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The Babies Who Sleep in the Cold
February 23, 2013 10:50 AM   Subscribe

A mixture of data and cultural tradition support the notion of putting babies outside to nap, even in winter. There is some evidence that babies who nap outside sleep longer and get sick less.
posted by dry white toast (101 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
Totally curious to hear from MeFites in Nordic countries on this.
posted by dry white toast at 10:50 AM on February 23, 2013


Totally! Gonna put a baby wolf in the crib too... maybe a couple snakes.
posted by selfnoise at 10:52 AM on February 23, 2013 [20 favorites]


What a non-story:

"It's very important that the children have wool closest to their body, warm clothes and a warm sleeping bag," he says.

Parents who believe in fresh air - gasp! *clutches pearls*
posted by benzenedream at 10:57 AM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


*looks out window at piles of shitty ice*

Nobody is napping outside right now.


I imagine if you were a parent and it were nice outside, you and your baby could have a nap under a nice tree. FACT - Napping under a tree is good for everyone.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:06 AM on February 23, 2013


My mum has always said this was standard for her Belfast neighbourhood, so she did the same with me in Canada. I survived but I hate winter.
posted by bonobothegreat at 11:08 AM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Snakes? Feh!
posted by IndigoJones at 11:08 AM on February 23, 2013


A Finnish neighbor - a research PhD MD, at that - once proudly admitted she put her babies outside in the Michigan winter...and indignantly added that she put them on the back porch to prevent neighbors' calls to DCS.
posted by klarck at 11:16 AM on February 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


The theory behind outdoor napping is that children exposed to fresh air, whether in summer or the depths of winter, are less likely to catch coughs and colds - and that spending a whole day in one room with 30 other children does them no good at all.

A growing movement of startup folk and the self-employed would say the same thing for adults. Well, about spending all day in a closed environment with stale air from heaps of other humans. (Although, think we could do with the napping too...)
posted by nickrussell at 11:21 AM on February 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


The theory behind outdoor napping is that children exposed to fresh air, whether in summer or the depths of winter, are less likely to catch coughs and colds - and that spending a whole day in one room with 30 other children does them no good at all.

I thought catching the common cold was actually good for your immune system...
posted by KokuRyu at 11:37 AM on February 23, 2013


Wander through the snowy city and you'll see buggies lined up outside coffee shops while parents sip on lattes inside.

Not that I'm judging or anything, but if being outside is so good for you, why aren't these parents enjoying their coffee al fresco?
posted by madajb at 11:41 AM on February 23, 2013 [10 favorites]


We had the same, well out in the pram in the back garden and windows open at night, in northern England and did me no harm blah blah drone kids today etc. Hesitate to put the cat out in the air here in Beijing, mind, let alone blood kin.
posted by Abiezer at 11:43 AM on February 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


In some tropical cultures, refrigerators are manufactured with a special "baby drawer" for exactly this purpose.
posted by XMLicious at 11:47 AM on February 23, 2013 [15 favorites]


I imagine if you were a parent and it were nice outside, you and your baby could have a nap under a nice tree.

Yes, bit would it be "a nice tree" or an ice tree?"

why aren't these parents enjoying their coffee al fresco?

The coffee cools off too quickly. Unlike babies, coffee does not produce its own heat.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:50 AM on February 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


At first I thought the study was on the children that survived a nap in the snow at the wee age of 6 months to see if that hardiness carried on over the years.

Thankfully, it appears to be more of a camping exercise than a survival rite.
posted by Slackermagee at 11:51 AM on February 23, 2013


Hmmmmm. Is cold-induced asthma not a thing in Scandinavia?
posted by Andrhia at 11:52 AM on February 23, 2013


Not that I'm judging or anything, but if being outside is so good for you, why aren't these parents enjoying their coffee al fresco?

