Did you know that Danish babies cry less than other babies around the world? It's true! Additionally, the global study - published in the Journal of Pediatrics - that found this out also concluded that Danish babies have the lowest rate of colic! But how? It all comes down to a focus on consistency, simplicity, and a large amount of hygge.
You may be familiar with the Danish concept of hygge already, but don't worry if you're not. Defined as 'cozy togetherness' - the hygge lifestyle involves fostering warmth, creating a calm, gentle atmosphere, and relishing all the good things in life such as time spent with family and friends. These things are great for the well being of children and adults alike.
If this sounds appealing to you - it does to me! - then you're in luck. This article will dive into the Danish way of helping babies through their early years, so you and your little one can achieve calm and stress-free bedtimes!
In this article:
The hygge life - Danish parenting tips
When it comes to parenting style, the Danish put consistency, simplicity, and hygge first - and to great effect! As we mentioned earlier, it was found that compared to babies worldwide, Danish children cry less, and have a lower rate of colic.
Before we get into the tips, here's a quote from Mama Miri of DanishMom.com on the ideas behind the Danish way of parenting:
"Danish parenting takes an authentic, respectful and empathetic approach to parenting.
Based on research, Danish parenting provides strategies for a range of developmental periods. The idea behind Danish parenting is to establish a relationship between parents and children that involves caring and teaching.
Connection is the only reason kids freely give up what they want to do and do what we want instead. When we strengthen our connection with our children, parenting become easier as we become allies rather than adversaries."
With that being said, let's get into some Danish parenting tips!
Letting children play on their own, under supervision but not having their activities controlled, allows them to figure out their interests in their own time. Not only that, independent play also increases their confidence and self esteem as they do things by themselves.
Creative and imaginative play helps your little one's brain develop and also helps their confidence. Outdoor play is full of possibilities for discovery as well as socialisation!
Help children learn empathy
Teaching children to show compassion and respect towards others is extremely important to parents in Denmark. Kids even have empathy lessons at school!
One way Danish parents teach their children to understand others is by talking with them about facial expressions. Showing them pictures of people experiencing a range of emotions and talking through what they might be feeling, and why they might be feeling it, can be very useful!
Be honest and authentic
Danish parents consider it important to be honest about good and bad, to encourage children to have security in their own emotions and feelings. When it comes to giving children praise, they prefer to focus on the effort and journey it took to achieve something, rather than the achievement itself.
Additionally, they believe it to be more helpful to work through your child's feelings with them if they fail to do something, as opposed to piling on praise anyway to make them feel better. Talking things through and encouraging them to try again differently is a healthy way of dealing with difficulty and failure!
Remember to be honest about your own feelings as well! Your little one can tell if you're upset or scared, so don't sugar-coat your feelings - telling the truth helps them understand, and encourages them to trust you.
Avoid giving children ultimatums
Giving ultimatums and trying to control children angrily is a big no to for Danish parents. They believe that instead of using a child's fear of consequences to enforce rules and good behaviour, rules should be set respectfully and with mutual trust. This can help children feel respected, and encourage them to respect and trust you!
When it comes to dealing with bad behaviour and rule breaking, remain calm and composed. A broken rule can be a learning experience, as it's a chance for you to give guidance and foster deeper respect, trust, and understanding! Don't respond to their tantrums with a tantrum of your own - if you remain calm, they'll calm down as well.
Reframe the negative
Reframing is all about taking negative situations, and trying to look at them from a different, more positive perspective. If your little one is struggling with something, don't focus on the struggle, encourage them and tell them how well they're doing, and that they'll get there in the end. Talk through any complaints or issues and try to find and focus on any positive details as opposed to negative ones.
If they're acting out, don't just tell them they're being bad or naughty, instead, tell them about the effects of their actions in a way they'll understand. If you focus on how they're being a troublemaker, they might just resign themselves to that label! It's all about reframing negative situations into learning experiences to help build confidence, understanding, and empathy.
Practice hyggePracticing hygge - cozy togetherness - is as easy as taking some time out of the day to come together as a family. What you do is up to you, but many families will play games together, or organize activities such as scavenger hunts, picnics, and arts and crafts. Anything that helps create a warm, cozy atmosphere can be part of a hygge life, and can increase well being.
How to practice hygge
When it comes to caring for a baby, room for hygge can be found in so many different places! Bath time can be a fantastic time to practice hygge, as it is a moment where all your attention can be on you and your baby's time together. Baby massages are great for this as well!
Jessica Joelle Alexander, Danish parenting expert and mother, also recommends creating a 'permanent feeding space' somewhere in your home. Regardless of whether you breast feed or bottle feed your little one, feeding is a good time for practicing hygge. For extra warmth and coziness, create and decorate your space with soft furnishings and bedroom decor (such as some nice throw pillows), as well as soft lighting to help you relax. Take some time to appreciate the moment you're spending together!
Create a hygge bedtime routine
A relaxing bedtime routine is another brilliant way of practicing hygge with your baby. Consistent routines are calming as they add some stability to a baby's life, which can also help reduce feelings of separation anxiety, all of which can help them sleep through the night. Here's an idea of what a hygge bedtime routine could look like:
Start with a bath - as we mentioned earlier, this is a great time for practicing hygge. Play some gentle music and even light some candles (as long as they're far away from baby!) to really start to create a relaxing atmosphere!
Change them into a fresh diaper and some cozy sleepwear. Why not try our Zen Sack™ Classic - it's perfect for helping your baby self-soothe, and is gently weighted to mimic your touch, letting them get to sleep quicker, and stay asleep through the night. This all adds to the feelings of safe, comfy coziness!
As you put them to bed, make sure the lights are dim for an extra calm atmosphere. You could even use some soft fairy lights in their nursery, but make sure they're out of reach of your baby!
Read them a bedtime story - a perfect hygge activity to help them relax - and kiss them goodnight before singing them softly to sleep.
Once they're asleep, quietly and calmly make your exit!
The Danish have proved that embracing hygge and aiming to foster a warm, cozy atmosphere where everyone feels calm, safe, and loved really can increase the well being of your whole family. A baby who feels peaceful and secure is a baby who will have much less difficulty sleeping through the night, which results in a much happier, and much more well-rested household!