Cultural Practices: Why Babies Sleep Outside in Denmark Explained

In many parts of the world, cultural practices surrounding childcare can seem unusual or even controversial to outsiders. One such practice that has caught the global eye is the Danish tradition of letting babies take their naps outside, regardless of the season. This practice, deeply embedded in Danish culture, might be surprising to many, but it has roots in health, wellness, and developmental beliefs that have been passed down through generations.

A Look at the Historical Context

The tradition of letting babies sleep outdoors started in the early 20th century in Denmark and has since been adopted in other Nordic countries such as Sweden and Finland. Historically, this practice was instigated by a widespread belief that exposure to fresh air, both during the day and night, could help ward off diseases and contribute to physical robustness. Over the years, this belief has only grown stronger, aided by various studies supporting the fact that children who nap outdoors tend to be healthier and less prone to sickness.

The Science Behind Outdoor Napping

Recent studies have lent scientific support to the old Nordic tradition. Research indicates that children sleeping outdoors in colder weather are less likely to catch colds and infections. The fresh air is thought to help their immune systems, reduce exposure to germs that are more prevalent indoors, and increase their overall resistance to diseases. Moreover, the practice is thought to promote better sleep patterns. The natural light of the outdoors helps regulate the body's sleep cycle in a natural way, improving sleep quality compared to indoor napping where light levels and conditions can vary.

Sleeping Outdoors, Step by Step

For families new to this concept, the idea of letting a baby nap outside can seem daunting. The process, however, is straightforward and prioritizes baby safety and comfort. It generally involves well-insulated prams or baby carriages that shield the children from cold temperatures and windy conditions. Babies are usually dressed in layers appropriate to the season, further protected by a soft blanket or a sleep sack. The pram often has a cover to guard against direct sunlight, rain, or snow.

Baby Sleeping Outdoors

The Role of Blackout Curtains

While outdoor sleeping is beneficial, the environment needs to be controlled when it comes to light exposure. This is where Sleepout’s Portable Blackout Curtains come into play. These curtains can be used to cover parts of the pram or nearby windows, providing a dark, womb-like environment that is believed to soothe babies and enhance the quality of their sleep. This practice is particularly useful in the summer months when the Nordic regions experience prolonged daylight.

Cultural Reactions and Variations

The outdoor sleeping practice, while widely accepted in Denmark and other Nordic countries, has stirred controversy elsewhere. In North America, for instance, the idea has been met with skepticism and concern about children's exposure to the elements. However, adherents of the Danish method argue that with proper precautions, the benefits far outweigh the potential risks. In fact, this practice has been slowly gaining interest globally, especially among parents interested in natural parenting methods.

Parental Peace of Mind

In Denmark, it is common to see babies napping in prams outside houses, cafes, and even daycare centers. The society’s structured approach to child safety - including strict laws and general community watchfulness - allows parents to feel secure in this practice. This societal trust plays a crucial role in the widespread acceptance and continuation of outdoor napping for babies.


The Danish practice of outdoor napping isn’t just about putting a baby outside; it's a comprehensive approach involving appropriate dress, suitable gear, and societal support. While it might be unusual to an outsider's eyes, the benefits of such a practice have been observed and cherished in Denmark for decades. As globalization connects disparate cultures, and as we continue to seek the best for our children’s health and development, it's practices like these that prompt a reevaluation of what child care can look like across different environments and attitudes.

Mother with Baby by Curtains

Whether or not the practice of outdoor napping for babies will catch on globally remains to be seen. However, its enduring presence in Danish culture and its slowly growing appeal elsewhere speak to a broader openness and curiosity toward diverse childcare practices around the world.

Mother installing Sleepout curtains

Back to blog

Experience 100% Blackout Fabric