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Are outdoor naps safe in Australia?

by Natasha Jacquot
Are outdoor naps safe in Australia?

We’ve all heard of those seemingly miraculous Nordic-style baby naps where parents pop the pram or stroller outdoors in the garden and their babies nap like a dream. But the climate is very different in this part of the world. Can outdoor napping work safely over here in Australia too?

Outdoor naps are part of the culture for many Northern European countries. Anecdotally, many parents have found that sleeping in the cool, fresh air, (rather than warm, recycled indoor air) has led to longer, more refreshing naps for their babies. Some even claim that their babies suffer much less from colds and illnesses because of their regular outdoor naps.

 Even here in Australia, some childcare centres have embraced the concept of so-called “frigid napping” by bringing the bedding outdoors at nap time.

“It is a natural environment thing that has been proven through research that is a great way to boost oxygen intake, create relaxation and experience natural sights and sounds. Parents have embraced it and their babies are thriving.”  Lucy Holmes, Perth childcare centre manager

What do the scientific community think though? Unfortunately, there seems to be a lack of real data or analysis on this topic. Given the practice is common in colder countries, most (if not all) the scientific discussion has been around when it’s too cold, to allow babies to sleep outside.  But in Australia it’s likely we would have the opposite problem. 

A major factor is that it can get very hot here, much hotter than in countries like Finland and Norway, and we know that babies overheating can play a major part in SIDS and other health outcomes.  There’s also a problem if there’s not much breeze.  In the height of Australian summer, the weather can be pretty stifling both indoors and outdoors. Having an oxygen-rich environment is another good way to minimise the risk of SIDS.

Elizabeth Duff, a senior policy adviser at the UK’s children charity the  NCT says okay to let babies sleep outdoors if it is cooler than the house, but you should take precautions. So, if you do choose to give the outdoor naps a try to help your baby gets some vital sleep, there are some important things to remember:

  • Don’t try this during a heatwave, Winter or the transitional seasons are better than summer, but don’t forget that some days the weather can be too hot or stifling even during these seasons.
  • Keep your baby’s pram in the shade, not facing direct sun.
  • Flat surfaces are best (so there’s no risk of your baby’s head falling forwards and constrict their airway). If you have a carrycot on a pram frame that is flat, or stroller which reclines fully, this will minimise that risk, although experts do always recommend proper cots over prams and strollers for this reason.
  • Attach the harnesses if there are any (an unharnessed child asleep in a pram or stroller can move about and may be at risk of falling or entrapment)
  • Keeping a pram well ventilated is a key aspect to allowing babies stay cool and get enough oxygen in the deep depths of a cocoon-like pram. Keep openings in your pram cover which are big enough so that you can check on your baby easily.
  • Maintain regular supervision. This is always the most important point of all.

“Even in the shade, use a parasol or sunshade. Make sure they are dressed appropriately with a nappy and just a vest if very hot. If they appear to be looking sweaty or red cheeked, move them inside.” Maryanne Taylor, child sleep consultant and founder of The Sleep Works

Our simple advice? Forget about the housework, grab a coffee or a book and sit down right next to their pram in the garden to keep an eye on them whilst they snooze!


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About Musluv

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I'm Natasha, creator of the musluv sun cover. We are passionate about helping parents protect their babies’ skin, with our musluv muslin wraps and through the content on our blog.

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