Well, in my experience in Norway... They do. Beer too. And everyone goes for the ice cream on the street on those lovely days when the temperature hits a pleasant 0C (32F).
posted by palbo at 11:52 AM on February 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


Ok, maybe not everyone, but a lot of people.
posted by palbo at 11:54 AM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I read a biography of the Roosevelts last year which mentioned that Eleanor used to hang a basket outside the window for her (six!) babies to nap in, year round. And that she regretted listening to the "experts" who told her to do this. She felt that it was an example of a kind of parental cruelty of which she'd been guilty, mainly from inexperience and naivete.
posted by OnceUponATime at 11:58 AM on February 23, 2013


My cousins in Finland attest to letting your babies nap outdoors, which came up after a similar study by the University of Oulu. And I did see a first cousin, bundled in a car seat, on the porch of the family farm, though this was in a slightly warm May.

The primary threat would've been the cattle recently released from the barn during the long winter, where they were paganly ecstatic to be outside, to the point of licking the nonplussed horse.
posted by myopicman at 12:00 PM on February 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


Yes they do, and it is an enviable state of being. Often when I visit relatives that have babies they are sleeping outside and are brought in at some point, rosy cheeked and scared of the new people in the house.

In Thomas Mann's Magic Mountain patients take health naps outside in The Alps, year around. Meticulous wrapping is of the essence.

Also, here is a working link to the paper mentioned in BBC article. 95% of respondent parents in Oulu let their children sleep outside in the winter. Also of note is that 88% of parents reported that children clearly enjoyed sleeping outside, so if you doubt the practice from children's comfort then be prepared to challenge how well in general parents understand the moods of their children.
posted by Free word order! at 12:01 PM on February 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Cold air works wonders on croup.
posted by R. Mutt at 12:04 PM on February 23, 2013


Wander through the snowy city and you'll see buggies lined up outside coffee shops while parents sip on lattes inside.

I seem to remember the NYC police arresting a young European mom for doing exactly this. And her defense was that it was perfectly normal back home.

It was in the East Village though.
posted by R. Mutt at 12:12 PM on February 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


oh sure, you say outdoor babynapping, sleeping babies in trees, is a good thing now, but what will you say when that bough breaks? I think we all know how this ends.
posted by mwhybark at 12:15 PM on February 23, 2013 [36 favorites]


Wander through the snowy city and you'll see buggies lined up outside coffee shops while parents sip on lattes inside.

Unfortunately, this appears to be the British version of this practice. (warning: Daily Mail link)
posted by Wordshore at 12:18 PM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


They really have been coddled enough. Life is hard!
posted by thelonius at 12:18 PM on February 23, 2013


R. Mutt: "I seem to remember the NYC police arresting a young European mom for doing exactly this."
NYT article. She was Danish.
posted by brokkr at 12:19 PM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I haven't done this with my babies in winter, but an unwrapped summertime nap in the hammock was the only way to get my oldest to sleep for a few months last summer.
posted by annathea at 12:19 PM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


"There is some evidence that babies who nap outside sleep longer and get sick less."

...and they make tasty treats, too!
posted by markkraft at 12:20 PM on February 23, 2013


I wonder if this is an artifact of eras when the fuel burned inside was hard to cope with (coal, wood) and proper ventilation was hard to achieve?
posted by emjaybee at 12:23 PM on February 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


I didn't actually sleep outside as a child, but I can remember that we didn't have any heating in our home growing up. My parents always preferred to keep the bedroom windows ajar, even in winter, because they liked the fresh air. British winters were colder in the 70s than they are now, too. But in our family, if you were cold, you just kept adding clothes until you stopped feeling cold.

In contrast, my memories of school are of hot, dry, uncomfortable classrooms and feeling drowsy in the heat.

