Norwegians’ habit of letting their babies nap outdoors in their carriages was being questioned once again this week, after a fox was found inside a carriage and had clawed a baby’s face. Hunters reported Friday that they think they found and shot the fox, while debate flew over babies being left out in the cold.
“I hope this incident won’t make folks afraid to let their children sleep outdoors,” Nina Sørensen told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). She’s in charge of day care centers in the northern city of Alta and defends the practice, which has shocked many foreigners in Norway for years.
Now many Norwegians are having second thoughts as well, after a 10-month-old boy named Sander was clawed by a fox while he napped on New Year’s Day on the porch of his parents’ home in Alta. Sander was bundled up, but his face was exposed.
His parents grew concerned when they heard some stange noises on the “baby call” box they’d left in the baby carriage in case Sander began to cry. When they went out to check on him, his father Bjørn Angell found a fox that appeared ill and aggressive in his son’s carriage, with its snout up against little Sander’s left cheek.
Treated and released
Angell yelled and threw a flower pot at the fox, which ultimately ran off. Sander was taken immediately to a local emergency clinic where he was treated for numerous scratches and a possible bite, and vaccinated against rabies. He was reported to be smiling again and recovering well on Friday.
While Norway is believed to be free of rabies, a hunt was launched to track down the fox for testing. On Friday a team of hunters hired in by local authorities localized what they believe to be the errant fox, and shot it.
“It came from the same area and same den we had observed earlier,” Harald Mikkelsen, who led the hunt, told NRK. It also was missing some its tail and fur, like the one chased off by Sander’s father. That can be a sign of scabies or rabies, according to May-Tove Iversen of the state agency in charge of food and animals in Norway, Mattilsynet. She said the Finnmark division would examine the dead fox and conduct tests.
Fresh air advocates
Social media in Norway, meanwhile, was full of comments and concerns over whether it’s wise to let babies sleep outdoors in their carriages. Advocates claim the fresh air is good for them, also on cold winter days, and that the babies sleep better outdoors than indoors.
“All our city-run day care centers have areas outdoors where the baby carriages can stand outdoors,” Sørensen of Alta’s local administration told NRK. She said many parents want their children to nap outdoors.
“We know that folks father south and in other countries can react negatively to that, but it’s completely common practice here,” Sørensen said. “I also think it’s good for the little ones to be outdoors.”
The Angell family isn’t so sure any longer. Asked whether they’ll allow Sander to sleep outdoors again, his father Bjørn said “no, that’s not going to happen.”
See NRK’s coverage and photos here (external link, in Norwegian).