We’re deep in the throes of winter, and between the cold temperatures and the long, dark nights, nothing sounds better than cozy time with the family.
If you have never heard it, hygge (pronounced hooga) is a tough-to-define Danish concept that means (roughly):
- Coziness and contentedness;
- Presence in the moment;
- Having a mindset of wellbeing, appreciation, and relaxation; and
Hygge is an important component of Danish culture and lifestyle, and it’s just as much psychological as it is physical — as natives describe it, hygge is both a physical feeling as well as a state of mind. On the physical side, it’s about feeling homey, snug, cozy, and together with loved ones; on the psychological side, it’s about clarity, gratitude, presence, and peace.
Sounds easy, right?
Hygge is a beautiful concept, but it does demand some effort — more than anything, it’s about carving out time and space to experience it and make it a habit. As parents with young children, we actually have so many opportunities to build hygge into our lives — but it may require some amount of reframing. Much of the hygge experience is about being in the moment, appreciating quality time, and finding physical comfort; and we’ve rounded up some of the best ways to bring hygge into your home this winter.
Read on for inspiration on finding hygge with your baby — we’ve got simple tips on getting into the hygge mindset; creating a cozy atmosphere; and finding connection with your family, plus some perfect activities for building hygge into your family’s lifestyle.
The Hygge Mindset:
Getting into the hygge state of mind is about consciously making the choice to leave stress, negativity, and distraction at the door. With the frenetic pace of modern life, this is SO HARD — but if you can, start small. Aim for ten minutes (or five), and really try to set your worries away. For me, this means putting my phone *away and literally being somewhere where I can’t see our family calendar.
One of the most central aspects of hygge is being present in the moment, so try to do whatever you can to let everything else go and simply be where you are, without any particular agenda. The aim is to notice and appreciate the small joys and pleasures in life.
The Hygge Atmosphere:
In American cultural media, the word and concept of hygge has become almost synonymous with “cozy” — and while this isn’t all there is to hygge, it is super important! One way to approach *really getting cozy is to think about all of your senses and try to create an atmosphere that’s pleasing and calming to all of them.
Here are our top tips for creating a cozy, comfortable atmosphere to enjoy:
- Pick a space that doesn’t make you anxious (i.e., maybe not your home office, or the cluttered playroom you’ve been meaning to clean for weeks…)
- Use blankets
- Use candles (you can opt for battery-powered candles if you have concerns about a flame) or other whimsical/dim lighting (such as twinkle lights)
- Choose a comfortable starting spot (such as the couch, a cozy chair, a bed, etc.)
- Play quiet, soft music
- Incorporate seasonal or relaxing scents (candles, diffusers, something baking in the oven, etc.)
- Opt for comfortable clothing, such as pajamas, loungewear, slippers, etc.
The Hygge Connection:
Hygge is also about togetherness, and as parents this is truly a beautiful habit to cultivate (especially with young children, because we can continue to grow it along with them). The Danish way of life really values the importance of connecting with others: it gives us purpose, boosts oxytocin levels and therefore happiness; and provides a unique kind of joy and centeredness.
Probably the best advice I’ve received about building connectedness is to incorporate physical touch into hygge time (snuggling, hugs, etc.) and to really embrace that closeness with young children.
I love one parent’s notion of seeing hygge as a “temporary shelter” from the chaos, stress, and drama of everyday life.
Hygge Activities for Families
If you are the parent of a baby or toddler, you may have more “together time” than you want (hah!), but the good news is that there are SO many opportunities to “find hygge” in the day-to-day. The key is to make a conscious effort to “hygge” some of what we’re already doing regularly (maybe even daily) with our children — at first it may take more focus and effort to reframe certain moments or engage with the hygge mindset of mindfulness and appreciation, but as with all things it becomes easier over time and eventually brings such a sense of peace and togetherness to our homes.
Here are six of our favorite ways to hygge with your baby or toddler:
1. Cooking & Eating Together
Welcoming a young child into the kitchen to “help” can sometimes be time-consuming, messy, and stressful — but setting aside some time to prepare even a simple comforting snack or warm drink, without expectations, is a beautiful way to hygge with your child.
Again, it’s all about the outlook: opt to do this at a time when you’re not stressed — I love after-daycare snack time and weekend mornings, for example, over weeknight dinners, which inevitably feel crunched.
Amara organic baby food is the perfect nutritious way to hygge in the kitchen with your child — babies love watching the easy prep, it’s like magic to them! Just empty one pouch of Amara organic baby food into a bowl and invite your baby to look on as you add water, breastmilk, or formula, and stir: the resulting puree is packed with nutrients, organic texture, bright color, and flavor.
For toddlers, follow along with any of our simple, low-ingredient recipes for a fun kitchen project that results in a healthy, delicious meal or snack. My kids especially love to make these chewy ancient grains cookies and these oats n’ berries pancakes. Seriously, having a no-frills, no-fuss recipe really sets the stage for getting into the hygge zone with your little one in the kitchen.
2. Reading Together
Reading to your child — something many of us are already doing most days — is a fantastic way to bring hygge into your routine. To really “make it hygge,” make sure to be deliberate about snuggling up, getting cozy, and appreciating the togetherness of that time.
3. Make a Cozy Corner Together
This is such an easy activity that kids universally LOVE — try setting aside a few minutes to create a cozy space you can enjoy with your child. You can use blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, and all the “physical space” accouterments discussed above to enhance the cozy piece! (We love inviting our pets to snuggle, too.)
4. Enjoy Bath Time Together
Bath time has all the components of a good hygge experience: warm water, physical touch and care, togetherness… all we have to do is set the stage. Before your child’s next bath, consider approaching it as an opportunity for hygge: put on some music, dim the lights, leave your phone outside the door, try not to rush, and really be present with your child.
5. Look at Pictures Together
Looking at pictures (and/or videos) with your child is a wonderful way to connect with them and get your hygge on — make sure to pick a cozy spot and get situated… we’re not talking about using pictures as a quick distraction in a moment of stress or desperation, this is really about deciding to make an activity of it and enjoy shared memories together.
6. Snuggle with Some Sensory Toys
Sensory (or fidget) toys are a fun way to engage with your child in a calming, undirected way. As with every other activity here, make sure you carve out the time and space to really bring the hygge mentality to it!
I’m guessing that I am not the only parent out there who LOVES the idea of hygge but finds it (more than) occasionally tough to bring to life… but the thing about hygge is that a little bit can really go a long way. Even finding a few minutes a day to build hygge into your family’s schedule or routine can truly be such a positive addition. The more you do it, the easier it becomes; the practice grows.
And this is another reason why we’re constantly telling parents: take help where you can! Everyday tasks like the laundry, cleaning, and food prep can be enormously time consuming, and don’t think you need to do everything perfectly or by yourself all the time. Amara organic baby food can help: let us take the project of making homemade food for your baby out of your hands. Every one of our products is just as nutritious, flavorful, and unprocessed as homemade food, but it takes mere seconds to prep! You can spend the time you would have spent making baby food purees getting your hygge on, instead. 🙂 SHOP NOW