Health officials working to educate regarding co-sleeping

MILWAUKEE -- The City of Milwaukee reported another co-sleeping death this week, and it's the second in a week. It seems many parents aren't getting the message health experts keep repeating, and now, there's an effort to change the mindset surrounding co-sleeping.

On December 28th, FOX6's Tami Hughes posted a story she was covering about a 10-day-old baby killed in a co-sleeping incident on FOX6's Facebook page, and a huge discussion emerged. Some of the comments were surprising. One viewers said "if it's done safely, and yes, there are safe ways, it's fine." Another said "my mother co-slept with me in the 80s, and my sister in the 70s. If done properly, the child will survive."

Health experts say just because something works sometimes, doesn't mean it's safe. "I tell my patients, it's kind of like playing Russian Roulette. Nine times out of 10 you might be okay, but do you want to take that chance? Do you want to wake up in the morning and not have your baby breathing?" St. Joseph certified nurse midwife Mary Mazul said.

At the Women's Outpatient Center at St. Joseph's Hospital, they offer free safe sleeping classes that instruct parents to put their babies in a Pack 'N Play next to the parents' bed. It took one counselor just a minute and a half to put one together, sheet and all. "We want the baby next to you. We want you to see her and touch her and hear her and smell her at night. We just don't want her in a bed that's not made for her," Mazul said.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and his health department launched a huge campaign to cut down on the City's infant mortality rate. Barrett says his office has been contacted by residents with a similar mindset to FOX6's viewers, saying they co-sleep for personal or cultural reasons. Barrett wants those people to get the best information they can, and hopefully go to sleep in peace, with their babies in their own bed. "We are trying to make this an informative campaign. It's healthy to have the discussion, healthy to have the debate so people at least know what the risks are," Barrett said.