I find even now that if I'm forced to sleep in what most people consider a comfortably heated room, I wake up sweaty, confused, and desperate for an ice-cold drink. Even when the temperature's below freezing, I tend to go out in only two thin layers of clothing. I think that, provided there's no real danger of hypothermia, you just adapt to the climate you grow up in. And for Scandinavians, there's an obvious advantage in having your children get used to the cold.
posted by pipeski at 12:23 PM on February 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


That is pretty interesting. I'm gonna forward it to my coworkers here who have kids, where we've had a couple nights at -40 before the wind chill, see what they think.
posted by Lemurrhea at 12:28 PM on February 23, 2013


Not that I'm judging or anything, but if being outside is so good for you, why aren't these parents enjoying their coffee al fresco?

Because they aren't bundled up in 239840283 layers and tucked into a pram turned away from the wind.

I vaguely remember reading about the woman who was arrested or had child protective services called on her. The collective Finnish snort was deafening -- everyone put their babies out to nap here. If you don't have a yard or a balcony, you take very long, very cold walks so the baby gets to sleep outdoors at least some every day. Or go for coffee, I suppose.
posted by hannala at 12:29 PM on February 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


I work in a daycare, and we routinely crank up the AC during naptime, even in the winter. (Granted, we're in Louisiana, where winters are quite mild.) Cooling the room to 55 degrees or so definitely helps the kids fall asleep, and they nap for longer. I don't know about putting them out in the snow, but I like the image of all the prams full of proto-Vikings...
posted by Nibbly Fang at 12:30 PM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I babysat my best friend's baby while visiting her in Ireland in November. We'd bundle the little one up and take her for walks in the afternoon. I actually put the baby out on the patio for an hour and a half while I did some chores and her mother got some much-needed sleep.

Hilariously, their exclusively outdoor cat came skedadelling in to lie in the sunbeam in the front room, so I had a baby sleeping outdoors in the cold, and an outdoor cat sleeping inside in the sun.
posted by LN at 12:32 PM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not surprised there's some pushback here, given that most of Metafilter won't let their cat outside.
posted by distorte at 12:32 PM on February 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


when that bough breaks

So that's what that song means!
posted by E3 at 12:36 PM on February 23, 2013


distorte: "given that most of Metafilter won't let their cat outside"

I don't let my cat outside because she doesn't know enough not to play in traffic and it is extremely anti social to allow ones animals to defecate in neighbour's flower beds and gardens. Neither are generally a problem with babies.
posted by Mitheral at 12:41 PM on February 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


Yeah, the child-worshipping helicopter cohort is probably apoplectic at the very notion. My kids loved cold naps. And I love any kind of naps.
posted by umberto at 12:43 PM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not that I'm judging or anything, but if being outside is so good for you, why aren't these parents enjoying their coffee al fresco?

During REM sleep body temperature is supposed to drop and that's why I get away with having my thermostat programmed to dip to 50 after I'm asleep and go back up around 7 when I wake up. The only time I have ever woken up cold is when I had a little too much to drink, which is known to alter sleep rhythms.
posted by melissam at 12:45 PM on February 23, 2013


Totally! Gonna put a baby wolf in the crib too... maybe a couple snakes.
posted by selfnoise at 6:52 PM on February 23


Oh no! Expose babies to anything other than endless cosseting, germ-free environments and early preparation for a lifelong sense of entitlement and therapy dependence? Child abuse! Oh, America. You so funny.
posted by Decani at 12:47 PM on February 23, 2013 [10 favorites]


It must be nice to live in a place where you don't have to assume that someone will just walk off with your baby. That would be my major concern.
posted by bleep at 12:58 PM on February 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think that, provided there's no real danger of hypothermia, you just adapt to the climate you grow up in. And for Scandinavians, there's an obvious advantage in having your children get used to the cold.

I taught my child to get used to the soothing sound of rain on the pram cover because, after all, she's going to be hearing it for 8 months out of the year for the rest of her childhood up here in the PNW.
posted by madajb at 12:59 PM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have a friend in her early 60s whose mother tells the story about how when Jane was a baby she would put her outside in whatever the 1950s version of a car seat was in the winter to nap. And mom would be inside doing the dishes or eating bonbons or whatever, but glance out the window from time to time. If the baby carrier was still, she knew Jane was still napping; if Jane was awake she'd be squirming and mom could see the seat moving.

