Does This SIDS Prevention Ad Go Too Far? Some Parents Think It Does

In the department of public service announcements that scare the crap out of us comes Milwaukee's SIDS-prevention campaign. City officials recently debuted a safe-sleeping campaign ad which depicts a sweet newborn sleeping on soft bedding right next to a butcher knife. The heading reads: "Your baby sleeping next to you can be just as dangerous."  

The American Academy of Pediatrics 2011 SIDS Prevention Guidelines state that bed-sharing and loose bedding both increase an infant's risk of death. However many moms on iVillage’s Facebook page came out against the ads, stating that co-sleeping can be done safely.

"Utterly ridiculous poster," writes Sarah, "That is a dangerous message they are putting out there...they ought to be ashamed of themselves!"

"[This ad is] stupid and insulting, co-sleeping has probably saved a lot of babies from SIDS and it also helps parents bond with their babies," writes Geraldine.

"You have to be out cold to roll over on your baby. Scratch that. You basically have to be stoned out of your mind, way past drunk, or anesthetized," writes Robyn. "This ad is just trying to scare people."

The posters were revealed right as a 7-week-old infant was found dead after co-sleeping, according to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. That baby was at least the ninth area baby to die in 2011 while in an unsafe sleep environment. In fact, SIDS is the second-leading cause of infant death in Milwaukee. The ad offers a phone number that parents in need can call to get a free portable crib.

Bevan Baker, Milwaukee’s Commissioner of Health, seems to know he’s ruffling feathers. "Is it shocking? Is it provocative?" he's quoted as saying. "Yes. But what is even more shocking and provocative is that thirty developed and underdeveloped countries have better [infant death] rates than Milwaukee." Mayor Tom Barrett is all for the raw message: "If [this is what] it takes...to get the point across that babies must sleep alone, on their backs, in their own cribs, the ad is not too shocking," he said. 

I slept with both of my babies at times. Co-sleeping was snuggly, warm and filled with love. But I was also nervous and worried. No matter how much I enjoyed it, I knew I was taking a chance. While being tipsy or exhausted or a deep-sleeper or taking cold medicine all increase your chances of rolling on your baby, the fact is, it can happen even without those risk factors. Just read iVillager Brandy’s heartbreaking story: 

"I co-slept with my son. We buried him at 7 weeks because of it. This is a lesson I wish I had not learned the hard way. I was not obese or intoxicated. [I was a] perfectly healthy 22-year-old woman. I have a baby girl due this December. She will not sleep in the bed with me no matter how careful I think I'm being. She will have a co-sleeper bassinet by my bed."

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