Health Ads Rip Family Bed for Baby
But critics slash horror 'co-sleeping' campaign, call it headline-grabbing distraction
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Nov 23, 2011 12:59 AM CST
Milwaukee Health Department ad compares co-sleeping with babies to leaving a butcher knife in their beds.   (Facebook/courtesy the Milwaukee Health Department)

(Newser) – In the latest unkind cut in parenting battles, startling Wisconsin health ads are warning moms and dads that sleeping with their babies is the same as leaving a butcher knife next to them. The Milwaukee horror campaign against family "co-sleeping" reveals dozing babes cuddled next to knives almost as big as they are. "Is it shocking?" asked city Health Commissioner Bevan Baker. "Yes, but what is even more shocking is that 30 developed and underdeveloped countries have better" infant death rates than Milwaukee. A 7-week-old baby died the day the campaign was launched, the ninth infant to die in the city while sleeping with a parent in a year, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

But angry campaign critics say sleeping together in a family bed is a natural situation practiced throughout the world, including in nations with lower infant death rates, and is generally safe, unless a parent is drunk or on drugs. The mayor, "unable to impact a failing school system or fix high unemployment, latched on to the first headline-grabbing distraction that came along," carped the Third Coast Digest. The Washington Post refers to the ads as "jaw-dropping," and points to popular baby expert William Sears, who offers tips for safe co-sleeping on his web site. "It doesn't mention butcher knives," notes the Post.