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Babies napping in the snow: Why Nordic parents love fresh air in all weather, and why they’re right.

Emya Nordic kids playing outside in winter onesies

If you spotted a baby asleep in a pram all alone on an Australian street in the
dead of winter, you’d probably call the police.

But in Finland, where we grew up, it’s very normal to leave your bub outside, tucked up and sleeping in the freezing air while you pop into a cafe with a friend.

In fact, our mums said we slept best out in the elements, tucked up soundly and wearing warm winter clothing. It sounds strange to all our Aussie friends but Finland is one of the world’s safest countries and Nordic culture celebrates fresh air above all else.

There’s even a word for it, ‘friluftsliv’, which from Norwegian translates literally to ‘open-air living’. This Nordic word is baked into life in Finland.

A recent study found 96 per cent of Finnish people spend regular time outdoors every day, and that goes for kids too! All children are expected to spend a lot of time outside. No matter how mad, bad or freezing cold it is. There’s a common saying for this back home that everyone’s parents loved to use: “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just unsuitable clothing”.

Trust us, we hated that saying when we were walking to school in the snow -remember, this is a country where in winter the average temperature is ‘freezing’ and the shortest days only last about six hours - but they were right. In Nordic countries, kitted out in the correct clothes for the season like the Emya Nordic coverall, kids walk to school, play outside and go to the park all year round.

We also don’t typically start school until age seven, and during formative, early education the focus is on play and the outdoors. Finnish preschools encourage children to explore and discover the world on their own, and much of it happens outside the four walls of a classroom. We learnt all about the different seasons by jumping in and out of huge piles of raked leaves during the autumn, picking berries in the summer and skiing cross country in the winter on tiny, kid-friendly skis (yes, they really are as cute as you’re imagining).

Emya Nordic kids jumping in and out of piles of raked leaves during autumn in their outdoor onesies

Playdates were on our street with a soccer ball, or at the local park. Rarely, if ever, did we go to other kids’ houses and play dolls inside.

Even big kid schools love fresh air - Nordic schools schedule 15-minute outdoor recesses every hour so the kids can get some of that sweet, sweet oxygen. We know you’re probably thinking it borders on an obsession, but it really works!

Take it from the experts - for six years in a row Finland has ranked number one in the World Happiness Report, and Finnish education is regarded as the best in the world. We believe that it all starts with those babies, having their afternoon naps outside in the pram, and really, it starts with the right clothing.

In fleece-lined and water-resistant winter gear, we could stay out skiing or building snow forts for hours, and in the autumn our coveralls would keep us warm and dry while we dove in and out of those piles of fallen leaves. Growing up, our clothes gave us the freedom to do what we did best - explore, adventure and just be kids.

We hope they do the same for your little ones.

x Terhi & Leena

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