Forgotten Baby Syndrome: It Kills Babies—It’s Out of Your Control

forgotten baby syndrome

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Forgotten Baby Syndrome. You may not know it by its name, but you know it would never happen to you.

Forget your baby?? Leave your flesh and blood infant in the backseat of your car TO DIE???

Ha! You might as well forget how to breathe.

That’s your natural gut response kicking in. But in this case, ignore your gut. Please.

And hear us out.

Forgotten Baby Syndrome, in which a baby is left in a locked car to die of heat stroke, is misnamed.

Because it’s not about “forgetfulness.” It never was.

Involuntary Brain Process

Forgotten Baby Syndrome was and always will be about an involuntary brain process. One that cannot be controlled through willpower or superhuman effort.

The good news is that experts have been working overtime to better understand Forgotten Baby Syndrome. The hope is that with greater understanding, the scientific community will come closer to providing solutions and preventive measures against this deadly phenomenon—one in which the youngest of victims die, their parents left grieving and shattered.

Forgotten Baby Syndrome Factors

Here is what we think you should know: experts have found that quality of parental care is almost never a factor in Forgotten Baby Syndrome. Rather, the parent’s executive brain functioning is overwhelmed by a combination of stress, sleep deprivation, changes in routine, and emotion. The memory circuits are “overwritten” like a computer program, with the conscious mind overcome, too weak to resist this natural brain response.

It’s like a short circuit to the working memory. And it’s completely involuntary, automatic.

If only the baby would cry out, the brain would “snap out of it.”

A noise or a phone call, the mention of the baby’s name, an alarm: any of these could serve as a life-saving trigger. That’s all that is needed to reboot the memory circuits of the brain, to restore the working memory as the ruling power.

But if the baby is quietly asleep in the backseat, that’s not going to happen. There’s no trigger to restore the parent’s natural working memory: the part of you THAT WOULD NEVER FORGET YOUR BABY.

Hard Science

The thing is, this is not a theory. It’s hard science.

So now you know. This could happen to YOU!

And if it did, you’d have the rest of your life to live with it.

We don’t want this to happen to you. We don’t want it to happen to anyone.

We especially don’t want any more babies to die.

Fighting Back

So we’re fighting back. We’re fighting back with only weapons we have at our disposal:

1) An information campaign: letting you know this could, indeed, happen to YOU. It’s not something anyone can control. Forgotten Baby Syndrome is an involuntary cognitive process

2) The creation of a potentially life-saving app: Kars4Kids Safety, to be launched July 1st. Powered by Bluetooth technology, the Kars4Kids Safety app sounds an alarm when you leave a Bluetooth-enabled car, reminding you to check the backseat.

Forgotten Baby Syndrome App

The Kars4Kids Safety app is a simple preventive measure a parent can take to fight back against that involuntary brain process. The one that has left too many babies dead. Designed by Kars4Kids, the app can serve as a trigger to restore the parent’s working memory.

It’s a simple fact: an alarm can signal the conscious mind, reminding parents to check the backseat of the car where Baby may be sleeping. A major factor in Forgotten Baby Syndrome is a parent’s sight and sound. If the baby is sleeping in the backseat of the car, he is neither seen nor heard. The Kars4Kids Safety app can provide the audio cue a sleeping infant cannot.

We don’t want to make any miraculous claims about our new app, but yes, at Kars4Kids we’re proud to stand behind this concept. We worked hard to come up with an app that could be helpful to parents and make a difference in fighting this terrible epidemic. We think the Kars4Kids Safety app is one heckuva way to fight back against Forgotten Baby Syndrome.

There have been 13 confirmed deaths due to Forgotten Baby Syndrome so far this year, with nine cases still pending. June 21st was the first official day of summer, when the risk for Forgotten Baby Syndrome rises. Yet already, June has seen Forgotten Baby Syndrome strike several times too many (click on the following three dates for more information):

June 18: “’What have I done? What have I done?’ witnesses heard [Justin Ross Harris] scream. ‘I’ve killed our child.’”

June 16: “[Steven Darnell] Lillie was sobbing but managed to tell Rockledge police detectives that he had been distracted from his usual routine on that fateful day.”

June 4: “’The dad is a good family man,’ neighbor Maude Thompson told WKTV. ‘It seemed like they had quite a few kids and he seemed good with all of them. They were just adorable to watch.’”

Watch For The Launch

If you have a Bluetooth-enabled car and a Bluetooth, watch this space for the July 1st launching of our Kars4Kids Safety app. We believe the Kars4Kids Safety app can help you keep your baby safe during the long hot summer months, even when baby is blissfully asleep in the backseat, out of sight and out of mind.

Forgotten Baby Syndrome.

Don’t let it happen to you.


Author: Varda Epstein

Varda Meyers Epstein is a mother of 12, communications writer, and education blogger at the Kars4Kids blog.