To Co-Sleep or Not To Co-Sleep?

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The City of Milwaukee is trying to fight the practice of adults co-sleeping with their babies, one that has turned deadly in recent months.

But a local health advocacy group is trying to help parents who believe such behavior is proper, despite the recent infant deaths.

Two-month-old Tyler Winston died Sunday in the latest of three cases in six weeks where an infant has died while sharing a bed.  Reportedly, in each case, the adult turned over and accidentally landed on the baby, suffocating it to death.

"If you love your baby, put them in the crib," said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

"Do not have them sleep with you."

Audio: 
Dr. Patricia McManus of the Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin on 620WTMJ's "Wisconsin's Morning News"

Milwaukee Health Department Co-Sleeping Information: 
"Do You Have a Safe Sleep Place for Baby?" 
Sleep Environment Facts

More: 
Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin
Journal Sentinel

That's a message the Milwaukee Health Department is trying to spread.

1,300 Daycares in Milwaukee received an automated phone call Monday, warning about co-sleeping.

Still, the Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin sent out a guide on "Tips on How to Safely Co-Sleep With an Infant."

Their president, Dr. Patricia McManus, said that they did it more as a response to those they believe won't listen to the city's points.

 

"The message of 'don't co-sleep,' Public Health needs to put that out," explained McManus on 620WTMJ's "Wisconsin's Morning News."

"We certainly do not oppose bringing that out to say 'don't co-sleep,' but it doesn't go far enough, because enough people will do it, and you don't give them any more information."

"We need to work for these people and give them some tips that, hopefully, they will hear if they are going to do it, to say 'these are some things that you've got to remember if that's the case.' "

"This is something that if you can do something about it quickly, you do it, but just telling people not to do it, it's not going to be the answer. You need to get more information to help people deal with it."

Dr. McManus also believes that the group's message will be more heard by those they serve, who they believe are more active in co-sleep, than the city's message.

"The population that they're targeting are not going to listen to a message like that. They're going to listen to what they do in their daily lives, and look at ways to do it differently and move towards that."

According to the Journal Sentinel, the coalition's e-mail explains that "fluffy pillows, stuffed animals, plastics and loose bedding can suffocate an infant and should not be used where babies sleep.

"Your baby should sleep on a firm flat surface which is covered by a tight fitted sheet."