Lilacs In May said...

Can't do that in most UK towns now but my childs nursery put the babies to sleep outside in the yards their prams (stroller) as long as they were wrapped up.

Joanna Goddard said...

these are such fascinating comments!! i love hearing everyone's views and stories!!

Joanna Goddard said...

my american friend, who lives in sweden, just wrote me this: "What I also notice more in Sweden is very young children out on their own without apparent adult supervision. Last weekend on a bike ride, I came across four boys, ages probably 3-7, who were playing with sticks and (barely) managing to keep a stout dog on a leash, and generally having a great time on the bike path. Presumably they lived nearby and their parents had set limits for them to roam, but they were nowhere in sight- I think it's super nice." interesting!

Lindsey said...

I love it and agree with it ALL!! My grandmother is Finnish. She has firm beliefs about taking children outside for many hours per day (I'm sure my mom and her siblings napped outside when they were growing up in freezing Detroit in the 50s) and she's also adamant about sleeping in a cold room and not overheating one's home.

My favorite parenting book is the original American classic - Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care. He is also a big advocate for many hours spent outside year round. :)

Neus said...

I live in Spain and at first is sounds a little crazy to me; but it's a great idea!! Mums&dads can be talking with friends and be very relaxed while babies sleep outdoors. But I can't imagine this in Barcelona, also I'm quite paranoiac with the pollution in our air :(

MaviDeniz said...

That's awesome! You can go to restaurants and not have to worry about the screaming baby next to you. I wish they had something like that here.

Chase, Paige, baby Link said...

I think it's a fantastic idea especially if you are sitting right next to the window and can take a peek outside to check on your baby, just in case. I wish we could do that in the US!

Brave New Life said...

I live in Copenhagen (5 minutes from "Natur Poteket") and it is indeed very common. My boy is 8 months and I have never done it because he would always wake up when the pram stopped. But I don't know if I would have done it anyway as the traffic can be quite bad and when I avoid sitting outside on the pavements in the summer, I don't think I should put my baby there. However most people have a shared courtyard where they live and if we didn't live on the 4th floor without a lift, I would have tried and put him there. And how do you know if they wake up? Eh..baby monitors ;)
What I did do though was to wrap him up warm and put him to bed in the bedroom and open the windows so that the room gets really cold.

Victoria said...

How lovely if this were indeed possible all over the world. Its a lovely to have some time whilst your child is sleeping, especially sitting having a coffee. Totally agree that lots of fresh air is great for babies (everyone actually) - from building up strength, germ resistance, hearty appetites and a good nights sleep. Haven't you noticed how sluggish you feel after a day indoors or how cranky the children can get if they aren't out and about outside.

courtney - larking. said...

So strange to see this -- last week I shared your post with my aunt who told me a story about her old boss who always took her naps outside in Northern Minnesota (land of way more than 10,000 Scandinavians!) even in the dead of winter (and never got sick as an adult). Guess it wasn't just an Ole and Lena story after all :)

Traveling Mama said...

What a great post! I loved the photos, especially since I pass a couple of those windows on our bike ride to preschool every day! It's true what you said about young kids. Everyone thought we were completely NUTS when we didn't let our 9 yr old and 5 yr old walk and train across town to their first integration school here. Even now, with their new school only being a 3 minute walk, I still walk them to school. My daughter and her friends roam within the neighborhood pretty freely after school and it has taken everything in me not to panic! LOL!! My American mind screams danger, but the culture is so different here. We absolutely LOVE it! We say often that Copenhagen offers big city living with a small town feel. My Danish friends tease me a bit about being overly protective, and assure me that here there is a general protectiveness that strangers have over small children. There is a notion that one should always "do the right thing." It's very refreshing!

Sunshine said...

Wow...that is so interesting. But I will admit, I don't know if I could leave my baby outside. That would be a whole lot of getting use to.

www.cancerinthecity.com

Mazz said...

