Danish nursery offers parents time for making babies

Children at a nursery, file picture Denmark's birth rate is among the world's lowest

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A group of nursery workers in central Denmark have made parents an offer that they might find hard to refuse.

They have promised to provide two hours' free childcare on Thursday evening, so that the parents can go to bed and make more babies.

Dorte Nyman of the Grasshoppers kindergarten in North Fyn said a lack of young children meant the future of local nurseries was uncertain.

She expected nearly half of the nursery's families to accept the offer.

"We have 42 children in the kindergarten, and we'll be looking after 20 tonight," she told the BBC.

Not all, though, are likely to use their free time for the intended purpose.

"Lots say: 'We'll bring our children to the party but you won't be getting any more children out of us!'" she said.

'A chance to speak'

Ms Nyman said she would be laying on food and playing music and holding a party for the children.

If any of them ask what the party is for, "we'll tell them it's to give the parents a chance to speak at home", she says.

Six other kindergartens in the area are also offering the same service, for one night only - though Ms Nyman said if their plan was successful, they would be happy to do it all over again.

The nursery workers want to draw attention to the dwindling number of births and to do something about it.

In terms of birth rate, Denmark languishes at 185th out of 221 countries in the world, says the BBC's Malcolm Brabant in Copenhagen.

If the increasingly older population continues to expand, Denmark will not be able to support pensioners and others dependent on state benefits, he says.

Ms Nyman said as well as the low birth rate, nurseries were also facing a cut in their funding from local government.

"Without money we can't look after the children well, and if there aren't enough children, there are not enough jobs for our workers."

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