Sunday, January 3, 2010

Baby Dies From Bottle-Propping

Infant dies after being left to feed alone in crib while father slept
Posted December 30, 2009 at 5:49 p.m.

Infant death incident report
NAPLES — Authorities are investigating the death of a 3-month-old baby who died early Tuesday after his father propped a bottle on the baby’s chest while the boy was in his crib, and then fell asleep while watching a movie.

“Supervision of the child is certainly something we will be looking at,” said Erin Gillespie, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Children and Families, which is investigating the death with Collier County sheriff’s deputies.

The boy’s father, Benjamin Roberto Garcia, 33, of 1831 55th Terrace S.W., Golden Gate, called his son’s death “an unfortunate accident.”

Garcia told investigators that around midnight he began feeding his baby, Christian, according to an incident report. Garcia said he placed Christian in his crib, placed two pillows on top of the baby’s chest, and then propped a bottle up against them to allow Christian to eat, reports said.

While the baby was eating, Garcia laid down in bed to watch a movie and then fell asleep, reports said.

When he awoke an hour to an hour-and-a-half later, Garcia smelled Christian’s soiled diaper. He lifted the baby from the crib, placed him on the bed and then changed his diaper, reports said.

When he finished changing the diaper, he noticed that Christian was lifeless, according to reports. He began compressions on Christian’s stomach, and noticed baby formula coming out of his mouth. When he attempted to give Christian a rescue breath, reports say he noticed more formula coming from his nose.

Garcia attempted to call his girlfriend and Christian’s mother, Shannon Beverly Bermingham, 28, who didn’t answer. He called for emergency response around 2:22 a.m., reports said.

When reached on the phone Wednesday, Garcia said he wasn’t sure if Christian was alive when he initially picked him up to change his diaper. He said that when he placed Christian on the bed, his arms fell to his sides.

“I just thought that he was sleeping,” Garcia said.

When deputies arrived, they found Christian warm to the touch, slightly blue and without a pulse. Collier County EMS transported Christian to Physicians Regional Medical Center at Pine Ridge, where he was pronounced dead.

Christian was just starting to laugh and squeal, and smiled when his parents talked to him in a cute voice, Garcia said. He said he and his girlfriend are handling the situation as best they can, and are getting a lot of support from family, friends and the church.

He said the investigators “could have been nicer,” and were not very compassionate.

“The baby choked. It was a bad accident,” Garcia said. “The baby just choked. That’s about all I would want to say.”

Garcia said he placed a bottle in bed with Christian “on occasion, not all the time,” adding that the baby’s crib was right next to his bed so he could keep an eye on him. He said he didn’t intend to fall asleep, but it was late.

It is unclear if anyone will be charged with a crime.

“It’s still an open death investigation,” Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Michelle Batten said.

Garcia said he has three other children, 12, 10 and 2 years old, and Bermingham has a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old. The children are staying with other family members while Garcia and Bermingham make funeral arrangements.

Gillespie said many parents aren’t educated about what can cause a young child to suffocate. Preferably, nothing should be in a crib with a child, she said, including blankets and pillows.

“Even propping a bottle up with pillows is a bad idea,” Gillespie said. “You just don’t want that kind of material around a child at all.”

Connect with Ryan Mills at

Breastfeeding saves lives. I am very sad for this family and for the loss of their baby. Those who argue that formula kills babies are wrong, though. If this baby had been breastfed, he would be alive today.


Dionna said...

Oh yikes! That's quite a leap - breastfeeding wouldn't necessarily have saved the baby's life. A breastfeeding mother can pump and use a bottle, and someone could have propped that bottle full of breastmilk, causing the same tragic accident.
I am a lactivist, but it is my goal to help build a culture that supports breastfeeding - not a society that tears down parents who (by choice or necessity) feed with a bottle.
Saying that breastfeeding would have saved this child is not a statement that will win many supporters from the group you are trying to reach.
~Dionna @ Code Name: Mama

Nikki said...

Infant feeding is a primary relationship as babies learn to be human in their parent's arms during feeding. It needs to have the engagement and involvement of both people, the feeder and the baby.

Disengagement, in this case with propping a bottle, is dangerous.

Jehefinner said...

At work last week I watched a mother recline the back of her baby's buggy and prop a bottle on her chest with a rolled up muslin, then rock the pram slightly. The baby was about 7 or 8 months old. I am a Lactivist too, but also realise that breastfeeding isn't always possible for a variety of reasons, but please, please, is it really too much trouble to actually pick up and hold your baby as you feed them?? Bottle propping (no matter what the bottle contains) is simply careless neglect.