One afternoon, after a particularly long nap, she went out to get the apparently still sleeping baby, only to find that Jane had, in fact, somehow slipped out of the carrier and into the snow, where she had lain possibly for the better part of an hour.

And I don't know about napping outside, but certainly my kid spent hours at a time outside in her stroller in winter in Vancouver when she was a baby, even during the rare freezing snaps. I presume we would have done the same thing had we been somewhere colder.
posted by looli at 1:05 PM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


It must be nice to live in a place where you don't have to assume that someone will just walk off with your baby. That would be my major concern.

Honestly, I think in North America there would be more danger of your neighbour calling CPS on you than someone walking of with your baby.

When my kid was an infant and people would say stuff like, Never turn your back or leave your baby alone anywhere you wouldn't leave $1 million dollars in plain sight, because isn't your baby more precious to you than that? And I remember thinking that was dumb because everybody wants a million dollars, but it's only a tiny tiny subset of the population that wants to steal someone else's baby.
posted by looli at 1:09 PM on February 23, 2013 [52 favorites]


British winters were colder in the 70s than they are now, too. But in our family, if you were cold, you just kept adding clothes until you stopped feeling cold.

We spend the entire fall and early winter in Japan (come home after New Year's) where there is no central heating, and I have to say it is fucking miserable. No thank you.

I work from home as a copywriter, which means I sit at a desk. I get very cold. I add more layers. I get colder.

Of course, when I actually have to move around it's better, but the thing about housing back in North America is that it is not designed to be left unheated over the winter - not turning on the heat is bad for the structure.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:19 PM on February 23, 2013


Here in Iceland anyway, the babies outside of cafés in their carriages are well bundled up. They're not in their jammies lying on a towel - for our daughter it was this sleeping-bag-type deal, plus the blankets for inside the carriage and over the hood. The babies are warm as all hell, and they sleep very soundly.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:19 PM on February 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


"There is some evidence that..."
That's code for "anecdotal evidence has been selectively cherry-picked from non-scientific, statistically meaningless experiences of some people we heard about".
I'm sure this doesn't hurt most of them if they're adequately clothed and bundled and checked up on now and then, but if catches on here in Canada I predict some frozen kiddies.
posted by rocket88 at 1:37 PM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


If the object here is exposure to fresh cold air, I'm not sure why you can't just stick the kid's crib/babyseat near an open window and shut the heating vent. This would have the added benefit of airing out the room.
posted by FelliniBlank at 1:41 PM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


why aren't these parents enjoying their coffee al fresco?

- but they do that in Oslo.
posted by iviken at 1:47 PM on February 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


anecdotal evidence has been selectively cherry-picked from non-scientific, statistically meaningless experiences of some people we heard about

Given the popularity of the practice, "cherry-picking" isn't even necessary.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:51 PM on February 23, 2013


Yep, this is pretty common with preschools here. They have them bundled up nice and warm in their buggies. It's pretty common here to have a sheepskin in the buggy or pram which is lovely and warm, and then the kid in snow-gear, hat and gloves. In the winter a lot of kids get dragged around in a similar get-up in sleds.

Examples of typical setups.

It's also quite common with outdoor preschools where most of the day is spent outdoors in the woods. This time of year is called vabbuari (like february, but for VAB (care of sick child) since so many people are home with snotfaces). It's pretty accepted knowledge that there's a lot less of that at outdoor schools or preschools that do outside naps. As for cold-induced asthma, I guess you would notice that before they started preschool?

For kicks: this thread, but with Swedish parents chewing eachother out over at what temperature they should/shouldn't let the kids sleep out. Those from the north of of the country are rolling their eyes at the people who think -13C is too cold.
posted by Iteki at 2:00 PM on February 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


it's only a tiny tiny subset of the population that wants to steal someone else's baby.

