• Tue, Dec 17 - 2:00 pm ET

If You Leave Your Baby To Nap Outside In Winter I Won’t Call CPS

128437956There is a fascinating debate happening on the Reddit parenting forum about babies napping outside during winter. This practice is common in Sweden and some other countries, but as many commenters have stated, this sort of thing will get you a visit from child protective services in no time flat in the states. From the thread, which is located here:

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The parent is right next to the window where the baby is. I assume she is bundled correctly. And if it is getting a baby to take a nap I see nothing wrong with it. I think the only concern I would have is weird dogs or other large animals coming into the yard area, but if a parent is watching their baby I think they could stop anything scary from happening in time.  There is another thread linked in this topic to yet another conversation about babies sleeping outside in winter and someone who practices this posted this:

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It’s been quite a few years since my babies were little, but I would always bundle them up and take them for a walk in winter because they would always conk right out. As an adult, my ideal sleeping practice is to have the heat on but the windows open because I love bundling under my blankets yet still being warm from the heat.

I love how children are raised differently all over the world and I think it’s such an interesting discussion to have, how something totally normal would be considered criminal in another country. I can’t imagine someone calling CPS on another parent for something like this, especially if the baby wasn’t crying and was sleeping next to the house. Any parent who has had a baby with colic knows how difficult it can be to get them to fall asleep, and as long as the parent is being safe about it I guess I don’t know what the big deal is. None of these parents are saying they do it in busy cities but in suburban/rural areas where they keep a close eye on them. Or on balconies attached to flats.

An article linked that goes to the BBC states that:

At Forskolan Orren, a pre-school outside Stockholm, all children sleep outside until they reach the age of three.

“When the temperature drops to -15C (5F) we always cover the prams with blankets,” says head teacher Brittmarie Carlzon.

“It’s not only the temperature that matters, it’s also how cold it feels. Some days it can be -15C but it actually feels like -20C (-4F) because of the wind,” she says.

“Last year we had a couple of days with a temperature of -20C. On those days we brought the prams inside some of the time the children were sleeping, but most of their sleep they spent outdoors.”

One group at the pre-school spends all its time outside, from 09:00 to 15:00 every day. Out in the fresh air they do everything children normally do inside, only going inside at mealtimes, or in unusually cold weather.

In my area, they don’t even send the kids outside if it is sort of cold. I think the whole subject is fascinating, especially considering the arguments for and against it. A lot of parents worry about things like frostbite, when the parents who engage in this practice explain how they bundle the babies so this doesn’t happen.

If my babies were still babies, I would do this. It makes sense to me, and I do think that I personally sleep better in cold weather, and it makes sense to me why babies would too. Plus, I just took my trash out and it’s freezing and lightly snowing and boy did it make me feel snoozy. I almost feel like hauling my bed to the yard.

(Image: getty Images)

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  • Fuzzy ‘n Broken Mirror

    You Americans need to understand that different people of different places do things differently.

    For instance, in Hawaii, they nap their babies next to volcanoes

    In Africa, they bury them in the sand

    I mean, Australians like me just stuff them inside Kangaroo pouches. The hopping hleps their brain growed.

    • Fuzzy ‘n Broken Mirror

      Eve, someone downvoted me!

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO to downvoting kanga bebes!

    • Fuzzy ‘n Broken Mirror
    • Lackadaisical

      Who could possibly downvote Australian parents sneaking up on female kangaroos, ninja style, to sneak their children into their pouches? Who wouldn’t love that?

      Here in England all children under the age of three sleep with a tea cup in their hands and we varnish their top lips as they sleep to stiffen them. When they get older there are nasty playground battles over those who are raised to put milk in the teapot first (bone china snobs) and those who put the milk in second (modern and possibly coffee drinkers). The playground spats can get very nasty, with several children resorting to the ultimate step in any argument of writing stroppy letters to the Times or the Guardian. http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2003/jun/25/science.highereducation

    • Sam Inoue

      Obviously! I mean next your gonna tell me that they would judge all of us in Japan as well. We just plug our kids into virtual reality anime games until they are old enough to put on school girl uniforms and fight off pokemon with samurai swords.
      But everyone back in American just doesn’t understand.

