Monday, December 12, 2011

My Issues with the Milwaukee Ad Campaign

I am a little late on writing about this i wanted to be sure to write about my opinions on this issue.

By now i am sure you've heard about the Milwaukee Co-Sleeping ads and the controversy surrounding them.  If you haven't, here's a short summary. 

In a campaign to end co-sleeping in Milwaukee a series of ads were released to the public in the hope that it will scare parents into stopping co-sleeping.  Milwaukee has high 'co-sleeping' death rates and officials are trying to use scare tactics to bring those numbers down.  According to their campaign, for every 1,000 babies born there, more than 10 die before their first birthday. Among black families, the number is even higher, 14 out of 1,000.

I have a lot of issues with this campaign.  The first has to do with these two ads.

Pretty scarry looking huh?  My issue is that actually, yes, these ads are true!  Because sleeping with your baby in a bed with blankets, pillows, no adult in sight and not on their back *IS* unsafe!  But the ads are not trying to say there is a safe way to co-sleep, no, they are saying that ANY co-sleeping is just as dangerous as putting a knife in bed with your baby which is simply untrue!

According to research (here here here here here here here here here here here here here here) co-sleping can be safe, if not beneficial.  As you can see from the article above, time and time again sound research comes out that says co-sleeping can be safe, if done correctly.  The above ads would be an example of co-sleeping being done incorrectly and therefor unsafe.

Another issue i have with this ad campaign is that instead of trying to educate the population on how to SAFELY co-sleep instead officials are lumping all co-sleeping into the "danger" category.  They are not taking into consideration families finacial or living situations that may lead them to co-sleep.  Milwaukee was ranked the 4th poorest city in the nation last year.  I'm sure many parents do not have the money to buy a seperate safe crib for their babies to sleep in (And this is specualtion but i'm sure many homes have many people living in them so there is also lack of space).  I know the ad campaign is giving away free 'cribs' for those who cannot afford a crib but this does not solve the infant death situation since what they are giving are 'pack N plays' and pose dangers for babies to sleep in.  They are specifically excluded from being classified as cribs by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the federal agency that regulates the crib industry.

According to Consumer Reports:
"Play yards have also been associated with 47 infant deaths due to suffocation, strangulation, or entrapment, between 1999 and 2004 (the most recent CPSC statistics)."

(Thank you to The Feminist Breeder for this new information)
I feel that be telling parents it is unsafe to sleep in BED with their baby that parents are going to instead resort to other places like the couch or recliner which are obviously unsafe to sleep in with your baby.

Instead i feel that there should be a major education campaign to share SAFE co-sleeping habits with parents.  I really do feel that this would be the best way since they are not going to abolish co-sleeping 100%, parents are still going to do it so they might as well know how to do it *safely*.  And lets be honest, crib sleeping is not 100% safe either!  Cribs are linked with many accidents and deaths as well.

"The researchers found that there were an average of 9,500 injuries and more than 100 deaths each year occurring in relation to cribs, bassinets, and playpens. They found that 83% of the injures were related to cribs." Source

I mentioned in my previous co-sleeping post the reqirements for safe co-sleeping but i'll list them again for your ease of research (i know, i'm so nice)
 Katie Allison Granju, author of Attachment Parenting: Instinctive Care for Your Baby and Young Child (which is a book i highly recommend), recommends these safety factors when co-sleeping (many can be applied to crib sleep as well):
  • When using a standard, off-the-floor bed, be absolutely sure that your baby cannot roll or fall off the sides.
  • Young infants should sleep between their mother and the bed rail, not between both parents or beside an older sibling.
  • Make sure that your mattress or futon provides a firm sleeping surface.  Never, ever allow an infant to sleep on a waterbed, featherbed, beanbag, deep pillowtop mattress or other inappropriately soft surface.
  • Never sleep with your baby if you are under the influence of drugs, alcohol or prescription medication that makes you unusually groggy or sleepy.
  • Exceptionally obese parents should use a sidecar arrangement (crib attached to the side of the bed) rather than having a young infant in the bed with them.
  • Do not overload your bed with excessive pillows, blankets, or stuffed animals.
  • Never fall asleep on a couch, sofa, or overstuffed chair with your baby.
  • Do not stuff too many bodies into a bed with a small baby.
  • Make sure that your baby isn’t overdressed.  Remember, the body heat in a family bed makes most bedtime bundling unnecessary.
  • Dress your baby in safe sleepwear. Flame retardant with no strings or ties, just as you would if she were sleeping alone.
Another issue i have is with everyone saying that the babies died of SIDS in the family bed.  "Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the unexpected, sudden death of a child under age 1 in which an autopsy does not show an explainable cause of death."  Many many many many many times the news and officials will mix up death terms and say a baby died of co-sleeping when really it was SIDS or they will say a baby died of SIDS when they became entrapped between the mattress and the wall.  They are not the same thing and people need to stop treating them as such.  And yet another issue i have is that Milwaukee officials are saying there are all these deaths associated with 'co-sleeping' but they are including deaths from sleeping with a baby on the couch which should not be considered co-sleeping and it is just that type of thing that confuses people about the safety of co-sleeping. 

Here is a good little list of the facts of Co-Sleeping and SIDS.

In my previous post i shared that we co-sleep (bedshare) with our daughter.  She is now 15 months old and has spent every night of her life in bed with us.  I feel that this has kept her safe and made breastfeeding successful for us.  (She had undiagnosed reflux until 7 months old and did not nurse well during the day.  I belive it was our constant nursing at night that kept my supply up.)  I also shared the story of how my daughter stopped breathing and me sleeping with her i feel saved her (see my previous post for this story).

Yes there have been struggles in the last year with sleep but i plan on having all our babies sleep in our bed from the day they are born.  I wouldn't have it any other way.

I'm sorry if this post has been a bit jumpy and didn't flow well.  I was up all night with DD while she had a reaction to some crab she ate.  Crazy story there for another time. 

To end and summarize though i will share this news report from a Milwaukee news station.  It is a VERY good report that just goes to show you that you cannot always take what you hear as truth.

What are you opinions about this ad campaign?

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