Yes, and this outdoor napping thing is great because you don't usually get very much of a selection in other countries. You can really take your time and shop around!
posted by orme at 2:01 PM on February 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


rocket88: "statistically meaningless experiences of some people we heard about"
Sure, you can't conclude anything from a couple of million kids sleeping outside.
posted by brokkr at 2:04 PM on February 23, 2013


In other news, sleeping in a bed of broken glass improves blood circulation.
posted by charlie don't surf at 2:05 PM on February 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Not surprised there's some pushback here, given that most of Metafilter won't let their cat outside.

As soon as babies start slaughtering millions of birds and other wildlife I'll start worrying more about people letting them outside.
posted by TungstenChef at 2:10 PM on February 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


I am a big baby and I like to sleep with the window open. So datapoint.
posted by srboisvert at 2:12 PM on February 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


In other news, sleeping in a bed of broken glass improves blood circulation.

Incorrect. That increases blood flow. Totally different thing.
posted by srboisvert at 2:13 PM on February 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


I did this with both of my children here in Stockholm and what's all the fuss? The children are well-dressed so it's no problem for them to be outside in -10/-15C weather and they are anyway used to being outside so there is nothing unusual about sleeping in the pram out on the balcony. As is said in Sweden, there is no bad weather only inappropriate clothing. When it comes to colds and flu, this is obvious, humidity outside is generally above 50% while inside it is a dry 20%. Yes, people let their kids sleep in prams outside of restaurants, but of course keep a close eye on them. It's cold here. Most of the time. You get used to it or you go crazy.
posted by three blind mice at 2:13 PM on February 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


And as a proof of not killing babies here: Unicef's Child Mortality Rates for under 5: U5MR (under 5 mortality rate)
1990 | 2000 | 2011

Canada 8 6 6
Finland 7 4 3
Iceland 6 4 3
Norway 8 5 3
Sweden 7 4 3
United States 11 9 8
posted by Free word order! at 2:30 PM on February 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Good luck getting IRB approval for the randomized trial testing this hypothesis.
posted by scunning at 2:32 PM on February 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Let's fear and make fun of foreign practices that seem strange to us!

In Finland, babies sleep outside in cold weather!
In France, women drink wine while pregnant!
In America, they let babies sleep with an electric fan blowing on them!

This is why ALL OF THE CHILDREN IN ALL OF THOSE COUNTRIES ARE DEAD!
posted by kyrademon at 2:43 PM on February 23, 2013 [25 favorites]


Yes, and this outdoor napping thing is great because you don't usually get very much of a selection in other countries. You can really take your time and shop around!

Man, this would make such a good Law and Order cold open. (Haha, cold!) A Scandinavian new to New York leaves the pram outside Starbucks and the baby gets snatched. BOOM.
posted by liketitanic at 2:48 PM on February 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Good luck getting IRB approval for the randomized trial testing this hypothesis.
I hear Stellenbosch University has a good record of this sort of thing.
posted by fullerine at 3:12 PM on February 23, 2013


I'd kind of love to sleep outside in the snow in some kind of shielded carriage covered in pounds and pounds of blankets. I wonder if there's some way to get in on this.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:14 PM on February 23, 2013 [13 favorites]


Was this common in Britain?

I remember first reading about this in Anna del Conte's Risotto with Nettles. They lived in London and they used to leave their baby carriage and baby outside while they were in the house. She seemed to describe it as a common thing in mid-20th century Britain.

Unfortunately, I don't have the book with me at the moment.
posted by vacapinta at 3:20 PM on February 23, 2013


I'd kind of love to sleep outside in the snow in some kind of shielded carriage covered in pounds and pounds of blankets. I wonder if there's some way to get in on this.

