Forgotten baby syndrome may explain why parents leave kids in hot cars

by: Lorena Incl\u00E1n Updated:

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. —

So far this year, 16 children have died in hot cars nationwide, including two in Florida. In Northeast Florida, two children are recovering after being rescued from hot cars. The incidents happened just two days apart, in both cases the parents are facing neglect charges.

Clinical psychologist Dr. Lynn Wadelton of First Coast Therapy Group said this can happen to any family.

"It's called forgotten baby syndrome," said Wadelton. 

Wadelton said it happens it mostly happens to people when it comes to minor details like forgetting to pick up the dry-cleaners. But the unfortunate mistake or lapse of memory could have deadly consequences.

"What happens is you have this type of memory that as soon as it realizes you're doing something very familiar, it kicks into autopilot," said Wadelton. "Your brain will not allow you to remember the new material of 'I want to stop and do XYZ thing' cause your autopilot kicks in to be so efficient." 

But the syndrome can be prevented by helping your brain remember.

"We call it the baby shoe formula leave a baby's shoe right in the front seat so you see it and notice it," said Wadelton.

Wadelton said other tricks include leaving your purse or briefcase in the back seat next to your child.