  • Alicia Kiner

    My first thought was “are they crazy?” But actually reading through it, it makes sense. As long as the adults are being responsible about it, and the kids are safe, why not? That being said, my kids are in elementary school, and don’t even get to go outside for recess right now because it’s “too cold.” The temps are in the 20s here and we have snow on the ground. I think the snow is the reason, so they don’t have snowball fights. You know, since dodgeball is forbidden, we can’t have snowball fights either.

    • Bunny Lucia

      What are we doing to our children these days?

      No snowball fights? (I actually understand this because my friend threw ice in a snowball fight and left a kid bleeding, she actually had the nerve to blame it on me, too.) No going outside because it’s too cold? Our children are going to be afraid of anything that isn’t a nice humming computer monitor.

    • elle

      Idk judging from your pic you look to be a bit younger then me (im 26) and we would have days in elementary school where we couldn’t go outside because it was too cold and days where you could choose to go out or stay in because it was cold but not as cold. I don’t really think this is a new thing. When you go to school you don’t pack up ALL your snow gear so it can be harder to stay warm. On the actual baby thing I also live in SLC and I wouldn’t call CPS as long as the baby was dressed warmly. When you want an over tired baby to sleep you do whatever, and honestly this seems completely reasonable.

    • Lackadaisical

      The only time my own primary school aged kids (4-11) have to be inside is if it is tipping down or if the playground is very icy. In snow I think they give the option of being indoors but the rest of the time inside is completely off limits. Kids are supposed to bring coats, gloves and hats in winter and to be fair in England it doesn’t get cold enough to need more than that. We think it gets blooming cold but it never ever gets Norway cold.

    • elle

      It can get incredibly cold in Utah with super heavy snow falls. I’m not saying it happens often just a few times a year. And actually the more I think about this situation I do get more concerned. Not because of the cold, but because of the smog in the valley. They are advising even healthy people to avoid the outdoors as much as possible and my hunch is they aren’t doing outdoor recess, but I don’t know for sure. Still wouldn’t call CPS but would be concerned. Lest anybody think I’m exaggerating you can k click over to this link to see exactly what it looks like. http://m.sltrib.com/sltrib/mobile3/57275315-219/inversion-mcgrath-photo-tribune.html.csp

    • Drstephaniedvm

      I agree actually I’m on the benches and the air is nasty up here. My kids sleep in their stroller up in the mountains regularly though :-)

    • AP

      Liability problem- assault. My high school had a rule that anyone who touched the snow during arrival/dismissal would be automatically suspended. I have no idea if they ever enforced it, but they announced it every snowfall.

    • Lackadaisical

      Good grief! Nothing like that at my old school and I am happy that my kids school is much more relaxed about snow too.

    • Alicia Kiner

      when I was in 5th grade I think, some kids came up with the bright idea to start putting rocks in the snow balls. There were several injuries before the teachers realized what was going on. As a parent, I can understand trying to prevent those types of snowball fights. Kids are mean.

    • Bunny Lucia

      Children are downright evil. I’m truly amazed that most serial killers aren’t just preteens.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      My God, I just died laughing.

    • Amanda Rene Slinger

      So. Much. Word.

    • KaeTay

      oh there have been plenty of children ones.. just not that have been brought to light in the last like 50 years

    • Lackadaisical

      At my kids school they split the playground into snowball fight and non snowball fight. They hand the football pitches over to those wanting to battle it out with handballs of frozen doom, while those who would rather be warm and dry than have fun use the rest of the playground. Throwing a snowball at someone who is standing out of the snowball area is forbidden and punishable, but anyone in the snowball arena is fair game. It works quite well and saves on both complaints and kids pining for snowball fun. They also tend to have a couple of classrooms open for colouring and quiet play during snowy weather as if it were a wet play day but I don’t think they open up all the classrooms as they want the kids outside playing.

    • Alicia Kiner

      This is awesome! I LOVE this idea. I hate that my kids end up getting cooped up all winter because of some of the ridiculous rules the school has about play. Whatever happened to being kids. The worst part is, they don’t even get to go play in the gym at recess. Like really? When do kids get to be kids?