I'm kind of sleepy right now and want a nap, and yeah, this sounds pretty great to me. I'm one of those people who always sleeps with the window open, so outside in a bundled up carriage sounds cozy and comfy to me. Mmmmm nap.
posted by yasaman at 3:35 PM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


My English parents did this (memorably, as a young first time mum my sister was left outside the shop until our mum returned home and realised she'd forgot she had a baby). I did it a little, but not everyday, and usually I was walking somewhere pulling the sleigh behind me. Being too cold was never a worry, if anything, all those layers and bundling were a risk for overheating. I am amazed this is even remarkable to anyone.
posted by saucysault at 3:40 PM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Llama - snow camping. Dig a snow cave or quinzee, crawl in and go to sleep. Use a blue foamy for insulation and a warm sleeping bag. Wear fleece from head to toes. I promise this will be a memorable sleep - when I did this I had deep dreamless sleep and felt so rested the morning after.
posted by seawallrunner at 4:03 PM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm all in favor of keeping the cat inside, but this is totally wrong:

I don't let my cat outside because she doesn't know enough not to play in traffic and it is extremely anti social to allow ones animals to defecate in neighbour's flower beds and gardens. Neither are generally a problem with babies.


Any kid with legs heads straight out to play in traffic, and if you leave the diaper off, they'll even poop on the neighbor's porch!
posted by BlueHorse at 4:05 PM on February 23, 2013


I live in the northern U.S. and sometimes see babies getting pulled around in little sleds while their parents cross-country ski, so just setting them out for a nap doesn't seem a big stretch.
posted by Area Man at 4:05 PM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Any kid with legs heads straight out to play in traffic, and if you leave the diaper off, they'll even poop on the neighbor's porch!"

Those aren't the kids we are talking about.
posted by Mitheral at 4:12 PM on February 23, 2013


British winters were colder in the 70s than they are now, too. But in our family, if you were cold, you just kept adding clothes until you stopped feeling cold

Oh my goodness, I remember arriving in Britain in the 70s. The air smelled of soot. My grandma assured me I'd be warm in bed because not only did I have 12 blankets over me, I was sleeping on top of another 10 (scratchy and horrible as they were - pure wool. Also eiderdowns.) My god it was cold. Sash windows open at the top as well. Talk about intestinal fortitude.

And the netty at the bottom of the yard - "Come and see the roses."

Cor, we were tough in those days. Bloody Geordies.
posted by glasseyes at 4:38 PM on February 23, 2013


I'd kind of love to sleep outside in the snow in some kind of shielded carriage covered in pounds and pounds of blankets.

I have a screened porch with a comfy couch on it and it's 43 F/96 percent humidity right now. I'm tempted. I'm severely tempted. The only reason I'm not going out right now is that my husband and son would think I'm crazy. Just have to wait until both of them go to sleep...
posted by Daily Alice at 4:52 PM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd kind of love to sleep outside in the snow in some kind of shielded carriage covered in pounds and pounds of blankets.

I'd kind of love to sleep outside in the snow in some kind of shielded structure with wood frame and drywall construction, covered in pounds and pounds of insulation and roofing, and with a furnace.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:40 PM on February 23, 2013 [17 favorites]


When my mother was a young child, before the days of antibiotics or oxygen, she and her sister were in the hospital for pneumonia, and they were bundled up in warm blankets and put out on an outside porch in the cold to enable them to breathe fresh air. It must have worked, they both lived into their 80s.
posted by mermayd at 5:47 PM on February 23, 2013


Well, both of our children have been in group daycare in a freaking cold part of the US since they were 3 months old. During winter they don't go outside aside from a daily walk. Thus the daycare acts as a sort of bioweapons laboratory, where new and interesting diseases are cooked up each week by a horde of mucous-spewing toy-licking oh-god-don't-eat-that-eating little lab monkeys.

