I’m an avid fan of sleeping babies.  Why?  Because if a baby (particularly mine) is sleeping, I don’t have to feed her, change her, burp her, bathe her, or soothe her.  And I can get all the cuddles I want from her whenever, wherever, and however I want them.  (It’s the less is more squared principle.  I’m doing LESS for her, yet I’m MORE happy and have MORE time to do other things.)

So when I came across an article about the Finns (or is it Finlandians? or Finnishians? or Finlandese? maybe Suomalaiset?) and how their society believes that babies sleep more soundly in subzero temperatures outside, I was interested in testing out the theory.

The article said that Finnish moms and dads would park their strollers (or prams) outside during baby nap time.  Prams would be left in freezing temperatures for up to a couple of hours so that baby would take a good, solid nap and reap some health benefits on the side.  For me, I would love to shackle secure Smush to her stroller on the sidewalk while I went inside the mall to watch a movie, visit the bookstore, or have a nice, quiet, dinner with my wife.  Then a few days hours later, I could return to my child napping away because she exhausted herself by screaming her head off for two straight hours with no one coming to her aid peacefully.  I see no downside so far.

The Finns believe (yes, all of them) that napping outside in the cold weather is good for boosting the baby’s immune system and helps them sleep more soundly, both of which are inherently tied together.  The idea stems from this guy, Arvo Ylppö, a Finnish pediatrician credited with starting the trend sometime in the 1920’s.  Seeing as how he dropped the infant mortality rate significantly during his working tenure, Ylppö probably had a pretty good understanding of public health and how to avoid, prevent, and treat disease.  The general population listened to his suggestions then and they’re still following them now.

Enough of the history lesson, this blog isn’t meant to add cells to your brain.  It’s purpose is to remove them one by one.

I decided to do an experiment.  It’s winter time in San Diego and Smushie sometimes has trouble sleeping in the night.  These two facts were just the right ingredients I needed for my laboratory testing.  The opportunity was here, so why not try to see if she would sleep better outside?  I suppose that if the Finns hold the solution to happily sleeping babies, I want to inject plenty of it into my own two lapset.  That’s Finnish for children.

Yesterday was my first clinical trial.  The temperature in my neighborhood last night was 12 degrees, extremely close to 0 degrees.  (Ok, so I converted it to Celsius for additional dramatic effect.  It’s not quite the same as the freezing temperatures in Helsinki, but it is as brutal a winter we’re going to get in Southern California.)  I bundled up the Smush in her onesie.  Socks on the hands, a hat on her head and a double layer of blankets were sure to keep my baby toasty warm.

Now, I could have left Smush out on the front porch to sleep, but for fear that (A) my wife would leave me (B) my parents would kill me, and (C) I’d spend a few years in the county jail, I decided to take her for a walk instead.  I modified my experiment into a ‘supervised’ cold weather nap.  I took a long stroll around the neighborhood.

Within minutes, the little one was fast asleep.  And she slept for the entire hour walk.  Yes, she opened her eyes occasionally.  But, it wasn’t because she was awake.  She was just giving me that creepy baby stare where she doesn’t blink or flinch a muscle and it feels like her eyes are piercing my head like a laser beam.  (If you’re a parent, you know exactly what I mean.)  Smushie’s eyes were open, but her brain was on a Dreamland vacation.

I thought to myself, there’s got to be something to this whole baby subzero sleeping thing!  Those crazy Finns don’t seem so crazy after all! To take it a step further, I backed up my data by repeating the experiment again and publishing my findings to the blog universe to become the next overnight internet sensation.  With the temperatures below 10 degrees (again, in Celsius for the dramatic effect), Smush was bundled up the same as the previous day, except that her hat had little bunny ears which provided some measure of additional warmth to her head.  I had to wear a long-sleeved shirt along with my shorts.  (I had to dig deep in the closet for my cold weather gear!)

Guess what?  It worked better the second time.  In fact, she napped for a total of 5 hours during and after her chilly evening jaunt.  Some of the napping was inside the house, but the better part of it was under the moon, stars, and alien UFO lightbeams.

So,  the takeaways from the article I read along with my own experiments and observations:

  1. In Finland, they don’t steal babies.
  2. In America, leaving your baby alone outside is called child neglect and is punishable by jail time in Guantanamo.
  3. Finnish babies are born directly onto the snow to acclimate them to freezing temperatures immediately, hence increasing their ability to brave subfreezing temperatures.  (I’m not making this stuff up.  Nope.)

The cold weather experiment brought Smush and I two great nights of sleep in a row!  No, we didn’t have subzero temperatures.  No, we weren’t in Finland.  But I was wearing a heart rate monitor and thinking about the next wife carrying competition (two very Finnish inventions), so at least in my mind, it was like we were practically natives.

I'm Not Kidding, Smush.  The Finlandians do This All the Time!

I’m Not Kidding, Smush. The Finlandians do This All the Time!