Co-sleeping is a topic near and dear to my heart. It's been a great thing for my family, with both children easily and lovingly moved out of our bed long before the "having to break the habit in the middle school years" myth that naysayers warn you about. Well, I'm sure there are some people with older kids in their bed, but generally speaking, it's not a big deal, and with a couple simple precautions, it can be a fantastic, bonding family decision.
So imagine my shock and fury when I saw Milwaukee's new anti-co-sleeping poster that says that co-sleeping is incredibly negligent and deadly. Butcher knife included.
Note, of course, that they made sure there were tons of poofy and loose blankets and pillows that look like they're going to swallow the baby (who is on his/her stomach, not back). There is no parent to be seen, either, and the baby isn't in any clean and cute jammies, but in a disposable diaper. Their other picture is the same way; note the baby is also not on her back:
There's a LOT here to make your subconscious think, Bad parenting! The baby is in danger! and it's not co-sleeping. Well, it is, but the subliminal messages here are what made me angry, too. The suggestion is not only that co-sleeping is dangerous, but that parents who co-sleep must be ignorant of all safety precautions of any kind.
When you put a baby in a crib, you have a long list of rules: no bumper, no pillows, no blankets, no pets, tight-fitting sheets only, no gaps between the mattress and edge of crib, yada yada yada. Thing is, co-sleeping has a lot of rules too ... and yet we ban problematic CRIBS, and teach safety, not ban cribs altogether. Although in studies, when you actually remove dangerous "co-sleeping" situations like a drunk guy on a couch, and compare to safe cribs, co-sleeping comes out with lower death rates.
All campaigns like this do are insult people who safely co-sleep, and then put babies MORE at risk -- why? Because in polls, MOST parents admit that their baby ends up in their bed at least part of the night -- and that's actually more dangerous than having your baby in your bed full-time, since often your spouse doesn't know they're there, you're not used to them there, and parents who don't intend on co-sleeping don't prepare their beds for co-sleeping either. So yet again, I find myself pissed at a campaign that tells you how to safely CRIB sleep but demonizes co-sleeping, rather than teaching how to safely do that too. And no, it's not condoning it either to give safety tips, especially if you're clear that you're condoning it, as they may want to do. But it's at least productive.
Before anyone insists this campaign is brilliant, by the way, consider if it were a bottle of formula labeled as poison. This isn't any different. Insulting people who choose something instead of helping them be better educated is just a bad move. And frankly, pretty rude.
What do you think of the campaign?
Images via Milwaukee Health Department