My Grandmother was from Copenhagen and this was a common practice in our family. In fact, I never thought anything of it until I read this post! There are several pictures of me bundled up in a pram, outside on a chilly, winter afternoon taking a snooze. My Mother told me I had been sick when those pictures were taken and my Grandmother had said it would help me feel better to be outside.

adriane said...

My maternal grandmother is Dutch, and when my mum was an infant they lived in a tiny flat in Montreal. When she put my mum down for a nap, she would always bundle her up and put her out on the balcony. I guess it didn't do my mother any harm!

redfrizzz said...

I LOVE this cultural norm, and wish we could pick it up as well. It builds trust, comfort, and social responsiblity. I'm especially tickled that a stranger would walk in, and make an announcement that "erhum, the babe in the red pram is waking." Besides me enjoying the word "pram," this is just lovely. Perhaps I'll move to where adults take care of one another and look out for eachother's children.

Anonymous said...

Hi Joanna,

I'm an American living in northern Finland and was shocked on my first visit to Helsinki when a woman parked her child's buggy outside the cafe window and went in to have a cup of coffee with a friend. After observing countless nieces and nephews being wrapped up for their afternoon nap outside, I decided to try it for myself. Our 10 month old now naps outside on our second story apartment balcony. He usually sleeps longer than if I put him in the crib inside. I leave a baby monitor in the buggy with him so I can hear when he's stirring.

H

Kerri Lynne said...

thanks for sharing this! seems like the type of thing you have to grow up with. as much as it's easy to say, "oh...i'd love to try that!" i think we're conditioned to stay on-guard because of all the crazies we deal with here in the U.S. how could you really expect to adjust to that, after watching our scary nightly news for so many years? i'd be so nervous!

but i absolutely love the idea all the same :)

Rimpsukaisa said...

I couldn't leave my kids outside to sleep when they were babies,I worried too much but it is very common here in Finland.Me and my sisters and brothers have alla slept our naps outside,by the kitchen window.But I don't think I have ever see a trolley outside a restaurant/shop in night time,I would not consider that safe even here where I live and this is a small town.

Vee said...

Sleeping in a cold place is the best - I loved this recent column on contrast, which quotes the same phenomenon in Moby Dick: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/sep/02/contrast-cold-warm-burkeman

B said...

This sounds awesome! but I think most American's would be too worried. When my babes was smaller, we kept her in her carseat + bundleme, most of winter, even inside, she napped it, she played in it, i guesse teh coziness did it for her!
BTW- im obsessed with that documentary, i thought it was fascinating.

karen said...

As a Swede living in the U.S. I find it interesting to read the comments. However, I just want to point out a few things.

Yes, some parents let their babies sleep outdoors (just like Little Fine Day’s Elisabeth points out). However, it’s not as common (in Sweden) as it used to be. There has been a lot of talk about an increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome when letting babies sleep outdoors.

Yes, some parents leave their kids in the pram/stroller outside coffee shops/restaurants but only during the day time. I don’t think I ever seen it done at night (in Sweden).

Yes, some kids (in Sweden) play more unattended than American kids do. It all depends on the area where you live and of course, the parents.

Just a few of my thoughts :)

Anonymous said...

Hi! I'm a Danish mother of two boys at the age of 8 and 3. Both kids have been taking their naps outside - this including those days where I was at a cafe. I always brought an alarm that would tell me how much the temperature was in the carriage and that would let me know if the baby was about to wake up. In addition to that I always sat at the window - and as the carriage was parked on the other side - I considered it very safe.

My boys never slept well those days I had to let them sleep inside and I consider less healthy while there is so much dust etc. inside - I prefer the fresh air.

Anonymous said...

i'm from Hungary and although my parents would have never left me unattended on the streets in the 80s, they did put me out on the balcony for naps all through the winter months - and we had some serious freezing weather back then. they just bundled me in wool and let me sleep in my stroller. i don't know if it has anything to do with this, but i grew up as a very healthy kid who never missed a day at school and you will never hear me complaining about low temperatures! and needless to say that my favorite season has always been and still is, winter.