Foveo. (Steve) said...

My wife is a midwife in the UK, we have two boys and is very pro-breastfeeding. She would be most interested to read your posts. I do not see anywhere to 'follow' your blog. Any ideas?

Anonymous said...

Good goddess...

That guy pretty much set up that whole accident...Whether he meant for his son to die or not, he's still guilty of negligent homicide in my opinion.

L.J. Nielsen said...

Not breast feeding did not cause this child's death, and it is ridiculous of you make such a leap. What caused the child's death was the father's unforgivable negligence in supervising his child, as well as bottle propping in an incorrect and dangerous manner.

As a mum to quads who has no help whatsoever, (not even husband, who works long hours to support us) I MUST bottle prop to feed my children. I have no choice. But I do it the safest way possible, with three of my children sat directly in front of me, sitting up and fully supervised. The fourth child is held by me and is given time to bond and have closeness. They all take equal turns in my arms. My children have NEVER choked. They have never had an infection of any kind. The method I use was discussed and planned with my doctor. If I did not prop, virtually all my time would be spent feeding. I would not be able to take care of the house or feed myself or do laundry, or anything. Because I prop in the manner I do, my children have very good weights, they are healthy, and they have a healthy, clean environment.

If I could breast feed all of them all of the time, I would. But I just cannot produce that much milk. I still pump several times a day to supplement their formula, as I believe strongly that babies NEED breast milk.

You cannot label bottle propping or feeding as dangerous and unnecessary to promote your cause. It can be very necessary, and under the right conditions with strict supervision, it is no more dangerous than holding the child and bottle feeding. I am really sick of all this fear mongering- the problem is not the act but the person performing it, as is so often the case. This father was negligent, and yes, it was unnecessary for him to prop feed, and it was wretched of him to lay down and go to sleep, but you cannot label the entire method based on the actions of those who are ignorant to the correct ways of doing it.

Crunchymomma said...

If the baby were breastfed, its safe to assume if he were left with his father, he would be drinking expressed breast milk, from a bottle, no? I fail to see how being breast vs formula fed is the issue here .

Amber Robert said...

Mothers have been known to accidently smother their child when breastfeeding during the night because accidently falling asleep. So your comment about how if he was breastfed he would be alive is false AND ridiculous.
Not only that but, give this guy a break! He probably had no idea that bottle propping was dangerous. He had, most likely, done the same thing on occasion with his other children, and obviously no ill effects. Bottle propping isn't talked about often on how it is unsafe.
I have a four month old and just recently found out about the dangers of bottle propping. It was not told to me by my doctor, my daughters paediatrician or relatives. The only thing I knew, was that it could possibly cause ear infects.
Mother's who are UNAWARE of the recent change from belly to sleep to back to sleep rules run the risk of their baby dying as well. If he had known the dangers, I doubt he would have done it. It is not negligence that killed this baby, it was the fact he didn't know the dangers of bottle propping.

Rick - Zoom Mobile Founder said...

That's casting judgment Boony. He did not premeditate his sons deaf and he was not educated on what can happen. I believe it was lazy on his part to keep propping the bottle.

Rick - Zoom Mobile Founder said...

I don't agree. It just takes that one time to suffacate. Even when feeding him from a bottle or breast they choke. Whatever method your Dr suggested should have his Doctorate taken away.

Kyu-Bee said...

Exactly, formula feeding didnt kill this baby a neglectful father did.

John Carter said...

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Very Distraught Grandma said...

This same thing happened to us. On 4/4/14. We are in PA. My daughter was breastfeeding but had to go back to work so she was pumping at work and I picked it up. The father constantly propped the bottle even though we all told him not to. He would wrap her tightly, put the bottle in her mouth and then sucure the bottle tightly in the bars of the crib so it wouldn't fall out. Then cover her with a blanket so you didn't see her. Close the bedroom door and go out for a walk. The night she died he wrapped her the same way and covered her with the bottle propped. He then put on his head phones and played his on line video games. Her crib was right next to him but because he had headphones on that he heard nothing other than the games and other people playing them. He couldn't hear her drowning in her bottle fed breast milk.
As far as I know there are no charges pending which makes me sick! He didn't care enough about his daughter to hold her. If he would have gotten off his lazy butt and gotten a job instead my daughter had to make sure her children were fed and clothed by working 80 hours a week.
Propping a bottle is not an option!!! It kills!!
A very distraught grandmother

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