If you’re struggling to get your little one to nap in the day, have you ever considered taking them outdoors? That’s what Hannah Rosalie, of Paddock Cottage nursery in West Sussex does with the children in her care, giving them what she calls a “full forest experience”.
She claimed the babies sleep longer outside and argued that they have “fewer colds”, although this isn’t something that has been proven.
At Rosalie’s nursery, which opened in spring 2016, she dresses the children in warm comfortable clothes and zips them into a thermal sleeping bag during the winter. In summer, they have a light blanket and are parked outside the kitchen window in the shade.
She invested in some quality pushchairs which recline fully, as well as lots of thermal blankets for the children to lay on.
It’s worth noting, children will be left in either a secure back garden or a childminder’s private space. Rosalie always keeps an eye on the children at her nursery, the same should be said for parents trying it at home.
“I’ve always loved the outdoors and so have my own children, who always napped outside - they always slept well and were very healthy,” Rosalie told The Times. “I’m a forest school practitioner and we follow a lot of these principles through our play and discovery.”
Maryanne Taylor, a child sleep consultant and founder of The Sleep Works, wasn’t surprised by Rosalie’s napping technique with her children.
“Babies generally sleep better in cooler temperatures so the cool air from outside can help them sleep longer (provided they are dressed appropriately),” she told HuffPost UK.
“Also, older babies get stimulated by their surroundings very easily and being outside, can have a calming affect, lulling them to sleep.”
However, she acknowledged that this technique might not work for all babies, adding: “Light is very significant for sleep and some babies will find it difficult to sleep in such bright light. One option here is to use a snooze shade which allows them to be outside but darkens the buggy allowing them to sleep.”
If you’re keen to try the outside nap, Taylor advises parents it may be more successful if: the baby is not overtired, the baby has a short wind down before their nap and the baby is napping at the same time each day.
The practice of babies napping outside is reportedly fashionable in Scandinavia. A BBC report in 2013 revealed most day-care centres in Sweden put children outside to sleep. And there have been studies to back up the benefits. A 2008 study of kids in Finland by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) found children took longer naps outdoors compared with naps taken indoors.
They did, however, call for further research into outdoor napping, focused around parents’ experiences.