Infant Mortality Campaign Depicts Knife In Bed With Baby

The city of Milwaukee, worried about its alarmingly high infant mortality rate, has undertaken an initiative to reduce the instances of death by 15 percent in the African American community and 10 percent overall by 2017.

And they don’t care if they have to shock a few people to do it.

The newest push — a public safety campaign about the dangers of putting babies to sleep anywhere besides a crib and in any position besides on the infant’s back.† Referred to many as co-sleeping (although technically it is bed sharing), parents, guardians or other caretakers have often bedded down with a child next to or on top of them in an effort to share sleep.† But many opponents of the practice worry about the potential for a child to smother, or that it can also raise the risk for SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).† To illustrate the risk, the city public service campaign involves posters of an infant face down on an adult mattress with a knife resting under the pillow next to it.† “Your baby sleeping next to you could be just as dangerous,” the poster warns.

“Is it shocking? Is it provocative?” asked Commissioner of Health Bevan Baker said in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Yes. But what is even more shocking and provocative is that 30 developing and under-developed countries have better rates than Milwaukee.”

The poster offers a number for those who need access to a crib to obtain a donated one, and an informational page advocates for infants to sleep in the same room as parents, although not in the same bed or chair.† The site also states that a majority of those infants that died of SIDS in the city were in “unsafe sleeping conditions.”

But does “unsafe sleeping conditions” really mean all co-sleeping is bad?† As Annie Urban writes at her own website, co-sleeping actually works for many families and provides healthy benefits for children — if done properly.† “Saying that co-sleeping is dangerous is like saying that riding in a car is dangerous. There is no way to make car travel completely safe, but no method of travel is completely safe.† Most reasonable people take precautions to make car travel as safe as possible, but some idiots do stupid things like drinking and driving, not wearing a seat belt, driving too fast, or not putting their children in car seats. It is the same thing with infant sleep. Babies do die in their parentsí beds. But they also die in cribs.”

Some of the risk factors that do need to be watched for when it comes to unsafe co-sleeping conditions should seem obvious — never sleep with an infant when you are impaired, either with alcohol, drugs, too little sleep (a challenge for many parents), if you have an issue with severe obesity or if you smoke. †There should be no gaps in the mattress that an infant can fall into, no pillows or bedding to become tangled and potentially constrict airwaves, no overcrowding in the bed.

I should disclose — I am an on and off co-sleeper.† For the first few weeks of my son’s life, he would only sleep when laying on one of us, and although we tried to trade shifts, occasionally we would break down and I would take him straight to bed.† Even now, when he has a cold, or is teething, or for some other reason is having sleep disturbances and won’t calm down, I bring him to bed for the night while my husband sleeps on the couch.† Would I want to do it permanently?† No, I find I never go into a very deep sleep when I’m with him, and every movement wakes me back up.† But because of that instinctive response, I find it difficult to accept that all co-sleeping is dangerous, and wonder if a better campaign would be to remind parents to avoid the risk factors that make caring for infants more dangerous — drinking, smoking, drug use — rather than just the sleeping itself.


Photo credit: City of Milwaukee Health Department


Julie D.
Julie D6 years ago

BTW, the image shows a bay asleep face down. A few years ago in the UK there was a campaign for "Back to Sleep" as it was claimed that babies put to sleep o their sides or tums befoer they could sit up - c.6ths old, increased the risk of Cot Death (SIDS).

Julie D.
Julie D6 years ago

Like Susan & Diane, my children slept with me on & off when they were little. As babies their cot was beside the bed and if they woke in the night they would feed and then sleep. The parent does sleep lightly and wakes at the slightest movement or noise - of course not being stoned or drunk goes without saying! When they reached c.1yr the babies learned to clamber out of the cot with a gurgle of delight and crawl up the bed to land on a parent. At this point one, or both cats would then leap into the cot to seek sanctuary from the marauding baby! Both babies now grown up into well adjusted, healthy teenagers. All cats lived long and happy lives too.

