“The people who reported the incident to the police were there when my wife came out of the restaurant,” the father, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Local.
“They were hysterical, screamed at her in front of our child, told her she was a bad mother and there should be laws against people like her having children.”
The incident took place last Friday outside the Bueno y Sano taco bar in Amherst, Massachusetts, a small college town in the eastern United States.
The infant’s Swedish mother left her son in his stroller while she went into the eatery to order her food.
Witnesses who called police claimed the baby was left alone for 10 minutes, although the Swedish woman insists she was able to see the child through the restaurant window.
Police who arrived on the scene interviewed the Swedish mother about what had happened while at the same time being forced to calm down the people who reported the incident.
“Police officers had to chase the people away and order them to leave the scene. They were hysterical,” according to the Swedish woman’s account of the incident, as retold by the father.
“No charges are filed. No one was arrested. She left the scene with our child moments after the incident and the police interviewing her.”
An official from social services did pay a visit to the couple’s home following the incident, but no further action is expected to be taken.
“It’s all over,” said the father.
Nevertheless, his Swedish wife remains shaken by the event.
“She was frightened. American police carry guns and it’s scary to have police approach you in a foreign country,” he said.
The father explained that his wife had just returned to the United States after spending three months in Sweden and thus “may have been a little lax” in relation to American perceptions for when it’s appropriate to leave a child unattended.
In addition, he described the place where the stroller was left as more of a courtyard than a street.
“It’s very Swedish to let your baby continue sleeping in the yard after a walk if the baby is sleeping,” he said.
“Our child is super mellow, and loves to hang out in his stroller.”
The father added that he had no problem with his wife’s actions.
“It doesn’t bother me at all,” he said.
While he admitted he wouldn’t have left the infant outside a restaurant in the United States, his decision not to do so would be less for the child’s safety than for fear of upsetting passers-by.
“I know how insane Americans are about this issue,” he said.
“One bad incident happens somewhere, and 300 million people all hear about it on the news and get hysterical and paranoid.”
The father believes the fact that the incident became blown out of proportion stems in part from differences in how Americans and Swedes use strollers.
“One of the reasons Stockholmers leave strollers around is because they don’t drive, they walk, and therefore have these monstrous sized strollers. They buy strollers for strolling, and they do a lot of it,” he said.
“American strollers are designed to fold up small are fit into cars which is how 99 percent of Americans transport their children around. Strollers are rarely used to transport children because Americans drive everywhere, so they use small strollers that pack into cars.”
As a result, he argues, Americans aren’t used to seeing large strollers parked outside of restaurants and cafés, a common sight in Stockholm and other European cities.
“You can go watch from the inside of a store and see that the child is just fine for almost any amount of time in Sweden,” he said.
“Here in the states, you can’t do that. People will instantly crowd around the child and make a giant scene.”