The 40-year-old mom, who has not been named, wanted to keep her child outside for only a few minutes so he could get some fresh air, but she forgot about him.
Losing a child can be the hardest thing a parent ever has to go through but losing a child because of one's own mistake can break one's soul. Especially, when you think that what you were doing was going to be beneficial for your child. But, even good intentions can cause harm when parents aren't careful.
In Russian and Nordic countries, it is common to let toddlers sleep outside in the cold for a few hours, so when a Russian mom left her 7-month-old son in the balcony, there was nothing out of the ordinary happening. The 40-year-old mom from the far-eastern Khabarovsk region intended to keep her boy in the balcony for only a few minutes, even though it was freezing because she believed that fresh air, even if it was cold, is important.
But, what happened next was tragic. The mom kept her son outside for far too long than necessary. She left the child outside for five hours and forgot he was there. By the time she returned to the balcony to collect him and brought him inside, he was not showing "signs of life" and couldn't be revived, as per Daily Mail. Russian media reported that the toddler died of hypothermia on January 5, 2020. The temperature was around 20 degrees that day. Hypothermia occurs as a result of exposure to cold and a decrease in the body's core temperature.
An investigation was carried out on the scene and it is still ongoing. The mother has been detained and others will be questioned, as per local media. After the incident, the region's health ministry issued an advisory through social media asking parents to not leave young children outside unattended. "Always know where and with whom [your child] is," the ministry said, as per BBC. "Do not pass by if another child is in danger - in winter a child who is lost or injured on the street can very quickly become a victim of low temperatures," it added.
The statement further said that children in the Khabarovsk region have been increasingly becoming victims of parental "ignorance" and negligence of "basic safety measures". Usually, the increase in such incidents is noted over the New Year holidays. Young children get hurt by falling, fireworks, and burns. "Doctors advise drinking less alcohol and carefully monitoring their wards," the local media report said.
Having kids sleep outside is very common, they sleep better that way, and -7 degrees is not even that cold for a child that old when they are properly dressed. But of course that was too long.— MsTi (@MsTikq) January 7, 2020
While the parents were negligent, leaving children outside for up to three hours is not that unheard of in Russian and Nordic cultures, as per BBC. In Stockholm for instance, a mother told the news outlet that sleeping outside is beneficial.
"I think it's good for them to be in the fresh air as soon as possible," said Lisa Mardon, a mother-of-three. Children are allowed to sleep outside even if the temperature falls to 5 degrees. The strollers the kids sleep in are covered with blankets, said Brittmarie Carlzon, Pre-school headteacher. "Especially in the winter when there are lots of diseases going around... the kids seem healthier," she added.
Seven-month-old baby freezes to death after Russian parents left it on a balcony in -20C temperatures https://t.co/Qog6uEZXFf— Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) January 7, 2020
It's not just parents but also pre-schools that follow this even though there is conflicting research on this. One Finnish researcher said that she found evidence through a survey of parents. "Babies clearly slept longer outdoors than indoors," said Marjo Tourula. Outdoor naps lasted from 1.5 to three hours when indoor naps lasted between one and two hours.
"Probably the restriction of movements by clothing could increase the length of sleep, and a cold environment makes swaddling possible without overheating," she added.
It's normal for kids to sleep outside, they sleep better that way, and that's not even that cold, especially for a child that old.— MsTi (@MsTikq) January 7, 2020
However, Paediatrician Margareta Blennow said that reports from the Swedish Environmental protection agency contradict the claims of the Finnish researcher. "In some studies, they found pre-schoolers who spent many hours outside generally - not just for naps - took fewer days off than those who spent most of their time indoors," she said. "In other studies, there wasn't a difference," she added.
Regardless, it is not ideal to leave children in sub-zero temperatures for long periods of time without supervision. That can cause tragic circumstances like the Russian parents learned.