Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tip 3 for visiting Copenhagen - don't look in the prams!

Every culture has its curious habits that leave others thinking, "I can't believe they do that!"

Coming from a country where our former Prime Minister was actively trying to promote 'a bigger Australia', the number of prams being pushed around Copenhagen streets was confronting. The pram population is particularly noticeable at prime eating times where one can see rows of prams parked outside cafes and restaurants.

At first I never really thought anything of it.  This was until I began to notice that although there were prams outside the restaurant, there were no babies inside the restaurant. Looking more carefully, lined up along side the glasses of wine, coffee and cocktails were baby monitors.

Rain, hail, snow or shine, the Danes will leave their babies outside in the pram. There is a strong belief in this country that babies require daily 'airing' and the colder the better. Most people's first reaction is 'aren't they afraid of someone taking the baby?' Apparently not - in the last 30 years only three children have been kidnapped. One has tragically never been found and the other two were taken 'accidentally' as a by-product of their more common crime - bikenapping. That's right the Danes don't just leave their babies in prams, they also transport them in trailers on their bikes and then leave those outside too.

I do wonder if there is method in their madness. I have to say that Danish children are amongst the best behaved and most independent children I have ever seen. I have not witnessed a tantrum, clingyness, demands or anything of the kind. Children as young as six will be responsible for getting themselves home, whether this is by bike, train or walking and they do so without causing any disturbance or disruption to fellow commuters.

If we weren't faced with the possibility of being arrested for child abandonment, maybe more people could do parenting Viking-style?

Interesting article New York Times - Let it snow, and put out the baby A Danish woman was arrested in New York for for leaving her baby outside, she is now suing over her arrest based on it being a cultural and parenting norm in Denmark.


  1. I love this post! Would you mind if I linked back to this post from my blog??

  2. wow i LOVE reading about other cultures especially how they raise kids! So interesting! I read an article the other about how in japan they have 3-year-old preschool 6 days a week from 7-7pm! The kids help cook all the cool!

  3. I am a Dane living in Norway - it is common practise to let the babies nap outside in all kinds of weather here too. The kids also walk or cycle to and from school.