    • Lackadaisical

      Alas most primary schools in the UK don’t have a gym. PE is done in the school hall (or halls,our primary school is split between infants and juniors) where assemblies are held but during lunch time the hall is filled with kids eating. Very few schools have a hall big enough for all of the kids to play in during wet play so they end up in class rooms with a wet play exercise book that they can only fill in when they are cooped up due to bad weather. The school would like them to be more active during bad weather but I have yet to find a primary school that has the resources. The weather has to be bad for the kids to stay in and they try to get kids more active in winter with things like “bring your bike to school” days where kids get raffle tickets for prizes for bringing bikes or scooters in instead of getting lifts to school.

    • http://ichasekids.com/ Litterboxjen

      I had a black eye in elementary school from a kid dropping a giant snow block on my face, and then a burst blood vessel in my eye from being hit in the face by a snowball with ice in it. The second was an accident – my neighbour was aiming for someone else, and didn’t know there was ice in it. But still, snowball fights are a right — assuming everyone involved wants to be.

    • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

      Really? Oh man…when I was a kid we used to try to hide in the bathroom on really cold days and the teachers would come and make us go outside. We’d be crying that we were cold but weren’t allowed to stay inside.

    • veronika

      I had the same experience growing up in canada. They would force us to go outside and we would hide in the bathrooms. It was terrible. As an adult I have to use a space heater at my desk because I am cold all the time. It was almost cruel.

  • EmmaFromÉire

    As you said, parenting is different everywhere you go. I think what some people from other countries do is the weirdest shit ever, but I know that some facets of Irish parenting would raise eyebrows elsewhere. For example, there’s a healthy dose of fear of wooden spoons instilled in all Irish children, but somehow I don’t think that was the threat of choice elsewhere…. (In my house slippers were also considered deadly weapons and if you think i’m kidding, slap one against your forearm. Now imagine that on some poor child’s little backside)

    Case in point: http://dublinwanderings.blogspot.ie/2012/12/the-wooden-spoon-irish-mammy.html

    • Alicia Kiner

      My grandmother was Irish. We had a healthy dose of fear of anything that she could swing! ;)

    • ktbay

      We called it the “fanny whacker”. It obviously went over well when we were at daycare making cookies and the teacher pulled out a wooden spoon… as my little sister and I split, screaming “NOT THE FANNY WHACKER!”

    • Alison

      In Ireland (and UK) Fanny = Vagina. I doubt many Irish kids are screaming “Fanny Whacker” when the wooden spoons came out! :)

    • ktbay

      …and if they are, there may be a problem.

    • Lackadaisical

      Yes, as someone in England the idea of kids running screaming from something they call the “fanny wacker” feels very, very different to me than if it were called a “bum wacker”.

  • SarahJesness

    Eh, as long as the kids are properly clothed, and the parents are safe and responsible about it, I can’t really protest too much.

    Although… In my parent’s neighborhood, people have been calling the police on children left outside alone. I actually agree with the people calling on that, because the kids in question have a habit of running into the street without looking, and often run in front of moving cars, or walk across driveways while cars are backing out… Normally I wouldn’t give a crap if kids are outside alone, but the parents in my parent’s neighborhood often aren’t responsible about it. What do you guys think?

    • Natasha B

      If the parents aren’t responsible, at least semi keeping an eye on them that is scary. Especially with cars around. We let our two older ones (9 and4) roam in the front with the neighbor boys-but we live in a super quiet cul de sac, the kids are SUPER careful about cars, and I can see them out the front window. They mainly stay in the yard.

    • SarahJesness

      Yeah, these kids made me incredibly paranoid about driving. I ended up failing my driving test because I had to drive in a residential neighborhood and I failed because I was braking too much, because I was always paranoid that kids would suddenly run in front of the car.

      The rule should be “if your kid is dumber than my cat, s/he can’t be outside alone”. (yeah, yeah, I know I’m not supposed to let my cat outside, but at least she knows to listen and watch for cars before crossing the street, and she NEVER just sits in the middle of the road. When she crosses the street, she does it quickly)

  • Bethany Ramos

    I always feel kinda pathetic when I freak out about taking my kids on walks in the winter in Texas. It can get into the 30s, which I know isn’t that big of a deal, but I’m always worried they’re going to freeze. Then I think – ummmm, this is probably slightly warm weather for kids in many other states (I used to live in Colorado too) – get a grip!

