Baby girl suffocated in 8cm gap in bed
In another case, infant boy dies after mum falls asleep during breastfeeding
A baby's cries in the middle of the night woke up her parents who rescued her after finding her trapped in an 8cm gap between the mattress and a padded bed rail.
A few weeks later, seven-month-old Yuri Chua Le En, who slept alone on a full-sized bed in her own room, slipped into the same gap again, this time with tragic consequences.
When her father checked on her at 7am on Jan 15, she was unresponsive.
Paramedics later pronounced her dead in the master bedroom of the Jurong East flat.
Ruling the death an unfortunate misadventure last Friday, State Coroner Kamala Ponnampalam said there was no evidence of foul play, and the cause of death was consistent with suffocation.
Yuri's parents, who were not named in court documents, had let her sleep alone in a separate bedroom since last December to help her transition to the next stage of development.
They were also unwell at the time and did not want to infect her by sharing a room with her.
On Jan 14, her mother breastfed her at 7pm as usual and patted her to sleep. At 11pm, her father checked on her and did not detect anything unusual.
Consultant forensic pathologist Chan Shijia said Yuri's death was likely due to a blockage of the nose and mouth by a surface and noted that a developmentally normal seven-month-old baby can usually roll around on the bed but is unable to crawl or climb effectively.
Coroner Kamala said infants should always be put to sleep on their back as this is the safest sleeping position for them.
She added that they should also sleep in a "well-built crib, free of loose bedding, pillows and toys, which could cause entrapment or suffocation".
SECOND BABY DEATH
In a separate inquiry last week, the state coroner found that Nor Eilshan Emran Muhammad Nor Aszroy, just 15 days old, could have died due to "unintentional suffocation" after his mother nodded off during breastfeeding.
The mother, who lay side-by-side with her son while feeding him, woke up 11/2 hours later to find him unresponsive.
As the cause of Nor Eilshan's death last September was "unascertained", State Coroner Kamala said she was constrained to record an open verdict.
But she said unintentional suffocation is a known hazard of the "side lying" method of breastfeeding, which should be practised only if a third person is present to keep watch.
The mother had declined an offer by KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) to teach her to breastfeed as she could remember how to do it from breastfeeding her firstborn.
Twelve days after mother and son were discharged, she fed Nor Eilshan with her left breast at around 1.30am. It was her first time using the "side lying" method for a night feed.
KKH's senior nurse manager Teo Puay Ling was quoted in court documents that two breastfeeding techniques are preferred - the "football hold", where the baby is tucked under the mother's arm, and the "modified cradle hold", where the baby is held in the crook of the arm opposite the breast it is feeding from.