18/11/2011 09:13 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Is Co-Sleeping As Dangerous To Babies As Sleeping With A Meat Cleaver?

baby knife Milwaukee Health Department

This shocking photo is part of a provocative ad campaign. The adverts show a baby sleeping in an adult bed next to a butcher knife with the headline, "Your baby sleeping with you can be just as dangerous."

The public service ads commissioned by Milwaukee's Health Department and shown on the city's bus shelters are the latest weapon in a fight to alert parents to the potential dangers of sharing a bed with babies.

The city's health official want to reduce infant mortality by 10%. Milwaukee County Medical Examiner Christopher Happy last year told the Journal Sentinel that 'if you sleep with your child, you are playing a kind of Russian roulette.'

Milwaukee Council figures show that of the 203 pre one-year-old babies who died in 2007 and 2008, 25 per cent were unintended sleep related deaths. Of these, 11 infants suffocated - ten of which occurred while co-sleeping.

The mayor Tom Barrett introduced the campaign at a press conference the same day city officials announced the ninth official death blamed on co-sleeping.

baby knife Milwaukee Health Department

But many experts and co-sleeping parents said the hard-hitting 'blades in bed' campaign is offensive and over the top. Many fear responsible parents who share beds with children are being demonised and that messages on how to co-sleep responsibly would be more effective.

There's even a new Facebook page called "Campaign Against Milwaukee's Co-Sleeping Campaign."

Comments from outraged parents include 'these ads are just offensive to sanity', 'co-sleeping can be done safely if some basic common sense guidelines are followed' and 'ignorant and misleading.'

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett thinks the controversy is working: "Obviously people are paying attention to what we're doing and it's been provocative and that was really what the intent was.

"When I first saw the ad I thought, is this too raw? Is this too provocative? And it made people feel uncomfortable. But quite honestly, it's not like the uncomfortableness I feel when I get a phone call about another co-sleeping death.

"We want people to think about this. We want to raise the level of discourse on this issue."

More on Parentdish: Co-sleeping safely

Do you co-sleep sensibly with your children?
Do you find likening co-sleeping to sleeping with a massive knife offensive?
Or have you always been nervous of co-sleeping?
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