Have you seen this ad?
Or maybe you’ve seen the white baby version?
I’m back on my soap box. You’ve been warned. Stop reading now if you might get offended by what I have to say about this.
These are ads from the Milwaukee Health Department. You’ve probably seen them around the blogosphere and in the news. They’ve stirred up quite a controversy on co-sleeping and I am outraged by them. And for more reasons than the fact the message they convey is simply not true most of the time.
The truth is, sleeping with a baby is not necessarily dangerous if the parents are not drunk or on drugs. Babies were not made to sleep away from their mothers. Sleeping next to their mothers helps regulate their breathing and can decrease the incidence of SIDS. Sleeping next to their mothers can help promote breastfeeding. Sleeping with their baby can help mothers get precious sleep during the night. Why would you take the very baby who lived in your body for nine long months and is used to your warmth and heartbeat and place that baby in a separate bed in a room far away? Does that make any sense, really? Is that how babies have slept historically? I don’t think so.
If parents take reasonable precautions, don’t smoke, drink excessively, or use drugs, co-sleeping or bed sharing is perfectly safe. I have co-slept with all of my babies from the day they were born (or as soon as I could). It brings me such joy to snuggle with my little ones! Dr. McKenna and Dr. Sears are outspoken proponents of the benefits of co-sleeping. You can read what they have to say here and here, if you would like more information.
But this Milwaukee Ad Campaign is about so much more than co-sleeping as far as I am concerned. What makes me most mad about this whole controversy is the obvious scare-mongering tactics. As my friend Katie blogged about on her blog The Gentle Mom, these ads are most likely not geared for people who take it upon themselves to research the topic and form their own conclusions. These ads are targeted for everyone else. And therein lies my big, huge, enormous gripe.
What has happened to critical thought? It seems to be gone from a large part of society today. Why is it necessary to scare people into action instead of providing them with sensible information and letting them reach their own conclusions. If you don’t want to co-sleep, that’s fine. But let’s have an honest discussion about its pros and cons instead of scaring people down a certain path.
Instead of providing people with pros and cons and letting them form their own conclusions, we simply tell them no. And instead of just saying no, though, we say hell no. Look, these ads say. Co-sleeping is so dangerous you may as well put a butcher knife in bed with your baby. Because you are going to kill your baby by co-sleeping. And that’s simply NOT true. (But if you’re worried about, just stick your baby in a spica cast and co-sleep. I guarantee you won’t roll over on that thing. )
And the same goes for a variety of topics.
Instead of telling moms it’s ok to drink a glass of wine or have a small beer occasionally while pregnant or breastfeeding, we tell them No. You are not smart enough to decide when enough is enough. Therefore, you should not be allowed to do it at all. And if you would dare consider drinking a bit during pregnancy, you are risking all sorts of terrible birth defects on your kids. And forget having a drink while nursing. You certainly don’t want to get your baby drunk do you? It’d be better just to stop nursing and feed your baby formula if you want to have a drink. Don’t concern yourself with minor details like the dangers of formula.
And raw milk. Another no. At least in the state of Iowa. If you want raw milk, better get your own cow and start milking. Because it’s against the law to sell raw milk around here, even for pets. You might get dangerous microorganisms and get seriously ill. Or you may even DIE! Never mind the benefits of raw milk or the fact that I should be able to make myself sick if I want to!
And vaccines. Don’t think about this one at all. You have to do it. Herd health, you know? It’s your duty as an American citizen to fully, and on some arbitrary schedule inject your precious baby full all kinds of toxic ingredients. And if you do have the balls to question vaccines, well, make certain you don’t decide some are ok and some are bad. Because that’ll get you no where except trouble. And you won’t be able to send your kids to public school, that’s for sure. (That’s not true by the way).
And homebirthing, and pesticides, and meat packing slaughter houses, and circumcision…Don’t think about these topics. Just do what’s expected of you, what most other people do and you’ll be just fine. I could go on and on, but I’ll stop now.
Instead of providing people with relevant information and letting them decide for themselves, we have become complacent to let other people do the thinking for us. And I don’t like it. Not one little bit. It makes me mad. And it frustrates me to no end. What has happened to critical thought???
If you’ve read to the end, what’s your take? What do you think about the ads? Am I way off base by linking in critical thought?