Journalist Jessica Rowe has started an online debate after taking a photograph of a baby sleeping outside a cafe in a pram during a visit to Iceland.
Rowe, a self-proclaimed helicopter parent, has been in the wintery country for the last few days spending some time with her mother, and was more than surprised when she was a pram outside a cafe, with a baby sleeping serenely inside. In fact, she took a picture of the unusual set up and posted it to her instagram.
“For a helicopter parent like me — this makes me break out into a sweat!” She said in the caption. “But all over Reykjavik families leave their babies outside cafes, shops etc… I’m told ‘fresh air is good for them.'”
Apparently she isn’t the only parent who thinks the situation is a little strange, with many parents commenting on the post sharing their own concerns about the practice. One commenter noted that “anyone could just take off with bub and pram” while another said the image made her “very uncomfortable”.
However, Rowe is in fact correct in her statement that the practice is the norm in Iceland, as in many other Nordic countries where it is something of a tradition. Leaving babies to sleep outside in prams in the cold is believed to improve the baby’s health.
This isn’t the first time the practice has come to popular attention in the media either. In 2013 the BBC News ran a story on the parents who leave their children out in the -5C temps, with one mother of three from Stockholm, Lisa Mardon, saying: “I think it’s good for them to be in the fresh air as soon as possible”. Mardon, and other Nordic parents, believe that “the kids seem healthier” and that the practice works “especially in winter when there’s lots of diseases going around”.
Even more amazing is the the research actually supports this age-old practice, with -5C being the most ideal temperature to have a sleep. In some cases, parents take their children inside when temperatures drop to -10C, while others happily leave their babies outside even at -30C.
It might be something that parents in Australia will never understand, but for Nordic mums these ice-cold naps are a recipe for healthy, happy kids.