A Chinese mother has watched her three-month-old baby dying of suffocation through a monitor after following an online course to train the infant to sleep face down.
The parent was reportedly trying to guide her child to fall sleep on its stomach, a technique recommended by a consultancy to new parents as ‘a tool to calm babies’.
The worried mother shared CCTV footage of her crying infant and begged for help on a chatting group created by the training service. Other members in the group allegedly advised her not to intervene, leading the baby to suffocate.
The worried mother, who shared CCTV footage of her crying infant while begging for help on a chatting group created by the training service, was allegedly advised not to intervene
The mother, who has not been identified, was left horrified after discovering her dead child two hours later when she came into the room to feed the baby, Chinese media report.
The Shanghai-based parenting platform responded by saying that the baby’s death was not caused by the sleeping position.
Authorities said that the childcare company has been under investigation and stopped operating following the incident.
The first-time mother from the southern Chinese city Shantou was reportedly training her child, believed to be a girl, to nap on her stomach in the afternoon of April 16.
She had been following parenting advice given by a fee-paying online consultancy ‘Amy Babycare’, according to the press.
The Chinese mother, who watched her baby dying while sleeping face down, had been following parenting advice given by a fee-paying online consultancy ‘Amy Babycare’. The picture shows an advertising image for the parenting service
The service has advocated for teaching infants ‘independent sleeping’ with face-down postures to ‘calm babies down while falling asleep’.
Despite available scientific evidence linking face-down sleeping with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or cot death, the Chinese parenting platform claims it ‘makes babies feel safer’ and ‘helps with digestion’.
Subscribers were charged up to 6,999 yuan (£798) for the online course and access to its chatting groups with assigned ‘guidance teachers’, according to reports.
WHAT IS COT DEATH AND HOW CAN IT BE PREVENTED?
Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), or cot death, is the sudden, unexpected and unexplained death of an apparently healthy baby.
SIDS kills around 2,500 babies in the US and just under 300 in the UK every year.
It usually occurs within the first six months of an infant’s life and is more common in those born prematurely or of a low birth weight.
The cause of SIDS is unknown, however, it is associated with tobacco smoke, tangled bedding, co-sleeping with parents and breathing obstructions.
Prevent the risk by:
- Placing sleeping babies on their backs
- Keeping babies’ heads uncovered
- Sleeping in the same room as babies for the first six months of their lives
- Using a firm, flat, waterproof mattress in babies’ cribs
- Breastfeeding, if possible
- Smoke during pregnancy or in the same room as a baby
- Sleep on a bed or chair with an infant
- Allow babies to get too hot or cold. Temperatures between 16 and 20C should be comfortable
Source: NHS Choices
Screenshots emerged on social media allegedly show the unnamed parent begging for help on the WeChat messaging group after she saw the baby crying through a monitor.
The concerned mother wrote: ‘My baby just went to sleep but she suddenly turned around.
‘Heard the crying. Do I need to go help her flip over?
‘I’m standing by the door. I’m so worried that she would suffocate.’
The parent then shared CCTV footage with the group and wrote: ‘Please take a look [at the video]. My usual guidance teacher isn’t answering.’
A baby is pictured holding a protective face mask while sitting in a baby carriage in Beijing
Other members allegedly responded by reassuring her that the crying was normal and a part of the process of training the child to sleep independently.
One of the parents from the group wrote: ‘It’s not a big deal. Why [are you] anxious?’
Another one said: ‘My teacher said not to intervene if it’s not crying loudly, haha.’
The mother reportedly did not go into the room to check on the child following the advice from the group.
About two hours later, the distressed parent revealed to other members that the baby had died. ‘I killed my daughter,’ she messaged.
The ‘Amy Babycare’ was founded in 2017 by a mother, known by her social media handle ‘Cheese Wonton’, as an online platform offering childcare courses and advice for new parents.
The file picture shows a newborn baby lying on a bed in a hospital in Huabei, Anhui Province
The founder claimed that she had been studying in the US since the age of 14 with multiple qualifications in child and infant care.
The training service said in a statement on Sunday that the baby’s death ‘was not directly caused by sleeping face down’.
They also claimed that they stopped providing services to the mother at the end of March, more than two weeks before the incident happened.
‘Since the company was founded, we have always followed the rule of prioritising safety first,’ the statement read.
‘We have strictly forbidden parents from putting the babies face down, especially if no one is watching.
‘Babies would turn around and face down on their own after falling asleep,’ the online platform asserted.
The company has stopped operating and been investigated by Shanghai authorities, Chinese media report.
What is the best sleeping position for your baby?
Health experts have suggested parents to their baby to sleep on their back, unless doctors have said otherwise based on medical reasons.
The position of sleeping on the back is one of the best ways to make sure that babies drift off as safely as possible.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that healthy infants should be placed on their backs for sleep, as this is the safest position for an infant to sleep.
The US institution says that putting a baby to sleep on their back decreases the chance of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), which is responsible for more infant deaths in the United States than any other cause during the first year of life (beyond the newborn period).
The National Childbirth Trust in the UK says that until 1991, parents were given the advise of putting babies on their tummies.
But newer research shows that the chance of SIDS is much higher when a baby is placed on their front to sleep , according to the British charity.