-Judit

Allison said...

I'm all for fresh air...and I live S. CA so we're fortunate to enjoy and outdoor lifestyle all year round.
Leaving baby outside unattended??? I think about Madeline McCann and get the chills!

Joanna Goddard said...

judit, i'm amazed (and so impressed) that your favorite season is winter! that's inspiring :)

Joanna Goddard said...

a reader just wrote me this, which is so interesting!!

"On a similar note...I'm a US expat living in Newfoundland. Our daughter caught a cold last year and our new doctor told us to let her sleep (in the middle of winter) with the windows open in her room. We bundled her up, left the window open and her cold was gone literally the next day. I continued to keep the windows open in our rooms all winter and we were much healthier for it and we slept better. I'm looking forward to trying it again this winter!"

lifewithgusto said...

That's the way the world should be, shouldn't it? A place where we can let babies sleep in fresh air and people pop into cafes to let mothers know when they are needed outside. I think it would work in parts of Australia in the winter, if you felt brave enough and were nearby. I guess the flaw in that plan is that I have a non-napping baby. Maybe if we moved to Scandinavia she would sleep!

Jenni Austria Germany said...

i've seen this happen a little in austria/germany as well. i was actually just telling my sister the other day how much it shocked me.

Anonymous said...

Definatly AMAZING! Should be normal! NOT CRAZY at all! What is crazy is all the crime big cities come along with especially in the US. I am just glad that save places like this do still exist in this world.

kath

The Cyclist's Wife said...

Initially it's interesting that this idea seems so crazy to those of us in the U.S. (or at least in fairly large cities in the U.S.). But when you think about it, it's really kind of sad that we're so freaked out by this idea. Unfortunatley our society won't allow us to leave our sleeping babies just outside - for the very real fear of having them snatched. It would be nice to live in a place where this was not a worry.
Aside, I think the idea of sleeping in the cold is interesting. We are, in my opinion, way overly afraid of germs in this country. I like the idea of getting the kids as much fresh air as possible.
Thanks for sharing!

Natalie said...

this seems absolutely nuts and shocking to me as an american! but i do think it's awesome that there are places out there that people can feel comfortable doing that. i don't think i ever could in a million years.

Lael said...

I was in Denmark this summer for my brother's wedding with my baby girl, and I learned all about this! I was a little shocked at first, but a friend lent me a baby-sized down comforter and I gave it a try. Eloise slept like a dream!

A.M. said...

hi! I'm from Denmark and this is just as crazy for us- hearing that you find it crazy :-) I used to be an aupair in London and was surprised to find that babies in England doesn't nap outside in their pram! I took care of a baby, and I tried introducing outside naps which made his napping so much better- inside he would wake up every half hour. So I'm a fan.
Also, it's so fun to see photos from my home on your blog!
Hugs and fresh air,
A.

Anonymous said...

Hi Joannna!

I love your blog and your writing style. I feel like reading a close friend :)

Having noted this, here is some information from me: I live in the Netherlands and I know some day care centers have small wooden boxes in their gardens for the babies to sleep outside!

Also, in Germany there is a special type of kindergarten, where kids basically stay outside all day long in the woods, even in the coldest days. I think it is called Waldkindergarten or Naturkindergarten. There is a tiny cottage for only extreme weather conditions (like heavy snow, -10 degrees etc)but the rest of the time kids are outside!

"Groetjes" from the Netherlands,

Berna

Anonymous said...

I feel conflicted about this; I understand it in the context of Northern European traditions of parenting, but the first thing I thought of was Truby King!

Of course fresh air is good - for everyone - and though I like the idea of building trust and social responsibility like another poster mentioned here, personally I think it kind of...hints at segregation. I'd be more interested in promoting inclusion in public spaces, especially given that children are largely regarded as a problem or nuisance when parents dare attempt to have a life outside the home.