Nancy Black
Nancy Black6 years ago

This is a difficult subject. I personally know of a mother who put her child in her bed, not because she didn't have a crib, but because she wanted to feed and comfort. Unfortunately, she fell asleep and smothered the baby. It destroyed her life and her marriage. It was a horrible accident, but it caused a baby's life. Yet parents who smoke in the house endanger their children because of clean air or the possiblity of fire. Which is worst? I guess it depends upon fate. If the sleeping mother smothers the child then obviously sleeping or sharing a bed with a baby is bad, but if a smoking mother falls asleep with a lit cigarette, and the house catches on fire, and the house is destroyed, and everyone in the house dies, then smoking is bad. Probably, we should evaluate all of our actions and try to make sensible choices.

Saleem K.
Saleem Khan6 years ago

here's the rest of my post :) ...
He finds the problem and the solution for it,
License to drive through the city of lights,
You need to know some engineering,
License to drive through the city of life,
You need to show some love and caring.

By Saleem Khan

There are other poems many with insights into the life of children and their suffering. The world has become de-sensitized to the pain and suffering of people and especially children. Help me to change this. I have put a lot of my heart and soul into this collection and included my original artwork that sets the environment and theme of each poem. It's a small colourful collection of poems that can open the eyes and hearts of people.

If you would permit me to do this here I would like to share the link where you can find the Collection called FACES published online: www(dot)createspace(dot)com/3457590

You can find out more if you search on Facebook with : S.K.KHAN

Help me to generate sensitivity and awareness in out global society please. Share this info if you can.

FACES can be an inspiring gift this Christmas.

Thank you.

Saleem K.
Saleem Khan6 years ago

Some time ago I published an original collection of poetry that highlighted the plight of the HOMELESS Children. In that collection there is a poem about PARENTING. These are poems with a Caribbean flavour and this one in particular tells that you need to get a licence to drive a car but you don't need to get a licence to be a parent. Why is that exactly? Driving through the city is easier than driving through life as a PARENT. The poem tries to make people see that PARENTING is a serious job and state of life and that you need to be prepared to BE a parent as you would learn and be tested to DRIVE a car. I wrote this collection of unique poems to generate sensitivity to aspects of life that people close their eyes to. I would like to share this poem with all of you.

License to drive through the city of lights,
You must qualify, pass the grade, take the test,
License to drive through the city of life,
You can do what you want, when you want, just make a mess,
You need a license to bring a car on the road,
You must buy gas, pay insurance, that’s your load,
You need no license to bring a life in to the world,
You must give love, pay bills, your life is sold,
It takes a good mechanic to get through the city of life,
When the car breaks down he must fix it,
A good mechanic never blames his child or his wife,......

Gina P.
Regina P6 years ago

Co-sleeping is a danger if you aren't able to wake up easily from medications, alcohol, drugs, illness. But it's not always dangerous. Also adults use blankets and sheets and pillows that can smother a baby. Sleeping on a couch with a baby can also be dangerous if the baby gets into the crack between the seat and back. But I coslept with my babies since I was a light sleeper and kept them away from blankets and pillows. It's not inherently wrong, just often done wrong.

Valerie Hammett
Valerie Hammett6 years ago

my god

Susan H.
Catherine H6 years ago

I coslept with my daughter off and on from the time she was a newborn until she was a toddler. I didn't drink, smoke or do drugs and I was exclusively breastfeeding. When she wanted to nurse in the night, I barely had to wake up to get her latched on and then we'd both fall asleep together again. As she got older (around 9 months), she started falling asleep in her crib next to my bed and when she woke up around 3am to nurse, I'd move her into bed with me and she'd finish the night there.

Diane Stollger
Diane Stollger6 years ago

Thanks for posting. I have always ended up co-sleeping with my kids when they were babies and all four have have done just fine. But I agree that a lot of care has to be taken that it is done as safely as possible. It just seemed that my kids slept so much better and were happier when they slept me.

Tim Cheung
Tim C6 years ago