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Early years centre introduces new sleeping outdoors initiative

Sleep Hut at Great Wood Farm
Sleep Hut at Great Wood Farm

Children at an early years centre have been taking their afternoon naps outdoors as part of a new initiative that emulates early years practices in Nordic countries.

The Nordic-style practice of leaving babies to sleep outdoors has been introduced for children under two years old, at Great Wood Farm Early Years Centre (EYC), Boothby Pagnell.

Child sleeping in the outdoors sleep hut.
Child sleeping in the outdoors sleep hut.

The initiative echoes the popular Nordic trend of encouraging babies and children to nap outside, despite temperatures often dropping to -5C. It was also common practice in the UK in the 1950s, when most babies slept outside in prams.

Children at the EYC have been snoozing outside in a sleep hut which has been specially constructed with a mosquito net, which can be pulled over the front of the hut to protect the children from insects. Parents can choose for their child to either sleep in a pushchair within the hut, on a deluxe rest cot bed or to remain inside for their nap.

The cot beds are mats which are slightly raised off the ground which ensures the child remains warm and dry and parents can then provide bedding from home so the child can still get their home comfort.

Manager Kate Robinson is pleased with how parents and the children have embraced the new initiative.

She said: “There is a slowly growing trend within early years to develop outdoor sleeping in nurseries, going back to how things use to be with the added balance of health and safety. I have seen this in practice in Sweden, where it is the cultural norm, and I would like to see it more in this country if the environment suits it.

“As we are based on a working farm, we have a strong outdoor ethos, although we have always gone on walks through the woods with babies where they have often fallen asleep. Developing the sleep hut goes that one step further.”

Baby Room Leader, Alex Westell, added: “We are really excited with the new outdoor sleep initiative because it is believed to be of much benefit to children, such as longer sleep both during the day and night and children tend to be less ill when they sleep outside for one nap a day. Our parent and carers views have all been very positive so far.”

Outdoor sleeping is believed to provide a range of benefits for children including exposing them to nature as they fall asleep while experiencing natural stimulation, such as trees swaying or birds flying, which can have a calming effect.

For more information contact 01476 585584 or email office@greatwoodfarm. com


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