Each kid's first winter at the daycare meant constant illnesses with names we'd never heard before we became parents. Now however the youngsters pretty much never get sick, aside from the odd norovirus, and it's awesome. They have supercharged immune systems that eat the flu for breakfast, thanks to the relentless microbe assault they endured when they were infants. Although I still have mild PTSD from the dreaded January of 2010, when I think I slept a total of 20 hours across the entire month, I say it was worth it.
posted by xthlc at 6:22 PM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am amazed this is even remarkable to anyone.

It's not remarkable to me, but 98% of people in my region pretty much never spend any time outdoors at all. I spend a couple of hours every day walking my dogs unless there's lightning risk or it's too cold for their puppytoes, and there are maybe 3-5 other people total that I ever see out walking, biking, etc. anytime during the day. You almost never see children playing outside nowadays except during school recess/PE or a few at the park in an early evening, and the only time you see most adults out is if they're doing yardwork. Even in pleasant weather, people don't routinely sit on their porches or decks except for the rare social gathering. They go out there to grill but eat in the house. I know many folks who close all their windows and turn on the central AC the minute the temp gets above 70F -- and close all their windows and blast the furnace the minute it falls below 65F.

So yes, it would be extremely unusual to see a baby alone outdoors.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:25 PM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd kind of love to sleep outside in the snow in some kind of shielded carriage covered in pounds and pounds of blankets. I wonder if there's some way to get in on this.

I'm pretty sure this is what Ice Fishing is. Except instead of sleeping you pass out and instead of blankets you wear a snow suit.
posted by srboisvert at 6:44 PM on February 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


I remember when a friend of mine had her neighbors calling CPS because her daughter was sleeping on the back porch, bundled up in the stroller.

I walk outside with my son in our lovely Northeastern winter all the time. He has the best naps during these walks and when I take him out of the stroller inside the house he is piping warm from the many layers he's in. Do you let your kids play outside in the snow? Then sleeping outside in the stroller has much less exposure to cold than that. And if you don't let your kids play outside in the snow... Well then, I've got nothing to say.
posted by Shusha at 6:48 PM on February 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


When I lived in Queens and would be carrying my baby around in a Bjorn in the middle of winter, the Indian and Colombian ladies on the sidewalk -- the few who ventured out in the cold -- would chastise me for bringing him outside. The Russian grandmothers, however, gave me praise and said things like "Strong lungs! Good for baby!"
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:25 PM on February 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


There is a Swedish saying that encapsulates this thought - "There is no bad weather, only bad clothing."

Could someone who knows tell me whether this is a real Swedish saying? Because it's great and I want to repeat it to everyone I know; I'd like to know if it's made up.
posted by medusa at 10:13 PM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


medusa: it's very real. If you want to google it, the original version is Det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder.
posted by yonglin at 10:34 PM on February 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


for the record, medusa, the German version renders to: if you're cold you're either poor, or wearing the wrong clothes.
posted by progosk at 12:04 AM on February 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


that's the PC variant I was brought up with anyway; seems the more common phrase is identical to the Swedish: Es gibt kein schlechtes Wetter, nur falsche Kleidung.
posted by progosk at 12:13 AM on February 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


The same saying exists in Danish as well. Der er ikke noget der hedder dårligt vejr, kun forkert påklædning.
posted by brokkr at 2:21 AM on February 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


the Indian and Colombian ladies on the sidewalk -- the few who ventured out in the cold -- would chastise me for bringing him outside.

Another aspect of letting these little white babies sleep outside during the short Scandinavian day is vitamin D. A little pale sun on the pale face probably makes a big difference. Of course people from warmer, more equatorial regions would have no need or tradition of this.
posted by three blind mice at 2:22 AM on February 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


Another vote from a Scandinavian person. Yes, it's normal. Yes, it happens constantly. Yes, it's not something I ever considered being odd until I moved away from Scandinavia and people went "what are you nuts?!" when I discussed it.
posted by kariebookish at 5:59 AM on February 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Paging zoomorphic!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:30 AM on February 24, 2013


> Could someone who knows tell me whether this is a real Swedish saying? Because it's great and I want to repeat it to everyone I know; I'd like to know if it's made up.

