Dear Co-sleeping Moms:

5 years ago

By now I'm sure we've all seen the Milwaukee ads that indicate that co-sleeping = death. They are very upsetting. Two of them show babies sleeping with knives, the other show the family bed headed by a tombstone. They have us all talking.

I know you think the ads are directed at you. I bet you think that Mayor Barrett is vehemently against co-sleeping and is judging you. I bet you think the whole world is judging you now, don't you? And maybe they are. But the ads, they are not directed at you. However, this blog post is.

There is an epidemic of co-sleeping deaths in Milwaukee. Maybe you don't hear about it because you don't live here, but nearly every morning on the news we hear "another infant died in their parents' bed last night." Gut wrenching. No one wants to lose a child, especially not a preventable death.

And that's the thing. In the instances of co-sleeping deaths in Milwaukee, they WERE preventable. The babies who died while co-sleeping were not co-sleeping responsibly. What you are doing, probably is, because I am sure you are educated about it and know that you should:

  • not sleep with blankets
  • use only one pillow
  • use a bed rail
  • do not wear loose clothing
  • put baby on his back
  • never sleep with a baby while intoxicated
  • breastfeed (or not, but make sure that every other precaution is taken)

The babies who died, their parents did not follow the safe bed-sharing guidelines that are available anywhere you care to look on the internet. But you know what? They have probably never read them. They probably don't even have the internet. They probably can't afford it. They are probably doing what their parents did, and their parents' parents, and their parents' parent's parents did. They are probably hearing things like "You turned out fine" and "You're still alive" and going on and putting their babies in bed with them. Face down. In a sea of blankets. Just like the pictures depict.

What is that? That's a recipe for disaster.

Listen. I am not anti co-sleeping. I co-sleep. My baby is asleep in bed with me right now, where he spent the latter half of the night. But the ads? If they save even one baby, they've done their job. I do not agree with how they are going about it. I think they need to focus more on educating the mothers before they leave from the hospital. They don't address co-sleeping in the hospital except to say, "don't do it."

The ads are not directed at you. So here's your hug and your pat on the back. I support you. Keep co-sleeping. But lets try to figure out a way to save some babies rather than feel attacked.

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