The New Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office on Tuesday decided against charging the father of a one-month-old baby who suffocated late last month.
Prosecutors said that the baby had been sleeping in a “Finnish” baby box, but instead of a firm mattress, the parents had used soft blankets, with the father, surnamed Tsai (蔡), leaving the baby sleeping face down after feeding him on Feb. 25.
For more than 70 years, expectant mothers in Finland have been given a baby box by the government containing a mattress, clothes, blankets and other necessities, with the box being used as the baby’s first bed. Credited with helping Finland achieve one of the world’s lowest infant mortality rates, the baby box has also become popular in other countries.
Prosecutors said that Tsai had fed the baby at about 3am and left him to sleep. When he woke up at about 7am, he found that his son was no longer breathing. The parents rushed the baby to hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
They said the baby was left sleeping in a room on his own, which they said was a mistake.
The father said he and his wife had been following parenting advice from a book by a pediatrician Leila Denmark, who recommends letting babies sleep in their own bed in their own room, and not to pick them up every time they cry so they would learn to be independent.
Considering that the parents had admitted their mistakes, were grief-stricken over the incident and the wife did not want to sue her husband, prosecutors decided against filing charges.
A sales manager of a baby box company said it was important for parents to use the right mattress.
“A fixed mattress will not move if the infant moves or twists their body while lying in the box. When you use a blanket as a mattress, it can get twisted and cover an infant’s mouth or nose.”
Cathay General Hospital pediatrician Lo Chiao-wei (羅巧微) said parents should “put their baby to sleep in their own bed,” but not in a separate room where the parents cannot see the baby.