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It may have ever happened to you: You give your baby a bottle and he tries to hold it. Sure, you let him. But still, you help him. However, there is a risk, especially if at that moment you notice that fatigue is over you and your eyes are squinting. Do you know what can happen if you fall asleep? Or if you get confused by checking the phone? Or do you just let your baby hold the bottle by himself while you try to (finally) watch some television?
In England, the investigating judge of a recent case has sounded the alarm: 'Mothers of the world, never let the baby hold the bottle alone'. And he says it with knowledge of the facts: he has just worked on a truly tragic case, that of a baby who died of suffocation for this reason. We tell you the case that reminds us of the danger of letting the baby feed only with the bottle. This is the reason why letting the baby only hold the bottle can cause death.
The story is real. In Gainsborough, England, a baby of just four months died for this reason: her godmother, Claire Sawyer (who stayed overnight in her care), let little Alex Masters, only four months old, hold his bottle by himself. She fell asleep on the couch. When he woke up, he saw that the little boy was motionless. Despite calling the ambulance, they could no longer do anything for him. He had choked on milk.
The woman had laid the boy down in a car seat, but inside the home. In this chair, he had less room to move. Claire gave him the bottle and covered him with a blanket. He leaned the bottle against the chair. She lay down on the sofa and could not overcome the dream. All this, which happened in 2015, has come to light again during the celebration of an investigation by Lincoln Cathedral Center Hospital, where they took the child, and where at first an attempt was made to look for evidence of murder by the child's godmother, since the baby also had a broken leg and she was a habitual drug user. However, the prosecution did not proceed due to lack of evidence.
The most relevant of the trial on this case were the warnings issued by the forensic doctor who had to certify that the child had died of asphyxiation: 'Never let a baby feed alone and unsupervised from a bottle', sentenced. The medical examiner was very upset. When doing an autopsy on the child, he certified that there was milk in his lungs.
Soon we tend to see babies more 'smart' than they are for their age. It is true that before their first smiles, their babbling, and the increasingly agile movement of hands and arms, we tend to think that they mature quickly. However, we should never forget how old they are.
We explain why at four months old, the baby is still too young to hold a bottle on its own (even if it wants to):
- He does not yet have psychomotor ability. Yes, you can hold an object, but you cannot control movement over it. For example, you can stop a soft ball with your hand, but you cannot catch it and throw it. And yes, he tries to grasp the objects, but he is not yet able to do so firmly.
- Neck strength is still very weak. Yes, from four months, babies are able to lift their heads if you put them on their stomach, but they still do not have enough strength in the neck and trunk.
- Babies choke easily when feeding. For a baby to choke on milk is quite common. Either with a bottle or with breastfeeding. The important thing is that the baby's feeding is constantly supervised by his parents to react in time and help him. The baby's first reaction will be to cough to remove fluid from the airways. To help you, simply remove the bottle or breast when this happens and lean forward slightly.
- Their airways are small. It's easy for a baby to choke because their airways are still very small, and they can quickly become 'clogged' if choking occurs. Hence, they need constant supervision every time they feed.
- If you spit up milk, you need to sit up. Vomiting can be fatal if the baby is lying down and no one is around to hold him or her. At four months, the baby can still spit up. At that point, it needs to be incorporated.
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