Our hearts go out to one couple in Mandan, North Dakota who experienced a tragic loss. After seven years of infertility, Rachel and Ryne Jungling were thrilled to learn that they were expecting twins in 2017.
Rachel gave birth to the beautiful babies, Anders and Linnea. Just 11 months later, a heartbreaking tragedy occurred when baby boy Anders suddenly passed away while napping in his car seat.
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The Junglings are sharing their story to educate other parents on the dangers of letting babies sleep in their car seats.
When recalling the otherwise ordinary Thursday morning, Rachel shares that she dropped the twins off at their daycare center and headed to work. Both babies were still fastened into their car seats and Linnea was awake, while Anders was drowsy from the car ride.
“With two, Rachel didn’t feel comfortable leaving one in the car, so she would grab them both in the carriers and bring them in,” Ryne shared with ABC 7.
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“It was common practice. Every day, we’d give the daycare provider the update — how they slept the night before, what they ate. [The kids] were usually out of the car seat.”
“Anders looked over at Rachel and Rachel said, ‘Bye buddy.’ 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.”
Around 10 a.m. that morning, Rachel received a call from the police that would change her life forever.
“They asked her twice, ‘Are you sitting down?'” Ryne shared. “And they said they were coming to pick her up and that Anders was being rushed to the hospital.”
In an interview with ABC, Ryne recalled the moment his wife alerted him that something was terribly wrong.
“She said, something happened to Anders and you need to get to the hospital and I think it’s really bad.’ 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.”
The couple later learned that Anders had not been removed from his car seat and had been allowed to continue sleeping in the car seat for two hours.
Sure, children fall asleep in car seats all of the time, but letting them remain there once the car seat is removed from the base, and no longer tipped at a safe angle, poses a serious risk.
“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 daycare provider knew this.”
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the safest sleep space for a baby is on their back on a firm surface, with a tight-fitted sheet.
“Car seats are lifesavers in the car, but that’s what they’re made for,” said Rachel. “They’re not sleeping devices for the home.”
The couple has gone on to give birth to a healthy baby boy, Elias. They are working together to educate other parents and are relying on their faith to continue to heal from their loss.
Katie Nave Freeman is freelance writer, producer, and mama living in Brooklyn, New York. Driven by her passion for storytelling, she is always seeking opportunities to elevate people who are working to better the world around them.