    • Fuzzy ‘n Broken Mirror

      So carrying around that portable furnace is overkill, right?

    • Bethany Ramos

      LOL! I am very, very tempted.

    • Lindsey

      Yeah, in Minnesota here, in kids didn’t go outside if it were in the 30s(or below), they wouldn’t go outside for about 5 months…

    • Natasha B

      Riiight? It’s been b/w 0 and 9 for the past two weeks-kids are still outside. I can’t handle the cooped up energy and fighting!

    • KaeTay

      I just moved to texas and I have seen kids going out in SHORTS and flipflops during the ice storm that we just had. It’s really just about making sure you have the right gear for the weather. Like if you hate the cold get some cold gear pants.. Nike and underarmour sells them. Nike is cheaper and wear them under your jeans. I used to work at a sports store and I did that when I was in NYC for NYE and I was toasty warm!

    • Bethany Ramos

      Haha, we finally caved and bought our toddler a coat!

  • NYBondLady

    The other day I took my toddler in a quick ride in a sled the morning after we got a lot of snow. He fell asleep in the sled, and I was shocked! I let him sleep there while I shoveled the driveway. There must be something natural about sleeping outside.

    • Alicia Kiner

      Sledding is exhausting. Walking back up those hills in all the gear? whew.

    • NYBondLady

      True! but he had the luxury of just sitting there!
      I did see a bunch of kids sledding down hills later on, tromping through the snow and then up a hill for about 15 seconds of fun. It looked awful. Man, I am old and lame.

    • Shea

      Around here (Quebec), people tend to abandon their strollers when we get a good snowfall and pull their small children around on sleds, often with little covers over them. It’s pretty adorable.

  • kay

    There are women in my mom’s group who kept talking all fall about how they needed to go on walks “before we’re stuck inside all winter”… It doens’t get that cold here (I’m in Oregon), and the rain isn’t that bad. You put the rain shield on the stroller or the hood up on the ergo, you dress them appropriately (which isn’t that hard when the average LOW here doesn’t go below freezing) and take a walk. I check to make sure the baby is warm (with her rain shield even the tip of her nose is still toasty warm!) but I don’t get why people think babies need to hibernate all winter.

    • http://www.ambiencechaser.com/ Elizabeth Licata

      I don’t know about babies, but if I can help it at all I’m not going out that door until May. It’s mildly chilly out there, and I’m pretty sure that’s why God invented delivery.

    • KaeTay

      lol anything close to Canada gets cold.. now it doesn’t get that cold in Texas and Florida but in Oregon it most definitely does get cold

    • Kat

      If you live in Texas or Florida, maybe that’s cold. That Canada rule isn’t foolproof either — especially not when we’re talking about Oregon.

      I’m a HUGE pansy when it comes to cold, but I must agree, a low of 32+ is not that cold.

  • Rachel Sea

    When I was a kid, I used to haul my zero degree sleeping bag out to the hammock when the weather was cold but nice, and I would read a book, and often doze off. If I had more free time I’d do it now.

  • http://www.gamedevwidow.weebly.com/ FaintlyXMacabre

    I used to take my kid outside because she would stop crying right away. It was, at times, the only thing that would work. But then, I’m talking GA/TX “winters” here, where it sinks down to a frigid 45 degrees.

  • TheGiantPeach

    I feel like I’ve just had an epiphany. I’m moving all of our beds outside tonight. Thanks Eve!

    • noelle 02

      My four year old is still wide awake and it is nearly midnight. Sticking him outside to sleep sounds like a plan to me!

  • Sartjie

    Would have liked to have read this article… unfortunately a giant popup ad took over the screen. Seems to be happening more and more often on this site.

    • Fuzzy ‘n Broken Mirror

      Yea, I refuse to click that giant X or “No Thanks”

      Or get an adblocker add-on

      because all of those things are the sucks!

      /First World Problems

  • SA

    I mean I can’t sleep when it is hot in the house and everyone likes the cool side of the pillow so it makes sense.

    She should maybe attach a sign to the baby – “Happy Baby sleeping – Mom inside watching”….keep any nosy neighbors from calling CPS.

  • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

    I love sleeping in a cold room, so this makes sense to me. My husband is always concerned our baby is not warm enough, whereas I think he’s often too warm.
    When I take him out in freeing weather, I put him in a sweater and coat, throw on a hat, then in his fleece sack he goes. I cover the stroller with the shade thing to clock wind and he conks out. It’s like magic.
    I wouldn’t put him to sleep outside, though, because my home just doesn’t have the infrastructure to allow that, at least not safely. But I see nothing amiss about it. Nordic countries do it all the time.

  • Paul White

    Hell yeah. there’s been a few times I put Sam outside in the play pen; right outside the kitchen door while I cooked or whatever.
    He’s ab it too big for it now, he can rock it over if he tries hard enough. I miss being able to do that *sigh*

  • SusannahJoy

    My parents teach 2nd grade. Every year they have to send out a million memos and newsletters to let the parents know that the kids do have outside recess even if it’s cold. Even if there’s snow. Even if there’s wind. That the only time they don’t have outside recess is if it’s pouring rain. So send your kids to school in a jacket! They’re mean too, if they show up with no jacket, they still have to go outside in the cold (rarely lower than the 40s). They always have a jacket the next day.

    That said, I wish I could put my kid outside in the cold air. I wish I could go outside in the cold air. I hate Hawaii. Stupid sun making everything hot all the damn time.

  • darras

    regular practice here in Norway
    as well, in the kindergartens all the kids sleep outside in their prams for
    their daytime nap(s). With a sheepskin/lambskin fleece between the mattress and
    the child – the child is usually in a voksipose bag which is super cosy,
    everything is all nice and warm. In fact, my baby’s nurse is extremely naggy
    about me putting him outside to sleep. If I admit to even one nap that was
    inside during the day she goes all judgemental on my arse ;)

    There is a
    whole school here which is of the ‘outdoor variety’. They have a portable tent
    for inclement weather but otherwise are outdoors all the time. It’s a very
    coveted school so it’s really hard to get a spot in that school. I’d quite like
    my son to go there when he is older too, but we’ll have to see if I am quick
    enough to get him a spot!

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      This sounds like the coziest

  • Tinyfaeri

    I make sure to take my daughter outside every day, rain or shine (they make raincoats and snowsuits for toddlers…) except for when it’s actively snowing or hailing (she gets fussy about snow sitting on her, and hail and freezing rain are not pleasant). It doesn’t get that cold here, though, usually there’s only a day or two each winter below 10F and most days it’s in the 20′s or up.

  • Lackadaisical

    This used to be a tradition in the UK too. My mum grew up in London and as a baby she was left out to snooze in her pram in the snow. She is 64. It wasn’t the done thing any more when I was a baby (36 years ago).

  • Vicki Lewis

    This makes total sense to me. I’ve always had trouble falling asleep then I found out there is research showing that a little drop in body temperature can help you fall asleep and sleep better. I like to have a window open it really helps me, why not a baby?

  • NYCNanny

    Kids are weird about the places they choose to sleep. I once had a charge (12 months old @ the time) who refused to nap anywhere other than the closet. She’d sleep in her stroller in a pitch black closet (partially open so I could hear anything.) It was weird, but she loved it. Oh well.

  • Miranda

    In the 1960s my mother let her babies nap outdoors year-round in Pennsylvania. She bundled us up and put us in a wooden playpen, the kind that has since been banned. She was not progressive or Scandinavian, I think it was just an intuitive choice that worked for her. My own son suffered from chronic bouts of croup as a toddler, for which the doctor recommended taking him outside to breath the cold air. On a few winter nights we opened all of his bedroom windows, bundled him up, and my husband slept in his room with him in the below-freezing air. He stopped the barky coughing and slept well.

  • http://www.silverbacksocial.com/ Chris Dessi

    Over the course of the last few weeks in November (I live in Westchester, New York) I took my 2 1/2 yr old on long strolls outside (she was bundled up) and each time she slept for close to 2 hours! She awoke refreshed and in the best mood ever. As long as it’s not too cold, I think it’s a great idea. I also enjoyed taking long meandering walks around town. I’m an advocate of outdoor napping! Just this Dad’s 2 cents :-)