Borchardt Consulting

Bed Sharing – A Thoughtful Discussion

Posted on: December 13, 2011

Recently, there was an excellent  article in the New York Times entitled “A Campaign Against Co-Sleeping“.   This was a thoughtful article on the Milwaukee ads that have caused such a hew and cry amongst professionals and attachment parenting advocates.

Milwaukee's Safe Sleep Campaign

The author, KJ Dellantonia offers one main point to consider – “It isn’t whether bed-sharing can be safe under the right circumstances (no soft bedding, no alcohol or medications, non-smoking parents, no cutlery). It’s whether the ads will work, and even whether they might work too well.”  She goes on to say:

“An image of a baby sleeping with a butcher knife is  powerful enough to stick in the head of not just a pregnant woman or new mother considering her baby’s sleeping arrangements, but also in the head of the boyfriend she might leave that baby with, or the grandmother, or the  sitter.

It’s shocking enough to stay with a woman who isn’t making a clear-headed decision about sleeping with her baby, but is acting out of sleep-deprivation (or some other form of desperation) when she collapses onto a sofa or takes an infant into an unprepared bed. It’s enough to make almost anyone think twice. These ads are likely to achieve their stated goal: disrupting a cycle that Milwaukee believes leads to easily preventable infant deaths.”

The author calls for a calm discussion from the readers to weigh in about the intention of the ads – not whether bed-sharing worked for you and not if bed-sharing is an effective parenting tool.  She asked that we consider whether the ads will be effective with a particular segment of the population referred to as the “impulsive bed-sharer”.

I am truly impressed with the comments that followed her article.  Rather than the usual party lines for and against bed-sharing, there are a number of thoughtful constructive comments. People from both sides of the debate coming together to address an issue.

I’m all for it!  Constructive debate is good.  Instead of “I did it so it’s right” or “Everyone that does it is endangering their babies.”  Let’s have an open forum.  According to the 2011 Health Ranking Report, the U.S. ranks 43rd in infant mortality in the world.  Countries like Sweden, Spain, Italy, Germany, France, Czech Republic, Slovenia and Iceland are all half of the United States rate.”  Come on now.  We can do better!

The Back to Sleep campaign was successful in reducing sudden unexpected infant deaths by nearly 50% however, in the last 10 years, that decline has leveled off.  We need to try something new.  People, there are babies dying out there.  What do you suggest?

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