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Posted at 01:06 PM ET, 11/21/2011

Co-sleeping with butcher knives: Are these Milwaukee PSAs overkill?

(Courtesy of the Milwaukee Health Department)
Is snuggling in bed next to a baby the equivalent of tucking them in next to a butcher knife?

That’s the analogy the Milwaukee Health Department has unveiled publicly with two jaw-dropping ads (one of which is on the left).

Milwaukee commissioner of health, Bevan Baker, introduced the new anti-co-sleeping campaign with: “Is it shocking? Is it provocative? Yes. But what is even more shocking and provocative is that 30 developed and underdeveloped countries have better [infant death] rates than Milwaukee,” according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The campaign is the latest attack on an increasingly frowned upon practice.

The American Academy of Pediatrics last month expanded its safe sleeping policy and reiterated its stance against co-sleeping. The group recommends that infants sleep in a parent’s room, but not the same bed because of risks of suffocation and strangulation.
(Courtesy of the Milwaukee Health Department )

In fact, just before the press conference to release the Milwaukee campaign, officials there reported that a 7-week-old local baby had died while co-sleeping with his mother. That infant was the ninth Milwaukee baby this year whose death was related to co-sleeping, according to the newspaper.

But the issue is not that clear-cut for many parents. Adherents to attachment parenting, in particular, counter that it’s natural for parents to sleep with their children. They also say the practice encourages breast-feeding.

Co-sleeping parents acknowledge risks in certain situations, such as if a parent is obese or has used alcohol or drugs, but say that for the general population, when certain precautions are taken, it can be a rewarding experience for both parent and baby.

The widely-followed Dr. Sears Web site, for instance, offers tips for how to co-sleep safely. It doesn’t mention butcher knives.

What do you think of the Milwaukee campaign? Should there be more room for case-by-case consideration?

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