I am a pack rat. I save everything. I have boxes and boxes of old assignments, knick-knacks, pens, toys, whatever, etc., etc.
Pack rats are not welcome in the typical Danish household.
So imagine my surprise when I discovered the Danish pram or baby carriage.
They are huge, heavy and bulky. I just can't picture them in the bare Danish home. The wheels are quite big, they are difficult to manoeuver and they take up a lot of space.
|Prams outside in Copenhagen. Author of photo: Den Nation.|
Actually, people just leave them outside in their building's courtyard all night. If someone did that in France it would get stolen sooner or later.
So why do Danes like them so much?
I have not seen too many pram models that deviate from this vintage style. It seems like time has stood still here Denmark on this front. And it has. Danes love the traditional pram. I quite like the look of it as well. Almost all Danes slept in a pram like this when they were a baby, so when a Dane has a baby it's almost a given that they will sleep in a pram just like their parents before them.
They are very roomy and comfortable. It's true, I have to admit, it looks so comfy that I'd like to sleep in one too! They are so big that parents can use their pram until the child is 2 years old. They also retain heat very well. For a child, it's the next closest thing to their bed as the child can actually lay down flat. I have never seen a parent carry their baby in a sling or a carrier.
The thing that really throws me for a loop is the way Danish parents just leave their children outside alone in their pram. In the above photo, there is a baby sleeping in the pram with the green cloth. The baby's parents were enjoying brunch in the café while their baby slept soundly outside.
This goes against everything I know. You can't leave a baby alone outside!
But Denmark is safe. Child abductors, what's that? If there was a problem with child abduction, I'm sure the babies wouldn't be alone outside anymore. I've even seen babies sleep in big fields or parks, alone. And they sleep with a monitor so the parent can hear them crying in the café or wherever they are.
|Babies waiting for their parents in front of the pharmacy. Author of photo: Den Nation.|
My husband lived in Denmark during his adolescence. He'll never forget the day when, shortly after having arrived in Denmark, his mother rushed into their flat with her cheeks flushed and beads of sweat on her forehead. "There's an abandoned baby sleeping downstairs in a pram!" she cried, "let's call the police!" Imagine if she had called the police... you probably could have heard them laughing from a mile away. As she was frantically pacing her flat, the neighbour was on her balcony next door. She saw my mother-in-law pointing out the pram to my husband and told her flat-out that it was indeed her baby and that the baby was just getting a bit of fresh air, nothing to be worried about.
|I love the coffee cup holder! Author of photo: Den Nation.|
I had dinner tonight with two Frenchmen, one Danish man, a Belgian lady and a Swedish man. The Belgian lady explained that at first she thought it was crazy the way things are here with the prams, but that once she had children she understood the utility of the Danish pram. My Swiss friend here says the same thing, at first she was horrified, but now she totally swears by it! Anyway, the Swedish man explained that in Sweden there are some primary schools where the children are outside most of the day. We compared the French/Belgian and the Danish/Swedish school systems and one major difference emerged. In Denmark/Sweden children are free to roam around and do as they please (within reason). They are encouraged to discover things on their own. The pupils call their teachers by their first names. The French/Belgian (French Belgian) system is totally different. Everything is structured and formal, nobody can deviate from the programme. So these Swedish children spend their days outdoors participating in activities under the guidance of their teacher. And yes, they even nap outdoors!
What do you think about the Danish pram? Does it suprise you as well?