Jessica Rowe's picture of a baby sleeping outside a cafe sparks a furore.

Jessica Rowe has sparked a debate on parenting methods after posting a picture of a baby sleeping snugly in a pram left outside a café.

 The Studio 10 host, who is holidaying in Iceland with her own mum, snapped a pic of another mother’s baby and posted it to social media.
The image of a basically unseen baby sleeping soundly in a pram outside a café was accompanied by the text:

“For a helicopter parent like me – this makes me break out into a sweat! But all over Reykjavik families leave their babies outside cafes, shops etc… I’m told ‘fresh air is good for them.”

Rowe is referring to the Scandinavian tradition of leaving your babies outside in the cold to sleep (wrapped up warm in a pram of course).

In a report on the parenting technique the BBC explained even while daytime temperatures in Stockholm regularly drop to -5C (23F) “it’s still common to see children left outside by their parents for a sleep in the pram. Wander through the snowy city and you’ll see buggies lined up outside coffee shops while parents sip on lattes inside.”

A poll in Norway showed 84 per cent of parents surveyed let their babies sleep outdoors – outside a café.

But for an Aussie girl used to well, as Rowe puts it – “hovering” – the sight was a bit of a shock.

In 2013 Rowe, in her usual candid way, came out as a helicopter mum.


 Jessica Rowe says she is proud to be a helicopter mum. Image via Ten.

“I've had enough of the guilt-mongering. I'm a hoverer and I'm proud of it,” she told Sunday Life.

“I am a helicopter parent. I hover close to my girls. It's not as if I've chosen to be this type of parent, for to do anything else is not in my genetic make-up. I used to turn my newborn daughter's baby monitor up to full volume just to make sure I didn't miss a sound she made – even if the noise of trucks passing outside caused much more static and disruption to my sleep than she ever did.”  

To see a baby that seemed, well, totally unattended - of course that went against every stand-right-there-holding-your-hand-even-when-you-don’t-want-me-to instinct the mother of two had.

It would make any Aussie mum look twice wouldn't it?


Her post sparked much debate on social media with many agreeing.

One woman wrote:  “Odd dangerous -really dopey parenting-just ask Madeline McCanns parents - bloody fools.”

Another said: “I know that it is part of their custom, but would you leave your wallet unattended, so why a baby?”

And: “There a differences between fresh air and freezing cold. I wouldn't do it.”

Jessica Rowe speaks about her battle with post natal depression. Post continues after video.

But others said it was just the way in Iceland: “That's how Icelanders have been doing it since...let me think: always. And yes, it may be unusual for most tourists but while I lived in Iceland it was also pretty normal to let your car run and leave your bag on your chair in a café.”

Another: “You're too paranoid :) My daughter sleeps in a stroller outside every day :)"

Babies are always left outside to sleep in Iceland.  Image via iStock.

A local explained: “Parents also usually sit inside where they can see the baby, because of course they also have to notice when it wakes up. So I wouldn't exactly say that they are there unattended. As you can see there, people can see, the carrier is visible to everybody sitting in the seats next to the windows.”

Some passionate Icelanders even went as far to tell her where to go: “Seriously! Who are you to tell us off? We don't kidnap, rape and murder children like your countrymen do. And we don't need tourists like you who don't respect our great clean and relatively crime less society. I for one have had enough of tourists who use our pools without washing themselves, defecate anywhere but in a toilet, pitch a tent on a road or in a park, throw trash wherever and trample our nature without any respect.”

Rowe, perhaps still stinging after the ferocious nature of the previous post, was then taken aback when a woman claiming to be the mother of the baby took to her Instagram - arguing the baby was under supervision.

She said: “You really can't go travel to another country, be surprised of their habits and take pictures and POST them without my permission. Do not disrespect the upbringing of my own baby because I am raised with these habits and rules, it's Iceland. On the last note I have work at The Laundromat Café for four years and the whole staff checks on the baby with me. You have to be careful to criticise an others countries [sic] habits so harshly without knowing anything about them. Have a nice day though.”

The beautiful town of Vik in Iceland. Via IStock.

Rowe, who was in transit while furore erupted quickly took to Instagram to apologise and explain her actions.

“Wow- have just arrived in transit on my way home to Oz to discover a flurry of discussion! I was in no way criticising you," said Rowe.

"And I'm sorry if you thought I was judging you." she continued.

"The pic I took was meant to be an observation of a tradition which a number of locals had explained to me. And again apologies if it offended you in any way. If you would prefer I can delete the pic from my Instagram. I had a wonderful time in Iceland.”

As yet she hasn’t heard back. Perhaps when she does she can inform the Icelandic mum of some of our rather bizarre Aussie parenting techniques.

Got any ideas for her?

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