I don’t know about you, but I never put my baby to bed with a butcher knife. I did, however, co-sleep with both of my sons when they were babies, which, if I follow the logic of the new PSAs from the City of Milwaukee’s Health Department, means that I endangered them in an equivalent manner to tucking them in with a cleaver. Huh?
Indeed, parents across the country have responded to the latest ads from the City of Milwaukee’s Safe Sleep Awareness Campaign with ire, with many taking offense to the insinuation that parents who co-sleep are risking their babies’ lives via accidental suffocation. And that’s because many (most?) of us who co-sleep with our children do so with forethought; it’s not a case of passing out drunk on the couch with your baby tucked next to you (a definite no-no for a variety of reasons). Instead, we follow safer co-sleeping guidelines, like not smoking or drinking, and removing pillows and comforters from the area (sometimes even removing our partners from the bed as well).
In my case, while we successfully used a co-sleeper bassinet with our first son, my second son couldn’t sleep if he wasn’t tucked, literally, into the crook of my arm or my armpit. For me, that meant that I naturally slept rather lightly—alert to his breathing and sighs and movements—but my son and I were both able to sleep (which didn’t happen when I tried to put him to sleep in a crib or co-sleeper). And we all know how desperate new parents are for sleep.
There’s no question that the City of Milwaukee has succeeded in getting folks talking about co-sleeping. And so from that standpoint, maybe this ad campaign is a win—but maybe it should have had a different objective, perhaps to teach how to co-sleep safely. Because the reality of it is that lots of parents are going to continue to sleep with their babies, regardless of what Milwaukee’s Health Department or the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has to say on the matter (for the record, the latter recommends room-sharing, not bed-sharing). Maybe it’s because of convenience, because they can’t afford a crib (although in this case, the City of Milwaukee offers a number to call to receive one free of charge), because they enjoy it, or because reputable parenting experts like Dr. William Sears recommend it.
What’s your reaction to these ads? Did you find the campaign offensive?