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What Happens in Milwaukee Matters

Posted by on November 16, 2011

So yesterday I was minding my business when all of the sudden I saw THIS.  Click on it, and you will see the latest attempt by the Milwaukee ad campaign against co sleeping.  If you can’t click on it, I will tell you that it is a mattress with the imprint of a baby on it and a message that more or less says that babies die by sleeping in beds.  Yeah, what a winning ad campaign.

I wrote about this campaign last week when I created a letter that I sent to Mayor Tom Barrett in regards to the ads that were unveiled last week that displayed a baby sleeping with a knife.  Classy.  Real classy.  I posted the letter on my blog, and I also emailed it to him; though, I have not heard back from him.  But, hey, who has time to answer an email filled with actual, researched, thoughtful information and data about co sleeping when you are busy painting mattresses and trying to scare the shit out of new mothers, fathers and babies for that matter?  I know I wouldn’t.

So after I saw these STUPID, STUPID, STUPID mattress propaganda pieces, I decided to do something more.  I decided to go to and create an online petition asking the Milwaukee Health Department to remove its campaign against co-sleeping.  Let me start by saying that this is not something that I  do ever.  I am not the social advocate type.  I am the average American who is interested in politics and votes, but I have never been to a rally, a sit in or a nurse in for that matter.  Well, I did run for student government in elementary school, and I was vice president of my 4H group so maybe the inner activist has been there all along.

I created this petition, which has gained quite a bit of signatures and interests; however, I don’t live in Milwaukee.  So I know somebody is bound to ask my why I care about what happens in Milwaukee when I have never even set foot on city soil. Well, I care for a couple of reasons. Like…

  • The co-sleeping propaganda put out by the City of Milwaukee is fear based and does absolutely nothing to educate the people of Milwaukee about safe co-sleeping.
  • This ad campaign vilifies people who do co sleep, and as a co sleeper, I take offense to this.
  •  If you wait for an issue like to this to enter your own backyard before putting up a fight, then you have waited too long.
  • Cities and states borrow ideas from one another all the time, and I don’t want my city or state to create a similar idiotic campaign.
So, all of this being said, it just made sense for me to start my own campaign against these ads.  Why wait for somebody else to do something when I am perfectly capable of doing it myself?
I realize that the Mayor of Milwaukee may not care one iota about my petition, but that is his own problem, not mine.  And I know that my little petition may not change the direction of this ad campaign.  But at the end of everything, and no matter what happens, I want to say that I tried to make a difference.  I want to know that I didn’t just sit by idly bitching about it instead of doing something.  Then what would I be able to say if I saw these same ads in my hometown?  Sometimes it is better to proactive than reactive.
So what can you do, if you feel so inclined to make a difference…
  • Send Mayor Tom Barrett an email at and tell him how you feel about his campaign against co sleeping.
  • Sign my petition at
  • Share my petition on your Facebook or via Twitter or email.
  • Share your opinion on news websites that are talking about this story.
  • And if you are co sleeping, keep on doing it because as long as you do it safely, there is nothing wrong with it or you.
I want to make one thing clear.  The Milwaukee Health Department and Mayor Tom Barrett are operating this campaign under the guise that they are trying to save babies from unnecessary death.  I don’t want babies to die, and I can appreciate their overall goal; however, their campaign is not going to save a baby.  Their campaign could even make things worse.
If the Mayor and City of Milwaukee want to help save babies, then they need to educate their citizens on ways to safely co sleep.  They need to tell parents to never fall asleep with an infant on a couch  or in a bed with loose blankets and excess pillows.  They need to tell parents to not drink excessively or do drugs before sleeping in bed with their babies.  They need to tell parents to not smoke in the same room as their babies.  But what they don’t need to do is scare people and vilify others.  People don’t learn when they are scared.  People make really, really, really shitty decisions when they are scared.
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kateydid 5 pts

I'm glad to hear someone is trying to do something about it. We cosleep, never, ever imagined we would, but now it is a healthier way of life for us. I could not believe the audacity of those images they are showing in Milwaukee.

I was really quite taken aback when I saw that ad. They are not holding back are they?!?! As you have said, education re co-sleeping is what's needed here rather than scare tactics. Have signed your petition. x

Great points, and thanks for starting the petition. I included your post and petition in a round-up of AP advocates who have spoken up against the campaign here:

I hope the responses get as much press as the campaign, and that some real education can happen despite the city's original faulty information.