A Zimbabwean family has lost a three year-old child after they left her in a locked car in baking heat while the family prepared for Christmas.

The accident happened in Sydney’s north-west on Christmas eve.

By the time paramedics arrived, the girl was already in cardiac arrest.

She was rushed to Westmead Hospital in a critical condition, but later died.

Fairfax Media understands the girl’s mother has told police there was confusion over who was looking after the little girl.

The family returned home to Glenwood on Saturday afternoon following some Christmas shopping.

The mother thought the girl’s grandmother or aunt, who were both at the Glenwood home, were looking after the toddler however the grandmother and aunt thought the mother was.

According to a police report, no one in the family could account for the girl’s whereabouts for about two hours up to 4.45pm, the length of time they believe she was left in the car.

The identity and names of family and people involved have not been made public.