It seems that every time I turn on the news or go online to local news sites there is a story about the death of a baby contributed to co-sleeping. The response for the past several years has been public service announcements and billboards trying to discourage the act all together. Unfortunately it seems that these PSA’s are not rectifying the situation much.
Just a month or two ago Milwaukee unveiled their newest campaign against co-sleeping. There are two different AD’s and each shows a baby sleeping with a large knife. They are on fluffy blankets and surrounded by big fluffy pillows. Across the top it reads, “Your baby sleeping with you can be just as dangerous.”
At the end of 2009 there was another campaign that showed an adult bed. There are some pillows and blankets on the bed and the head board resembles that of a tombstone. In the tombstone it read, “For too many babies last year, this was their final resting place.”
As I was doing some research for this post I came across another campaign that showed either a mattress or couch on the side of the road. On it is an orange silhouette of a child. Each one has its one separate statement. One says, “It’s time to wake up to the dangers of sleeping with a baby here and babies who sleep here don’t always wake here.”
I understand that messages that the city wants to convey, however it appears that they are falling on deaf ears. It seems like I am hearing more and more about the death of babies due to co-sleeping and the issue is not getting better but worse.
I strongly feel that making co-sleeping the enemy alienates a lot of people from feeling comfortable about getting the facts on how to do so properly. Many people from different cultures have co-slept and done so in a safe way. When I was having issues with my daughter and getting very little sleep our family doctor stated that even thought she can not advocate for co-sleeping she said there are times when you just have to try everything that works for you. She advised us of what not to do, (drinking, medication, etc) and took keep all pillows, fluffy blankets off the bed.
My husband and I tried it and hated it. We were too nervous to fall sleep. We just dealt with things as best we could. Co-sleeping did not work for us, but that does not mean its some horrible enemy that the city is making it out to be.
I think the better alternative, that might actually HELP save babies is that the city needs to offer literature and education on safe co-sleeping. They can stress all they want that sleeping in a crib or bassinet is the safest place for a baby but if a person decides to co-sleep then here are the tools to do it in the safest way possible.
The city of Milwaukee needs to wake up and stop ignoring the other side of the story when it comes to co-sleeping. They need to stop playing the fear game because this tactic has proven not to work. Instead, the city should be teaming up with co-sleeping advocates to help come up with an alternative campaign that addresses that co-sleeping can be dangerous but can also be done safely and the best thing a person can do is educate themselves on which option is best for them and their baby.