One of the craziest things I heard about Sweden before I moved here was that Swedes bring their babies outside when it is cold to have them sleep or take a nap. I don’t mean “oh it’s a little chilly, better bring a blanket.” I mean, “damn it’s cold, I hope my nose doesn’t freeze off.” It’s the second kind of cold, you know, when it just goes to your bones and makes you shiver and stay that way until you are inside for 3 hours.
So what’s the deal? Do Swedish people hate their children? There’s a few things. First, Swedish people love to talk about anything “fresh” – so in this case, it’s the “fresh air.” You will hear things like, “oh the fresh air is good for the baby.” (Nobody knows or can explain just how / why it is so good for them, but it must be, because it’s “fresh”).
The other thing is that they bundle their babies up in these things called “åkpåse.” They are like tiny little sleeping bags lined with sheepskins. And let me tell you, even in the coldest weather last winter when the little guy was only a few months old, when we put our hand into the åkpåse, it was toasty warm and delightful. Anyone would sleep well in that, especially while breathing that important fresh air.
So, this morning, when I looked outside at the thermometer and saw it was 0 degrees celcius, I did what any logical parent in Sweden would do. I went for a walk with the little guy in the forest. And I will say this: the autumn air was indeed fresh, and it was almost spiritual out there on the path all alone with me, the forest, and my son. 🙂