Children can get fresh air at any time of day; I suspect this has been seized upon so enthusiastically here because it it allows for the idea that parents can still exist in the 'regular' adult world with their child without being perceived as a social pest themselves, as some of the responses here seem to suggest.

Brittany said...

I lived in France for awhile and it was exactly the same there. I was shocked to see mothers stroll their babies and just park them while they shopped, ate, etc. Even if the baby was awake he or she would just hang out in their pram and the mother would only come over if the baby fussed. I used to think of it as neglect, but now I kind of love the idea. I'd be too scared to try it, especially because my son knows the minute I've walked away from him and starts to scream, but if your babe would just hang out in there? Amazing.

Anonymous said...

This also used to be the norm in the UK. When I was a baby in London (yes it really was that safe in the 70's)I was often left in the front garden or outside shops.

balladofseasons said...

OMG! I'm literally in shock! How could this be possible?? I don't have a baby but I can't imagine myself doing this...maybe if I live in Sweden?!
thanks for sharing Joanna!

Morwena Jones said...

I love the idea of children rugging up and going outside in all weather. I'm always disappointed when my daughter's daycare won't let them outside to play because 'it's too cold' (and we live in Australia, it doesn't get anywhere near Scandinavian temps!). I'm not sure about leaving them outside a cafe though.

chambanachik said...

I'm kind of horrified, to be honest...

hello, Friday said...

Shocking, and yet kind of cool that they trust people, weather, and all. I'll be too hesitant with 'what if' thoughts. Very interesting! xoxo

http://hellofridaybypaik.blogspot.com/

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Laura said...

I noticed this in Reykjavik--I think it's the combination of small stores and huge prams, which don't mix well. The babies all looked quite warm and peaceful. I think we're much more paranoid about kidnapping and other things (and rightly so), but if I lived somewhere where this was the norm I don't personally think I'd have any problem with it.

Anonymous said...

The thing that makes me so sad about this is the culture of fear we in the US are subject to. Maybe in NYC or big cities this would be unsafe and foolish, but there are many wonderful small towns that must have crime rates that are the same as (or lower than) those in Scandinavia. We are just trained to tend toward fear and paranoia by our culture, which I really hate. I wish we could all learn to trust one another more! :)

FoundVintageStyle said...

no matter how 'safe' a town or community is, anything can happen, anywhere/anytime. it would just be never ever worth the risk.
(lovey concept in theory however)!

Elena said...

Great post Joanna!
I almost got stolen like this when I was a baby in late 70s in Ukraine. My grandmother left me in a stroller in front of the shop and when she came out some woman was pushing the stoller away with me in it. When grandma cought up with her she just said: "oh, is it yours?"

{ CopyStrands } said...

I saw a piece about this topic on tv a while back and thought how neat to live in a safe place where you could let your children sleep outside in strollers. When I traveled to Sweden, Denmark and Norway this past summer I did not see one kid sleeping outside in a stroller. It was disappointing as the tv show made it seem like this was common. Turns out it is not.

Miranda said...

1- love all the prams! 2- wouldn't it be lovely to feel so safe 3 - a friend was raised in Bulgaria and her mom was in grad school while she was a babe and they all left their babies outside during class.
Amazing!

Alisa @ Blooma said...

Wow! It seems Denmark is forward-thinking when it comes to a lot of things... including biking while pregnant and (gasp!) while in labor. Here in the States we're always told not to bike while pregnant. I posted about this just tonight: http://wp.me/pMzlI-10K

Gillian said...

We lived in Scotland when I was a baby and my mum used to leave me outside in the pram while she did the shopping. It was a little town and everyone did it! I wish it were possible (and legal) in the states.

Kristina said...

I probably won't have children for several more years, but I love reading your motherhood mondays post because you bring such an interesting perspective to parenting. You are a wonderful mother. : )

jacquelyn |lark + linen said...

I love it! My mom always tells me about how when she was 12 she would hangout outside of grocery stores. Moms would leave their babies in strollers and she would rock the strollers when the babies started to stir. It's how she got all of her babysitting jobs!

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