Is it shocking? Is it provocative? "Yes," says Milwaukee Health Commissioner Bevan Baker of a new, controversial ad campaign targeting the dangers of parents co-sleeping with their infants.
"But what is even more shocking and provocative is that 30 developed and underdeveloped countries have better [infant death] rates than Milwaukee," Baker added.
According to the Huffington Post:
SERVE marketing designed an advertisement for the city's Health Department that features a baby sleeping next to a knife. The text above the photo reads: "Your baby sleeping with you can be just as dangerous," the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
The Milwaukee Health Department hopes the ads will help lower the city's infant mortality rate, which was "10.4 deaths for every 1,000 live births" in 2009, the Journal Sentinel points out.
The ads were discussed on the "Today Show" Wednesday morning, where NBC's Chief Medical Editor Nancy Snyderman pointed out, "their message is absolutely important, this is not the right way to do it."
But while some experts and parents denounce co-sleeping, others advocate the practice, considering it a meaningful way to bond with one's child.
Dr. William Sears, who wrote about co-sleeping, in "The Baby Book," says it is a safe practic as long as parents take proper precautions.
"Put yourself behind the eyes of your baby," Sears Huffington back in August. "Ask, 'If I were baby Johnny or baby Suzy, where would I rather sleep?' In a dark lonely room behind bars, or nestled next to my favorite person in the world, inches away from my favorite cuisine?"
Christie Haskell, mother and writer for Cafe Mom's "The Stir" wrote that co-sleeping "can be a fantastic bonding family decision." She wrote she was "outraged" after seeing the Milwaukee Health Department's ad, and pointed out the babies in the photos weren't positioned correctly.
"They made sure there were tons of poofy and loose blankets and pillows that look like they're going to swallow the baby (who is on his/her stomach, not back)," Haskell wrote. "The suggestion is not only that co-sleeping is dangerous, but that parents who co-sleep must be ignorant of all safety precautions of any kind."
The ad campaign comes on the heels of a recent infant death in which the child was sleeping with his or her mother.