Rachel and Ryne’s twins, Anders and Linnea, were just shy of a year when Anders stopped breathing while napping at daycare. The 11-month-old was left napping in his car seat for two hours with resulted in his death due to positional asphyxia.
Rachel and Ryne, who struggled with infertility for 7 years before welcoming their miracle twins, share their story in the hopes that it reaches other parents and that no family has to endure this tragic outcome.
Anders started to get sleepy in his car seat
The day they lost Anders was no different from most other weekdays. Rachel dropped Anders and Linnea off at daycare before going to work. Linnea was awake on the ride but Anders was starting to get sleepy. When she arrived at the daycare, Rachel carried both car seats with the twins in at the same time, as she always did.
“Every day, we’d give the day care provider the update — how they slept the night before, what they ate. [The kids] were usually out of the car seat.” Ryne told ABC7.
This time Anders remained in his seat, sleepy but still awake.
“Anders looked over at Rachel and Rachel said, ‘Bye buddy,'” Ryne recalled. “He kind of smiled, and she left — with the assumption that he was going to be taken out of his car seat, and he wasn’t.”
‘I think it’s really bad’
While Rachel went to work, Anders remained in his car seat where he drifted to sleep. The daycare providers didn’t remove the young child from the seat but instead, let him nap.
The providers went to check on Anders and realised that the little boy was unresponsive. They immediately called 911 and administered CPR before paramedics arrived and whisked him to the hospital.
At 10:00am, Rachel received a phone call from the police that something that happened to Anders.
“They asked her twice, ‘Are you sitting down?'” Ryne said. “And they said they were coming to pick her up and that Anders was being rushed to the hospital.”
“She said, something had happened to Anders and you need to get to the hospital and I think it’s really bad,'” he said. “I remember her voice. I never heard it like that. She was really worried. It was tough. She thought it was kind of weird, but she knew it was pretty serious, if something like that was happening.”
Tragically, Anders did not survive. An official investigation into the baby’s death found that he died from positional asphyxia. In Anders’ case, the little boy’s head slumped over as he slept, causing his chin to fall to his chest and his airway to be cut off.
This is why children should never be allowed to nap in car seats.
‘We aren’t angry’
Rachel and Ryne knew about the risks of letting young children sleep in their car seats, especially after the seat was unbuckled from the car. However, sadly, the daycare providers did not.
“We heard about this in parenting classes we took before the twins were born,” Rachel tells CafeMom. “The nurses in the NICU also explained the risks to us. We made sure our parents knew not to let them sleep in their car seats. We thought our day care provider knew this.”
The couple is left devastated about losing Anders and understandably so. However, they do not blame the daycare.
“We aren’t angry,” said Rachel. “Losing Anders has made us want to live life loving others well. It’s been easier to not sweat the small stuff and be grateful for the everyday struggles.”
Through their grief, Rachel and Ryne have focused their attention on raising awareness for this common mistake and why children should never nap in car seats.
“When we talked to others after Anders died, people kept saying that they had no idea that it was unsafe to let a baby sleep in a car seat outside of a base,” Rachel said.
“We know it’s not the car seat’s fault — it’s an education issue,” Ryne added to ABC. “The old adage of ‘Don’t wake a sleeping baby’ is so wrong when it’s not safe sleep.”
Rachel and Ryne, who have since welcomed another little boy to their family, hope that their tragic story will help others and inform people about sleep safety and the dangers of letting babies nap in car seats.
“Talking about the facts of what happened is all right,” she shares. “I want people to understand the details. It gets hard when I look at pictures of how happy the twins were together and how happy we all were. We are still finding joy in each day while knowing that Anders is experiencing total joy and peace now.
We prayed a lot that he would get better, that this would all go away. We were praying for a miracle to happen. At the same time, we started to pray that this story would lead to a miracle. Maybe Anders surviving, maybe that wasn’t the miracle. Maybe it was preventing this [from happening] to someone else.”
Let sleeping babies sleep is not always safe
According to Red Nose Australia, babies should always be put to sleep on a firm, flat, safe sleep surface.
“We want to remind families how important it is to take regular breaks when travelling in a car and to always remove your baby from a capsule or car seat when arriving at your destination, even if this means waking your little one,” they wrote on their site.
“That’s because leaving babies in a curved position for a long period of time, as is the case in a car restraint, means your baby’s neck is flexed forward, putting them in a ‘chin to chest’ position. This can block your baby’s airway and lead to an increased risk of SIDS.”