I think -- and this is not based on research, just on having heard it many, many times -- that it's one of those sayings everywhere claims, like Mark Twain's "If you don't like the weather in New England [change location as needed], just wait a few minutes."
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:18 AM on February 24, 2013


It must be nice to live in a place where you don't have to assume that someone will just walk off with your baby. That would be my major concern.
posted by bleep at 12:58 PM on February 23


Apparently, my wife used to do this with her son, when, in a former life, she was living in Moscow. She strapped his cradle outside the window of her nth floor apartment.
posted by nicolin at 10:12 AM on February 24, 2013


I love this. If I had a baby, I would put it outside right now. I am a firm believer in exposing kids to things early. Makes them stronger!
posted by kbennett289 at 10:15 AM on February 24, 2013


Weather/clothes is a real phrase, usually uttered as a chipper-sarcastic response to you complaining about the cold, wet, etc.
posted by Iteki at 10:32 AM on February 24, 2013


Just took our 6 month old to South Lake Tahoe this weekend. Wrapped warm in his stroller he had the best naps he'd had for weeks while out walking him first thing in the mornings - probably a degree or two below freezing especially in the shade.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 11:04 AM on February 24, 2013


I am in full support of people leaving their babies outside, especially at coffee shops.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 12:32 PM on February 24, 2013 [9 favorites]


Thanks for the language lessons.
posted by medusa at 1:01 PM on February 24, 2013


My mother in law (who grew up in Hawaii) had her babies in Alberta, and nap and bed time meant open windows, even in the winter. Whenever we'd mention that our kids weren't sleeping well, she always says open the windows!

The problem with that is rain here in the PNW. But I do drop the heat significantly at night.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 1:28 PM on February 24, 2013


-20 celcius is my cut-off here on the Canadian Prairies, but I have a nice wind cover for the stroller. The baby has a lovely nap in there, all bundled up. I'm going to get one of those PeaPod things for the spring so he can nap while I garden.
---
I remember a colleague told me about how a neighbour called CPS on her in the 70s when she, a recent immigrant from Sweden, let her baby sleep outside in the middle of winter in Edmonton.
posted by bluebelle at 3:12 PM on February 24, 2013


This thread is one of the few times where I regret living someplace with mild weather (the SF Bay Area). I had an autumn baby & spent hours walking around with her through the winter (it was the only way she'd nap), but it's not like the temperature ever dropped much below 50 degrees F.

O, the benefits she might have received had we not lived someplace so temperate! The 58 degrees we keep the thermostat set during winter nights seem positively tropical now.
posted by sobell at 10:01 PM on February 24, 2013


I'm from ice cold Norway myself. During my Army days I received arctic warfare training, and would spend weeks living outside in temperatures down to -40 (which is the same in C and F - huh). As long as you bundle up it's cosy and comfortable outside in the snow. For those of you up-thread who wants to try it, I say go for it! If you do it on your own porch or whatever you can easily retreat back indoors if it's not for you.

Cold-induced asthma is only brought on if you exert yourself regularly in cold weather. Naptime doesn't count.

BTW, a quick phone call to CPS beforehand should clear up whether they will come knocking if you leave your baby outside.
posted by Harald74 at 12:14 AM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I was young, my parents always had horses. I remember asking my dad why the horses had to (mostly) stay outside in the winter (central Alberta). He said it was because if you keep them inside all the time, they become more prone to respiratory infections. This always made quite a bit of sense to me, and my observation is that both humans (me, anyway) and horses do quite well outdoors in the cold for long periods of time.
posted by sneebler at 6:16 AM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: runs into traffic and poops on neighbor's porch
posted by pickles_have_souls at 6:30 PM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


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