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Opinion | Family

The Co-Sleeping Controversy and Enduring 'Bad Mom' Glares

If the City of Milwaukee is really concerned about protecting infants, they should use information, not shame, to inform parents.

As soon as the weather turns in Chicagoland, I know: 'Tis the season to start hearing all the dangers, illness, and strife that await my nearly 10-year-old son if he keeps refusing to wear a coat.

'Tis the season to endure the shaming glances, the "what a bad mom" nods while I shrug and offer: "He says he gets hot."

Maybe it's because I'm so fresh into the shaming season that I reacted so strongly to a new campaign from the City of Milwaukee that aims to curb the number of infants dying from unsafe sleeping conditions, particularly from co-sleeping—the practice of parents letting their baby sleep in their bed. The campaign includes radio ads, a Safe Sleep Summit, a "Safe Sleep Sabbath" song, and, most recently, two posters featuring sleeping babies cuddled up on piles of pillows and comforters, within reach of a butcher's knife. The words across the top: "Your baby sleeping with you can be just as dangerous."

Since the campaign's goal is nothing short of noble, you would think I'd be a huge fan.

When my kids were babies, I faced no greater fear than having them die suddenly (this is still my greatest fear). I took great precaution—no tummy-sleeping, no blankets, no pillows, no stuffed animals, no loose-fitting jammies—to make sure my babies slept as safely as possible. And since I appreciate Milwaukee's vigor in trying to reduce the number of infants apparently dying from co-sleeping, you'd think I'd appreciate the punch of the campaign's posters. Especially since at least nine infants ...

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