Being married to anyone from a different cultural background presents many moments of laughter when you poke fun at each other’s distinctive behaviours. But when your wife says to you “darling, it’s time for the baby to sleep outside” when it just happens to be in the coldest time of year, do you question if she has finally lost it?
Probably best if I recreate the scene that made me wonder if I needed to call the police and medics to assist me in sectioning my wife. Our Dragon was born at the end of January 2012 and this month and February are often the coldest months in the UK.
Upon hearing her say it was time to take the baby outside, not only did I ask my wife to repeat what she had said, but all I could think about was the prospect of sleeping outdoors. Sleep in the cold? Had she not heard about foxes attacking babies in a room whilst they slept in their cots? I allowed her to carry out this apparently crazy idea (none the wiser), and luckily for us it went smoothly and Dragon appeared to be brighter when he woke up.
Our different approaches to childcare stem from our cultural backgrounds, however these differences can get you in trouble when you travel away from your country. Back in 1997, a Danish tourist called Anette Sorensen who was visiting New York City was arrested for leaving her 14-month-old child outside a restaurant in a pram to sleep. She was charged with endangerment of the child who subsequently was put into foster care for a few days. A year later, Anette sued the City, citing that this practise was a cultural norm in Denmark.
I questioned my wife as to the benefits of this Swedish custom and she informed me that it had been in existence for a long time in Scandinavia, and that kids slept better and longer in the cold. She informed me that parents would leave kids in gardens, on balconies, outside cafes and that all nurseries have special barns or rooms outside for nap times.
Since the initial shock of thinking my wife needed medical attention, we have engaged in this Swedish practice of Sova Ute with both our kids and I can honestly say that there are some truths that children do sleep better and for longer when they have their nap outside. Unlike in Sweden, we cover our prams with nets to prevent bees getting in and then use a pram curtain to ensure that they can have perfect conditions for sleep.
The practice of Sub Zero Baby Sleeping is limited by a lack of research, however, this is growing fast and so far supports the benefits of allowing your baby to sleep outside. ND has looked at the pros and cons on this topic and presented the findings in Baby Sleep: Sub-Zero Temperatures Sleep, well wealth a read.