Warning: serious post ahead (for once)
I preemptively apologize for the serious tone here today; while I try to limit my few meaningful posts to significant global events like the Nordstrom anniversary sale, my proverbial panties are in a wad today over a slightly different matter. We'll get back to the fluffy side stat, pinky swear.
As you may have heard in the resultant media firestorm, the City of Milwaukee recently launched an ad campaign discouraging parents from co-sleeping with infants (for the Cheerfully Child-Free crowd, that means sleeping with baby in your own grown-up bed) - via an advertisement showing a sleeping baby next to a butcher knife, stating that co-sleeping can be just as dangerous.
Um, yeah. For reasons I'll get into in a second, I'm not posting the ad photo here; if you'd like to see it, you can click over to see it & the Huffington Post coverage here.
Here at the Pretty we have some future Mommy Mafia readers, as well as some of my dear parent friends who have co-slept with their babies, so I'm compelled to use my Pretty platform today to say this - I find this ad needlessly provocative, ill-informed, and divisive. It makes me deeply angry and sad for my dear friends, all informed and loving parents, who either by preference or by necessity (a baby who won't sleep anywhere else counts as a necessity to this blogger), made the educated decision to co-sleep with their infant.
I realize such things may be put out there to do just this - provoke discussion. If so, reluctant golf claps for succeeding on that front. If it takes a shocking visual to save one child's life, then I can see how this sort of scare tactic might be a success; my discomfort is not more important than the life of a child, of course. In a way it brings to mind the "This is your brain on drugs" ads with the fried egg visual we children of the 80s may remember.
What bothers me here, however is twofold: first, that the ad contains zero facts to substantiate its claim, or even a website where a new parent might go to educate themselves on the issue. It merely lists a number that parents can call to obtain a free crib if they can't afford one. That's good, but many infants - Master P included - won't sleep in a crib during those early months. I absolutely agree that those choosing to co-sleep need to educate themselves on how to do it as safely as possible, but this ad does nothing to give a parent that information - it simply tells them to put the infant to sleep on his/her back (a safety practice I followed, after researching & talking to my pediatrician) and gave that number to obtain the crib.
Second, I'm angry on behalf of my friends who, having made the educated decision to co-sleep, are essentially being equated to murderers. It's bad enough the shame they have had to endure just from other meddling moms about the practice; many co-sleeping friends have told me in hushed tones they felt they had to remain "closeted" about the practice. The Parenting Police is bad enough, but when it comes on the taxpayer dime like this, I find it unconscionable and will not put that sort of visual guilt up here.
My message to future and new parents is this: educate yourself about the sleep & safety issue, and make the best decision for your child and your family. Read up, talk to other parents, and find a pediatrician you trust who will answer your questions about it. There is no blanket, one-size-fits-all answer here - and if there were, surely it wouldn't involve needlessly disturbing visuals of babies next to butcher knives.
Please repeat after me, class - we most of us are just doing the best we can as parents to raise our children in the safest, most loving, most enriching environment possible. Whether it's the age-old breastfeeding debate or this one, let's just try to be informed about our own choices and understanding when the best choice for someone else might be different.
Are there any marketing people in the audience who might help me understand how this sort of ad happens? Anyone who has co-slept or is doing it now care to chime in? Am I missing something here?