SINGAPORE - Former Channel 8 actor Joshua Ang and his wife nearly suffered the loss of their newborn son last August, after the week-old infant was allegedly overfed by their confinement nanny.
The couple also found out that the nanny had cut the teats of the milk bottle, "large enough to fit a straw through".
In a blog post published on Saturday (June 8), Mr Ang, who featured in the 2002 Jack Neo movie I Not Stupid, shared details about his "traumatising" experience with the confinement nanny.
The couple's son, Jedaiah Ang, was born on Aug 1 last year but was admitted into an intensive care unit at KK Women's and Children's Hospital about a week later.
There, the infant was diagnosed with aspiration pneumonia - a type of lung infection which occurs when food or other liquids are inhaled instead of being swallowed, said Mr Ang, 30, who married air stewardess Shannon Low, 27, last year.
A few days later, the infant also developed pneumothorax, or a collapsed lung, which happens when air leaks into the space between the lung and chest wall through a hole in the lung.
He said this was because the confinement nanny had overfed the infant by more than double the 60ml amount recommended by their pediatrician, causing him to choke on milk.
Mr Ang, who now runs his own business, said they suspect that the nanny did so as she wanted the baby to sleep longer and allow her to rest more.
"We figured that since she has more experience, we'd do things her way. We thought, since our friend's baby has gone through the same thing under her care and was doing great, we decided to trust her. But we trusted wrong," he added.
The nanny's action in cutting the teats of the milk bottle also meant that the milk flow was "way too fast for Jed", said Mr Ang.
While the infant was hospitalised, the couple fired the nanny. About a week later after being admitted into hospital, the baby boy was discharged on Aug 17.
Speaking to The Straits Times on Monday, Mr Ang said he is gathering the full medical reports from the hospital so as to make a police report and file a magistrate's complaint against the confinement nanny by the end of the week.
However, he is not looking to seek compensation or pursue a civil suit against her.
When asked why he decided to speak out 10 months after the incident, Mr Ang said: "It took a while for us to recover from this ordeal. It was quite depressing, fortunately she didn't slip into a depression, but we were very upset for a while."
He added that since the incident last August, he has heard stories of other young parents whose babies were also overfed by their confinement nannies.
"We didn't want to shame her, but we've seen enough of these things happening so we decided to speak up. A lot of confinement nannies have this culture of overfeeding the baby, just so they can 'train' the baby to sleep through the night," he said.
While many netizens have shown their support for the couple, he noted that some have criticised him and his wife for hiring a confinement nanny to care for their child.
To this, Mr Ang said they did so as they believed a confinement nanny could teach them how to care for their first-born child.
He added that his mother, who died 10 years ago, is no longer around to help out while his wife's parents are still working.
In his blog post, Mr Ang advised new parents to follow their parental instincts and voice any concerns to their confinement nanny, and also to only hire nannies from agencies.
In his case, the confinement nanny, who said she had 12 years of experience, was recommended to him by a friend, said Mr Ang, who did not give further details on the nanny such as her nationality nor age.
"Even the most experienced nanny could make your child suffer for life with a single mistake," he said.
Confinement nannies that ST spoke to said they do not practise giving babies more milk just so they would sleep for longer periods.
"There's a recommended amount of milk that caregivers should feed. The amount of milk should be increased bit by bit," said Madam Lily Wong, 45, a Malaysian who has been working as a confinement nanny for 14 years in both Malaysia and Singapore.
She said she believes that the problem occurred when the confinement nanny cut the teat of the bottle, which might have caused the milk to enter his airway during feeding.
Ms Geraldine Oh from PEM Confinement Nanny Agency also agreed, saying the agency does not encourage its confinement nannies to feed babies more than the recommended amount of milk so that they would sleep longer.
She added that while some parents rely on word of mouth to hire confinement nannies, it may be wiser to approach agencies instead, as they would have trained their nannies properly.
"Some freelance nannies don't have a valid work permit to work in Singapore, and when parents who hire them face problems, it's difficult for them to get help to resolve the issues," she said.