SINGAPORE: A six-month-old baby who was found face down and motionless in a nanny’s home had been left alone in a room for three hours, a coroner’s court heard on Monday (Mar 27).
The inquiry into baby Yong Jing Yu’s death opened on Monday. The child’s parents, Mr Yong Chen Seng and Madam Toh Jinq Lay, attended the hearing and asked questions about what happened. The nanny was not named in the hearing.
According to the testimony of the investigation officer on the case, the nanny had fed the baby and put him to bed inside a playpen at her home at about 3pm on Dec 28, 2021.
At about 6.20pm, she wanted to shower the baby but found him in a prone position, face down on the mattress in a corner of the playpen.
When she carried him up, she realised that his face was blue and he was unresponsive. She asked her son to call for an ambulance, and was guided by the operator on the call to conduct cardiopulmonary resuscitation on the baby until paramedics arrived.
Of the three paramedics who arrived at the scene, two of them found that the baby was already cold, but the third felt there was some warmth, so the baby was taken to Sengkang General Hospital.
He was pronounced dead that night.
The cause of death is unascertained. Initially, a cause of death was given as cardiorespiratory failure, but the forensic pathologist explained that this was a “placeholder” pending further investigations.
Jing Yu’s parents asked multiple questions when the investigation officer was on the stand.
The nanny had stepped out of her home, leaving two babies in the living room and Jing Yu in another room. Mdm Toh asked who was looking after the babies when the nanny was not home.
The investigation officer said the nanny thought that she was going out for “a while” and assumed that her 13-year-old son would take care of them.
The officer added that there was no evidence that the nanny’s son left his room to check on any of the babies.
According to Mdm Toh, she passed her son to the care of the nanny when he was three months old.
She said the nanny had a habit of wrapping her son in a swaddle and letting him sleep face down. She wanted to know if that was how the baby slept on the day of his death, but the investigation officer said he could not confirm this.
Based on what the nanny said, when she went to pick the baby up, he was in a face down position, he added.
The coroner asked Mdm Toh if she had ever seen her son sleeping face down while swaddled in the nanny’s home. She said the nanny had shown them a photo.
“The nanny said she would use such a position to let babies sleep,” said Mdm Toh via a Mandarin interpreter. “I thought since she had a child of her own and would have more experience, I followed her.”
She added that Jing Yu was able to turn on his own at the time of his death, but that the playpen was “rather soft” and would “sink down”.
The court heard that Jing Yu was not sleeping on his usual mattress on the day of his death.
Mdm Toh also flagged that her son would usually sleep for only about an hour when he was with his parents during the weekends.
However, the nanny told the police that the child would sleep for three to four hours. Her evidence was that she put the child down at about 3pm that day and returned at about 6pm.
She said she did not enter the room as the baby usually slept for three to four hours. The investigation officer confirmed that no one checked on the baby between 3pm and 6pm that day.
The court also heard that the nanny suspected Jing Yu had asthma, as she and her son suffered from it. She allegedly fed the baby 1ml of Zemmolin on Dec 26, 2021, without the parents’ consent.
State Coroner Adam Nakhoda directed the investigation officer to take a further statement from the nanny on several matters.
These include whether she put the baby to sleep in a face down position while swaddled and whether the baby’s head was in the same position when he was found, compared with when he was first put down.
Findings will be provided at a later date.